Performance Uses City as Its Stage

Posted inID Mag
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October 20, 2008. Artist Julia Mandle crosses disciplines as often the chicken crosses the road. She uses design (fashion, interiors, sets), architecture, and the city itself to choreograph her performance-based work. Her most recent project, Hopscotch for WTC, took place in September near the World Trade Center site—a large interactive public game for approximately 4oo participants and two performers. Just as she tailored the dresses to her performers (and embroidered them with text), she tailored the performance to fit the shape of the checkerboard plaza in front of the vast mirrored windows of the World Financial Center, and framed the area with chalkboards explaining the history and rules of Escargot, a French version of hopscotch. It encourages players to demarcate ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ zones using chalk, thereby examining the issues of threat and security in an urban, public, and famously insecure setting. "I believe in the necessity of public interventions to create small shifts in perception," Mandle says. This was also the provenance of her related performance Chalk Shoes to the High Line, the artist’s collaboration with two eighth-grade classes to produce and use chalk shoes to walk to the High Line Park in order to mark the path for others. Both performances drew passers-by in to play and reflect on public space and the existential nature of one’s experience of the immediate environment.