Canal Jean 1981 © The Guy
The stage is a cage. Inside, a tiger presides over people who are dressing.
Outside, a towering audience has gathered around to peer down into the dressing
stalls. But the trapped are apparently more interested in the fit of their
Thus is "Tiger with Captive Audience," an ongoing performance
at Canal Jeans' dressing room in New York, as directed by The Guy, environmental
artist/ interior designer. Out front, where relatively inexpensive clothes
are selected, the scene is plainspoken. In here, where decisions are made,
it is an oasis of drama.
The naturally cage-like quality of dressing stalls has been exaggerated
by the extension of their support poles into cage bars above. Larger-than
life painted faces behind the bars (which were created off-location by The
Guy) are black and white, giving them a ghostly quality. A fluorescent light,
under these faces, but above the booths, emphasises their spookiness while
providing ambient lighting for the dressers. Stepping out of his or her
booth the customer comes to a mirror-surrounded platform holding a monumental
mirrored arch structure which in turn supports the tiger.
The multi-faceted structure reflects unexpected angles and plays with the
strong graphic black and white linoleum tiled floor; the effect is not unlike
a carnival house of mirrors. Practically speaking, this mirror allows for
the viewing of the clothes from all angles plus it helps the dressing room
clerk see all corners of the room at once. (Without this structure it would
be necessary to hire two guards to watch for theft.) The tiger (actually
a re-painted fibreglass garden sculpture) and the lionesque woman's face
on the opposite wall are the only elements of colour, and hence, the focal
points of the 19 by 40 foot space. All destructible elements have been kept
Although well liked by all involved, including most customers, this a scene
of impermanence. Shunning the sacrosanct and precious elements of art, this
interior was to be functional, enjoyed by all, built relatively inexpensively,
and eventually removed. The Guy is always thinking of the next act.