The Water Table Performance, was a durational performance artwork which took place on the ‘Greenway’, a linear park in the centre of Boston, USA. The artwork was part of ‘Transactions II’ project, an exchange between BBeyond Belfast & Mobius Inc. in Boston, USA. Ten artists made performances in the park over two days; five on the 22nd. and five on the 23rd. of September 2018.
I was allocated a specific site within the park, a low circular mound surrounded by seven trees and border on one side by an open-air bar.I located a wooden table near the centre of the circle and constructed a tall four-legged stand from wooden batons with a back feather suspended below it. This stand was located to one side. A series of wooden batons, of different lengths, were then placed around the edge of the circle. I also placed a chair and set of wooden stepladders within the circle. A silver bowl, filled with water, was positioned on the tabletop, another one below the table, and a third below the suspended feather and stand. A silver circular tray was also positioned on the table and silver ball placed onto the tray. A plumb line was suspended under the table, just above the bowl of water. The line travelled through a hole in the tabletop and was connected to the other end of the feather suspended within the stand. At the start of the performance I attached seven stalks of cotton grass onto the table, so as they stood vertically and swayed in the breeze. One by one I clamped the shortest lengths of wood onto each table leg and lifted the table slowly by loosening the clamps in turn and lifting the table up, bit by bit. In doing so I was trying not to spill the water from the bowl on the tabletop. As the table tilted with each movement the silver ball rotated around the tray and the plumb line swayed out of its central position. Both indicated the loss of equilibrium or stability. As the table rose higher, the first set of batons became too short and these were then removed and replaced with longer pieces of wood. As each baton was removed from the table, I stapled two images onto them. These images were a range of composite images, which I had created. Each image indicated a local river or waterway in and around Boston, with a company logo floating on the surface of the water. The logos were from companies heavily involved in the oil & gas industry in the USA. Each of these discarded batons were then re-positioned around the edge of the circular mound. This process was repeated as shorter batons were removed and longer ones added to the table legs. As the hours passed the table rose higher and higher as each new leg was attached. As the height increased so did the instability of the table. All movements and adjustments had to be carried out with extreme care to avoid a collapse. Eventually I had to use the stepladders to reach the table and adjust the clamps.Once all the batons had been used up they were finally replaced with those forming the four-legged stand. At this stage the table reached it’s terminal height, beyond which it could not be raised further. On reaching this highest point, I recollected the shortest of the previously discarded batons, (with their attached images), and constructed another four legged stand, below the feather and above the third bowl of water. This process was repeated with the next shortest batons and so forth until all the discarded legs had been reassembled into stands above the bowl of water and encapsulating the feather.I then sat on the chair, with my hat pulled down over my face and head. I sat still until the end of the performance, at which point I left the circle.