Since it was released on DVD, people in my social circle, including myself, have received from Netflix La Vie En Rose, the biopic about Edith Piaf, the little sparrow hailing from the streets of Paris. Though Cotillard as Piaf is stunning, the film itself is mediocre, cheesy at times, goes all over the place and is hard to follow. The music, naturellement, is enticing and will have you humming Je Ne Regrette Rien for days on end.
I found the portrayal of Piaf as a free-spirited twenty-something in Belleville endearing, especially when she grabbed a bottle and her best friend and dragged both onto street corners to keep her company while performing her repertoire for passers-by.
So on Saturday, inspired by Piaf and her best friend, I grabbed Jessica (my artistic partner in crime) sans bouteille, my iPod, some mini-speakers, a camera and we hit the streets... the Powell Street Muni station to be exact. We conducted what I coined a social experiment since neither of us are technically street performers, but there's a first time for everything. I placed the hat in the middle of the corridor, pressed play on the iPod and Jessica began an improvised interpretation of the anxious feelings she was experiencing around this crazy idea of mine in which she somehow agreed to partake.
Passers-by stopped and watched, captivated by her movements. One man lauded her with encouraging words. She performed while I filmed for about 6 minutes before the BART police kicked us out (no filming allowed in BART stations since 9/11). We moved onto Union Square and continued the experiment until the light started to disappear and Jess had had enough.
Why street art, you might ask. Some of you know about the film that we sacrificed to the gods of technology earlier this year. So given our theme--identity--we ask, who am I if I can't do what defines me? The point of this experiment is that, since we don't have a run at ODC this year, we want to know what really is the difference between art performed on a street corner witnessed by passers-by for free or for a small hat donation and art seen by many in a theatrical venue purchased for $25 to $40 per ticket? And why are some kinds of art considered suitable for the street and others for an enclosed venue? Is the location what defines you as an artist, or what the critics say, or the act of doing art for art's sake for whomever to enjoy?