Bonnie Ora Sherk, Portable Parks, 1970
Bonnie Ora Sherk
Portable Parks / Sitting Still / Public Lunch (From Evolution of Life Frames)

Since the early 1970s, Bonnie Ora Sherk (*1945 †2021, USA) created participatory artworks in public spaces which dealt with environmental and ecological issues. Starting with her installations by the sides of major roads, and a massive communal garden near a large intersection in San Francisco ("The Farm"), to the later "Living Libraries" — in a development from ephemeral phenomena to large-scale social artworks — all of Sherk’s projects aimed to create a new understanding of and relationship with the space we inhabit.

Portable Parks were performances by the side of the freeway, in which Bonnie Ora Sherk created temporary pastoral islands in the midst of chaotic traffic. For Sitting Still, the artist dressed up in an evening gown and sat still for hours in various places such as a garbage dump or near the Golden Gate Bridge. In Public Lunch, she had herself locked up in a cage at the zoo where, like the tigers in the adjacent cage, she waited for feeding time under the gaze of the zoo’s visitors. Sherk initially called her works Life Frames, but in 1981 she abandoned this term in favour of the concept Living Libraries. The documentary DVD Evolution of Life Frames contains photographic and video documents from various decades.

Courtesy Bonnie Ora Sherk

Document media
2002, video, colour, sound, 30:00 min

Issue date

extended body, human/non-human animals, nature, participation, public space