Good Clean Fun: Fluxus Artist Ben Patterson To Stage Mass Face-Washing in New York
"Contained in a small plastic box was a paper towel, a small bar of soap, and the instruction 'Please wash your face,'" Patterson explains. "As far as I know, this will be the first performance of the piece with total audience participation. People will come to the stage — or optionally, to the bathroom — and wash their face. Afterward, there will be a moderated discussion on the subject: 'How is washing your face in public a work of art?'"
"My work during these last 50 years has always directly engaged the public, generally with success," Patterson continues. "For example: In 1963, I presented 'A Very Lawful Dance for Ennis' at Times Square. Simply stated, the instructions asked the performer to cross the street, backward and forward, again and again, obeying the traffic signals. We began the performance on this evening with a group of about 10 friends. However, within 15 minutes we were joined by at least 100 random passerby and other local Time Square habitués, who apparently thought it was a good thing to do!"
If you think public face-washing can still be an artistic statement in the 21st century — or are simply turned on by the idea of engaging in voyeuristic hygiene rituals — join Ben Patterson at Third Stream on Friday, April 1, at 6pm. The one-time action occurs in tandem with a more comprehensive survey show at Studio Museum in Harlem, "Born In The State of FLUX/us: Scores," from March 31 through June 26.