A Pause in the City That Never Sleeps

Sebastian Errazuriz

Times Square Advertising Coalition, Performance Space 122's COIL Festival, Performance Space 122

Artist Sebastian Errazuriz experimented with the contagious phenomenon of yawning in A Pause in the City That Never Sleeps. A simple, everyday habit was used as a way to engage visitors visually and physically (the yawn's chain reaction) while commenting on contemporary overexposure to information and its consequences. The black and white moving image of a repeating yawn positioned at the city’s touristic core contrasted the outstanding, colorful Times Square advertisements and acted as a disruptive comment on contemporary society, needs, and frustrations.

On Saturday, January 17 at 11:45 pm, there was a special gathering with the artist, as the culminating event of Performance Space 122's COIL Festival.

 “It’s a little scary as an artist to present a project that is this simple. Nevertheless, I intuitively trust that at times it is the importance of leaving a pause or a blank space that  allows us to highlight and be aware of everything else that is in that space. At times, the simplest projects are the hardest to do. You cannot hide behind a simple project, the truth is exposed, distilled and present.

To be able to trigger in the audience a positive contagious physical reaction, an involuntary mass yawning performance and to plant a brief sensation of much needed rest in thousands of people is a fascinating possibility. It is our intrinsic empathic quality that makes yawning contagious, and empathy is a scarce quality in New York City. I like the idea of imagining families of tourists fascinated by the flickering NYC lights suddenly finding themselves yawning and deciding its maybe time to go back to the hotel and spend some family time together.”  - Sebastian Errazuriz, Artist

Photographs by Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts.