In my 4th year of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, I created an art performance of which involved social intervention on an activist theme. The materials for the intervention piece included nothing more then a handful of large felt pens and a stack of blank poster paper. With these simple materials I went out into the highest student trafficked area of the University (The outside courtyard) and announced to whomever was present, that I will protest anything they want, all one needs to do is write a protest on one of the blank posters and I will then take on their cause by picketing and improvising a vocal message that will inform the public of their cause. For each protest I would spend approximately five minutes and then move on to the next written poster. I did this piece daily for approximately three to four hours. I accumulated four hundred protest in the span of a month. Protest messages varied from politics, movies, television, sex, jokes, supposedly fake protests in order to test me, racism, feminism, rape and the list goes on. The spectrum of subject matter that was being announced seemed to have no boundary. This presented a dilemma for me. I was faced with the problem of free speech and the debate over whether free speech should have limitations. The piece lasted for almost a full month until the University gave me a clear ultimatum. Either I modify the work so that individuals are not allowed to protest certain subject matter that has been deemed either “Hate Speech” or “Slander” or give up the work all together. If I did not comply with this, the university could have sent me to a tribunal where my academic standing would be in jeopardy. I decided to postpone the work and create a reactionary piece dedicated to the universities position on my Protest performance. This work like most of my art reflected a narrative that could be openly interpreted through many differing opinions and perspectives. I saw many avenues of inquiry from political science, psychology, sociobiology, the study behaviorism, creative writing, feminist studies, evolutionary theory, and of course art theory. I had heard of many classes from differing departments debating and talking about the performance. The dialog at my University was a very exciting and scary moment in my artistic career. This piece enlightened me on the potential of intervention work.
Please Insult Me Date of Performance: April 15/2010 Duration: 4 hours Documentation: Photography Collaboration by Derran Sim and Chad Pratch The performance was held in the middle of the UBCO courtyard. Both performance artists alternated sitting on a small stool while the other stands and interacts with the on coming people. The performer that sits on the stool held a large sign. The sign had a message in bold letters “Please Insult Me.” Below this message there was a lengthy biography of the performer sitting at the stool. Beside the large sign there was a few small blank cue cards made available for the public to use. Individuals were encouraged to write insults on the cue cards for the performer on the stool. After a few comments were written down on the cue cards, the standing performer then read out cue cards to the other performer on the stool. Duration of performance relied on the attention and interest of the public.
Director /Geographer /Writer: Chad Pratch Performers: Chad Pratch, Stephen Scot, Melissa Strzelac, Tara Ferguson, Matthew Brown, Jessica Ross, and Joshua Davidson. Documentation: Camera work by Christina Kashuba Edited by Chad Pratch Duration: 20 Minutes It is at a university that society has deemed where one goes to acquire knowledge. To be a student at a university is to be informed. I believe that the act of worship is not unlike the act of informing. In some universities there are strategically placed televisions that inform students of up coming events, classes lectures, and new add campaigns from the university to convey a sense that this specific university has a safe and inclusive atmosphere for students to learn and create new relationships. UBC calls this “A place of mind.” My interpretation of a cult is a group absent of debate or freedom of thought, where there can only be one truth. For a short moment, I wanted to change the university landscape from “A place of mind” to a place of worship. I created a satirical performance that challenged social expectations of a university setting. I simple wanted to change the way people see a university and incorporate some similarities a cult and a university have. Similarities like labeling ones background in knowledge (Diploma, Degree, Masters, Phd), Classroom atmospheres where the lecture stands in front of the class and the students face him or her in symmetrical rows, presumptions of knowledge by level of certificate (Masters or Ph.d), responsibility within the university structure, public recognition, relationship with the academic network and entitlement of power over others due to ones acquisition of knowledge accepted by the organization. The only differences between these two doctrines of atmosphere are that one is socially accepted (Universities) and the other is not (Cults). The labeling of a cult has negative connotations of dilution, blind awareness of reality and thoughtlessness. I do not believe in this interpretation. Ironically I see many similarities with a so called cult and other socially accepted originations such as religions, galleries, museums, businesses, governments and universities. This does not mean that I believe all these organizations are not in the pursuit of knowledge and that they are not acquiring true knowledge, if there is such a thing. What I am saying is that cults and many other organizations such as universities have many similarities that govern the process of acquiring their specific knowledge and that both atmospheres have a ritualistic standard of performance. In this performance I used a function of the university as a symbol of worship that would be used in what is called a cult.
Alexander Calder’s Chairs Performance By Chad Pratch Location: Seatle Duration: 2 hours In the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Garden there stands a massive red Alexander Calder sculpture entitled Eagle. While visiting this site I notice that the SAM had offered the viewers chairs to sit on, with a sign saying, “Please use chairs.” There was approximately fifty to sixty chairs and every visitor was using the chairs as one would suspect, they were sitting on them. The viewers were mostly using the chairs to relax and lookout into the ocean. I decided to disrupt this relaxing environment by gathering the chairs and stacking them in one big heap. By balancing one on top of the other I was creating a visual performance dedicated to Calder’s theme of balance. I did all this below Alexander Calder’s Eagle. The work lasted approximately fifteen minutes until security showed up and informed me to stop and use the chairs appropriately. I had asked what was appropriate and the security guard felt that I should have assumed the appropriate use of the chairs. I asked the security guard to specify the use of the chairs and he informed me that I cannot stack the chairs but I can however move them. So with this information, I began to move the chairs onto the main pathway of the garden, creating a barricade where viewers would have to make a choice between moving the chairs to get through or walking around the chairs. As suspected most walked around. The security guard did not show up again to inform me that this was inappropriate conduct.
Facebook Invitational Performance in Collaboration with Scott Rogers Location: Downtown Kelowna Date and Duration: August 23/2008 5hrs This piece consisted of nine separate performances that were being simultaneously announced on each performers Facebook Status. Each performance lasted for fifteen minutes. The audience could both follow the progression of the performance on facebook while also seeing the performance downtown Kelowna. My performances consisted of me placing as many nickels in parking meters as I could, running through the streets with a sears catalog yelling at the top of my lungs that “SEARS HAS A SALE!” drinking nine large ice slurpies, playing a Nintendo DS in the middle of the lake, continuous summersaults, public free style raping, making Star Trek sounds every time someone walked into a grocery store with motion censor sliding doors, diving in and out of the water in ten second intervals, and saying hello to strangers and shaking their hands.