A cabinet was constructed and left on a sidewalk in New York City. I was hidden inside and not reveal myself until someone assumed possession and brought the cabinet from the public space to a private space.
Often the city seems to be ours alone to experience and we assume that it is in turn ours for the taking. This sensibility is made evident in the U.S. by the often-quoted phrase, “Possession is 9/10 of the law.” This means that the person who is not in possession of an item must prove that it is rightfully theirs. As each of us navigates the city we perceive the occurrences that we come into contact with to be unique to ourselves. This seems rational as each person observes events from a specific vantage point. These observations become confused by the witness because s/he interprets those public experiences through the filter of the their personal histories. For example, one person sees an event to be a hostile confrontation while another will see it is a playful exchange. As we experience the city we lay claim to our interpretations and often make the assumption that things are as they appear to us to be. The burden of proof then rests upon another to prove that this is not so. Nowhere is this more evident than when something that may be private property is placed in a public space. A person is not sure how to look at the object at first, but will usually fall back on the golden rule of U.S. culture (finders keepers, losers weepers) and claim it to be theirs. I am hoping to subvert the “finder’s” personal space by claiming it to be my own public space. This project was done for the 2008 Conflux Art Festival in New York City.
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