New York Cargo Cult

New York Cargo Cult 1.1

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Description: The Action Researcher/Performer merged two very common scenes witnessed in New York.  The first being that of brown boxes being delivered across the city, pushed and pulled on trollies.  The second being the overt display of emotions as people yell, laugh, cry, sing, talk (to themselves or others) in loud, expressive and often unpredictable ways.  Also, homeless people sitting on footpaths display emotive words written on pieces of cardboard to solicit money.  Such phrases as: 'social anxiety', 'depression', 'recent heart surgery', and 'pregnant', draw an emotive response from those who pass by.  The commodification of emotion, delivered with material intent is commonplace.

The Action Researcher/Performer stencilled emotive words onto brown cardboard boxes, which were loaded on a trolley and wheeled along Madison Avenue and Broadway between 26th Street and 40th Street in Manhattan.  The boxes were rearranged several times so that the words could be read in different relationship to one another.  Members of the public were drawn to the trolley as it moved through the city, making comments such as: "that is quite a cargo you are carrying"; "what's in the boxes?"; "the words are potent"; "that is quite a lot of baggage, people carry that baggage"; "do you work for someone?"; and "are the emotions in the boxes?".  A girl from an animal welfare organisation, soliciting donations and membership support from the public, approached the Action Researcher/Performers asking if she could have the 'joy' box.  She then used this box for the rest of the day to gain greater interest in and support for her campaign. 

© Astra Howard 2014