i started writing this blog to write about things that inspire me and instill passion in me. everyday, i find more and more that i want to write about. i always have an ongoing list in my notebook of things i want to write about, it seems like there is a never ending list of inspirational things.
tonight when i got home my sister told me about this artist, michael townsend that was recently arrested in a providence mall for having built an apartment w/in the parking garage. apparently he had been living in it off and on for the past 4 yrs, w/ seven other artists. i laughed out loud when she mentioned the four yr part. how awesome is that?
i was instantly intrigued by his reasoning behind it, and his goal in creating an apartment in the mall that would be a performance piece.
michael watched the mall being built from his own, actual home from 1997 to 1999. during that time he found a space in the parking garage of the mall that was used for supplies. this would later be home to his 750 sq. ft apartment, it was during the christmas season of 2003 that michael was inspired by advertisements on the radio that talked about "how great it would be to live" at the providence place mall.
that became the backbone of his piece, his new home. for the next four yrs he and seven other artists would live in the apartment for up to 3 weeks at a time to try and gain a better understanding of malllife, as the project was soon to be called. they documented hours and hours by video, and only 6 photographs. as he so simply says in his explanation on his website:
"Life from within the mall was committed to the pursuit of normalcy and the purchase of objects and clothing that would help define me an active participant in the great things the mall has to offer. The apartment was a superb space for hosting guests and I only regret that we didn’t have a working toilet."
equipped w/ furniture, lamps, rugs, china closet, breakfast nook, paintings, a waffle iron, a tv and of course a sony play station the apartment was becoming an actual abode. perhaps basic, but livable none the less. sadly the playstation was eventually stolen during a break-in sometime last spring. the irony of a fake apartment being burglarized is pretty priceless and not to mention casts an ironic light on the project. although the artists were no doubt bummed that their games were gone, i don't think they could have planned a better addendum to their project.
sadly this all came to an abrupt end when michael was apprehended outside the apartment recently by mall security. and what began as a social experiment in mall living has now turned into criminal trespassing. michael has plead no contest and got off w/ probation.
i personally think this story rocks and want michael to be my friend. it's inspirational on so many levels. what i love about it is the genuine sincerity that comes across on his website about what it was he was trying to do. he has a thoughtful stance how in hindsight he feels a bit badly about taking up people's valuable time. i also really love the length of time it went on for. that in and of itself is just downright hilarious and not to mention some what epic in an age that things come and go like the weather. i will say that it's really sad how the mall spokespeople reacted. chalking it up to a childish prank, and acting as if they had been taken advantage of.
you can check out michael's website here. and read more about this story here and here. also be sure to check out michael's other projects.
grainy photos of apartment used w/ permission from michael townsend.
home sweet home map used w/out permission from the providence journal.
* here i dreamt i was an architect by the decemberists.