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In a world of performance there is truth and authenticity in simplicity.


Each and every day we are corralled through a landscape of performances.

Just analyze the tonal range of “How are you?” Its structure on the musical scale is eerily similar to the chirpy falsetto of “Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.” In conversation, the thing being sold is an image and its appearance. Most often there is no genuine interest in how the other person is doing.

Would you like your fakery in plastic to dispose of later and keep things fresh? Or paper for the convenience of recycling your performance again and again?

Our conversations unassailably emulate the physical space in which they occur. Empty words dart about our modern landscape without remorse. Billboards perform fake lives, stimulating a synthesis of varied simulacra. Signage on the sidewalks, barrier ropes in waiting areas, these dictate how and when we move. We submit to a fake navigational rhythm, relinquishing our personal and spatial vantage points.

Break a leg kid, either through performing social conversation or by intentionally tripping over a barrier rope, next time you may be in a wheelchair, so limbo underneath it. Being out in the modern world is a tricky business and your soul on stage invariably spews the script.

Yet what is everything to the discerning eye? In this muddled modernist landscape there is truth and authenticity in simplicity. There is beauty in banalities.

What is realer than the vivacity of a tulip-tangerine shopping cart measured against the equalized identity of the bench? What is starker than an unused, mind-emptied parking meter compared to the calm blue ocean? Equality and the letting go of thoughts are found and made available if one takes the time to look.

Take control of your performance. Stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Your landscape is not an alluringly schizophrenic consumer panorama, but a composition with the potential to be deconstructed into rudimentary geometry and simple color. Take back your right to engage public space and intersect it with aesthetics. A revolution of the canvas begins with the eye seeing the canvas as if for the first time. “How are you?” you may ask my eyes. “I am well,” my eyes will respond.

And that response can only be true and authentic.

— Stephanie Lehr is an artist based in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

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