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Living statue performers can fool passersby, and a number of hidden camera shows on television have used living statues to startle people. As with all performing arts, living statue performers may perform as buskers.
The tableau vivant, or group of living statues, was a regular feature of medieval and Renaissance festivities and pageantry, such as royal entries by rulers into cities. Typically a group enacting a scene would be mounted on an elaborate stand decorated to look like a monument, placed on the route of the procession. A living statue appeared in a scene of the 1945 French masterpiece film Les enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise), and early living statue pioneers include the London-based artists Gilbert and George in the 1960s. In the early years of the 20th century, the German dancer Olga Desmond put on “Evenings of Beauty” (Schönheitsabende) in which she posed nude in imitation of classical works of art ('living pictures').
Since 2011, the International Festival of Living Statues has been hosted by Masca Theatre in Bucharest, Romania, where there is a focus on developing the form through artistic research.
Performing as a living statue is a prevalent form of busking, especially in places with a high level of tourism. A living statue performer will strategically choose a spot, preferably one with a high level of foot traffic, and out of the way. The performer creates the illusion of complete stillness while standing. Sometimes, passers-by do not realize the performer is a real person, which often causes surprise when the 'statue' gives them a small gesture (such as a wink or nod). A busker's objective is to create moments of interaction that result in a tip. The amount of money a performer makes day to day depends on his or her ability to effectively interact with the crowd.
Alcalá de Henares, Spain
"Silver man" at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Fairy, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
A Living Statue seen in the Downtown of Leon, Mexico
Predator, Edinburgh, Scotland
Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida
- Björn Lindahl (2010-03-02). "Job description: do as little as possible — Nordic Labour Journal". Nordic Labour Journal. Work Research Institute, Oslo, commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20.
They suddenly appeared in all European capitals and tourist cities: the living statues. Where did they come from? What are they thinking while they stand there, lifeless? What do they do in winter? We came with many questions and quite a few prejudices when we approached one of the most peculiar occupations there is.
- "Contest of Living Statues". Ucesarte.uces.edu.ar. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
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