“The Talisman” was performed on 14th St. in Manhattan, 3-4 hours daily featuring a hybrid muppet-shaman offering solutions to life’s problems in the form of homemade talismans. During the performance passersby were offered free talismans consisting of “Old People’s Hair,” “Enchanted Bird Feather,” “Squirrel Head,” or “Organic Nebraska Grass.” Audience requests ranged from increased confidence, better health care, new jobs opportunities, and eternal love. This piece investigates the ways in which objects take on meaning, either as sacred or mundane, through the action of ritual and magical thinking.
“Bitzalel Friedemann'' was one of two performance works created for The Sheldon Museum’s “The Naked Museum” exhibition in 2013. Bitzalel (my actual Hebrew name) was styled as a stereotypical chasidic Jew complete with beard and long pais curls. The performance featured myself as Bitzalel leading a docent tour of the museum on the traditional Friday evening Sabbath and working in dialogue with the audience, beginning with an introduction stating the intentions of the Jews of the world is to move to Lincoln, NE and rent the Sheldon “temple.” After leading the tour and performing the ceremonial kiddish, the audience was able to follow me back to an empty gallery that served as my home. Inside, the character of Bitzalel was shed and Charley was met by Nancy and Nina—my wife and daughter—surrounded by our furniture and we talking about how the performance went. The audience was then invited to join our family for food, drinks, and dance. This piece explores the various layers of my identity as a Jewish man transplanted to middle America and my feelings of otherness. Additionally the performance sought to break down the walls between performer and audience to achieve a real dialogue between all parties.
“Betsey Geffen” was one of two performance works created for The Sheldon Museum’s “The Naked Museum” exhibition in 2013. Betsey, a gallerist and art dealer I created in 2001, led her own docent tour featuring two new fictional works she “acquired” for The Sheldon Museum by Tino Sehgal and Gino De Dominicis. The Sehgal piece required audience members to craft and throw paper airplanes which Betsey’s earned commission on, while the De Dominicis piece was an incorrectly installed invisible cube that she made audience members lift and re-install. This performance engaged with the perceived elitism of the contemporary art world and found humor in it, all the while creating an opportunity to have a dialogue with audience members about the art world, explore how value is determined and assigned to intangible ideas.
Performing as my alter ego "The Adenoid," I took the audience through a brief history of performance art, holding up images of artists and describing their aesthetic and role in art history. I chose artists based on different subcategories within the discipline of performance art. I then invited audience participation to recreate some of these key pieces.
“Felix, Flowers, Flags & Poems” was performed in Chelsea, New York on the first Valentine’s Day after 9/11. My character “The Adenoid” led this improvised performance, selling authentic candy from Felix Gonzales Torres’ “Untitled (Placebo)” ($1.25), readings of love poems by Rumi ($1.00), plastic flowers, and American flags (both $.75) the entire afternoon. This piece questions how we place value, symbolic or monetary, on objects and what makes them authentic.