2003, Sweet's Ballroom, Oakland, CA
Alex, Allyson and Zena Grey with Kenji Williams
Worldspirit is a prayer for the realization of our integration
With the web of creation
And for the transformation of our species
From one gripped in fear and self annihilation
To a species that stands for love,
wildly creative peace, and liberation.
Art can be worship and service.
The incandescent core of our soul.
A glowing God's eye,
Infinitely aware of the beauty of creation,
Is interlocked with a network of souls,
Part of one vast group soul.
The group soul of art beyond time
Comes into time
By projecting music and symbols
Into the imagination.
God's radiant grace fills the heart and mind
With these gifts.
The artist honors the gifts of sound and vision
By weaving them into works of art
And sharing them with the community.
The community uses them as wings
To soar to the same shining vistas and beyond.
Translucent wings teem with eyes of flame
On the mighty cherub of Art.
Arabesques of fractal cherub wings enfold
And uplift the world.
The loom of creation is anointed
With fresh spirit and blood.
Phoenix-like, the soul of art,
Resurrects from the ashes of isms.
Transfusions from living primordial traditions
Empower the artist,
Take them to the heights and depths
Necessary to find the medicine of the moment,
A new image and song of the Infinite One,
God of Creation
With the same empty fullness
That Buddha knew
And the same compassionate healing
That Jesus spread.
Krishna plays his flute,
The Goddess dances,
And the entire tree of life vibrates
With the power of love.
A mosaic and tile-maker inspired by Rumi
Finds infinite patterns of connectivity
In the garden of spiritual interplay
As the Worldspirit awaits its portrait.
May 15, 1998 - May 30, 1999
paint, rope, silk, roses, gold, neon, rocks, skeletons, stained glass, and soil, 10 X 60 X 8 ft.
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
Allyson and I created an alchemical healing piece called Heart Net at the American Visionary Art Museum in 1998. On a 60-foot-long painted map of the world, a red rope web radiated from a gigantic heart composed of hundreds of silk roses. A stained-glass eye in the heart cried continuously into a small stone grotto surrounded by broken buddhas. Under the heart a black and a white skeleton embraced and an earth child crawled out of the grotto. Above the heart was a golden buddha, and above the buddha was a white neon infinity symbol, and above the neon was a tiny naked embracing Ati-Buddha sculpture.
The Heart Net was an audience participatory piece that invited people to write a healing prayer or loving message on a small paper heart and tie it to the rope net. The Heart Net had thousands of prayers and messages on it, and it was really moving to read some of them. Everything from cynical dirty limericks to children scrawling love notes to their mommies to people expressing passionate and spiritual regard for each other and the planet. Different areas on the world map elicited specific prayers in the native languages of those nations. The piece was meant to spread a subtle field of healing good wishes over out broken world.
Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City
Allyson and I, with the help of friends and passers by, laid out 5,500 apples in the shape of the Goddess.
Then Allyson sat at the heart center of the Goddess nursing daughter Zena while I performed one hundred prostrations at the feet of the figure.
The creation of the figure was a ritual acknowledgment of our source of life, the Mother Earth, who nourishes us and whom we must preserve if we are to survive. At day's end friends assisted us in reboxing the apples which were then donated to a shelter for homeless families.
October 15, 1983
Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago
For three hours Allyson and I lay motionless on the ground with our eyes closed. Red votive candles balanced on our chests. Surrounding us were hundreds of roses and two thousand apples arranged in the shape of a Christian cross. Candles illuminated the perimeter of the cross. Hanging directly above us was a rotting Angel of Death holding a neon infinity symbol. Gregorian chants were played for 3 hours as hundreds of people observed the performance installation.
February 15, 1983
University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
performed with Allyson Grey
In Tibet, prayer wheels are used by monks and laity to increase the power of their meditation. Carved or printed on all prayer wheels is the mantra - Om Mani Padme Hum - literally meaning, Om, Hail the Jewel in the Lotus, Hum. With the correct understanding, the mere utterance or inspection of this mantra is believed to transport one directly to paradise. The mantric prayer is dedicated to the Buddhist deity of active compassion, Avalokitesvara.
It is said that when Avalokitesvara saw the suffering of the world, He sprouted one thousand hands and arms to assist the world, each palm containing an eye of unobstructed vision. In the performance of "Prayer Wheel" my wife and I were bound together along with a skeleton, while holding a realistic baby doll and a knife.
