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February 09, 2012

Performance Artist Unsettles Burlington Commuters

AlsothereHave you seen this person?

A Seven Days reader nearly drove off the road the first time she did. The white-clad figure was walking down the sidewalk on Shelburne Road near Liberty Inn & Suites around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"It's the strangest thing, they wear this ankle length white puffy coat with large red balls hanging off of it," writes the reader. "The coat is a little odd, but typically, I wouldn't take much notice. It's the fact that they are also wearing a very bizarre white plastic mask (kind of like Phantom of the Opera, but covering their entire face)."

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you feel about creepy-looking characters wandering the streets — this is not an "abominable snowperson," as our reader suggested. It's artist Kate Donnelly, in the midst of “Also There: A Performance for the Commuter." From 7:45 to 8:15 each weekday for the next few weeks, Donnelly will don her white-and-red suit and mask, and walk the sidewalks south along Shelburne Road, west along Home Avenue, north along Pine Street and, finally, east along Birchcliff Parkway.


Donnelly says she's interested in transition. Her white figure, "momentarily interrupts the attention of an audience who are engaged in a daily transition — that is, their commute from home to work, from one self to another," she writes on her blog. "The diversion is fleeting, the sight familiar (human) but not identifiable. With the daily reappearance of the figure, the audience may witness the sight again and again, begin to notice it changing, perhaps even look for it. It may become part of their routine."

She adds, "We take comfort in titles, certainties, tangible outcomes ... I wish to remind the audience of the absurd and unpredictable, to remind them to notice the anomalies and embrace adventure.”


I wonder what she'll do if someone tries to talk to her on the sidewalk. I'd try it myself, but for some reason, that suit really freaks me out.

For more (slightly nightmare-inducing) photos of Donnelly in action, check out her blog: Learn more about her other projects at


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