Even for performance art, this is pretty weird.

Is this what Spider-Man will be like once he hits 70?

In a double-slap to the eyeballs, a flock of old people recently descended upon Montreal to roost on the sides of buildings like huge insects. They sat on white chairs that were somehow stuck to the 90-degree surfaces, engaged in activities best described as "surreal mundane." One elderly woman folded laundry on her lap before carefully stacking it on her head. Others smoked cigarettes, read the newspaper, arranged flowers and, in the case of one happy grandpa, rocked out to an unknown rhythm with his hands.

The bending of the known laws of public space was performed by German choreographer Angie Hiesl, who in the 90s began mounting the elderly high up on facades for a long-running performance piece called "X-Times People Chair." Hiesl arranged the Montreal mind-screw in late May for the city's Festival TransAmériques, using performers within the geriatric sweet spot of 60 to 70 years old. The fest's organizers have cheekily dubbed her project "Old Masters," and describe it's concept thus:

Twenty feet above the sidewalk, white chairs are attached to the walls of buildings in the Latin Quarter, with ten senior citizens sitting on them.... All of them appear to be floating above everyday concerns, their strange position adding an enchanting note to the cityscape. Old age becomes urban poetry, insisting that we stop and take a look.

Affixed to the façades of buildings on St. Denis Street, they are an evocative display of passing time, blurring distinctions so that life becomes art. Some might walk by without noticing them, but others will raise their heads and stop to gaze at this surprising image of mature angels adding a touch of grace to the urban space.

Hiesl's goal apparently is to make us appreciate the elderly as works of art. While I can see how this performance accomplished that mission, when I'm in an art museum I've never fretted so much that a painting could slip off the wall:

(All photos courtesy of art_inthecity on Flickr, except the bottom four images by fatseth. H/t to Visual News)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  2. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  3. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  4. Equity

    The Problem With Research on Racial Bias and Police Shootings

    Despite new research on police brutality, we still have no idea whether violence toward African Americans is fueled by racial prejudice. That has consequences.

  5. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

×