Parting Shot: ReActor | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Parting Shot: ReActor  

  • Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley's ReActor ,photographed on October 8 by Roy Gumpel

A small crowd gathered after being dropped off in a field by a rickety golf cart at Omi International Art Center in Ghent in early October. Two men were positioned about a half a foot above the group, in what looks like a windowed boxcar tottering on a cement beam. A few people commented on the man sleeping peacefully inside, in full view of the audience, a red blanket pulled up to his neck. He woke up and walked out onto the deck, mid yawn, wearing a red jumpsuit. The other man was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, and stood parallel to him on the structure's other side.

ReActor is a piece of performance architecture by Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley that explores connections between balance and privacy in social relationships. Schweder and Shelley met at the American Academy in Rome in 2005. They have collaborated on a variety of performance art before, but ReActor was their first outdoor exhibition. It was on site at Art Omi all summer, and the duo's last residency for the season was from October 6 to 10.

Schweder left the deck, moving inside to put away a pot as Shelley sat outside, talking to two women. The structure tipped down like a boat diving into a choppy wave when Schweder moved outside. Someone asked if they ever feel sick or scared inside the structure. What happens when it tips too far? Do they ever get bored? How much does it spin?

"It's a five-day trip. It's not too hard, I could tell you," Shelley said. "This is not doing that much. I would say being on a Greyhound bus is a bit more of a trial." Shelley's black-socked feet dangled lazily over the structure's edge. ReActor kept spinning in a circular motion.

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