to carry a picture
It was clear from the beginning that people, for most of them, disliked the experience of being tightly stuck with strangers in a slow moving underground vehicle. In order to survive the unpleasantness of it all, one has to minimise the very notion of being there. To do so, several techniques can be used although the commonest is to avoid any and every form of eye contact - sometimes to the point of stupidity. The easiest way to do so being to look elsewhere, any two-dimensional media will do; books, magazines and newspapers are abundant down there. The tube is probably second only to libraries for that matter. Other people's shoes represent a poor substitute compared to the safety and comfort of one's newspaper.
As an artist I quickly took on the matter of providing two-dimensional media for those in need. Rather than giving newspapers away - that is what I did for a living at the time - I began to carry a picture on a board attached to my back. By doing so, I provided those in need of setting their eyes on a two-dimensional media with a ready-made, convenient and non-judgemental solution.
I carried a picture for a little under a year beginning in February 1999 and it is, to date, the longest performance I have engaged in. It is also the first of several projects I have undertaken in the London Underground under the banner General Improvement for TfL. Most of the themes that I tackled in subsequent performances - public transport, anonimity, engagement, communication - were first explored in this project.
Below are most of the images that were used for the performance.