Christina Ewald and Fritz Donnelly are trying to coax New Yorkers into showing some solidarity with strangers on New Year’s Day.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Through their interactive performance troupe HiChristina, an informal meet-and-greet called “Love Corners” will be held at a designated intersection in Brooklyn and another in downtown Manhattan. Participants merely have to show up wearing something red between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the corner of West 18th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, or North 6th Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The aim is to “get the New Year off to a flying happy start with a long cold look at humanity.…Just look, silently. Smile. Stand on the sunny side of the street. Hold hands with anyone else at the performance, any stranger in a red scarf. Watch together without speaking,” according to the duo’s Web site, hichristina.com.
A HiChristina hotline has been set up so attendees will be able to phone in their experiences. Ewald would also like nothing better than for the new-found friends to share a drink and some conversation wherever they choose. Donnelly says similar performances will be staged in Beijing, London, Johannesburg and Tokyo, making the New Year’s event HiChristina’s most extensive one yet. Free from any sort of sponsorships, the group’s events are designed primarily to encourage self-expression.
“Basically, it’s a classless activity that doesn’t cost any money and it’s different than what you usually do in your community,” Donnelly says. “Our goal is to create scenarios where people can express part of themselves that they might have lost along the way, but that they really value. That’s the guide for us more than anything.”
Ewald, founder of RX Apparel, a Brooklyn-based clothing line that reconstructs vintage apparel, and Donnelly, a film producer, started HiChristina in what used to be RX Apparel’s downtown store. They first met at a party — both were wearing fishnets — had a few dates and moved in together a few days later. Earlier this month, the pair hosted “Someone Else’s Office Party,” which aimed to have a group of people crash local office parties.
Despite the phony mustaches worn by the 20 recruits to that event and their contention they were hand models, Donnelly said, “Surprisingly, it went over and people kind of believed it. We looked like a group that only could have been assembled through work.”
Five-minute lectures by such writers as Jonathan Ames are among the other HiChristina events in the pipeline.
“There are not many institutions where you can exercise [and discuss] the great ideas people have come up with in the last century,” Donnelly said. “That sounds so grandiose, but you need a vision to keep going.”