Devora Neumark’s inter-disciplinary practice includes live-art, durational performative interventions, sound and photography installations, public commissions, storytellings and community art. Her street interventions are characterized by a direct sharing and exchange with the individuals who come across it (mostly incidentally), and who choose to approach, witness or participate.
One of her performance is called Présence
It’s a solo intervention within the group project entitled Sur l’expérience de la ville : organized by Gallery Optica .
Over a period of eight weeks beginning in September of 1997, Devora Neumark sat on a wooden bench placed in various places around the city of Montreal. Starting with the point of a needle and the model of the Jewish Kippa, she made herself a kind of garment that adopted the outline of her body. She would change the colour of thread, using purple for encounters and discussions and yellow for when she was alone. Neumark wove together her daily experience and interractions with people as if she were weaving the memory of people.
Devora Neumark experienced some very moving encounters by simply being there with herself and others.
Here is a story that she recalls:
While sitting barefoot again – this time at the plaza by the Musée d’art Contemporain – actively crocheting, an elderly woman with a deeply lined face and kindly eyes stopped. She did ask me what I was doing. I responded to her question by saying that I was crocheting and that I would continue to crochet five hours a day, every day, for eight weeks in different public settings around Montreal. I crocheted in yellow when I was alone, and switched to the colour purple when someone cared to stop. This woman sighed deeply and began to tell of her life under the Chilean regime of General Pinochet. She spoke of how her family was scattered and how her memories still held pain and sorrow. She spoke for nearly an hour, addressing her words as much to herself, as to me. All the while, I was crocheting continuous rows in purple. When she came to the end of her expression, her eyes welled up with tears and with a voice full of all that she was feeling, said “I am so pleased that you changed to purple when I came to speak with you, because I deserve to be in someone’s story.”
In the words of John Cage, this is clearly art that allows for self-alteration.