In pictures: Human hamsters in New York
The performance art In Orbit, a 25-foot wheel made from wood, steel, and furniture, is home for artists Ward Shelley, top, and Alex Schweder, bottom, for 10 days at the Boiler gallery in Williamsburg, NY.
“I wasn’t prepared for this ... perhaps I should have been,” Shelley said from atop the wheel, his feet dangling off the side of the 25-foot-tall wood-and-metal structure.
One wrong move by him or his fellow human hamster and they risk being thrown off. They are perched on opposite ends of the wheel, 180 degrees from each other, and must carefully coordinate their movements. When one walks, the other must walk in the opposite direction. When one stops, the other must stop.
Ward Shelley eats an apple. “Sleeping is a kind of refuge,” Shelley added. “There’s psychological pressure here being in this thing so when you get to sleep it’s easy to stay there.”
Their live performance called “In Orbit” runs through Sunday at The Boiler, the Pierogi gallery’s performance space in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. A few curious onlookers have come by to gawk at the spectacle, which often is more still life than poetry in motion.
On a recent visit, Shelley and Schweder kept the wheel moving for only a few seconds at a time. The wheel they built themselves is 60-feet in circumference and equipped with everything they need: narrow beds, chairs, desks, a fridge, rudimentary kitchen (they’ve made omelets and sausages) and a chemical toilet (with privacy screen) – all strapped down. Even the participants are tethered to safety harnesses.
Alex Schweder use his laptop from a desk.
Visitors view the performance art.
Alex Schweder is hidden by a restroom curtain.
Ever feel like you’re on a big hamster wheel and you can’t get off? Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder know that feeling all too well. The two performance artists are spending 10 days living, eating and sleeping on a giant hamster wheel to make a larger point: We all have to work together to get through the daily grind. All photos Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo
Updated: March 5, 2014 04:00 AM