SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Richmond Art Center, 2450 Barrett Avenue, Richmond

Terry Fox, Levitation (17th-21st September 1970)

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I wanted to create a space that was conducive to levitation. The first thing I did was to cover the sixty by thirty foot floor with white paper and to tape white paper on the walls. The floor had been dark but it became such a brilliant white that if you were at one end of it, it glared, it hurt your eyes to look at someone standing at the other end. It was such a buoyant space that anyone in it was already walking on air. Then I laid down a ton and a half of dirt taken from under a freeway on Army Street in an eleven and a half foot square. The mold was made with four redwood planks each twice my body height – I used my body as a unit of measure for most of the elements of the piece. The dirt was taken away from the freeway because of the idea of explosion. When the freeway was built, the earth was compressed, held down. You can conceive of it expanding when you release it rising, becoming buoyant. I was trying to rise, too. I fasted to empty myself. (Fox 2000: 13)

I tried to activate the space in such a way that a residue would exist afterwards, just a feeling, an intangible thing. I tried to do that with a lot of these performances. Especially that one. And it worked. It’s like going into an old house and there’s just one room that gives you the shivers, you don’t know why […] Or a room where you feel there’s somebody in there You know there isn’t, but you still feel it. (Fox 2000: 175)