Archikulture Digest

The Staring Contest

The Staring Contest

Brian Feldman Projects

Frames Forever & Art Gallery, Winter Park FL

5-15-2010 through 5-17-2010</strong>

Brian Feldman has taken slacking to exciting new heights – in order to raise funds to participate in another performance art piece, he’s working 10 hours straight for three days. It’s not a regular job, of course, but he’s taking on all comers in a staring contest, and accepting donations. It’s sort of like these guys with the cardboard signs at off-ramps, except he smells better. Befitting his ever more minimalist entertaining, his advertising is stripped to a simple hand written sign on Orange Avenue and Facebook’s leaky privacy policy.

“feldman stares small”

I dropped by to give it a try. I was never a champion starer, but I did look down a pit bull one afternoon. Feldman sat across from an empty chair in a small framing shop, which had previously witnessed such crowd thrillers as “sleepwalk”, “sleepwalk II”, and “Brian Feldman Reads This Newspaper …” Dressed in a long white Columbine coat, he slumps forward bereft of food, water or potty breaks, but perks up to stare when someone sits across from him. I gave it a try, his steady gaze engaged mine, his unblinking, mine attending to a rough concept for a short film. I set up a camera and had it rolling, and my thoughts ran to “Is the camera level?” (No) “Am I sitting up straight?” (No) “Is it in Focus?” (No) and “Would this be as interesting as last year’s ‘Pedestrian’?” (Not sure yet). I stood after what I hoped was a polite amount of time, and another young man followed. He only lasted about 10 seconds before the giggles began, he was likely thinking about how absurd this experience must be. Others followed me, one young man broke into giggles in about 15 seconds, and local sketch artist Thomas Thorspecken took about 10 minutes to do a contour sketch.

Why? Oh, God, I HATE this question. It takes the transcendent secret of absurdity and makes it into something akin to common gossip. Officially, Feldman is trying to raise funds to get to MoMA in NYC to stare at another starer, Marina Abramovic. She’s sitting still for over 700 hours doing basically the same thing, and I suppose this Battle of the Super-Starers is something the world must survive. Practically, this echoes back to the early films of Andy Warhol, who I recall filmed an egg sitting on his table for several hours, and then convinced people to watch the film. Art is what you can get away with, or so they say, and I heard Warhol did some of his best editing on that film.

For more information on Brian Feldman and his projects, visit http:\www.brianfeldman.com. To experience Marina Abramovic, click on http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/marinaabramovic/


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