Socially Engaged Performance Art, 2010-11
I carried a fishing rod and wore rubber boots everywhere, everyday for over a year.
My aim was to embrace the absurd to engage the everyday.
The project was primarily documented through journaling, which involved my writing down notes recalling the interactions I had with people. The number of interactions I had changed over time – the longer I continued with the project, the more people approached me.
The fishing rod was the catalyst that prompted spontaneous reactions from people, more often than not random strangers, who asked where I was fishing and what I was fishing for. When people approached me, many did so with a sense of familiarity and said things like, “I’ve seen you four or five times now with that fishing rod… where are you fishing?” To which I always answered by saying where I was going and what I was going to do – such as, “I’m going to the Save-A-Lot to pick up some groceries.” Often conversations that began with the fishing rod ended hours later, building a sense of connectedness between strangers.
Alternatively, there were occasions I was denied access to select establishments and made to feel unwelcome in various social situations. More often than not, I was denied access when the fishing rod was perceived a potential weapon or the combination of my boots and fishing rod did not meet specified dress code requirements.
Photographic Documentation by Peter O’Neill