Brownfield is a series of completely nude journeys by foot and public transport in major cities and towns. Brownfield has been performed twice, both in Barcelona during 2018. The performer acts as if there is nothing unusual about the event and only interacts with the public if approached. The first performance took around 30 minutes, including a short tube ride, with the second lasting 20 minutes. In both cases the performer was followed at a discreet distance by an observer who carried an emergency set of clothes and tried to gauge the public’s reaction.
In our first performance we started walking from a beach, through a residential area to the tube. After riding the tube for a few steps we got out and and walked for a few minutes in a very busy city centre area. The performer had to briefly cover up in a sarong when exiting the tube station due to a security guard on the gate.
The performance attracted a lot of attention, with people obviously stopping and staring. There was no overt negative reaction, although some people looked uncomfortable and would occasionally try to move out of the way. One man approached as we entered the tube station and spent the duration of the ride talking to us about what we were doing and why. The confined space of the train also prompted more interaction with the public, with several taking photos, something that had been noticeably absent during the start of the performance.
The exit from the tube was the most nerve wracking part for the performer, as we exited directly on to a very busy street filled with both pedestrians and cars. We were fortunate that two motorbike police officers on the other side of the square didn’t spot us!
The second performance was carried out in the Gothic Quarter. A clothed assistant walked ahead with the performer following a few paces behind. The route wasn’t set in advance with the freedom to choose the path left with the assistant. The streets walked were small and busy, creating an intimate feel with the public. This time there was more negative reaction with two people shouting aggressive remarks.
Without the artistic element of some of the other performances (e.g. The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Power of Words) the nudity of this performance is more striking and raw. The performer was consciously more nervous, and the reaction of the public, whilst not often negative, still showed less support for the activity.