A Two-day, Uninterrupted Performance Installation Masquerading as a World Record Attempt

Share Article

The Generalist, Harvard University’s undergraduate art collective, will stage the world’s longest telephone call between two people as both a performance art installation and a world record attempt monitored by Guinness World Records-qualified referees.

“For the purpose of catching ourselves in the act of being the most”

Thursday, January 19, 2012, 00:00 hours (midnight), to Friday, January 20, 22:08 hours

At the Adams Pool Theater, Adams House, 26 Plympton Street, Harvard, Cambridge 02138

The Generalist, Harvard University’s undergraduate art collective, will stage the world’s longest telephone call between two people as both a performance art installation and a world record attempt monitored by Guinness World Records-qualified referees. The conversation will take place over the course of at least 43 hours, 8 minutes, and 55 seconds, with each of the two artists in their own distinct physical space, with audiences welcome to observe in each space. The artists will follow the rules of authentic “conversation” as defined by Guinness World Records, demonstrating both the absurdity and the necessity of quantifying things like human language and social interaction.

The installation comes out of the tradition of Allan Kaprow’s “happenings,” Fluxus, and the legacy of performance art by Marina Abramovic, in which artists have historically imposed strenuous physical and mental conditions on themselves to test the limits of the body. For the purpose of catching ourselves in the act of being the most integrates these experiential art forms with the appropriation of systems from pop culture, such as record-breaking and competitions. The installation is intended to dramatize the absurd, hilarious, commercial institutions of both this record-breaking popular culture, and the art establishment, in playing by both of their rules at once.

The public is invited to come and go at will throughout the performance. In this interactive installation, viewers may take on a range of unconventionally active roles. They may attempt to provoke the conversation, physically interact with one artist or the other, and throw topic suggestions out. But adhering to Guinness’s explicit rules, which have much in common with implicit conventions in art and performance, such as that of a “fourth wall” in theatre—the artists will not verbally address their viewers. The artists will never simply break down and let viewers directly into the conversation. This irony of publicly exhibiting what is by definition a private interaction between two people, closed to outsiders, gets at some of the crucial questions that our digital generation must face. If we live always to document, to put photos on Facebook after the fact —are our private identities merely constructed performances? Or might this new social world simply be more self-aware in its recognition that there is always an audience?

For the purpose of catching ourselves in the act of being the most was conceived and created by the Generalist, an art collective founded by undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Generalist works as a collaborative platform to produce playful, socially aware installations and interventions with the Harvard community as its medium.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Ginny Fahs
The Generalist, Harvard University
404-550-7055
Email >