Most people have had this feeling at one time or another: “I’m so angry I could smash something.” But what if you were invited to destroy an object, and then put it back together?
An event at this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival is doing just that.
The boys’ locker room in the Bok building – the former South Philly public school – is the staging ground for perhaps the smallest performance in the 2017 festival lineup. “Worktable” consists of a performance by one person – you – for an audience of one – also you. It’s the invention of Belgian-based artist Kate McIntosh.
“You enter into a sort of waiting room and you are presented with shelves full of objects,” explains Sarah Bishop-Stone, Programming Director of FringeArts. “These range from a globe, an apple, a rose, a teddy bear, a typewriter. You’re asked to choose one and you know when you choose it, you will be asked to take apart this item. To take it apart, destroy it or wear it out.”
You then take your object through a series of three rooms. The first has a worktable and tools where you deconstruct the object. It’s followed by a room for reassembly and another that displays other everyone’s results.
“It’s a surprisingly emotional piece for some people. It’s not often you’re given permission to destroy something or wear it down or given the tools to do that,” said Bishop-Stone.
Claire Noonan manages the installation for McIntosh and has seen it mounted in different countries.
“There are always subtle differences,” Noonan said. “The biggest difference I find is in the objects that are available and also how people react to them.
“Because various objects from different eras and different countries’ histories, the type of manufacturing, the objects look different, they relate to different periods of time of that country’s history. It’s always really interesting how people respond, find their way through the installation.”
“Worktable” continues through Monday evening at Bok in South Philadelphia.