The Performant: The mundane sublime


Park(ing) and Fold {Live} were far from humdrum

It’s the little things. The things we do over and over again—the automatic, the routine, the de rigueur, the rote—that we need to find ways to celebrate above all, because every moment past could be a moment wasted, or a moment redeemed. But as with conceptual artist Kate Pocrass’ long-running Mundane Journeys project, sometimes the moment needs to be curated in order to be illuminated. That principle got some play over the past weekend with Park(ing) Day and Surabhi Suraf’s “Fold {Live}” installation, two very different projects which nonetheless served to turn the most banal of routines into conscious acts.

On Friday, the mundane act of feeding the meter was celebrated with the now-worldwide annual tradition of Park(ing) Day. Though it was occasionally difficult to tell Parks from Parklets, the Valencia corridor was a hopping Park(ing) Day hotspot, with hay bales and a live sheep parked out front Ritual Coffee, a proto-type vertical garden in front of Range, and a green-roofed doghouse in front of Thrifttown. My favorite concept was a little more scaled back yet more performative: a fundraiser for the Prison Yoga Project spearheaded by Mariah Rooney, whose streetside yoga lessons provided both visual and physical stimulation for passerby. Thank goodness for yoga mats, because there wasn’t much else protecting participants from the asphalt jungle, but there was no sign of discomfort marring the serene faces of the stretchers. Down wiggle way, aka Fell Street, the Wigg Party had set out cushions and camp chairs, and were plying people with tea and books of esoterica from founder Morgan Fitzgibbons’ collection. There was still plenty of traffic, and one bargain hunter who wanted to browse the selection of cushions, but the Wigg party’s little oasis of tranquility held strong though the day, despite the wind and uncomprehending cars rushing past.

Sunday at four p.m., a small group gathered expectantly in front of the Federal Building on the corner of Seventh and Mission to bear witness to the second of four “Fold {Live}” performances, conceptualized and choreographed by recent transplant Surabhi Saraf. Based on her 2010 video project Fold, “Fold {Live}” took the familiar act of folding the laundry and turned it into a group meditation. In silence, nine participants entered the staging ground, collapsible laundry totes in hand, and sat streetside on the round cement “stumps” built as if with this very performance in mind. Carefully, fluidly, each took from their tote a black shirt and began to fold them, in unison, with methodical care. A pair of inside-out jeans followed, which each performer first pulled rightside-out with slow, steady motions, and then gently folded them into little squares. Gradually, particularly in the case of colorful, billowing scarves which made a couple of appearances, the work took on an aesthetic cast which solitary laundry-folding rarely seems to embody, but essentially could.

Like any mundane moment, there is always the potential to turn it into something more meaningful. The hows and whys are up to us.

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