Finding Stillness- Revisiting The Contaminate 3 Festival- Part 2/3

Willem Wilhelmus

photo by Trevor Powers

Helsinki-based performance artist and organizer, Willem Wilhelmus shared his work with Boston in 2008 at the Contaminate 3 Festival.

photo by Trevor Powers

The beginning of the performance was light-hearted, Wilhelmus asking the audience to gather closetogether.  He asked the audience to let him borrow the coins that they had in their pockets.  The space filled with the sound of laughter and coins rattling as they exchanged hands and fell into Wilhelmus’ fedora.  Once he finished passing his hat, the mood changed.  He began placing the coins on top of his bald head.  It was impressive how the coins adhered themselves to his skin.  He laid down and began covering his face.  He cut open his shirt and continued placing coins onto his chest.  Once all of the coins had been distributed, he wrote “Please take your money” on a piece of paper that was taped beside his body.  The audience hesitated for a moment before obeying this silent request to repay his loan.  The audience looked like vultures, scavenging pieces of Wilhelmus’ still body.

Finding Stillness- Revisiting The Contaminate 3 Festival- Part 1/3

Stillness is a concept that is explored through many practices. It is used in meditation, yoga,and Butoh. Stillness is captured through photographs, paintings, and animals use it as a defense mechanism. Stillness is universal concept and a communicative tool. The Present Tense is fascinated with how Stillness can be used in experiential art practices. This lead us to our recent call to artists working with Stillness. After reviewing The Present Tense archive, we found that Stillness was a common thread throughout The Contaminate 3 Festival we curated with TEST in 2008. To start off The Stillness Series, we will be sharing work from this festival over the next month.


Geneviéve Sideleau
“Knitted Walls” 2008

photo by Trevor Powers

Genviéve Sideleau creates installations, objects, and performances that address the body as a container/vessel. Often employing labor-intensive actions, she investigates the varied relationships between the body and objects. She is fascinated by anthropomorphism, obsessive behaviors, and the natural meditation that occurs through the process of domesctic work, daily routine, and repetitive actions.

For Contaminate 3, Sideleau sat inside of a hanging white box formed by panels of knitted lace. This structure was juxtaposed by a small screen showing a video her hands knitting the walls that the form was made of.  She remained still inside of the sculpture,her feet occasionally swaying as they hung below the knitted walls.  This was a gentle reward for the curious.

The choice to remain suspended in stillness, gave an equality to the knitted walls and her body.  The walls moved as frequently as she did, catching small rushes of air as the audience walked around them.  For several hours, Sideleau suspended time, offering the audience a pause.

photo by Trevor Powers