7 Days a Diamond
2020-2021. Participatory performance in Tallahassee, FL. 7 days in duration.
With no privacy or autonomy, nik rye relied on the public for food while living in a storefront window for seven full days. Using a variety of media and techniques, the intention of the project was to raise awareness for unhoused and incarcerated populations. As with many social engagement works, the outcome of the piece drastically differed from what was anticipated. Beyond isolation and surveillance, themes of intimacy and collective healing came to the forefront.
Enclosed in their own trauma, nik rye's locked cell walls were covered in transcriptions from their diary describing when they were jailed for sleeping in a public park. Beneath the window, participant spectators could deposit items into a drawer for nik rye to use. A security camera live-streamed the performance 24/7 online. They slept, ate, and defecated under the gaze of both seen and unseen eyes. They documented the performance in a diary and using digital photography.
Participants’ interactions revealed an immense hunger for connection – too much for one person to handle. Required to abide by a self-imposed list of rules, nik rye was forced to engage with anything and anyone - whether it was food placed in the drawer or someone who wanted to talk. nik rye expected to be relatively lonely but was overwhelmed by the amount of participant interaction – to the point of exhaustion.
The performance was a symbol of solidarity for the local unhoused population, who regularly visited and generally hung around. Many unhoused people the artist knew or would later befriend sat in front of the window, using it as a soapbox, ready to share their experiences with others.
Community access point collaboratively constructed with Emily Rae and Inez. Completed on-site with permission from Paul Rutovsky at The Plant.
Livestream monitored by Victor Abbott.
Daily waste removal by Amanda Kleinhans and Wes Sellers.
Photography by nik rye, various participants, and Tori Lynn Schneider of Tallahassee Democrat.
Dedicated to the memory of Wes Sellers. Rest in Power.
Live stream of the 6th day, Sunday, February 14th, 2021.