Wait Wait Don't Hit Me

A participatory event was announced in the print and online versions of the program for Bushwick Open Studios 2011, an annual arts festival in Brooklyn, NY. Readers were greeted with an image of a bowler hat and the promise of a participatory “happening” organized by a French-Irish collective. Willing participants were asked to bring a stick of their choosing and crowd onto a busy traffic island in anticipation of the start of the event at 4PM sharp. Both the collective and the event were fictitious; potential viewer-participants found themselves shoulder to shoulder with strangers, holding sticks, waiting, waiting, and waiting. I was intentionally absent from the event and chose not to document how the participants‘ street performance unfolded. The project explored questions of site-specificity, the nature of participatory art, the role of viewer-participants in the authorship of such events, contemporary artistic practice and the involvement/absence of the artist, and the interaction of personal, cultural, and literary narratives.