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Performance Artists to Live In Hamster Wheel-Like Installation

By Radhika Marya | February 27, 2014 4:52pm

WILLIAMSBURG — If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a human being inside a hamster wheel, now's your chance.

Performance artists Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder will be living in a 25-foot hamster wheel-like contraption for 10 days, starting Friday, in The Boiler space at the Pierogi gallery. Shelley told DNAinfo that the exhibition, called "In Orbit," is designed to show how people need to cooperate in order to make a system work.

A collection of furniture, as well as a kitchen and bathroom, are affixed to the wheel — requiring the artists to move carefully in order to get to anything they need. The wheel was first reported by The Brooklyn Paper. The artists "must walk in tandem to rotate the giant wheel," they said.

"The idea is about cooperation in terms of the shape of the object," Shelley said.

This isn't the first time Shelley and Schweder have worked together on a project of this nature; in fact, Shelley, described "In Orbit" as the third part of a series. The first part, "Stability," required being on a seesaw-like structure.

"The other person had to move at the same time or you would tip over," Shelley said.

The duo also explored teamwork in an earlier project, "Counterweight Roommate," which involved living on a tower-like structure with the two artists tethered to each end of a single rope. Movement in the installation depended on an opposite movement by the other person.

"To go up to the kitchen, he had to go down at the same time," Shelley said.

For "In Orbit," the two artists will remain on site day and night for 10 days, excluding a couple of brief breaks when Shelley teaches a Monday art theory class at Parsons and Schweder teaches a Thursday architecture class at the Pratt Institute.

"This work has a lot to do with the environment that we build," Shelley said. "The world is being reconstructed and that's sort of the underlying inspiration for these rather more extreme constructions that we make, so when you build something and you change something, you have to adapt to it."

"In Orbit" will be at The Boiler at the Pierogi gallery from Feb. 28 to April 5. The performance featuring the two artists will take place Feb. 28 through March 9. For more information, visit this website.