Going on right now: On Hiding An Elephant In Plain Sight: A Performance Of Private Acts

YIP223 - On Hiding An Elephant In Plain Sight: A Performance Of Private Acts
Triptych of the performance: On Hiding An Elephant In Plain Sight: A Performance Of Private Acts

Last night I stopped by Occidental Park in Pioneer Square to check out the Free Sheep Foundation’s art performance entitled “On Hiding An Elephant In Plain Sight: A Performance Of Private Acts.” This performance is described by the artists as:

D.K. Pan, NKO and Holly Brown explore the intimate relationship between reader, author and text. Featuring the words of Haruki Murikami’s “Wild Sheep Chase” (NY Times Book Review – http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/02/14/specials/murakami-sheep.html), two ‘authors’ transcribe the novel as it is read aloud: one pens on the exterior of the box truck (which serves as stage and ‘literary vehicle’), the other types the text on an endless roll of paper. The reader will be stationed atop the box truck, audible via a PA system. Accompanying the performance will be the Hanley Family Elephant Ear stand providing deep-fried goodness.

This overnight, endurance performance serves to highlight and expose the intensely private acts of reading and writing along with the conflicting desires they engender. The relationships of voice, hand, and typewriter become intertwined in the act of imprinting memory onto a public site. A silent transformation occurs, unnoticed. A box truck becomes an elephant, text escapes the confines of its pages; we awake from a dream and find ourselves at the beginning of a journey. Murikami’s tale of search, longing, and reconciliation serves as the point of departure for this performance action.

Happening Right Now In Occidental Park
A woman checking out the truck during the break.

It was the perfect night for it too. The rains had passed and the temp was just cool enough to be comfortable in a hoodie. When I first arrived I was greeted with them taking a break, but it gave me a chance to chat a bit with NKO and DK Pan. The box van was already mostly covered with NKO’s distinctive and beautiful handwriting, DK was rubbing his wrists in an effort to relieve the pain from the pressure of hitting the keys on his vintage typewriter, and Holly looked like she was already tired of reading a book at a snail’s pace. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect once they started back up again 30 minutes later…

A Wild Sheep Chase
A Wild Sheep Chase [by Lunge via Flickr]

Once they did start back up again though, it was both beautiful and surreal at the same time. I sat there listening the Holly’s voice reading the words over the PA system, every once in a while coughing or yawning, all the while glancing up at DK to check on his progress. While this was going on, NKO was around the front of the truck, scrawling as fast as he could over spots already written on and creating wonderful patterns of text. All of this was underpinned by the clak-clak-clak-DING of DK’s typewriter. Moments after they started up again more and more people started walking through the park. It was clear these were Mariners fans just getting out of the game. Most were confused, but some were interested enough to stop and watch for a moment or two. One guy was even overheard muttering “what’s this shit about?” as he stood there with the plastic bottle of beer he had smuggled out of SafeCo Field, proving that he was a especially classy kind of jerk. But that is the joy of an evening in Occidental Park.

This performance is part of the Murakami in the Park project through the ArtsParks program.

I shot a short video of the performance, which does it way more justice than my words ever could. However, if you have a chance to get over there before 3pm today, I urge you to do so. Once they are done with the last page of the book, that is it.

A Video Of Private Acts
Click through to Flickr to view the video.

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