Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

“Wash” “Closely” as AiOP 2011 artist , Michael Borowski, shares his festival experience

Michael Borowski Wash/Closely

Photo provided by Michael Borowski
During the week of Art in Odd Places, exhibiting Wash/Closely, which dealt with rituals of the domestic bathroom, acquired the rituals of daily labor. Each morning I would arrive at Wix lounge at 10am. If I hit rush hour and the trains were packed, I would be late. Not that anyone seemed to mind. The mornings were slow. I think we both hoped for more of an audience. I had only one intentional visit during the week, from a group of dutiful Parsons undergraduates. At noon I would leave for a lunch break. The first day of the exhibition I could barely eat because I was so nervous about the public response to my work. My thoughts were focused on a potentially ambivalent or even aggressive public, or even being asked to leave by the police. I should have been worried about the transportation. Moving the human-sized sculpture, on its four indoor casters, down heavily trafficked sidewalks, and across cracked asphalt streets, was no easy task.

Each day at 1pm I would walk alongside my sculpture, rolling at a snails pace. My eyes were fixed on ground in front of me, looking out for cracks or bumps that might catch my wheels. It was physically exhausting. Once I reached 14th street, I would set up the piece, take a few photographs, and then pass the hours watching people’s interactions. Most people walking past gave it an odd look, doing a double take as they passed. I heard a few people say “What’s a sink doing in the middle of the street?” or “Only in New York!”. But every so often someone would briefly stop to look at him or herself in the mirror. They did it without asking what it was, or to whom it belonged to. It didn’t matter that it was a sculpture, or part of the Art in Odd Places festival. The sink and mirror were familiar enough. These brief moments contained everything I hoped my work would address: people exhibiting a level of vulnerability that comes with fixing your hair in the mirror, and a willingness to perform these subtle, intimate rituals in public.

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