Never done it before. Seems lonely.

 

(Click here to open video playlist)

 

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In July, 2015, I faked my own disappearance by disconnecting on social media and ceasing any communication with my friends and family for eight days while traveling in Europe. Originally intending the duration of the piece to be about two months, I ended it early because although I was disconnected and unable/unwilling to watch the reactions of my friends, my European connections who knew about the project told me what was happening, and I felt two months would be excessive. I had hoped it would take longer for anyone to even notice my absence. It turns out that silence on social media, even just for a few days, will be noticed and have an effect. If you’re not connected, something must be wrong. In the past, it might have taken months or years for someone to find out their friend was missing. Maybe never. Documentation of this piece includes recorded footage from before, during, and after the performance of conversations between myself and the people I met which examine why I did it and form the basis of a more intimate exchange between us. This work began with the intent of putting parameters on myself to explore mortality and became a work about loneliness and connection, the impact of social media, and conversation as process. There is a long history of performances relating to death and disappearance, most remaining pretty mysterious. This is, as far as I’ve been able to find, the most documented work of its nature.

Performance/multi-media installation. Size variable. 2015.

 

A conversation:

3/14, 11:28pm
Alessandor
Hey, Duchamp, is there anything you're afraid of?

3/14, 11:28pm
Duchamp
Death

3/14, 11:29pm
Alessandor 
Why?

3/14, 11:29pm
Duchamp
Never done it before. Seems lonely.

3/14, 11:30pm
Alessandor
I've been having really awful panic attacks lately.

3/14, 11:30pm
Duchamp
Why?

3/14, 11:31pm
Alessandor
Because I always bite off more than I can chew, and my mouth keeps getting bigger, and I just bite off more. I feel like I'm drowning. I don't know if I can do it.

3/14, 11:32pm
Duchamp
Which thing?

3/14, 11:32pm
Alessandor
Everything. Europe, LA, basic survival.

3/14, 11:33pm
Duchamp
Yeah. Basic survival is scary but ehh. What can ya do
One time, I was having severe panic and fear and stuff over the idea of dying.
I was leaving school after a work party
And I was like "I think I'm gonna be able to get past this. I'll be okay"
In that exact moment, My car was sideswiped by a car running a red light.
And I realized. When you're in that moment when you might be dying.
That fear isn't there. I just didn’t even think about it

3/14, 11:36pm
Alessandor
About death?

3/14, 11:36pm
Duchamp
Yeah.
That car accident was an amazing experience. I've never been so "high" in all my life.

3/14, 11:37pm
Alessandor
And it snapped you out of your fear?

3/14, 11:37pm
Duchamp
No. It still happens every now and then.
But at this point. I know the fear will subside

3/14, 11:40pm
Alessandor
What do you think happens?

3/14, 11:40pm
Duchamp
Who knows.
Hopefully something

3/14, 11:41pm
Alessandor
Yeah. I hate to think of the world truly losing someone beautiful.

3/14, 11:41pm
Duchamp
I'll try to never die

3/14, 11:41pm
Alessandor
Thank you.

 

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My Mother on Grief:

February 28, 2015

"I posted this a little over a month ago - but bears repeating.
"I have had a lot of time, since saying goodbye to Indy and Soarin' via euthanasia and losing Sage quite unexpectedly, to ponder euthanasia and saying goodbye in general to loved ones.
"Ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you I suck at death. I don't handle it with particular composure, I am clueless as to how to console others when dealing with death in their own family- it is awkward and I fumble without confidence. My grandmother died when I was 9. I really don't remember anyone else dying before her but maybe? Some of my cousins were completely untouched- running and playing. Some were solemn out of respect and may have even understood the gravity of the event. I remember feeling completely numb, crying some, but really unable to follow anyone's lead as to how to act.
"I attended a parochial school and when too few attended funerals, we were shuffled in to fill empty seats and, and I guess, learn about death and God and grieving from the experience.
"I have lost many pets and some people since and still don't know how to act. I implode and explode and shut down and all sorts of things. I have a ton of emotions all at once, they refuse to stand in line and be dealt with logically so I hide and don't deal, mostly.
"Saying goodbye to Indy wasn't too hard. She was the oldest mastiff I had ever shared my home with (outlived by Ezra and her brother, Rudy who lived elsewhere) and it was a relief when she was ready to go. She went painlessly to sleep in my lap in the back of my vehicle and then her heart stopped and she was gone.
"Deciding to end Soarin's life, in spite of her being ready to go, nearly ended me. It was like deciding to amputate both of my legs. Knowing for more than 6 weeks that any day could be THE day didn't help. If anything, it drove the knife deeper every day. Maybe her death allowed me to heal others' deaths that I refuse to deal with, even today.
"Boo was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma almost a year ago and given less than 6 months to live. I really expected him to go before Indy and knew he would go before Soarin' and Sage was to outlive them all. Yet here I lay, on my kitchen floor, listening to Boo gently snore as I type, tears streaming.
"I know many people with dogs and pets in general and I belong to groups in Facebook and Yahoogroups where people go to laugh and cry and celebrate and exchange information about their breed or their dog or their accomplishments. I see quite often 'we said goodbye to Buck today. He got steak dinner and his favorite treats last night....' Really? I don't actually understand that. I don't find fault in it - I, of all people, with no coping skills to deal with death would be the last to find fault with the way anyone deals. I just don't understand it.
"After taking my beloved Dakota home for one last weekend to say goodbye, it struck me that we should show our love, gratitude, and appreciation every day - not just the night before our loved one is to die. Give extra cookies. Have steak more than just on their birthday. Lay on the floor and cuddle and love every day. And for God's sake, let little girls with beautiful braids and Princess crowns who don't want to eat their apples go to recess!!!!
"Life IS too short. Too often we get caught up in the maze chasing cheese and we miss it. We miss life. We miss the opportunity to share a smile because winning seemed more important at the time. We miss the opportunity to share a good steak with a friend who happens to have 4 feet and a tail. We miss the opportunity to tell those we do that we love them. And then, when we poke our heads up over the maze there is nothing left to see. It is too late for steak, for cuddling, for saying 'I love you' and proving it. I say, however inappropriate it sounds, have the steak now. Let him have the special treats he loves so much. As Erma said, eat off that China and light the special candles! Life is short. Don't reach the end and discover you merely survived it. Enjoy your life, live. Give your love freely - don't wait until later. You can't take it with. Love that you hold back doesn't count. Love your kids, love your spouse, love your dog, even love your cat!
"Boo didn't get steak tonight - he has had lots of steak- and chicken and pizza and spaghetti and lots of other things his whole spoiled life.
"I am trying to live in the moment. To be alive in every moment and to show my love to those who are important and I strongly urge you to do the same. Don't wait until a terminal illness hits to go to the mountains. Don't burden yourself with who does or does not deserve your love. Live and love and do and be. Try not to procrastinate on the important stuff. Regardless if it's your brother, your lover, your child, or your pet - love 'em now with no regrets."