Transaction Absent

Transaction Absent 1.1

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Description: The solicitation of members of the public on the subway in New York is a common occurrence.  For example, individuals busk with musical instruments or their voice, perform dance moves with the subway car infrastructure, recite their personal story, or offer self-published books and home made sandwiches.  As most people travelling on the subway wear headphones, they do not listen to, or deliberating switch off from these unsolicited actions.  Another, strategy to attract attention is the silent solicitation, where for example, a woman on the L train places yellow cards on the laps of passengers.  The cards display the sign language alphabet and on the other side a note states that she is deaf and asks for financial assistance.  A boy commonly seen on the A or C train, holds up a large three fold cardboard sign that has jewellery attached.  He rings a small bell as he passes through the carriage, stopping in front of individuals he hopes might be interested in making a purchase.

Two Action Researcher/Performers responded to these typical subway scenarios, by positioning themselves face-to-face in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare that is Union Square.  One person wore headphones and the other displayed a series of nine cards.  Previously overheard solicitations were stencilled on these cards, however the subject of the request was removed.  This allowed the viewer to complete the open-ended questions.  The word 'you' was central to each statement implicating the passer-by in the transaction.  Some people watched from a distance before approaching, where as others came straight up to the Action Researcher/Performers to start a conversation.  Two men responded in length to each card as it was progressively displayed and finished the conversation only once the blank card was revealed.  There was no communication between Action Researcher/Performers.


© Astra Howard 2014