<< previous | projects | next >>
PROJECT Wheel of Misfortune, 1986, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Project Description

We were asked by David J. Brown to perform an action at the opening of his exhibition, In Memory of Cynthia, at Old Dominion University's gallery in Norfolk, Virginia.

According to Dave, the group exhibition was conceived "after a funny story that [he] read about a DC arts patron hitting the wrong switch on her wheelchair that caused her to plummet off the side of a cliff in the Italian countryside. Her chauffeur, whose English was rather poor, said that she yelled either, 'Help me, you idiot!' or 'God save Washington art!'"

WoM was born after hearing about the show's premise. The wheel--covered in a helix of protruding nails, the iconography of catastrophe and festooned with doll heads on the spokes' tips--was mounted on the storefront gallery's fa?ade for the performance. It was kept there for the exhibition's duration so passers-by could spin it. The opening performance format was that of a game show or sideshow and featured Lynn as wheel spinner Vanna Blight and Jared as the barker who invited attendees to spin the wheel to determine their misfortunes and those of their loved ones. A sound track called the audience out to the performance and provided suspense as the wheel turned.

It was one of the first projects Peter Winant chimed in on, mostly working on the wheel itself. We converted a front auto wheel to get the spin and used lead shields to ratchet the whole thing to the wall above the front door of the gallery....a spinning wheel of potential death. Peter had told Jared that the lead shields would only take just so much torque, as they were held into a slightly crumbly wall. Of course, that meant he would spin the wheel all the harder. No one died that night, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.

The success of this performance laid the foundation for the following year's invitation to perform God Is My Point Man.

Participating Artists