Our bodies were all painted gold. We were attached to the Prayer Wheel which turned as we walked around it chanting the mantra. After circumambulating for an hour and a half, I cut the rope attaching us to the Prayer Wheel and we walked out of the space. Sound was recorded at the Avalokitesvara Initiation given by Deshung Rinpoche in Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 1983
March 26, 1983
Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut
This performance consisted of three sculptures activated by fire.
The first was a photo mural of my face, behind which was a praying skeleton with a propane torch coming out of its third eye. I lit the torch and it burned through the third eye of the photo mural.
The second sculpture was a totem/urn. I read a passage from the Holy Bible, then set it into the urn and ignited it. I repeated this procedure of reading and burning with the Qur'an and the Bhagavad Gita. After the books had been burned, I mingled the ashes together, then rubbed them on my body.
For the third sculpture, I sat on the floor and lit candles over the heads of seven skulls before me. A skeleton above me burst into flames and firecrackers went off in its skull.
Music and chanting of Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim religions were intermixed and interwoven throughout the performance so that several layers of sound were occurring simultaneously.
May 7, 1982
Vehicule Art, Montreal, Canada
performed with Allyson Grey
Mr. and Mrs. X were on their way to dinner when they were surprised by a nuclear blast. With their faces and clothes scorched and bloody, they arrive in hell at a dinner table covered with money.
Suddenly Mrs. X awakens, stands up and turns back the clock. She turns off the alarm and vomits up the money, then leads Mr. X to do the same.
Prior to the performance the audience received a program which included the following quote:
"Two paths lie before us, one leads to death, the other to life... One day we will make our choice. Either we will sink into the final coma and end it all or, as I trust and believe, we will awaken to the truth of our peril, a truth as great as life itself, and, like a person who has swallowed lethal poison but shakes off his stupor at the last moment and vomits the poison up to cleanse the earth of nucear weapons."
The Fate of the Earth
April 17, 1982
Overland Theatre, Boston
A special gasoline powered circular drive vehicle was created for the Human Race performance. The base at one end of the device was bolted into the concrete floor with lead anchors. There was a wheel at the other end making the vehicle go around in a circle. The machine was equipped with a throttle to be hand operated from a supine position.
A skeleton was suspended below the radial bed. The audience sat within about two feet of the circle. Dressed in white, with a Yin Yang T-shirt and shaven head, I entered the space and pull-started the engine. The engine was very loud and filled the space with the smell of gasoline. I laid down on the machine bed, engaged the motor, coasted to a stop, got off and pull-started it again.
The engine failed a number of times before it finally started running smoothly. Finally, the vehicle started and accelerated quickly, spinning around the circle at 25 to 30 m.p.h. until, suddenly, the base ripped out of the concrete. The machine was out of control heading toward the audience. Everyone screamed. The machine stopped when I killed the engine and stood up.
April 4, 1982
P.S. 1 Gallery, Queens, New York
Palm Sunday afternoon I sat behind a black desk dressed as a soldier and stamped hundreds of people's hands and foreheads with the number of the Beast (Satan), 666, as set forth in Revelations of the New Testament. My chair was half inside a pool of black liquid. Reflected in the black pool was the wall installation of a charred, eight-armed, seven-headed spider-like "Beast" holding guns and knives. The Beast was constructed from a human skeleton and six sheep skulls and was hung on a large barbed-wire spiderweb over a red map of the world. The sound of a civil defense siren, a nuclear explosion, and Handel's Messiah was repeated at a high volume for five hours. The floor was stacked with hundreds of newspapers, the headlines reading, "Hiroshima survivors Testify Before Senators." Projected on another wall was a film loop of a rosy hydrogen bomb blast taken from above the clouds. On the wall opposite The Beast was a large oil painting of Christ crucified on a mushroom cloud over a burning ruined city.
April 17, 1980
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
The performance began with the space in total darkness. A tape of the deep chanting of Tibetan monks played loudly. My wife Allyson, her body coated with white greasepaint, walked slowly into the space carrying a candle. I followed behind her, my body coated with black greasepaint. We entered the large Yin Yang symbol placed on the floor.
As I sat motionless fixing my attention on a skeleton seated opposite me, Allyson lit 12 candles placed like watch numbers around the rim of the symbol. Then, she placed her candle in the center of the symbol and continued walking slowly around the rim. The chanting continued and the candles melted and went out, leaving only the central flame.
