It was frigid

FRIGID PHRASES: a game of outdoor mad libs poetry played with gloves, developed by Kate Gilbert and Emily Lombardo for the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston; Feb. 20, 2013

Frigid Phrases was submitted to the Greenway Conservancy’s Winter Lights call for proposals. Though it was rejected as light-based art, we were asked to develop it as an event “to bring warmth and cheer to the Greenway during the darkest part of the year”.


photo: (c) Connie SawyerFrigid Phrases turned out to be aptly named. Despite a wind chill temp in the twenties, approximately 125 people played with us and received free gloves. Participants included international tourists, businessmen, Greenway neighbors, parents and children on school break, artists and faculty from SMFA Boston, the contributing poets, and our hardy friends.


Many were initially unwitting participants, such as the pair of businessmen on their way home, or the family walking by after visiting the New England Aquarium. It gave me great delight when these passersby accepted my invitation to play and later proudly held their gloves saying SOUL CAKE or DENSE MIND.
Lessons learned:
  • There’s something magical about the combination of spontaneous play and free stuff when you’re not expecting it.
  • People like rules when playing a game; too structured and its not fun; without boundaries, we feel uncomfortable.
  • Participation is increased if one can directly affect the outcome of the work; poems were submitted by area-poets and they kept changing each time a participant swapped out a word glove.

FRIGID PHRASES poem during play; photo: (c) Connie Sawyer 

My intent for any work I create, be it event or sculpture, is that it have a life after its first display. Frigid has that potential, whether as a personal memory that one recalls looking down at your gloves, or the collective history that we created on Twitter and continue to create when we're asked, "Why do your gloves say WEARS COLD?"


If you’re interested in continuing the event’s life and hosting Frigid Phrases between now and April, please contact me. We have about 100 pairs of gloves left. We’re also interested in reinterpreting Frigid for warmer climates and seasons.


See FRIGID PHRASES gallery page for more images, the blog for more information on how the game was played. And Tweet us @frigidphrases when you see a pair!


What did you experience?

My work is created as an experience and I want nothing more than to hear how you felt as a result of being with, and in, my work. Fellow WONDER CHANNEL artist Amanda Bonaiuto graciously shares her experience below.


Where ever you go, there you are | Kate Gilbert
WONDER CHANNEL  | Fourth Wall Gallery
Amanda Bonaiuto

Standing at the entrance of a stout hallway, flanked by alizarin curtains. Unfinished exterior, industrial structure’s are exposed in juxtaposition with the warm light and faux wood grain finish of the interior leads one to question if this constricted space is for entering or for observation from the outside.  Curiosity takes hold as I enter the space, which seems to hold my body but no one else’s. The impulse to test the space for its authenticity is overwhelming. Grazing the faux walls, tempted to know what’s beneath it. In searching for the seams of the piece I notice the concrete floor of the gallery on which I stand. A stool of modernist design tempts one to take a seat: its simple curvature created just for the human shape, however I do not sit because the claustrophobia is already present. It’s offering comfort feels artificial. At the end of the hallway, I’m confronted with a plasma screen touring me through a simulated production of a modern interior waterfront home. Lulled into the rhythm of the smooth pans and pleasing colors, I’m shocked out of my complacency with a fast-paced slideshow of consumer products and advertisements.  An interior confusing in it’s creation of desire, or is it a constructed desire, leaves one not desiring the faux marketed room, nor the plasma television, but a desire for an authenticity in material and consumer culture. The illusion of the handmade attracts the human senses, distracting and complicating, using materials produced by factory machinery in order to create space that is uniquely yours.


Video – satisfying the image-maker and storyteller in me; watching/being watched

I used to be one of those people who gave art videos a 30 second watch and then walked away. So last semester, my first at SMFA/Tufts, I decided to stretch myself. I took a video class to learn the techniques of shooting and editing video…and to try to understand conceptual video art. 

In my first videos I simulated surveillance, in particular watching and being watched. In retrospect it was a natural instinct…I was suddenly “in control” of what images I was recording and displaying. (Background: my father is an ex-reporter; I’ve been on the fringes of PR/outreach in prior jobs; I’ve witnessed how easily the truth can become muddled and how difficult it can be to report what is “real” without bias.) My subject matter was also greatly influenced by a chance meeting and subsequent clearance to a surveillance center. Meanwhile, in the studio, I was simultaneously exploring “real” in a sculptural installation.

So what is real in surveillance and the watching/watched dynamic? What is real is the complex situation we as a society are able to practice – at once a complicit participation in surveillance and, on the other hand, a consistent disregard for uncomfortable circumstances. What exactly are we looking for and why don’t we see what is right in front of us?

I’ll continue my exploration of video. It satisfies the two sides in me: the geeky, quasi- journalist and the picture maker who loves a sexy image. 

Note: Unfortunately, I don’t have clearance to show these videos yet. Here are a few stills from a three channel installation to pique your curiosity...