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.