Nate Hill is an artist who uses public space, online and offline, to create services that work both for and against people. His work is antagonistic, confrontational, disruptive, and sometimes just gross. His presence, most often in some form of disguise, is that of provocateur. He has led groups rummaging through garbage in New York City’s Chinatown to collect what he calls, “art supplies for eccentric artists, collector or thrill seekers,” in a performance called Chinatown Garbage Taxidermy Tour. He has dressed in costume as a blue fish to provide Free Bouncy Rides to New York City subway riders, and with the addition of a white tuxedo, sold and delivered fake crack-cocaine to customers who called by phone to order the Candy Crack Delivery Service to their homes. Hill’s costumed service continued with Death Bear, in which the artist, adorned in a black bear mascot head and black jumpsuit, is summoned by text message to a person’s home to collect objects that “were causing pain” and returns them to his cave where they “disappear forever.” Hill’s last mascot character continued his tradition of the house-call performance by allowing interested parties to get their frustrations out on a sympathetic panda acting as a punching bag. After the mascot characters, Hill began wearing whiteface in Harlem and the Upper East Side with a sign around his neck reading, “White People Do Not Smell Like Wet Dog.” This performance, called The White Ambassador, protested the stereotype within the black community that white people smell like wet dogs after the rain. This summer, Hill has started to move away from working for people and the public good, and toward attempting to do the opposite with villain characters. One of these projects was entitled Free Cheeseburgers: Second Deceit, in which he dressed as a McDonald’s employee and tossed half-eaten, re-wrapped cheeseburgers to–or at, depending on your point of view–pedestrians in New York City from a moving bike. Hill also creates website interventions, such as the website White Power Milk, 2011, which offers buyers the opportunity to purchase milk gargled and “purified” by six different young, white women. The service was real, but no milk was ever sold. Later that year he created White Smell Bot as part of The White Ambassador project. It is a twitter handle that collects and re-tweets comments about how white people smell. This year Hill decided to make fun of claims that he is an “attention whore” by creating Art Fag City.Me a copy of the popular art blog Art Fag City making each new post about himself in real time. Hill’s work is physically about giving, and he is generous in his provocation. He is an unconventionally empathetic artist, who is able to put himself in other people’s shoes by making unforgettable gestures of offering and service to his audience.
Click here to see the un-edited footage of Nate.
Image from Chinatown Garbage Taxidermy Tour
Images of Free Bouncy Rides
Images from Candy Crack Delivery Service
Images from Death Bear
Images from The White Ambassador