Allyson and I met at the edge of the circle. A strobe light began flashing outside the circle. Standing under the light with horns and drums playing loudly, we frantically embraced and merged our pigments. When the chanting returned and the loud music ended, we went back to the circle and the strobe went off. We continued as before, with both of our bodies grey. Allyson walked into the center, picked up the central flame and walked out. I followed her. The space was again left in total darkness and the chanting ended.
October 20, 1978
Helen Shlein Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
A group of about twenty-five people joined me in an evening of events intended to stimulate awareness of our united energy fields. In the first half of the presentation we held hands in a circle and responded to taped instruction:
Focus your eyes on each member of the group for one minute.
Release a tremendous one-minute outburst.
Experience your group aura by internal visualization.
At intermission, people viewed the life energy charts that I had drawn for the presentation. The charts showed ancient Eastern and more recent Western concepts of the anatomy that allows us to live and think. Viewers were advised to stand facing the charts as if looking into a mirror and to sense the systems in their own bodies.
During the second half of the evening, I presented some of the myriad scientific and religious theories of life energy. To end the presentation, I invited people to stay if they wished to witness the passing of life energy as I decapitated a rat. Some left and some stayed to observe the sacrifice.
October 1-2, 1976
Rooftop, Boston, Massachusetts
For two hours each night I suspended myself inside a pyramid. Both my hearing and vision were eliminated by means of sensory isolation gear. The work was done before an audience, on the roof of an eight-story building. As people got off the elevator, before climbing to the roof, they read a sign that said, "During Apex I will leave my body and touch you." During the performance people whispered, and some felt they were touched.
May 20-25, 1975
North Magnetic Pole, Resolute Bay, Canada
Studying the polarities on earth and in our bodies, I learned that our brains and hearts emit magnetic energy as does the earth. The North Magnetic Pole is the place from which we gauge our position on earth. Yet the magnetic energy field at the North Magnetic Pole wanders in a slow erratic path, shifting it's position several degrees every year, never giving perfectly accurate compass bearings because of this polar wandering effect. I flew and snowmobiled up to the North Magnetic Pole, located in the Arctic. Inside the magnetic field my compass needle spun around. The sun circled overhead around the clock. I wandered across the ice desert, then took off my clothes and ran around in a circle. I felt I had dissolved into a pure energy state and become one with the magnetic field surrounding the earth.
September 1974 - February 1975
Columbus, Ohio and Boston, Massachusetts
I shaved my head of hair in alignment with the split between the logical left and intuitive right hemispheres of the brain. For half a year I did performances examining the subject of polarities through my self image.
February 17, 1975
Museum School, Boston, Massachusetts
I ate a plate of spaghetti and then cut my hair onto the empty plate. I placed a human brain onto the hair, took the universal antidote, Syrup of Ipecac, and vomited the spaghetti onto the brain. After that, I put it all in a garbage bag.
February 2, 1975
Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts
I passed out leaflets with my face on them, asking people to step on my face or be my friend and call me for dinner. Some people did call, but when they found out we would each pay for our own meal (I was a poor art student), they decided against getting together. Two people threw it down and stepped on it.
May 28, 1975
After I returned from the North Magnetic Pole, flat broke, I realized that my performances were an exhaustive desperate search for "something." And although I called myself an agnostic existentialist, I challenged "God, whatever that is" to appear to me. Within twenty-four hours the following two life-changing events occurred: At a party I took LSD for the first time. Sitting with my physical eyes closed, my inner eye moved through a beautiful, spiraling tunnel. The walls of the tunnel seemed like a living mother of pearl, and it felt like a spiritual rebirth canal. I was in the darkness, spiraling towards the light. The curling space going from black to gray to white suggested to me the resolution of all polarities, as the opposites found a way of becoming each other. My artistic rendering of this event was titled the Polar Unity Spiral. Soon after this I changed my name to Grey as a way of bringing the opposites together.
The same evening I met Allyson. She was the only other person who had taken LSD at that party. We have been together ever since that night in 1975. Our love has been the greatest teacher in my life. For me she is the flesh and blood incarnation of God's infinite love. So my challenge to God, my prayer, had been answered.
I exhibited a billboard of my face.
November 11, 1974
Red Line, Boston, Massachusetts
I took an hour long ride on the subway
going from one end of the line to the
other with a self-portrait in the ad slot.