Endurance, 2003

Civic performance, Photography, Video, Seattle, WA

A video and photography project documenting a performance of endurance and defiance as 26 youth stood motionless for an hour consecutively to commemorate friends who died from life on the streets. These acts of commemoration were also meant to challenge eattle’s vagrancy laws.

Description: Artists Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry asked 26 youths to stand motionless on a Seattle public sidewalk, while looking directly into the camera for an hour. This was a significant act of endurance for youths who face drug addiction, attention deficits and other health-related issues. Each youth who participated in this collective action dedicated their participation to the memory of friends who died from life on the streets, and thus ‘stood for’ those individuals who were absent.  They were also engaging in a quiet act of civil disobedience in opposition to the Seattle Civility Laws that make standing motionless a crime.

The performance was then turned into a video that compresses the 25-hour action into a two-hour recording. This video shows a full cycle of night following day, with pedestrians and cars passing at breakneck speed as the kids maintain stillness, pairing swirling chaos with motionlessness. In the DVD soundtrack, the pictured youth explain eloquently and often heartbreakingly their experiences with drug dependency, difficult childhoods and street crimes. Stark frontal portraits of the teenagers taken a few minutes before their performance redefine the notion of a film still. These images are both unflattering and seductive with rich detail and color saturation. The tough poses of the youth mask both their fear and their vulnerability.

Context: The Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs’ Arts Up Program, which pairs artists with the community groups commissioned McCallum and Tarry to create Endurance. The artists were selected by the homeless youth advocacy organization PSKS (Peace on the Streets by Kids from the Streets) during an interview process that included a selection panel of 15 homeless teens, many who eventually participated in the artwork.

Acknowledgements: The artists give special thanks to the subjects, Stacy, David, Wicked, Fish, T-Bone, Della Rose, Bill, James, Tony, Frank, Billy, Frost, Nicole, Jaclyn, Gimp, Jarred, Mike, Momma Sara, Janaea, Johnny, Raven, Maria, Vanessa, Richard, Jessica, and Kim, for their collaboration, and to Tiffany, Laura, Filth, Dirty, Elita, Bugg, Melissa, Elaine, and Rooster for their support.  The artists also give thanks to Roy Wilson, Brendan Reed, Mark Luttrell, Studio 62 (Andrei Kalour, Matthew McGuinness and Morgan Sheasby), the Beijing Jinglida Image Picture Technology Group, Jack Straw Productions, and 911 Media Center for their design and production support.

Funding: Endurance was made possible by the generous support of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. ConjunctionArts, PSKS and the Allied Arts Foundation of Seattle have provided organizational sponsorship.