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#311 Old people in chairs

My friends, many of whom are as old (65) as or older than I am, don’t really like it when I call us old. I understand that. We grew up seeing “old” as decrepit, one foot in the grave, barely any reason left for living.

We are not like that. We have our various ailments, as parts of our bodies reach their “best before” dates. But we are the vigorous old, with active social and intellectual lives and full calendars.

Still, we are no longer young. Nor are we middle aged. Sure, we can come up with euphemisms to make sure no one identifies us as holding our check-out tickets, but I’d rather consider myself “old” and get on with relishing life.

So I love Angie Hiesl’s x-times people chair, a performance art piece she has mounted in Germany, Amsterdam, Brazil, Columbia, Peru and Montreal. The German artist attaches white chairs five meters above the ground and asks for volunteers to sit on them for an hour and do whatever they want to do.

Only people 60 and older need apply. If I were there, I’d sign up. I’d take along my iPad and spend my hour writing a blog post and snapping pictures of the people who stopped to stare.

x-times people chair celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2005, but I only heard of it today, thanks to CBC and to the Montreal hosts of the Festival TransAmériques.

The first night of the show in Montreal was rained out, but not before the seniors had mounted their chairs. They all had seat belts while they were in the chairs, but they had no safety harnesses while they climbed or descended the ladders that took them there.

Pat Donnelly, who wrote about the opening, was worried for their safety. She needn’t have been. If they suffered from acrophobia, they would never have made the climb. If they were wobbly on a ladder, they would have stayed on the ground.

No, these seniors were quite all right, thank you very much. They give me hope, and if x-times people chair ever comes to Kelowna, I’ll be at the head of the line to volunteer for it.


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