Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry
began their collaboration in 1996 with Witness: Perspectives on Police Violence. The husband and wife team work nationally and travel globally to engage with subject matter and images of pressing and, at times, controversial civic concerns for their large-scale projects. Among many works in progress, the artists are also creating Silence, a series of distinctly individual, site-specific installations that will unfold over a ten-year period, examining the Underground Railroad and the legacy of slavery. The project debuted in New Haven and its next installations are planned for New York City and Washington, D.C. Their work is currently featured at the Neuberger Museum Biennial in Purchase, New York. They reside in Brooklyn, New York, and their work can be viewed at www.conjunctionArts.org.

Civic Endurance is Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry’s series of life-size color photographs and a video that together document a 25-hour endurance performance with homeless Seattle teenagers. The portraits were taken minutes before each youth took part in the performance; afterward they gave their testimony during an audiotaped interview.

The performance took place on a Seattle public sidewalk from 6:00 p.m. on August 5th, 2002, until 6:59 p.m. the following day. The
action was simple: 26 homeless youths stood still looking directly into the camera for an hour without speaking. As each completed the hour-long performance, there was a transitional moment in which the next youth walked into the frame of the camera, and then directly behind the first performer. They overlapped for a few moments and then the initial performer walked off camera while their replacement stepped forward into the same position, again looking into the camera. As they stand still for the hour, the video is rendered with a time-lapse effect in which traffic and pedestrians pass by and light fades into night and back again; during the transition from one youth/performer to the next, the video is slowed down. The audio tracks on the video combine street sounds with edited sequences of the interviews that were recorded prior to the performance. Each hour of real-time performance is compressed to five minutes,
creating a finished work of two hours.

Although the performance occurred in a public setting, it was not audience-oriented. The video camera was placed across the street with minimal production equipment so that the general public walked past the youths without acknowledging their presence. The video captures the theoretical invisibility of the youths and the poignancy of this evidence is accentuated when combined with their testimony.

The goal of standing motionless for an hour is a significant act of endurance for youths who face drug addiction, attention deficit, and health-related issues. The act of standing still combines two ideas. Each youth who participated in this collective action dedicated his or her participation to the memory of friends who died from life on the streets, and thus “stood for” those individuals who were absent. They were also engaging in a quiet act of civil disobedience by opposing the Seattle Civility Laws that make standing or sitting motionless a crime.

 

Stacy (August 5th, 2002; 6:01 p.m.–7:00 p.m.)

It doesn’t matter where you came from, I came from a good family. It doesn’t distinguish, it takes a hold of you no matter who you are or where you came from.

When I was homeless and strung-out, the one thing I would never do for money, drugs, a place to stay, food, anything was sell my body. I think, because I’d given up everything else about myself I wasn’t willing to give up my soul, my body. My body’s not a piece of candy that I give to someone. That’s the one thing that I can actually keep and no one can take it from me. It wasn’t my body, it was my soul that I would be giving up if I would let someone violate me in that way for a high.

The one thing that really sucks about heroin is that it takes your memory. And I really don’t remember a lot of things, a lot of specifics like feelings. I can’t say if I was happy, sad, upset, depressed, probably a little bit of everything.

Frank and I were actually walking down Broadway and we’d gotten high and, we were like, we gotta stop. So, I called my mom, who has never been able to say no to me and she put us up in a hotel so we could kick. We suffered through it and my mom was there to rub our backs and to bring us juice. She came every day. She helped us look for an apartment and she help us pay for an apartment.

Frank had all of his stuff in storage and we got to go get all of his stuff out of storage. And I got to move into my first apartment. I have a roof, and I have a shower and I have a refrigerator and a stove, and a fuckin’ bedroom, and a carpet and a key! Unlike a lot of people I left home and I was homeless when I started using. All I had was what was on my back.

My friend Megan Smith died of a heroin overdose. She had just turned 15 and she went on a trip to California and she ended up gettin’ arrested on the way and bein’ put into a youth home.