Grow or Die: Haifa Museum, 2003  
       
         
    “Grow or Die”
A project by Ward Shelley
for the Haifa Museum, International Installation Triennial, 2003

This is a sculptural installation that grows as the result of a performance. The performance is like a game with an objective and rules. The objective is based on the idea that life forms must grow in order to survive; for example the tree needs to extend its roots in order to find the nutrients it needs to continue living. In this piece, the artist must continually “grow” (build) the structure in order to reach his next food supply.
At the beginning of the performance, a “Base Station” is installed in the museum: it is attached to the ceiling and consists of a resting place, which is a campsite in which he will live, and a supply of materials and tools. There are a number of “caches” (more supplies of food and building materials,) attached to the ceiling in other locations in the museum.
The process of the piece: the artist moves up into the Base Station and begins to live there. The object of the performance is for the artist to extend the construction along the ceiling, branching towards the next cache of food and materials before supplies run out so that he can re-supply and continue extending to another cache. His construction is attached to and suspended from the ceiling and it will grow, extending like a root or branch from room to room, traveling throughout the museum. Also, the artist works and lives in his construction, entirely suspended off the ground, and he accomplishes this work unassisted. He is working with safety harness up in the construction, not from the ground with a ladder. The piece is designed so this performance will take about 8 days.
The performance is monitored by a number of surveillance cameras placed around the piece and displayed on television monitors connected to the base station. Visitors can see views of the piece, inside and out, as the work being performed, and some taped footage of highlights recorded on days before.