Life/Theater: Art In General (NY)
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15 May 2018
By Lee Walton
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Life/Theater: Art In General

Part of the “Experiential Project" the inaugural installment of Art in General’s New Commission program. (2005)

For Life/Theater I transformed the exhibition project space into a sitting area for spectators to watch a series of daily public performances.  These performances involved actors performing everyday unspectacular actions. These actions blurred the line between what was and not real.


How Life/Theater Worked:

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4-5 p.m. a new Life/Theater Performance would take place.

For the designated hour, hired actors would pass by and play out simple activities- such as sipping coffee, awkwardly carrying a house plant, chuckling to oneself, jogging, smoking a cigarette, chatting on cell phone, etc...

These actors would skillfully and seamlessly mix and blur themselves with the real characters of New York City.

The implementation of actors created a blurring of what is real and what is not real.

For the viewer, a heightened awareness of the city space revealed various qualities that are usually overlooked.

Over time, the actors would reveal themselves through exact and precise repetition of each activity.

Through repetition, the identity of each actor was realized. At this point, the focus and attention of the viewer becomes more specific as the subtle activities of the actor become primary interests.

For example, a viewer’s scope may alter from observing the entire unpredictable range of activities of the street scene to the minute details of how a specific man peels a banana while slightly nodding his head in response to an earlier conversation he had with his mother.

Additionally, an edition of 1000 printed and hand wrapped packets of printed cards were distributed to the public. View that project here.

A book was published about the Experiential Project: Amazon


View Press Release

Here are some links:


Jerry Saltz Review

More From Jerry Saltz

Steven Matijcio Talks About Experientialism



Tags: Projects
Leave a comment:
Lee Walton - Hi Ming,
This message is the BEST kind of unexpected message to receive. Thank you for taking the time to share and being so open the Experience. Wow.
Do you want an original unopened pack of the Experiential Project postcards? Let me know, would love to send. Stay well and awesome!
Cheers, L
Ming Lin - This project made a huge impression on me. At 16, my then boyfriend and I somehow obtained a stack of cards (I grew up on Walker Street) and proceeded to follow the instructions. We quickly got addicted. Never seeing anyone else as we performed the various tasks, we began to wonder if we were the only ones participating. This only increased the excitement. The instructions emboldened us to enter into and relate to the neighborhood in ways we might otherwise not have had access to. Among the most memorable was the message on top of a telephone booth looking down from the OTB and handing the lottery ticket to a stranger. Many years later, I had lost the cards, and had no recollection of the artist's name, though I often recalled the experience. Then one day recently, I found a familiar stack of cards on a friend's shelf. So much has changed in the neighborhood—people, places come and gone—Art In General itself has become a steakhouse that enjoys a certain cache for having patrons enter sideways through the rugged alley, Sau Voi Corp's doors closed one day last year never to open again... Finding this page, I wonder what happened to the photo we took on a disposable camera in a drawer in a dresser of a lobby on White Street all those years ago? It would be such a delight to see things from the other side.