Manifesto

    The Stranger Gets a Gift Service is a centralized and sensitive organization that provides personalized and comprehensive services in the field of insight, internal reconnection and perceptual reorganization through the use of everyday objects and simple actions that create distance between oneself and aspects of day-to-day living that have either become predictable or are taken for granted, in order to enjoy a moment of exchange and contemplation.

WE DO THIS BY:

    Using material that is considered to be existential and basic to every individual (memory, thoughts, ways of communicating and assimilating information, perceptions, aesthetic predilections). Using tools and methods from public service and bringing them into the realm of art. Interrupting daily life by entering into specifically designed spatial-temporal zones.

MISSION:

    To provide services that establish Temporary Zones of Encounter between strangers with the purpose of Exchanging Existential Materials and/or Reorganizing the perception of what is Personal and Common.

DEFINITION OF TERMS:

          USER: The guest
          OPERATOR: The Performer
          INTIMACY: An exchange of a shared moment in time and space, between a guest and a performer where a personal re-organization of what we refer to as “Common Material” can take place. The performer, also referred to as the Operator, cooperates in this reorganization based on how the guest, also referred to as the User, chooses to appropriate the experience. The sense of intimacy results from the tension that is created when what is known (Common) meets what is not known (Personal). Each meeting is brief and the User is the one to decide how deep he we/she wants to go into the experience.
          TEMPORARY ZONES OF INTIMACY: The performance space, also known as the Device, that delineates the zone of time and space where the exchange and experience of what is both Common and Personal takes place.
          EXISTENTIAL MATERIAL: Material that is basic to each individual and has contributed to the construction of their separate sense of self, including but not limited to: memory, thoughts, ways of communicating and assimilating information, perceptions, and aesthetic predilections.
          COMMON: The ground that we all share as a result of living in the same period of time and social demographics, including but not limited to: cultural references, familiarity with, and dependence on technology, a sense of time and space, physiology and perceptions that have been influenced by media.
          PERSONAL: Within what is Common there is also always singularity. The Personal refers to the ways that each person organizes information in different ways that are specific to the individual.
          PERCEPTUAL REORGANIZATION OF WHAT IS PERSONAL AND COMMON: The reorganization of the ways that we think, feel, perceive or categorize what belongs to us and what belongs to the “other”, through three basic methods:
          – A reorganization of objects, processes and actions.
          – A reorganization of perceptions through the use of technology.
          – A reorganization of commonly held concepts, thoughts and paradigms

OBJECTIVES:

      • To enlarge the zone of action of art and widen the possibilities of what art can do.
      • To provide the individual with a delineated moment of space and time wherein they can temporarily remove themselves from everyday activity, engage in self-reflection, self-expression or simply remain silent and be himself, with himself.
      • To create a system of exchange for existential materials.
      • To implement the tools of public service within the realm of contemporary art. This means to question:
        • The notion that art is a luxury that is only afforded to those who have the financial means to experience it or the knowledge needed to engage with it.
        • The thought that art is entertainment and a place where one can “turn off”, escape from the world, forget about daily life or be distracted from any issues that are present.
        • The fact that the systems in our society do not offer regulated spaces for insight and internal awareness aside from those that are considered to be self-help, therapy or related to health.
        • The belief that an intimate moment of self-reflection is a purely individual process that cannot be shared, transferred or communicated collectively.
        • The belief that subjective experiences are so personal that they cannot be systematized.

WE PROPOSE:

      • That art is an essential, basic need that should be offered to people across all social and economic strata.
      • To enlarge the notion of what is intimate by offering spatial-temporal zones where the presence of an “other” activates the possibility of personal insight and self-reflection.
      • That by connecting to the world of the visitor (or User) we can facilitate him/her to “turn on” and actively engage in self-reflection and observation.
      • That art as a means of gaining insight can be a common and customary part of the social system and that by offering it as such we open up the possibility that art can be placed within the realm of services that an individual can choose from as necessity dictates; thus, further opening up questions of, “what does art give me?” and, “when do I need it?”
      • That spatial-temporal zones that address existential needs can be systematically organized and distributed.
      • That the tools of systemization and distribution found within the social services are a viable means to distribute art that meets both, pragmatic and sensitive dimensions of each person’s basic needs.

WE BELIEVE:

      • That all artistic activity comes from life experience.
      • That life experience has the potential to become art and that its origin in life experience is what makes it relevant to and thus sharable with, others.
      • That art has the power to instigate and facilitate self-reflection.
      • That it is important to create, designate and define moments in space and time that are specifically intended to provide an art experience.
      • That one can be empowered by contributing to the construction of their own art experience.
      • That art has the ability to substantiate one’s experience of their interior.
      • That communication with another person is possible even in the absence of the tools of communication that we commonly use.
      • That it is not necessary to have previous knowledge, or a pre-established relationship with a person in order to share something significant and personal.
      • That there are ways to be with another individual in meaningful ways that are not governed by existing protocols or established ways of being and lie beyond any known, or familiar context.

HOW WE OPERATE:

      The Stranger Gets a Gift Service is a platform that hosts different artists and works with them to conceptualize, create and present performances for one-person audiences or audiences with a limited number of spectators. Within this platform, and alongside the overarching concepts found within this mission statement, each performance is created independently and designed to address the topics, media and questions that are relevant to each of the hosted artists. These performances or Devices are presented in theater or gallery spaces as well as any other context that can be linked to public service.
        We use tools derived from the public service sector (reservations, manuals, forms and receipts) to help orient and familiarize the User with the codes and language that is specific to The Stranger Gets a Gift Service. We privilege the experience of the User by designing Devices and performances that can be activated by the User while assigning ourselves the role of Operator or Guide to these machines.
        We create environments that give the User the opportunity to be part of a larger network or chain of strangers where existential material can be exchanged anonymously. The performances we offer operate in two basic ways:
        • Through Closed Structures: In this structure the User is brought into a Device that he or she can experience without influencing the course of events. The Users are taken on a journey that may move them, touch them or open up a space for contemplation and perceptual reorganization of what is being presented to them. In this structure the User provides a piece of information that can be integrated within a pre-establish structure and pre-determined context.
        • Through an Open Structure: In this structure the User is presented with a Device that allows him/her to also act, transform and reorganize Common materials according to an objective of his/her choosing, or by following an objective that has been shared with the Operator; or, the User can offer nothing and instead affect the course of events based on the level of involvement they choose to have. In the Open Structure the piece of information that the User gives becomes the performance itself.