We recently did our second Freak Show. As with the previous year, some of us, myself especially wanted to use it as place to test out some ideas. We wanted to create an atmosphere centered on the theme of a circus freak show, featuring a variety of art works and performances. We tried to create a confrontational environment to shock and disturb people and to further test out fine art practice in an unconventional and unpredictable environment.

I provided one of then main performances. In it I was the devil; one which I based on Peter Cook’s performance in the 1967 film Bedazzled. The idea was to welcome the audience as if they were attending a kind of business conference and do a ‘yes men’ style PowerPoint presentation which would be like a kind of sales pitch in which I would try and convince them to sign a contract giving me ownership of their soul. I wanted to make this performance a part of the Freak Show so as to present in a fun and entertaining manner the kind of clearly immoral way things are sold to people by men in suits while also dealing with the interesting notion of the soul as a commodity because even if the audience don’t believe in the soul, they may be remiss to give it away. I wanted to confront what I see as the commonplace agnosticism prevalent in British society.

I made a very short presentation, in it I tried to convince the audience that evil was a part of their everyday lives and that the soul was a pretense and that by giving it up, they would be able to live their lives and see the world with a new found perspective.

I convinced 13 people to sign away their souls. The rewarding part for me was how seriously so many people took the decision. One or two refused to sign on actual religious grounds, whereas a lot of people said although they don’t believe in ‘anything’ they didn’t want to risk giving away their soul. I think that was the best part for me; to create a scenario that challenged people to think seriously about their position on religion or the metaphysics of something like a soul.

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