What I might be doing at this summer’s Shadow Art Fair

One of the good things about being among the handful of people behind the Shadow Art Fair is that I don’t have to apply. In exchange for the work that I do, I get a table automatically, and I have right up until the morning of the event to decide what it is that I want to do. There’s a downside, of course… which is that, while everyone else is getting their stuff together, knowing what they’ll be doing and/or selling, I’m still sitting around, staring into space, considering my options. Given how much fun I had last year, just sitting on my ass and interviewing people, I think that I’ll probably do something similar this year. I’d like, however, to change things up a bit. Specifically, I’ve been thinking that it would be cool to build a confessional of some kind. As I don’t have any ability when it comes to carpentry, I doubt that the idea will come to fruition (unless I build it out of an old refrigerator box), but I really like the idea of engaging people in anonymous conversation, and encouraging them to share things that they perhaps wouldn’t normally. (I know that I mentioned this general idea several months ago, but, as no one stepped forward to help me build a confessional, I thought that I’d bring it up again.)

I’ve thought for a long time that it would be cool to have a portable confessional that I could take to local bars. I think people would find it therapeutic, and I suspect that the recordings, if I decided to release them, would be of interest to the folks who read this site… I suppose people could regret it later, like some of the young women who appear in Girls Gone Wild videos must, but I think I could prevent that by using some kind of voice changing technology, so that everyone sounds like robots as they tell me about their shameful pasts. [Speaking of sad, beer-drinking robots, who remembers this post?] And, of course, I wouldn’t capture images of the people on the other side of the confessional’s screen.

I’m also thinking that it would be cool to pay people for their stories. No one, to my knowledge, in the history of the Shadow, has ever flipped the traditional art fair dynamic around, and paid their customers, and I think that would be an interesting thing to explore. I don’t know how much money I have to dedicate to such a project, but I think it would be cool to pay people by pushing coins through a slot. (Or, maybe I could feed them through beer through tubes, like those that you use to hydrate hamsters.) I’m thinking that I would continue to pass them coins as long as they remained interesting.

Maybe it’s not a great idea, but I think it beats my earlier ones, like the booth offering free, no-questins-asked pet euthanasia. I did, however, like my idea about locking random visitors to the Shadow in a glass box with someone smoking synthetic “face eating” drugs. I think that’s the kind of thing that would get me in the Whitney Biennial.

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  1. koosh
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t the Corner Brewery have a confessional at the beer festival a few years ago? No one will be able to accuse you of being original this time.

  2. Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t say I invented the confessional. The Catholics, from what I understand, have been using them for years. As for the Corner, I wasn’t aware that they had one, having never been to the beer fest. If you’re right, though, that would be totally cool. Maybe they’ll let me borrow it.

  3. Joseph j7uy5
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I have a confession, of sorts. Actually, it is a recap of my first confession. There used to be a Catholic school at St. John’s on Cross Street. The school was behind the church. One day, I stayed home because I was sick. The next day, the nun/teacher announced that we would be going over to the church for our very first confession. She said, “don’t be nervous, just remember what I told you yesterday.” Ack! I, of course, had NO IDEA what she had said yesterday. I was petrified, because I knew it was VERY important and that it had to be done EXACTLY RIGHT. So the very first thing I confessed to the priest was the fact that I had NO IDEA what I was supposed to confess, or even how I was supposed to confess it, whatever it was.

  4. Edward
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Confession is good for the soul. I think it’s one of the very few things that the Catholics have right. It’s essentially therapy for those who can’t afford it (because they’ve given so much of their income to the church). A bar would be a great place for people to confess.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Personally, I would rather have my face nibbled on for art than stare into the eyes of Marina Abramović. I realize, however, that I am unique.


    And, as long as we’re throwing around allegations of plagiarism, let’s not forget that Steve Hughes has been plowing the fertile fields of the barroom confession for the past many years in his magazine Stupor.


  6. anonymous
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    If people don’t confess on their own, you could always water board them.

  7. Gene
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    forget the booth, have people confess to you face to face. instead of coins as payment, you will draw a portrait of them in your most scribbly manner on a napkin. the customer walks away with a mark maynard original, and you are left wiping away their sins – hopefully a napkin will suffice.

  8. Posted June 27, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Maybe you could do a variation on the Abramović piece: sit across from someone and avoid eye contact.

  9. Anonymous Mike
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    All of the big shots of mouths reminded me of the time Gilligan and his friends made a silent film.

    As for the whole napkin thing, how was it that it was saved? Did someone working there pick it out of the trash? I’d love to see a picture of it.

  10. Anonymous Mike
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    OK, I went to Google, and it looks as though she didn’t write out the plans at Dockside. She, or someone else, just attempted to throw the evidence away there. This is what it says on the Dockside website.

    “Our real claim to fame was the finding of the Tonya Harding garbage that was to be the downfall of the Olympic Skater. On January 30, 1994, Kathy Peterson was emptying the garbage when she came upon several bags of trash that somebody had left in the dumpster. Upon examination of the garbage some very damaging evidence was found that led Tonya and her associates to be found guilty of the Nancy Kerrigan “club” incident. The most damaging paper that was found was an envelope with information concerning Nancy Kerrigan’s practice schedule at her home rink the Tony Kent Arena. The handwriting was found to be Tonya’s. She had earlier denied any involvement in the whole affair, but the garbage proved otherwise. To our knowledge, neither Tonya Harding nor any of her cohorts have ever visited the Dockside, we think they came upon the dumpster and thought they could save themselves a trip to the transfer station which is located about 5 miles from here. What a mistake that was! During those couple of weeks in January ’94 we gave 63 interviews to various newspapers, magazines and TV shows. Who would have ever thought that the Dockside would be in the middle of such a notorious scandal. We joke that we’re best known for our garbage, but we think our food is pretty darned good and we hope that you do to.”

  11. Anonymous Mike
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    You need to be a Time subscriber to get the rest, but I found it interesting that they’d considered cutting Kerrigan’s Achilles tendon.

    “The date is Dec. 28. Jeff Gillooly has just been dropped off by his ex-wife, Tonya Harding, at the home of Harding’s bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt. Inside, Gillooly, Eckardt and two out-of-town thugs for hire discuss ways to keep Nancy Kerrigan from competing Jan. 7 and 8 in the U.S. figure-skating championships in Detroit. Methodically the four men run down their options: cut Kerrigan’s Achilles tendon, break her leg or kneecap, kill her. According to Gillooly, he then calls Harding and asks her to pick him up. As Gillooly drives, he details a proposed $2,000 deal that carries a money-back guarantee. If…”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980130,00.html#ixzz1z12tiAvd

  12. Knox
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    The analogy isn’t fully formed yet, but I think that you could argue that we’re all having our faces eaten at this very moment, by the rich, who are high on the man-made drugs of deregulation, derivatives and credit default swaps.

    And since when has Mark made eye contact with anyone, Doug?

  13. Posted June 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Exactly; this would be a chance to put that skill to work.

  14. Idea Man
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    How about locking people in a confessional with a face-eating priest?

  15. anonymous
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I read a headline this morning that said the man who ate the other guy’s face did not, according to toxicology reports, have bath salts in his system. He was just a cannibal, I guess.

  16. cmadler
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    You could do the confessional, and while each person is confessing, you could draw a portrait illustrating whatever they confess.

  17. Mr. Y
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    It should be a trading floor for perversion. Once someone confesses, their sin should go up on a board, so that other people can bid on it. The winner would then be expected to do the same thing by the end of the Shadow Art Fair.

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