Bill’s Blog: How much do those pants cost?


“If the pants you are wearing cost more than $50 turn 10 times!”

This peculiar direction came to us as we, audience/observers of Farah Saleh’s Free Advice performance at New York Live Arts, stood in small groups – some of us in stocking feet – amid brightly colored exercise balls and cardboard signs, gamely participating in what was described as “highly interactive”. The artist herself never spoke, but suddenly her voice in “voice of God” mode came through the P.A. system with a cascade of questions/commands:

  • “If you are barefoot move to the center of the room!”
  • “If you don’t like your job, extend your left foot!”
  • “If you believe you could (should?) use less resources, start acting out!”
  • “If you will use less resources starting tomorrow, sit down!”
  • “If you believe in a cultural boycott of Israel, change your position!”
  • “If you believe in a one state solution, step forward!”
  • “If you are confused, sit down!”
  • “If you believe you are unable to change your reality, leave this space!”
  • “If you believe you are able to change your reality, leave this space!”

As you can see, the questions were certainly designed to be interactive, striving for a variety of confrontations, social, personal, political…

I would like to focus on the pants command as the very next night at our New York Live Arts gala – the most successful to date – we held an auction lead by the strange and curiously delightful auctioneer C.K. Swett. His final lot, number 4, was a dinner at the winner’s home to be prepared by celebrity chef David Waltuck for 7 friends in the company of Claire Danes, Hugh Dancy, Bjorn Amelan and myself. The winning bid – $10,000 – was sold twice.

NYLA Gala 2016-417

Going back to the night before: As I was wearing a pair of Prada leather motorcycle pants certainly valued at more than $50, I was one of only two or three people spinning in the dispersed group of about 30 or 40. I felt foolish and suddenly excluded in this hip audience of inclusion. I did laugh along with the others even when the same instruction was given a second time. Likewise, I laughed nervously at the auction as I was literally being “sold” for the purpose of making the budget that will allow Live Arts to present work that critiques the hold Money, Class and Privilege have on us all and, certainly in the case of our “mid-sized” arts institution in particular.

Here are some images from our Live Ideas Festival: MENA/Future taking place at New York Live Arts and around NYC these past three months.


One of the most exquisite dancers I have ever seen. It left me feeling like this


Do you like movies? I saw and “Eye In The sky”, the English thriller dealing with the complex, ethical questions around drone warfare.

What’s next at New York Live Arts?. I am looking forward to Jen Rosenblit’s world premiere of Clap Hands, which we commissioned and will be presented off-site at The Invisible Dog Art Center

A new commissioned work by Half Straddle, Ghost Ringsuntitled-6789

and Arcane Collective’s Return to Absence and Ebb LT5A3040

Wishing you an ever-warmer and productive spring time!