Small Conversations 1, 2011

performance installation

Documentation from a series of performances collectively titled Small Conversations, 2011 – 13, where the artist sought out members in his community to introduce himself and develop a dialogue about creativity and expression within the context of their professions. Each project lasted 1 month and culminated in body of work and exhibition collaboratively produced by the artist and selected participants. The following statements are written by each participant.

John C Gonzalez

I wanted someone to decide what I should and shouldn’t do. I wanted this person to be someone with whom I did not have a pre-existing relationship, but who was someone I could trust because of their dedication to their own work. Upon relinquishing control of what the work would be about or look like, I found it difficult to restrain myself at times. I constantly wanted to tell James what to do instead of listen to him tell me what to do. I gave him my opinion of what good and bad art was and suggested how to make things better. But in the end James had the final say. 

My motivation for beginning this project was to reach out into the city of Boston and gather the attention of individuals; strangers whom I’ve never meet, who are currently striving for success in areas outside of artistic production. What is the value of creativity and what determines success in their fields? Small Conversations is an artistic endeavor that requests the creative minds of invited participants to each conceive of and choreograph a single one-month project that will utilize my abilities and limitations as an artist to assemble the ideas of each participant according to their own direction. It is my hope that when each participant returns to their respective work places, they might examine opportunities for creativity differently and for me to assimilate their ways of seeing into my future projects.

James Thornton

This piece represents the scientific process and the constraints under which knowledge and truth are defined.  Presented with an inflexible reality, the job of a scientist is to use the tools of the senses to uncover the nature of things.  The materials used here either represent the foundations of knowledge (facts, discoveries, etc.) or are several of the tools used in a modern biological research laboratory. In this piece we set out to create a stable monument, using only the defined materials, with each component relying on the stability of the component placed before it. Each piece was assigned an identifier, and a random number generating algorithm determined its order. We did not deviate from this randomized ordering, but instead were constrained by the strength of the varying components, their weights, and their abilities to fit or stack with the component placed before. We made rational decisions on the form of the sculpture at each point and strived to make these decisions lead to something both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy. James made executive decisions while John performed the physical act of building.  Furthermore, since the goal of the piece was not only the product but also the process, the act of building was photo documented with the images now displayed to show the viewer the process of construction.

photo credit: Johnna Simpson



John C Gonzalez