Disintegration

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

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Disintegration
a durational performance
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space,
Helsinki, Finland
August 2015
photo by Antti Ahonen

Individual conversations about disintegration in our lives.

event:
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space
venue:
the plaza in front of the Lasipalatsin Näyttely
location:
Helsinki, Finland
sponsor:
Streetlevel, Performance Art in Public Space
date:
August 2015

Project Notes:

I came to Helsinki with another plan of what to perform, but this piece emerged instead.  It was a response to a performance called ‘Seven Disappearances,’ that I had just done a week earlier in Boston. I realized that in my hours of conversations with people in that piece, that I had skirted the more personal aspects of things that disappear in our lives.  So I consider this work in Helsinki as the other half of that one, a companion piece.

I sat at a table on the broad and busy sidewalk of Mannerheimintie, the main street in the city center.  There was a second chair for someone to join me.  The table was covered with a white tablecloth, and on it was a vase with a bouquet of colorful flowers, a lovely blue tea pot with matching cups, a plate of cookies, a book of Lao-Tzu poetry, a rock, and a pair of scissors.

When someone joined me at the table I asked them if they would be willing to talk to me about disintegration in their lives.  It could be something big or small, good or bad.  I served them fragrant hot cinnamon tea and we ate cookies as they talked to me.  It was a private and intimate conversation in a very public space.

The people who sat with me over the course of the seven hours were all ages, both men and women.  All were unexpectedly honest and forthcoming in talking about their lives, about how they dealt with unexpected changes – deaths, separations, declines in health, loss of jobs.  While each person had suffered in the process of some kind of disintegration, they also talked about what they had learned, how it had changed them, how they understood themselves better, and how they were living their lives differently as a result.

While we talked, I slowly and methodically demolished everything on the table.  I began by cutting each flowers into tiny pieces, placing them into a bowl.  After reading a poem I cut the page out of the book and into shreds.  I gradually trimmed the edges of the tablecloth until there was nothing leaft.  And at the end I used the rock to crush the cups and plate and smash the teapot.

All that remained of the performance were shards, and the memory of people’s resiliency in the face of disintegration.