The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center is often noted for its “out there” exhibits, something that turns off many RPI students. This, however, is not the case with EMPAC’s latest feature; Take a Day for Yourself, by Danish artist Mads Lynnerup, tells the story of eight people who decide to take 24 hours for themselves and break away from their daily routines.
The exhibit, which opened on Thursday, October 1, is very simple. Surrounding the mezzanine are posters drawn by Lynnerup that follow each person’s day off, as well as a caption featuring a horoscope from the person’s astrological sign. “The Metroland horoscope was supposed to be a representation of the day,” remarked Lynnerup during the opening reception.
The main attraction of the exhibit, however, is the video footage of the eight people as they take their days off. In the middle of the floor are wooden stumps and beanbag chairs for sitting, while three television monitors run a 12-minute video of all of the people’s day off. The film, which was taken by Lynnerup, is uncomplicated, simply featuring snippets of each person during his/her own activity. “I tried to keep it not like a reality TV show,” stated Lynnerup.
The new art installation is a follow-up to one of Lynnerup’s prior works. In 2008, the artist created Routines, an exhibition that followed residents of Denmark as they went about their regular day. This is a direct contrast to Take a Day for Yourself, which follows residents of the Troy area as they do something different. “I didn’t think it’d be hard,” commented Lynnerup about asking people to relax for a day. He went on to describe how different American culture was, in that people in the United States often find it hard to stop working.
Aside from hearing from the artist, reception-goers got the unique opportunity to talk with many of the people featured in the show. “Americans don’t take enough time off from work,” commented Peter Jones, a subject of the exhibit who agreed with Lynnerup’s sentiments. “People think too much.”
When asked about her day, featured resident Nina Pattison stated, “It left me with a mess.” Pattison, who decided to sort a box of photos and letters, joked how her table was still untidy a month after the taping. “It’ll get cleaned eventually.”
“It’s like spontaneous,” commented Elias Hajj Nasr, owner of Beirut restaurant. “It’s different from the other days of the week.” Nasr, who spent the day with his family and art, enjoyed receiving the opportunity to participate. “I’d like to share this day off with others.”
Lynnerup also took pleasure in following his subjects around. “I liked getting to know the idea behind a city,” he commented of the alternate ways to spend a day in the area. “It was fun not moving so much and getting to know Troy.”
Curator for Time-Based Arts Kathleen Forde specifically approached Lynnerup for production of an exhibit at EMPAC. “I wanted something along the lines of an installation that is alive,” stated Forde. She went on to talk about how she was acquainted to Lynnerup and knew he could provide something new to the center. Take a Day for Yourself is EMPAC’s first long-term exhibit.
The exhibition is open free to the public during EMPAC operating hours, and will be running through the end of November. There will be a special reception on Friday, October 30 from 5–7 pm as part of Troy Night Out.