Sleeping on the Job

 

Brian Feldman’s occupation includes taking a 50-hour snooze nd attempting to cry. Nice work if you can get it.




Brian Feldman
Brian Feldman’s occupation includes taking a
50-hour snooze and attempting to cry. Nice work
if you can get it.

Some job titles are easier to understand than others.

Bus driver and hairdresser are straightforward enough. Somewhat harder to get a handle on are arbitrageur and shaman.

Perhaps in a class by itself is performance artist, a title that typically applies to someone who’s a bit like an actor and a bit like a painter but, ultimately, is neither.

Like the actor, the performance artist appears before an audience to act out something or other. Like the painter, he often shows what he does at art museums and galleries.

The title fits Brian Feldman, a College Park resident who recently gave a performance called sleepwalk in front of the Frames Forever & Art Gallery on Orange Avenue in Winter Park. Feldman’s performance was part of the gallery’s funky Outsider Art Fair, which was held at the same time as—and sort of in response to—the 50th annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.

For sleepwalk, Feldman slept (or pretended to sleep) in a box with a transparent lid for 50 straight hours. Steps on either end of the box allowed passers-by to walk over the artist, a slender 29-year-old with a frizzy auburn beard. Dressed for sleep, Feldman wore white tube socks and cobalt-blue pajamas adorned with snow globes representing the states of the union.

As he slept, a mesmerizing song called, appropriately enough, “Sleepwalk” played in a seemingly endless loop. More than 200 people stepped right up and walked across the box, but others hesitated.

“He can look up your dress,” one wary woman cautioned a friend, who was just then ascending the steps.

Although the performance required a certain degree of stamina (“there were moments where I wondered what I had gotten myself into,” says Feldman), the artist is not a daredevil of the David Blaine/Evel Knievel school. In sleepwalk, the emphasis isn’t on attempting a physical stunt but rather on making an artistic statement.

“It’s about taking a look at your surroundings and not sleepwalking through life,” says Feldman. “Noticing details and just moving to your fullest potential.”

Born in Philadelphia, Feldman made his acting debut at age 10 as a witch in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Macbeth. In 2003, he segued into performance art. (The work doesn’t yet pay all the bills, he says, but he has “a very good support system.”)

A few months ago, at the Orlando Museum of Art, Feldman performed Trying to Cry, whose title pretty much says it all. Last year on February 29, across from City Hall, he leapt from a 12-foot ladder 366 times (one for each day of the leap year) for a piece called Leap Year Day. And at various times and for various audiences, he has dined in public with his parents and sister.

Coming soon is The End of Television: Part III, which Feldman plans to perform in some appropriate venue on June 12, the day that analog TV is scheduled to end for most of this country. He hopes to gather an audience to watch 50 television screens as they cease to function.

You have to wonder where Brian Feldman gets these ideas. Hey, where else?

He says they often come to him while he’s trying to sleep.

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