Monday, October 02, 2006

Hendrix-themed Performance Art Stuns Red Line Commuters

BOSTON -- A select group of commuters riding on the Red Line today witnessed an unannounced, groundbreaking work of performance art, which culminated in the artist--an unidentified woman in her early thirties, visibly pregnant--lying unconscious in a pool of her own vomit.

The performance began at approximately 7:50 am, when the artist boarded the train at Alewife station. For the first ten minutes of the work, she sat calmly reading a paperback copy of Middlemarch. John Clemson, 42, a biotech executive from Belmont who was sitting across from the artist recalls, "at that point I didn't realize it was art. I don't think any of us did. I just thought it was an ordinary woman on her way to work, reading a really big book."

The tone of the performance shifted when the artist began to appear somewhat uncomfortable, just as the train was leaving Harvard Square station. She began taking deep breaths and sitting up straighter, her eyes closed. According to spectators, as the train left Central Square station, she put her book into her bag and sat leaning forward, her elbows on her knees and her head reclined. Clemson recalls that at that point, he began to wonder whether "something was up."

The train was leaving Kendall Square station when "all of a sudden, she just, like, keeled over onto the seat next to her," according to Katie Donovan, 20, a Boston College student. "And I guess she puked or something, because when she got up there was stuff in her hair and on her clothes and on the seat. I figured she was just drunk. I did practically the same thing on Friday night. But I would never drink if I was pregnant. That's just wrong."

While train was stopped at the Charles/Mass General Hospital station, a passenger alerted MBTA staff to the incident. Another passenger came to the artist's aid, waking her up and asking her if she was all right. The artist seemed confused and disoriented, and after sitting up, began looking in her bag, evidently for tissues, to clean up the vomit on the seat.

An MBTA official then boarded the train and escorted the artist onto the platform. It isn't known whether he was a collaborator in the performance or was simply responding to the situation as if it were, in fact, an actual medical emergency. While the train was still stopped and the artist stood on the platform, looking dazed, several women exited the train and offered her napkins and tissues, which she accepted. Finally, she was escorted away from the halted train by another MBTA official.

"I thought it was brilliant," said Lawrence Cahill, a professor of art at Harvard University, who also witnessed the morning's performance. "When I started applauding, everyone looked at me like I was being insensitive. But I explained that, clearly, this was meant as a surrealist, post-feminist homage-cum-protest piece, most likely referencing the demise of Jimi Hendrix. It all made perfect sense: the pregnancy, Middlemarch, the fainting, the vomit, the bizarre yet telling search for tissues. Even the time and place: rush hour on a Monday morning, on a phallic-shaped mode of public transport. The influence of Koptenschauer is clear, and possibly Graemson. Of course, naturally one can't help wondering if there was a nod to DuChamp in there as well." According to Cahill, two or three other passengers eventually joined him in applauding the work.

"It was a little scary," said Somerville's Marcus Lowe, 26, a Dunkin Donuts cashier, "but I like how it challenged the definition of art. That's something you don't normally get on your Monday morning commute."

The artist herself could not be located for comment.


Blogger Motel Manager said...

Holy shit! Are you okay?? Does this mark the end of your public-transit commuting, at least until those little girls are on the outside instead of the inside?

Hope you are okay.......!

4:01 PM  
Blogger bihari said...

OK, points for the funny, also for the brave, also for the wildly creative. Which, yes, is you all over.

But I stand with MM in demanding vociferously that you get that artist to contact us immediately, and let us first grill her on the performance, then harangue her into ceasing same on public transport.

4:37 PM  
Blogger scruffylooking said...

Oh my god. Are you okay? How can you still be so funny? It isn't fair - no stretch-marks, you're full of hormones, you've just experienced a really scary incident, and you are still eloquent and hysterical.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Aw shucks, you're too kind, Scruffy. Humor seems to be the best way to deal with crap like this. As for the stretch marks, I've still got 12 weeks to go...

My word verification is "zwaci" As in "zwaci, all the strange things that can happen when you're pregnant!"

12:13 PM  
Anonymous one blog reader said...

"wow, it was like, 10 times better than The Onion," quipped one blog reader.

11:35 PM  

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