Monday, December 10, 2007


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?


hummingbird said...

Excuse me ma’am. I’m a stupid police officer making stupid rules to control your freedom.

Lilia said...

I love it! You should totally do this all the time. The whole city would be more exciting and bright as a result.

hummingbird said...

I've been dancing at the beach frequently in Los Angeles the past few months and have gotten a ton of positive feedback from passerbys. I was surprised. So yes, everyone should get out for random acts of dancing and not be shy about it.

Everyone should also read The Witch of Portabello Road by Paulo Coelho who also goes into the positive power of dance.

KT said...

Most of you know me well enough that I need very little enouragement to partake in random acts of dancing!

Anonymous said...

yes, it can be very hard to accept the impermanence of projects, things, art, personal identifiers, whatever (everything changes and ends, no?). i find myself particularly attached to people, places, patterns, etc., and take longer to rebound from the shock of loss than others. but i have to say that viewing this clip (after having been the subject of the social experiment without any perspective other than my own discomfort) reminds me that spontaneous art/creativity can be just as engaging or effective as a long rehearsed installation or stage performance. improvisation can be exhilarating and joyful too, if you get past the fear. i rarely keep in mind that the artist never dies even when there is no product outside of one's self to show off. so this is a good reminder. i'm still resistant to doing it again, no matter how much i love random acts of dancing, but i'm sure kt will persuade me anyhow (but have mercy :))!

KT said...

You are an amazing artist, my dear, and also an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me!