A site specific social distancing performance bt Clinton Whiting

Last week I had the privilege of assisting Salt Lake City-based artist, Clint Whiting create a work of art, both complex and beautiful, for an exhibition of site-specific artwork held throughout Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities. The work was poignant and thoughtful, and Clint had prepared masterfully to execute the performance. 

The work, entitled Holladay Quilt, took place in an outdoor community performance venue, a large grassy field that looks up to a gazebo where concerts are held in the summer. Families come with blankets and coolers to listen and watch, creating a patchwork of quilted seating on the green field. The performance season, of course, has been suspended this year and the field was mostly unused. 

Clint set up cameras along the perimeters of the field and had a drone operator fly a drone two hundred feet above the site. Then a group of thirty volunteers set to work. Slowly we set up one hundred and fifty blankets across the field. Then quietly exited so that two performers could sing to the empty blankets. 

There was something sad and beautiful and haunting about standing there on the road, next to an empty field covered with blankets, listening to the soft music roll across the space. It is one of the most poetic statements about social distancing that I have seen created by an artist.

Now, this work is going to be edited into a video where we can see the bloom of blankets across the green substrate from two hundred feet. We will hear the music played to the empty field, and we will miss the crash of applause at the end. And this video will be exhibited through Popwalk so that it can be accessed right on that field, at any time. 

I can imagine a time in the future, when the restrictions are lifted; a family will be sitting on the field, surrounded by others, anticipating a performance. One of the group will open the Popwalk app, noticing that there is a video right on that spot, and as they wait for the performance, surrounded by hundreds of others. They will see the same field that they are on, empty, but for the blankets. There will be a reminder of a time that we all spent inside for fear, or for reassurance, or for faith in our community. That video will stand as a testament to our collective action that we made on our own behalf and for others.

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