What happens when you think about your first kiss? Do you smile sheepishly? Blush? Cringe? Marcy B. Freedman, an artist and art historian from Croton-on-Hudson, wants to know. She’s collecting these stories for a work of performance art titled First Kiss Remembered, which she will perform on February 12 from noon to 3 pm at the Peekskill Coffee House—right across the street from her art studio. We caught up with her to talk about the state of kissing in the county.
Explain First Kiss Remembered. There is an online component and a live component, right?
For the online component, I’ve asked people to e-mail me a short statement about their first kiss. I told them from the outset that I’d be sharing their stories with other people anonymously. Then, on February 12th, I’m going to print them out and bring them with me to the Peekskill Coffee House. There, I’ll invite people to sit down with me for a one-on-one interaction. I’ll chat with them about their first kiss, and then I’ll tell them I have gifts for them. I’ll give them chocolates or some other Valentine’s-related gift, and then I’ll let them reach into a hat and grab somebody else’s true first-kiss story. So each person’s story becomes a gift for another person.
Why the topic of first kisses?
I like doing projects that make people happy—at least whenever possible. I find when I ask people about their first kisses, I instantly see them going someplace in their mind. In most cases, it was a happy experience.
Why did you choose to collect the stories via e-mail?
Well, some people, when I tell them about the project, want to tell me something right away, and, in those cases, I’ll just jot it down. One person told me, ‘One word: saliva.’ But most people want more time to compose something.
Notice any recurring themes as you go through the stories?
No, they’ve all been so different! It’s been delightful reading them. Many of them are humorous; some are touching. Some people named specific names, times, and places; others just strung together adjectives like, ‘Wow! Kaboom! Wow!’
This is a work of performance art. How does that differ from live theater?
I have done works of performance art that are scripted—works where I’m on stage performing a monologue—but, in the last two years, I’ve become more interested in one-on-one encounters. Last year, the Museum of Modern Art had Marina AbramoviÄ‡, who calls herself the ‘Grandmother of Performance Art,’ there every day, and people lined up for the seven hundred hours that she did this just for the chance to sit across from her and stare at her; they couldn’t talk. Ironically, nine months earlier, I did something at the Katonah Museum of Art called Dare to Stare, where I invited people to stare at me for five minutes at a time, for two hours each day. So we were on the same wavelength. I’m interested in making art where I’m not separated from the audience by a script or stage. I want to bring art into daily life, and break through all of the e-mail, texting, and social networking and respond to people face to face, spontaneously, and totally in the moment.
From what you’ve gathered, do you have any advice for local kissers? Do we all need to put more gum in our purses?
Nothing like that! People should just treasure their memories.
What’s the most romantic place to kiss someone in Westchester?
Any place is the perfect place, so long as you’re with the right person.
Top of Page: Marcy B. Freedman, an artist and art historian