Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

AiOP 2013 artist Merav Ezer discusses her “Public Visit” with NUMBER curator Radhika Subramaniam

Merav 3 Photo Adi Shniderman

“Public Visit.” Photographer: Adi Shniderman.

Had you worked in public space before?  How was this experience similar or different?

Presenting my project in the Ideas City festival  [the New Museum Streetfest in which AiOP participated] and then in the 14 street festival were my first experiences working in a public space. Presenting work outdoors, not in a gallery setup, brings many challenges as well as surprises to the work. By being more accessible to people that are not necessarily art lovers I expanded the conversation beyond the traditional spaces of the art world. People asked questions about the process, and were much more active by sharing their comments and curiosity about the action of the performance. One of the comments that kept repeating was (naturally) about real estate in New York City. It was interesting to hear how contradictory were the responses to the size of the apartment. While some thought 500sf is a nice size to live in, others were totally amazed how small and compressed it is.

Merav 1 Photograph Radhika Subramaniam

“Public Visit.” Photographer: Radhika Subramaniam.

How did you adapt your work to 14th Street for the October festival?

As a New Yorker who lives along the L train I have been familiar with 14 street for many years. As the preparation for the performance started, I began my scouting for a place that would be big enough to include the total size of my apartment. It was very interesting to pay attention to the smallest details that I don’t necessarily look for while walking in this area. I started by measuring the sidewalks and focusing on the ones that are wide to include a 500sf size apartment . Then I came up with a few potential locations, and chose 14th street between 6th and 7th avenues for my final destination.

Was there one memorable moment?  Can you tell us about it?

One of the best moments happened while I was making my drawing as part of the Ideas City festival. A woman approached the drawing and “sat” in one of the sofas I drew in my living room. She said she felt very comfortable and even crossed her legs in the air as if she is sitting in a real sofa. This interactive moment was where I felt that the whole concept of the “Public Visit” worked. By the way, I had 3000 visitors that day!

Do you have an association between number and place to add to our numerologies?

After I transferred my apartment’s blueprint to 14th street, this location became a familiar spot, and another memorable location to add to my modern nomadic journey.  After I practiced sketching my apartment’s blueprint in different locations, it became a tool for me to be able to measure new spaces in relation to my apartment space, and 500sf turned into a cornerstone number in measuring spaces.

What was the oddest experience or the greatest surprise?

Creating my apartment’s sketch on the sidewalk and absorbing pedestrians’ reactions to the drawn lines was a definitive moment for me. Especially when I was looking at the marked area, and read it as a stage of some sort. Every single moment becomes an act, and invites endless interactions in this collaborative and unpredicted performance. The skateboarder that drove over the lines, a person stopping to use the public phone which was located in my “living room”, or a random moment of a pedestrian passing through the marked outlines and suddenly stopping to look around or grab something from their purse. These random moments became fragments in an ongoing time.

Merav 2 Photo Adi Shniderman

“Public Visit.” Photographer: Adi Shniderman.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am thankful for this experience that opened up new ways of thinking for me, as well as exploring new working methods of documentation like exploring time-lapse techniques when working in the public sphere.

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