artist statement


Francis Palazzolo’s “Social Bond Market” is a series of intersubjective portrait events, which are as much ‘afront’ the NASDAQ Showroom in Times Square, as community relations, social bonding and performance art are an ‘affront’ to alienating market exchange values and the predictable tourist marketplace. Palazzolo developed and implemented this series of events specifically for visitors in Times Square. He critiques these institutions by counteracting their magnetic mind-boggling fetishes with a communal approach to portraiture. Arguably the most popular canonical form of art, Western style portraiture spreads a consumer friendly moral about self-reliance and self-centeredness throughout the world. In the “Social Bond Market” participants use depiction against itself to challenge this status quo. The corner of 45th and Broadway is the focal point for shifting the low degree of common values and high degree of isolation between people.


The following is a sketch of Palazzolo’s intersubjective portrait event methodology. At its core, his role is to shift passersby into collaborators. This mode of engagement entails considerable multi-tasking: (1) amiable confidence to reach out, (2) focus to block-out the swirling chaos, (3) presence to slow down the fast-paced environment into an intimate encounter, (4) concentration and adroit dexterity to capture likeness, (5) patience to listen, (6) empathy to inquire and care about another’s point of view, and (6) personal reflection to negotiate shared meaning. Up front, Palazzolo initiates chats with passersby and mentions that drawings are free. Once engaged in conversation, talking elicits drawing, which in turn solidifies the conversation. As Palazzolo and his collaborator get attuned to one another, the person drawing may shift. Stories, along with a pad of paper and drawing supplies go back and forth. Depending on the collaborator’s comfort, participation includes making choices, filling-in, and/or leading the artwork. “Social Bond Market” values an uplifting human interface.


Palazzolo takes to the streets to deliberately critique institutions outside of the art world. The NASDAQ is computer-based and lacks physical interaction for trades; orders and transactions are processed electronically. Company algorithms’ are the market makers and match buyers and sellers in split seconds. With the elimination of human intermediaries, people are erased and silenced. In the “Social Bond Market,” emotional responses from passersby, their personal style, and artwork are sought after and respected. Thus, the overwhelming trend toward affective labor, which aims to reduce the input of the laborer’s expression of mind and body, is challenged. The “Social Bond Market” values the content of one’s character. In the radiant glow of the NASDAQ, collaborators highlight their visibility and recognition as they share their stories, feelings and sensations. As co-creators, blurring self-portraiture with artist drawing a portrait subject, Palazzolo and passersby vitalize a fading work ethic: being seen in the work that one does.


As an institution, Times Square is a seductive environment that lures people into passive spectatorship, consuming them with the hype of bright glossy things and the reign of the almighty dollar. A dystopian microcosm of capitalist culture, the Crossroads of the World distracts the populace with polarizing media, increases the power of objects over subjects, and promotes individualism and materialism to a fault. Intimate conversations and audience activated portraiture intervene to enhance interpersonal relations. By fusing art and life, collaborators turn portraits into performance art. Thus, the improvisational flow of the “Social Bond Market” breaks the rote assumptions about portraiture and positions it in relief, and as relief, to the overwhelming rise of commodity-values in Times Square.


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