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Mall Rats: Adriana Yoto And Michael Townsend

Adriana Yoto is one of the artists caught by the police who was living it out in a secret room at the mall. On the whole, eight artists crept into the depths of Providence Place mall and built a secret studio apartment in which they stayed, on and off, for nearly four years until mall security finally caught their leader last week. I don’t find it bizarre but its really amazing, much like a junior school thing where the kids have a secret lair where they can hide and they think only they know about it.

You can call it an audacious stunt — Adriana Yoto, her husband Michael Townsend and other artists call it performance art. This story spilled out in District Court, after the leader, Michael J. Townsend, 36, of Providence, was arrested. He did not plead contest.

Townsend is a a self-described “professional public artist,” and according to him this clandestine project was born because, in his words,

he had a wish to explore the phenomenon of the modern American enclosed mall, its social implications, and his own relationship with commerce and the world.

All artsy bitsy, but if you ask me, its a good way to save on the rent.

The police likes to call it an apartment but the mall spokesman Dante Bellini Jr. pooh-poohed police detectives’ and the artists’ portrayal of the space as an apartment. According to him, it was just an enclosed area with some stuff in it. The place was not even heated.

But hear out the best part. An article has this to say about this artistic caper –

In a feat of derring-do likely to be savored for years by the Providence-area underground-art community, the artists illegally ate, drank, slept, read, held meetings, watched TV and enjoyed games on a Sony Playstation2 in a palace of American commercialism.

Playing video games is now considered the ultimate American way of life.

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