[End of April. Beginning of May] Progress report

Two days into our seven day project, I thought I would reflect here on a few key moment/incidents for me personally so far:

– A security guard has intervened on both days. On the first day, the guard removed a copy of our principles/manifesto that I pinned to the plinth of the Redmond Barry Statue out the front (I wasn’t that surprised), and this morning a different guard said we couldn’t film without permission (we had a camera set up on a tripod, which made it pretty obvious; somehow I think handheld filming wouldn’t be a problem).

GW 3
Photo: Greg Wadley
GW 2
Photo: Greg Wadley

– Some of our audience remonstrated with the security guard on Day 1. One guy, who later introduced himself to me as Keith, asked Chun-liang and I separately “Why were we doing this? What did we get out of it?” I found it a little hard to answer, besides some things from me about bringing art performance to the general public, but Keith had actually proposed this as a rhetorical question. He took a small notepad filled with handwritten notes from his pocket and pointed out a quote to me from Redmond Barry (who founded the library, and was the judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to death, amongst other things) saying that he intended the library to be a place of “civic virtue, not private entertainment”. “That’s what you are doing”, Keith said. “Civic virtue”. That just about made the whole project worthwhile, right from day one.

Keith's note
Keith’s note

– As we ate a decadent breakfast after our dawn performance on Day 2, Carmen showed me this quote from John Cage’s “Silence”:

John Cage 'Silence', p. 68 (thanks, Carmen).
John Cage ‘Silence’, p. 68 (thanks, Carmen).

I had lent this book to Carmen just a few days ago, but I have no memory of reading this quote previously. I think maybe it is another possible response to Keith’s question of “Why are you doing this?”

– Audiences (I mean, people who have actually come to see us, as opposed to passersby/accidental audiences (who are really important as well, but in a different way!)) are vital for me as moral support. We had quite a nice gathering of friends on Sunday afternoon, and a couple at dawn on Monday who had come to see us especially.

– This morning (Day 2), I was playing a string of bells against a metal rubbish bin. A garbage man, who I didn’t notice, was waiting to empty the bin. He waited patiently for me, until Chun-liang drew my attention to him. He came and changed the bin, then let me return to what I was doing. Some of the security guards have been annoying, but I am grateful to the people who have let us go about our craziness, even if it is interfering in their jobs, like the garbage man. We are just doing what must be done.

I think we are both feeling quite worn out, after just two days. Dawn was really hard (getting up at 5am to be there at 6am), but so worth doing. A magical experience. We will have to pace ourselves over the week. 3am on Thursday night/Friday morning is going to really challenge us, but I think we will be ready.

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