ENCORE
Mixed media, performance -  Montréal, Québec, Canada
, 2006
Stamped paper, envelopes, helium, balloons, policemen bearing arms.
This is a project which very nearly ended with my death.
It seems a rather stupid project for other reasons altogether now, yet it was conceived at a point where I was obsessing over the idea of randomization, space, and community.
In short, I had thought up an idea to try and assemble a group, or draw correspondence from a set of random people by sending out a mass quantity of helium balloons with directions and invitations. I put a phenomenal amount of work into a my mail out campaign. Hand placed rubber text on a self inking stamper was used to set the address text block onto each of the self addressed stamped envelopes.

The inside text reads:
You are invited to participate in an art project that uses helium balloons to collect information from a random group of people. Should you decide to get involved, your contributions will form part of an exhibition to which you will be invited at a later date. If you are not interested, please pass this along to a friend.

To participate: please submit any of the following using the self addressed, stamped envelope: A photo/ self portrait / or approximation of likeness; also please tell me about your neighbor.
These envelopes were then placed into neat little packages which were tied to large helium balloons.
I rented a helium tank to inflate the balloons but did so in the middle of a park - it was late fall. I quickly froze my fingers and couldn't work fast enough to produce and release a large cloud of inflated balloons so I decided to move the project back indoors at my apartment, a walk-up in central downtown Montréal Canada.
While I was busy working on inflating the balloons,  it seems I would have at least one or three break - either from being overinflated or simply unstable. I became somewhat discouraged and distracted by street noise from a commotion that was occurring outside my apartment. As I opened the door to examine what all the noise was, I was greeted by a violent incident response team that had closed the street, positioned snipers on rooftops and were all training their aim directly at my head as I stepped outside. The exploding balloons has been mistaken as gun fire, and a tactical team had secured a perimeter around my apartment and prepared to take out the "shooter".
What followed was my forceful take down under nervous police direction, and a search and sweep of my apartment. What occurred to me later was that I would have definitely have been shot had a balloon happened to explode as I opened the door.

Unbeknownst to all - I had a video camera set in position to document my project.
What follows are some video stills from the project I called Encore.

For all that work, and brush with death, I have received one returned envelope to date.
This was by no means, what I had in mind when thinking of assembling random members of community from a disparate neighborhood. Not so ironically, all policemen seen here were my neighbors from the 21st precinct down the street.
Video still: Stacked invitations with stamps
Video still: Inside detail of invitation, printed in french and english
Video still
Video still: First launch of helium balloons with attached messages
Video still: First launch of helium balloons with attached messages
Video still: Working from inside the apartment
Video still: Carefully placing balloon to avoid explosion.
Video still: Policeman, too dumb to look in window before entry, notice helium tank, exploded balloons all over floor, and video camera.
Video still: Still clueless
Video still: Backup dummy
Video still: Getting an apology free lecture on why I should feel bad for almost getting shot over an art project.
Video still: Balloon launch minutes after police raid.
Video still: Set of selected images, project in rough sequence.
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