I would title this social method project “Goodnight Kiss.” I have a son, and every night before bed I give him a good night kiss. Goodnight kisses are this moment of caring for someone and of saying goodbye before entering sleep. Even though you may be in close physical proximity with someone, sleep puts you far away in consciousness, so the goodnight kiss is recognizing that separation. I was thinking what it means to recreate that moment with a stranger.
When I was thinking about what to do for this project, I started considering all my everyday activities. I quickly started thinking about the rituals of bed time (dressing for bed, brushing teeth, turning off the house lights, singing lullabies, etc), and I finally landed on going out to the sidewalk and offering people goodnight kisses, because this is such an important part of my day. It’s a time when I feel personally really thankful for my family and it is filled with a lot of love. It’s also a little superstitious, like it’s a bit of protection before entering sleep, and I really like that.
I went outside my home at 9pm, a little earlier then I tuck my own son in at night. I live near a train station, so I waited for a train, and as people left to go back to their homes, I said “Good night!” and if the person paused at all, I asked them if they wanted a good night kiss. Most everyone turned me down, a few laughed, and some ignored me. Since my question was outside the social norm, it was a little awkward, and I think a lot of people were trying to figure out what I was doing (and also wanting to get home). One fellow did stop, and let me give him a good night kiss, however! My friend, who was hanging out nearby then took a quick photo, which is included above.
I was thinking a lot about the Sophie Calle phone booth as I did this project, about making a corner of the world a little nicer or more special. (And also how that project was a product of a relationship between the artist and the writer Paul Auster) I was also thinking of recreations, and the amazing work Battle of Orgreave by Jeremy Deller. It’s really interesting to think of recreating a historical moment as an art project. And I was thinking what it is to recreate a personal moment.
I was also thinking about the way we connect to one another socially, and how you might be able to recreate a familial bond with a total stranger. I was really taken with the interview with Enrique Peñalosa from Bogota, and that inspired me in this project, of really thinking about the street and the pedestrian in city life. So in a way I hijacked the pedestrian and placed him in the role of a family member for that moment of a kiss.