On the Ceiling

On the Ceiling is a visual response project, inspired by the novel Au Plafond (On the Ceiling) by the French writer Éric Chevillard. The novel begins with a series of meditations by the main character, one of whose distinguishing features is that he wears a chair upside-down on his head - both an absurdist gesture and a creative horizon from which the story itself unfolds. What is particularly noteworthy about this is how, in the hands of Chevillard, the act of wearing a chair upside down on one's head can be seamlessly integrated into an otherwise unremarkable narrative, without losing its creative edge or sense of humor. This project is an homage to this character in Chevillard's story, expanded into the real world of photographic practice as a documentary of everyday life made to act - for a moment - in ways that might otherwise be inconceivable.

Taking Chevillard's story as its starting point, On the Ceiling is a relational challenge, recruiting participants to then recruit others - an exercise in degrees of separation, but also an attempt to provide a platform for the re-infusion of play into everyday life. What seems at first like a random gesture becomes a performative moment - a shared project space that begins to also form an imaginary community, with participants implicating themselves and others in the simple gesture of wearing a chair upside-down on their heads. The challenge given to participants is to take a picture of someone other than themselves, in whatever way they choose, but in a way that somehow resonates with a spirit of engagement rather than a simple spectacle of labor. The hope is that, the absurdity of the action not-withstanding, the project will initiate dialogue among participants - as a space for whimsical speculation and creative rethinking of performance and representation.

+ click for a slideshow of all project images

Contributor Images 2017
University of Washington Bothell

image credit: Nina Kostersitz (2017)

Participating Artists: Melissa Gueiros, Nicolas Hauser, Anndee Hilton, Yijing Huang, Nina Kostersitz, Nai Jian Li, Heather McAllister, Laura Nguyen, Chloe Rock, Kimna Tang, Zhiyi Zuo, and several anonymous contributors

Contributor Images 2016
University of Washington Bothell

image credit: Emmalyn Beede (2016)

Participating Artists: David Alveno, Emmalyn Beede, Ricky Fung, Marnie Guilloty, Haleh Kendell, Max Lehmicke, Ka Ling, Kira Luchau, Denae Weigelt, Alec Wong, Lingling Yuan, and several anonymous contributors

Contributor Images 2012
University of Washington Bothell

image credit: Linwei Yang (2012)

Participating Artists: Chris Anderson, Kimberly Baldwin, Brandon Fleckenstein, Mark Gevaert, Kathryn Louthain, Stephanie Marshall, David Siu, Laetitia Teeter, Omer Terrason, Vanessa Wong, Linwei Yang, and several anonymous contributors

Contributor Images 2011
University of Washington Bothell

image credit: Julianne Powers (2011)

Participating Artists: Rachel Alley, Harmony Gonty, Natasha Haining, Ben Hou, Crystal Kam, Kelly Knapp, Roy Lee, Ajay Pellegrini, Julianne Powers, Katherine Redfield, Kat Seidemann, Nicholas Siclari, Rebecca Simms, Regine Tugublimas, Brandon Vana, Liusu Wang, Hilary Warren, and several anonymous contributors

Project Images 2010
University of Washington Bothell

image credit: John Phillips (2010)

Participating Artists: Jo-Anne Antoun, Taylor Atkinson, Tammy Awe, Jennifer Clarke, Kayleigh Garman, Ellis Kao, Peter Koshi, Skye MacLeod, Savannah Martin, Kandy Mason, Cristian Nicolae, John Phillips, Teppei Sato, Kim Walker, Sandy Wu, and several anonymous contributors