In Hold My Hand I placed an ad in local newspapers inviting people to hold my hand in public while sitting on a park bench. I proposed to hold hands with each person for ten minutes and the participants were encouraged to negotiate all the details with me (when, where, how etc) based on our mutual needs. This undocumented ‘performance of self’ highlighted the awkwardness of social contact and physical communication while challenging notions of authentic interaction. There was no obvious spectacle for the public who would assume we were a couple or relatives. In the end, many of the participants held my hand for over a half hour (some for up to 2 hours) and the sites ranged from parks to churches to malls. The piece was documented by various oral histories instead of images.
“MacCormack does not exercise a privileged authority over the performance; it is in all respects a mutual effort. The role of the artist is thus also called into question. There is the relationship between the two performers. Two strangers engaged in an intimate act; an act which works to subvert the status of its agents and itself. It is a signifier of intimacy without also being an expression of the same sentiment. As such, it calls into question the status of meaning as an expression of an emotion. At the same time, however, there is an intimacy involved; one that unfolds between two people who should not be this intimate with each other. This is a transgression of a code of conduct and it should be received as an intrusion. But it is not. A brief relationship begins with the act – one that is at odds with the meaning of being a stranger.” Alan Reed (participant), There Is this