Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Artists Explore Coordination by Living in Giant Hamster Wheel

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Sunday is the final day to catch a Brooklyn art exhibit where two artists have been living inside a giant hamster wheel since February 28. NY1's Steven Kastenbaum visited the exhibit and filed the following report.

Imagine living every minute of every day not being able to make a move unless you coordinate it with someone 20 feet above you. That's what artists Ward Shelly and Alex Schweder have been doing for more than a week, living inside a giant wheel made out of wood and suspended from the ceiling. Their art installation is called “In Orbit.”

“The way we work the piece is by shifting our weight within it. If we want to move from say the bed to the desk, we have to get up and walk and turn the wheel so that the desk comes in level. We're always standing in the same place,” said artist Alex Schweder.

The wheel is 20 feet in diameter and it's suspended five feet off the ground. It has everything you could possibly need to live for ten days - a bed, a desk, a chair, two kitchens, it even has a toilet.

The kitchen and toilet can tilt so they remain level as the wheel turns.

“We've brought enough food, we have enough water and all of the activities that you go through in your normal day are here,” said Schweder.

Alex and Ward call their work social relationship architecture. While they've been living in the wheel they say they've gotten away from the mindset of being an individual and learned more about working collaboratively toward a goal.

Living this way requires a lot of cooperation and patience. But they've had some practice at being part of an art installation before.

“We've made a kind of trilogy of works, the first being a piece called ‘Stability’ where we lived on a balance beam. The next was ‘Counterweight Roommate’ where we had a building in between us and we were tied off at the waste to a rope. And we would use each other as a counterweight to move from floor to floor,” said Schweder.

A steady stream of people have come by to see this work in motion.

“It's whimsical. It's beautiful, it's pretty cool,” said one attendee.

“It was ginormous,” said a young attendee.

There is still some time for you to see Alex and Ward living inside their creation at The Boiler on North 14th Street. The Boiler will be open on Saturday until 10 p.m. for Armory Arts Week, and then from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The two artists will come down from their wooden wheel at 5 p.m. on Sunday. At that point, they say they'll each enjoy a beer and a long, hot shower.

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