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Man From City Hall

A bowler hat and jaw were added to the iconic architecture of Boston’s City Hall, transforming the building into a character in Boston’s First Night festivities for New Years Eve (1989 & 1990). The design incorporated direct elements of the building’s architecture: the Council Chamber windows were used as the Man’s eyes and a steam vent became the Man’s smoking cigar. Man from City Hall served as a vehicle for audience members to address questions to a second character, The Oracle–created by the artist Bill Wainwright. The performance parodied City Hall politics and confusion of city bureaucracy. changing the windows of the Council Chamber into the Man’s eyes, projected with animated video.

Participants from the First Night crowds were raised by scissor lift 30 feet up into the jaw of the Man, the stage from which they addressed The Oracle. While talking, video of the right and left profiles of the Question Raiser were projected into the eyes of the Man as though two people were talking to each other. The Oracle’s responses were created impromptu by a group of poets and issued in a slow ominous voice accompanied by percussions and opera singers. Between questions the animated eyes of the Man perused the crowd below.

Project collaborators included: Bill Wainwright, Joan Brigham, Doug & Chris Fitch, Ruth Hamilton, Caleb Sampson and the Alloy Orchestra, and Ken Field

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