Performa 09, the biennial performance festival, has been taking place since the beginning of the month, and having missed the entire program in previous years, I've wanted to catch at least a few of the events, which include performances by the likes of Mike Kelly, Joan La Barbara, Adam Pendleton, Pauline Oliveros, Arto Lindsay, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster & Ari, and many others, so yesterday, despite the rain (from the nor'easter), I ventured over to the Lower East Side to catch, and participate, in artist and poet Tan Lin's Chalk Playground, LitTwitChalk.
The event took place in and on the concrete playground of PS 2, on Madison Street just off Allen Street, on the edge of Chinatown and in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, and involved a live street-chalking exercise, followed by Tan's and others' chalking of a Futurist manifesto, a Chinese manifesto, and a collaborative, and real-time poetry “line” installation piece and drawings by a wide array of writers. Since I'm rarely in this part of Manhattan, I found getting there like navigating a maze, which included a sidetrip of one stop into Brooklyn before I switched trains and reemerged from the subway essentially right where the PATH had let me out, just one block north of Ground Zero and the WTC site. My iPhone's enhanced GPS mapping system proved very handy (the pulsating dot that moves as you walk is entrancing too), and I eventually found the site, though the rain had begun to drench the pavement, though not the chalkwork, and a number of participants were still there, including Tan.
On the Performa site, Tan listed, among others, Felix Alarcon, Bruce Andrews, Anselm Berrigan, Jimbo Blachly, Lee Ann Brown, Ethan Bumas, Greta Bumas, Emilie Clark, Yina Chun, Kareem Estefan, Robert Fitterman, Sarah Gambito, Kenneth Goldsmith, Paolo Javier, De-Quan Jenkins, Ahn Lin, Joseph Legaspi, Saqub Naeem, Jason Perry, Elizabeth Sanchez, Brittany Sanders, Katherine Sanders, Olivia Shao, Phillippa Shao, Lytle Shaw, Jennifer Tsuei, Charles Yarbrough, and Helena Zhang. I saw of few of these writers and artists, as well as Gordon Tapper, above whose extended, multicolored line I, at Tan's invitation, chalked in one. (See video below).
I plan to revisit the site later this week, just to see how the chalking has held up. After several days of rain, and later tires and children's feet, it probably will be a blurry mess, but the collaborative, outdoor aspects of it, as well as its ephemeral nature, made it a lot of fun, and a great deal of the statements were thoughtful and provocative. I hope Tan does this again, on heavily trafficked sidewalks in parts of the city where the messages may spark immediate thought and commentary among passersby.
Tan Lin observing some of the handiwork
Little artists participating in the event
Participants chatting (Bruce Andrews in all black)
Lin videorecording some of the work (Pierre Joris in the trenchcoat and beret)
My first line
YouTube video I made of the first line I chalked (very short)
A video of one of the collaboratively chalked pieces (very short)