Marlene Haring: Girl Chewing Gum

Girl Chewing Gum, 40-minute performance, Modern Art Oxford, 26 November 2010.

View panorama in a new window

Chewing gum, Marlene Haring greeted each member of the audience in front of a curtain at the entrance to the performance space, an empty gallery. She guided each person to his or her place and asked them, for example, to take a seat, stand just there, look out the window, take off their shoes, keep an eye on the staircase, assembling little groups and knots. As she brought more members of the audience into the gallery, Haring also observed the activities of the people already in the room and commented them as if she was directing them ‘I want the lady in the grey jacket to look puzzled’, ‘I want the man on the staircase, who sneaked in through the back, to sip his drink in a nonchalant way’, ‘I want these two ladies to continue chatting’, ‘I want the lady in the corner at the back to start knitting’, ‘Yes, very good, keep smiling until the camera comes around’, and so on. In the middle of the room a man methodically turned a panoramic camera, recording the scene continuously on video and rhythmically with flash photography. After a while, the room became animated. When a woman with a baby entered, Marlene directed her by name to give the baby to the camera man and take over the photography. Then she took the baby (her child) from the former camera man, and put him back to work. Haring then put the chewing gum in the other girl’s mouth, ‘I want you to be the Girl Chewing Gum’, The girl chewing gum went to fetch the rest of the audience waiting outside, show them in and direct them. When everybody was inside, she directed Marlene and the baby to leave, the camera man to pack up, and before exiting, asked, ‘Which girl wants the chewing gum?’ and placed the gum in the girl's mouth.