On Thursday, October 29, from 7-8pm, 107 performers gathered to form a long receiving line on the front steps of the New Haven Museum. The line started at the museum’s double doors and extended to the sidewalk on Whitney Avenue. The performance was viewable to casual street traffic and individuals arriving on foot to celebrate the Opening Reception of the Artspace exhibition, Three Decades of Change, on display just inside. The performers consisted of individuals, families, and groups who reside in New Haven, but do not self-identify a constituents of any one of the many target audiences for local art events that are advertised as “free and open to the public.” The line included refugees, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, artists, students, post-graduates, and children, as well as visitors who joined the line after walking through. By standing together, the line was intended to make highly visible the solidarity and differences that binds and separates the residents of New Haven on a daily basis.
The performance was conceived and organized through a collaborative workshop led by the preeminent Cuban artist, Tania Bruguera, and eight artists based in New Haven, including Lani Asuncion, Ifeanyi Awachie, John Edmonds, Allison Irene Hornak, David Livingston, Jason Noushin, Nick Pfaff, and Petra Szilagyi, with support from Artspace Curator, Sarah Fritchey. Artspace mounted this formal description of the performance inside the museum:
Title: Performance for the Opening Reception of Artspace’s 30th
Anniversary Exhibition at The New Haven Museum
Date: October 29, 2015
Duration: 1 hour
The line you met outside was us. We are participants in this city. New Haven inhabits us. We work and live in its sectors. We hustle, day dream, work day jobs. Some of us are students, and some of us were, once, or would be. We are talking. We read. We spend time on The Green. We look out through windows.
We walk the streets and watch. We are aware of each other, and tonight we receive you, en masse, so that you are aware of us. Perhaps you came to The New Haven Museum looking to honor an art institution, perhaps you came to reconnect with old friends. Either way, to join the reception you had to encounter our reception first, which may have looked like two New Haven community members making eye contact, or shaking hands.
Perhaps you wished we weren’t there; you didn’t want to approach. Or maybe the gesture of our solidarity and differences attracted you, and you thought to join us. Either way, you did not pass through the museum doors unacknowledged. Within the line, our eyes met and hands touched.”