Confuse the Powers That Be!

A troupe of Minneapolis agit-prop artists go to Giuliani's Gotham and face their toughest adversary yet--indifference

After the full group reaches the bottom, it climbs to the top once more, and then heads down along the railing in a quick single file. On the ground-floor mezzanine, standing in their lab coats and assessing the performance, Praxis is approached by a staffer who asks them if they're waiting for a museum tour.

"I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get kicked out, and I'll admit that," says Troyer afterward over a slice of pizza. But he reiterates that breaking the law isn't the point so much as getting in trouble is--even if Giuliani's New York seems to be trying to make the two indistinguishable.

Praxis still has a few more chances to court a crackdown, though: On Sunday, one Praxis agent will be leading the others, costumed as aliens from outer space, on a tour of Ellis Island. On Monday morning, Praxis will try to plant lab-coated members in the crowd of the Today Show while Al Roker does live banter. The goal here is to flash a sign reading "This is a performance" on national TV.

Praxis acts of kind randomness and beautiful senselessness: The lab-coat mafia in a Minneapolis action
Praxis acts of kind randomness and beautiful senselessness: The lab-coat mafia in a Minneapolis action

And beyond that, it's hard to say. For one thing, Troyer is in the process of applying to grad school in the fall, which may take him out of Minneapolis. More intriguing, the worldwide contacts he's making through the first International Acts of Difference Day are forming the beginning of what Troyer hopes may be an international network of public performance artists. More immediately, Praxis has recently been invited to stage happenings in Denver and Salt Lake City.

"We may actually have tactical units doing things in other places," Troyer says enthusiastically, "so that no matter where anyone in the Praxis group were to go, there would be an opportunity to create performances anywhere in the world." One day, he enthuses, Praxis might be a global cultural presence, capable of appearing obtrusively and unbidden all across the world. But whether the world will bother to resist, who can say?

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