By Christina Sturdivant on Aug 21, 2012
“On Friday, I was devirginized to Hillyer Art Space’s monthly Soapbox series. The exhibition, entitled Trust Us, included performances contrived by artists Paul Shortt and Samuel Scharf.
When I researched the event, it was described as an interactive performance facilitated by an artistic duo relying on audience members to complete the artists’ works. Like most descriptions, this could be interpreted quite a few ways, so I was anxious to see what was in store.
Walking into the gallery, my attention was quickly drawn away from the hand-crafted art that decorated the walls to Scharf, or rather, his first victim. Scharf’s performance could easily be described as a human puppet show, but rather than the bodies of his puppeteers being dangled by a string, each participant was adorned with a blindfold, headphones and sound piece.
As Scharf stood atop a small, elevated platform in the corner of the room, he guided his assistants through tasks as simple as walking across the gallery, to laying on the floor, to holding conversations with complete strangers.
For approximately three to five minutes, each person was subjected to the control of Mr. Scharf, who simply asked them to “Trust me.”
One bold volunteer explained her experience to me. She said, “I felt really vulnerable—almost like a doll letting someone control my movements. I didn’t know if he would take advantage of the situation and maybe have me do something crazy like destroy the artwork.”
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