In this performance I inhabited a space behind a painting for ten days. The painting was a wall sized triptych that divided a gallery space into two equal areas. The performance was partly inspired by the Portinari Triptych by Hugo van der Goes I saw in Uffizi collection in Florence, Italy. A giant painting commission by by the Italian banker Tommaso Portinari for the church of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence.
For each of the ten days, once a day a painter executed a set of given instructions for the creation of a painting. Randomly created written instructions were sent via sms the day before each painting action. The painter was responsible for sourcing the paint and brushes with suggestions made to use low cost or no cost sources e.g. donated house paint or unwanted paint from hardware stores.
I inhabited the area behind the painting for the entire ten days. I abstained from food for the duration of the work so I could remain “in” the painting and only consumed liquids during the performance. I collected my urine in sealed plastic containers. I had only the single daily contact to communicate my wellbeing during the performance. I had a mattress, blanket and pillow, telephone, paper and art materials. I made a series of small watercolour paintings during the performance.
This work is an ongoing examination on asceticism and self reflective bodily observation that draws from a long tradition of fasting in religious and spiritual contexts. The experience was transformative as I had to confront my own mortality and stave off overwhelming hunger for days on end.
The painting side of the triptych was streamed live via the internet for the duration of the exhibition by a single surveillance camera. 10 days in a painting is a question in itself. Furthermore questions are evoked about visibility, liveness, surveillance, interiority and spirituality in art.