Performance artists Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder are currently roommates – not in an apartment, but in a large hamster wheel. Alex, who is afraid of heights, lives on the inside of the wheel, at the bottom. Ward, who has no such reservations, stays put at the very top, on the outside (180 degrees from Alex). They came into this unique living arrangement last Friday and plan to continue until March 9th.
Ward and Alex are actually in the middle of an art project that they like to call ‘In Orbit’. They are on display at The Boiler, a performance space at a New York’s Pierogi gallery. It took them four weeks to construct the 30-foot tall, 60-foot in circumference hamster wheel themselves, with a little help from engineer friends. The gigantic structure is suspended from the ceiling and has furniture fastened to it on the inside and the outside. Ward and Alex each have a bed, a desk, a kitchen-bathroom combo, a chair, lamps and a dresser to use.
Every piece of furniture is aligned to its counterpart, so both inhabitants of the wheel have to use the bathroom at the same time, work at the same time and go to sleep at the same time. To change the furniture setting, they simply walk on the wheel in opposite directions, moving it until the next station arrives. For safety reasons, they walk very, very slowly.