Genius Tisch student turns life into performance art

By Aud Del Rey , Entertainment Editor

Framed by the leaves of a nearby tree, Amos Ryan performed the first act of his ongoing performance art series on March 31. Ryan opened the act of his performance by drawing up the blinds of his sixth floor dormitory in the Second Street Residence Hall. Though viewers might find this piece, “We Watch You Sleep,” hard to see from the street, Ryan performs all his motions with subdued pizzazz.

Students have observed Tisch senior Amos Ryan perform every day throughout his four-year long senior thesis. As part of a performance art series known as “Mundanity: The Insanity of the Mundane,” Ryan demonstrates to students and passersby the fleeting quality of life and the difficulties of growing up.

In “Who Even Are You?” the next act of his 80,743 piece series, Ryan walks from his dormitory to the Silver Center for Arts and Science, yelling at the audience to stop following him.

“I don’t understand why you’re bothering me,” Ryan said. “For the last time, I’m a performance major in Tisch — not a performance art major. I don’t even think performance art is a major here.”

Ryan’s genius is clearly beyond even his own comprehension. He then walked up to the Silver doors and the piece truly came to life. Ryan contemplated the musty off-gold and germ-laden handle and pulled open the door with visible strength — sweat visible on his furrowed brow.

The audience behind Ryan waited with bated breath for the doors to open. When the doors finally did open, the moment lasted briefly and disappeared. This piece is a testament to the difficulty in obtaining higher education and the transiency of pause.

Perhaps the most striking in Ryan’s series was his masterwork, “This is the Men’s Restroom!” Using soap, water and paper towels, Ryan demonstrated, in front of an intimate audience, the frighteningly short amount of time students spend washing their hands. Doctors and health physicians recommend about seven seconds of rinsing, but Ryan, in this defiant work of art, only spent six heartbeats in front of the Bobst LL1 sink. The exclusivity of this piece raised questions about gender inequality and masculinity, turning the mirror of society upon the audience. Ryan suggests that this reading was intentional, capping the piece by shouting, “What are you doing in here? This is the men’s restroom.”

Truly, Ryan is verbalizing society’s Foucauldian fears about sexuality.

We may never fully understand the thought process behind Ryan’s artwork, but as art observers we can siphon a bit of humanity from this demonstration of creativity. As for the future, Ryan already is already pursuing his next innovative performance, “Restraining Order.” In this work, Ryan intends to bar the audience from observing him as a way to make a statement about the oppression of the rule of law.

“Mundanity: The Insanity of the Mundane” runs for the rest of Ryan’s life.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 1 print edition. Email Aud Del Rey at [email protected].