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While television viewers have been inundated with reality shows about the everyday lives of ordinary people, none have been performed atop a giant hamster wheel. That is what two New York artists recently did, not just for an hour or two, but for a ten-day period starting from February 28th to March 9th, 2014.
Called 'In Orbit' it was the brainchild of Ward Shelly and Alex Schweder who spent a month designing and building the giant 25-feet tall temporary abode inside the same space where the 'performance' took place. Though it resembled the wheel that hamsters spend hours running on, the metal and wood structure was furnished with all the comforts of home. It had two beds, desks, chairs, a small kitchen complete with mini-refrigerators and even a small bathroom with privacy screens. Everything was strapped down, so that it would stay put when the wheel move around.
Also different was the speed at which the wheel moved. Unlike the furry animals, these men did not spend their days sprinting. Instead, they sat at opposite ends about 180° apart, with 43-year-old Schweder on the inside and 63-year-old Shelly up top on the outside. When one walked, the other did too, in the opposite direction. They both also had to stop at the same time. It is no wonder that the wheel did not move much during the ten-day period and that the artists were relieved when it was night and they could just snuggle into their beds and not worry about falling off.
So why go through what seems like a rather harrowing experience? According to the artists who happen to be close friends, it was a way to 'explore collaboration and trust between two people' and more importantly, to demonstrate that we are all interdependent, even when we don't interact. As for the duration of the performance? They say they picked ten days because it is an easy number to hold in the mind and count down to.
While the Shelly and Schweder are now back on solid ground, the giant hamster wheel is still on display at The Boiler, the Pierogi gallery's performance space in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn for visitors to admire. No word on what the artists plan to do with this fully furnished giant structure after that!
Resources: Techtimes.com, telegraph.co.uk