There will be no sex in the box. Not that artist Daniel Nilsson, who plans to live in a small wooden box with no food and an as-yet-to-be-selected companion for seven days straight, hasn't had offers – he has. But though it misses the point, that type of proposition is probably inevitable when you post an advertisement like this:
Do you want to live in a box with me?
I am looking for a person to join me in a 4' x 8' x 4' box for exactly one week (168 hours, June 1st to June 8th). The box will be made of plywood, covered in mirror on the outside and be placed inside EDGE gallery in Denver. During this time we will not leave the box and we will be fasting.
You must be motivated; willing and able to endure the psychological and physical challenges that will arise; confident and determined that you can make it; be excited and intrigued by the prospect of spending a week in a box with someone you barely know; and be willing to experience and connect deeper than you have ever done before.
This work aims to explore how deep of a connection can be formed in the confines of a self imposed prison, when there are no distractions, and no running away from discomfort. It is the exploration of the depths of ourselves, together; a shared hermitage. At the same time it will be the falling apart of ego - a death of sorts - as we lose every reference point to our reality and embrace the unknown existence within the box.
Please respond by May 21st with any questions, or to explain why you are interested, and what makes you an ideal candidate.
This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Yeah, I got like six or seven responses from people who didn't even read it," jokes Nilsson, who posted in the Temporary Housing section on Craigslist. "Like, 'Is the unit still available?' I got one person who wanted to have sex with me in the box, which did inspire me to set up some ground rules. Basically, no sex, no drugs, no rock and roll, as in there won't be an iPod playing or anything in the box. No external simulation. That's the whole idea."
Nilsson's what you might call an experiential artist; a few months ago he "fulfilled a lifelong dream" of jumping off a two-story roof with roughly 500 helium balloons – and he's lived in a box before, but with a couple of key differences. Last time, the box was smaller and located at 11,000 feet in the San Isabel National Forest instead of in an art gallery. And he was alone. That experience – which had Nilsson existing alone in a self-imposed vacuum of sensory input inside the opaque box for four days with no food and only a water jug for drinking and another for peeing in (and plastic bags for pooping in, just fyi) – was life-changing.
"I imagine people in solitary confinement go through something similar. I mean, this is voluntary, so there are obvious differences," he says. "But I found out I can deal with a lot more than I thought; I didn't break down as much as I assumed I would. There's something, too, about, like, just the potential humanness of some kind of...gestation. There's this symbolism of the womb or something, challenging yourself to grow and survive and stick out these hardships. And just the clarity I got from being totally alone, having that distance from everything – it was kind of like a vacation in some ways, actually.
"Some people go to Hawaii; I live in a box," he jokes.
Adding another soul to the box will change the dynamic entirely; the process becomes about extreme connection rather than extreme isolation. And Nilsson has had a fair amount of interest in his proposal; he's currently vetting a few possible candidates, but the casting call is technically open until May 21 (we'll have photos and a followup in June at westword.com).
So feel free to contact him if you're interested. Just, please, don't try to have sex with him.
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