Sharon Hayes

ehf4Born in Baltimore 1970.

Her projects fall in the bizarre field of relaying personal words and emotions in an impersonal public place. This has been termed as “public re-speaking”, and usually includes a microphone, a megaphone, or a protester’s poster. Some of these endeavors make it to a gallery installation. Her method is fairly courageous, being that she’s a one-woman band, and she sets herself up on busy city streets near routine-driven strangers. It’s obvious she loves the thrill of bringing this abnormal type of expression to the senses of the unexpected, but it makes me wonder who she really is. Not one video flashing around on the internet shows her being herself, laughing or smiling, interacting as Sharon- not as a channeler.

But with all respect, this re-enactment does allow for new interpretation on the content. For example, in her 2001-2002 “Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29”, she performs a re-speaking of a Patty Hearst audio recording. She asks the audience to correct her word-for-word while she is speaking, making the performance choppy and tense. In 1974, Patty was kidnapped from her home by the SLA (a radical political organization) and recorded audio for her family regarding the ransom the SLA requested.  On the last tape, Patty announces her decision to join the SLA and rename herself  Tania. Soon after, she was robbing a San Francisco bank with the SLA.

What Sharon Hayes did was provide a new interpretation for the strange events in this situation. After the initial occurence, the seriousness changes. Taking on the role of replaying these for new consumption, Sharon ignites the emotional intentions and change in energy that may have been clouded over by media coverage. I see this happening with most of her work, whether it’s speaking the words for a soldier in love or relaying an Eleanor Roosevelt House tour with headphones.

This gutsy artist has influenced many strangers. By googling her name, I found numerous posts on blogs and short articles dictating some anonomous person’s experience encountering Sharon’s work. The most emotionally charged performance that I came across on the web was of her “I March in the Parade of Liberty, But as Long as I Love You, I’m Not Free” in New York circa 2007-2008. imarch_audio.html

Sharon hayes, while her method is political and stoic, has inspired many passerbys along the way. It’s admirable that she doesn’t confuse emotion with art, and keeps her focus. In the future, I’d like to see someone re-enact her re-enactments during one of their manic episodes.

~Mikaela Schey


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