All for Free (Free for All?)

An Interactive Performance Installation, 2008

Contaminate II Performance Festival, Midway Studios, Fort Point, Boston, MA

Duration: 4.5 Hours

All for Free (Free for All?) was a collaborative, site-specific, durational performance. Dressed in men’s suits and heavily made-up, I, in collaboration with Catherine D’Ignazio, presented identically packaged goods – all acquired for free – to the public while smiling continuously. In this piece, D’Ignazio and I were exploring the question of marketing and the impact of the body, desire, and participation in the process of value creation. As we were on display, we in turn displayed these identical mystery boxes, creating our own system of value and exchange based on our interactions with participants.

All for Free (Free for All?) from Andi Sutton on Vimeo.

With our eyes, bodies and smiles, we wordlessly invited viewer/participants to take the packages from our hands.  We either allowed them to be taken or not, making decisions arbitrarily as the piece progressed. When a participant received an object, he/she was required to unwrap her/his package and pose for a photo with the object.  We put the photos on display as performance documents and promotional tools. Interactions provoked gratitude, humiliation, begging, flirting, tricking, stealing, and sometimes force.

The piece lasted for 4.5 hours, beginning when the first package was given away and ending with the final package. Grounded in the question of how women’s bodies, in particular, are in relationship with media, sales, and object economics the piece grew to spark a broader conversation about desire, capital, and economic competition.