Weary Willie

Weary Willie 

performance

2012

This performance was produced for The Circus as a Parallel Universe at the Kunsthalle Wien. It was inspired by the Depression-era clown Emmett Kelly, and the character that made him famous: the sad hobo Weary Willie. Dressed to look like a disheveled tramp, Willie’s melancholic skits were performed in-between other acts or on the periphery of the ring. He would come onstage to try and sweep the spotlight under a rug, or walk through the audience while chewing sadly on a cabbage leaf. Emmett Kelly started off as a caricaturist, and Weary Willie originated as a cartoon drawing. Rather than seek to replicate his performances, I hired two professional clowns to gradually disguise me to look like Weary Willie, in the manner of a continually evolving drawing or sketch. In keeping with Kelly’s practice of performing on the periphery, the performance started in the museum only to quickly move outside to its courtyard and adjoining sidewalk. As we made our way through the crowd, the performers would make and dress me up to look like Weary Willie. What the audience saw was a man being progressively transformed into both a clown and a tramp. Midway through the performance, the two clowns posed me with some of the humble props that Kelly used in his skits: a cabbage, a broom, a feather, a rubber ball. When the likeness was almost complete, the performers started reversing their actions by removing my outfit and makeup, and dressing me back into my own clothes. At the end of the performance, the three of us walked off into the city, leaving the cameraman and the audience behind.

[easymedia-gallery med=”698″]