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Artists Without Borders 

"Locating the Borderlands" is an "art happening." If you know what that is, please tell us.

Wednesday, May 18 2005
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At first glance, the art happening "Locating the Borderlands" appears intentionally confusing. Organizers Matthew Purdon and Abraham Burickson use terms like "dispersed performance" and "interactive installations," which are intriguing but vague. The duo's Web site says "participants" are to "progress through" a "work of art which defies definition." Such phrases set off my bullshit detector, but a whole lot of people have signed on to take part in this "part experimental theater, part artistic procession, and part psychological journey": 29 artists, actors, musicians, and other creative types list their names on the site. That's too many for the whole thing to be Burner hippie nonsense.

I called Purdon and tried to pin him down. "That's tricky. The participants are going to Center City," he said, launching into a fanciful description involving passing through a customs station, meeting a tour guide, and moving through a fictional city-within-the-city populated with creatures portrayed by the above-mentioned menagerie. This was not what I was after, so I hounded him until he admitted that the starting point is inside Intersection for the Arts. Still, he mostly held his ground. "The whole thing is the fact that they don't know," he explained. "Every day, we think that we know what's going to happen, what we're going to do. So we're having a whole day in which you never know what's going to happen."

The last straw for me was obviously Purdon's favorite part: That you might be walking down the street with the knowledge that you're doing an art thing, but then some random person asks you for the time and you have no idea whether they're in on the joke. Anyone could be part of it, and the participant doesn't know what's art and what's not. You can be part of it, too, at the "interactive climax." It might be a little confusing, but it'll be worth it.

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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