Liverpool Biennial Fringe – Sept 6-9th.


Free Ice Water, Free Hot Coffee and Free Hot Supper are coming to The Brink in Liverpool, as part of the Liverpool Biennial Fringe.  Many thanks to Sally Tallant for putting me in touch with the amazing organization The Brink, which will host all three events.

Here is more information on each event.

The Brink
15-21 Parr Street, Liverpool, L1 4JN
T:  0151 703 0582

American Artist, John D. Freyer brings Fifty/Fifty, his collection of interdisciplinary, social practice art projects to the Liverpool Biennial Fringe.  Freyer will host three public events at The Brink;  FREE ICE WATER,  FREE HOT COFFEE, and FREE HOT SUPPER.  Freyer’s projects create a space for individuals, groups, and communities to have meaningful conversations about addiction and recovery.  All events are open to the public.  

FREE ICE WATER at 5pm on Tuesday September 6th, 2016 at The Brink

Free Ice Water is about conversation.  The project creates space for individuals, seated together in pairs, to have one on one, distraction-free, uninterrupted conversations about significant turning points in their lives.  At the end of each conversation participants share ice water from an aquamarine blue mason jar, add a token of the conversation to the jar, and sign and seal the lid.  At the heart of Free Ice Water is the humble American mason jar, transformed by social and community engagement into a vessel for conversation that is fragile, yet lasting.

FREE HOT COFFEE at 2pm on Wednesday September 7th, 2016 at The Brink

Free Hot Coffee is about connections.  The project revolves around a “Recovery Roast” coffee, a custom roasted coffee whose flavor profile is determined by local populations of men and women in long term recovery and their allies.  During this special one day event Liverpool’s own Neighbourhood Coffee will introduce participants to the rich history of coffee and the complexities of roasting, tasting and preparation options.  The end result of this event will be a new limited edition custom roasted coffee blend made especially for The Brink in Liverpool.  The project also builds connection between art and recovery communities to create a deeper understanding of the potential for creative expression and engagement to assist the recovery process. Finally Free Hot Coffee radiates out into the community with pop-up pour over coffee stations where the general public can engage with with people in long term recovery and their allies, and learn about the project, over free hot cups of “Recovery Roast” coffee.    

FREE HOT SUPPER at 5pm Friday, September 9th, 2016 at The Brink

Free Hot Supper is about community.  Participants, guests and passerby involved in the Free Ice Water and Free Hot Coffee events are given a token with the date, time and location of the closing event: a simple community supper.  Token holders can attend the dinner themselves or if unable to attend, are prompted to give the token to someone belonging to a population affected by addiction, from persons in long term recovery, to a parent or loved one who is grieving the loss of a son, daughter or friend, to a stakeholder in local government.   Free Hot Supper is a celebration of the opportunity for individuals, groups, and communities to have meaningful conversations about addiction and recovery during the entire week of Fifty/Fifty events.


Free Ice Water | John Freyer | TEDxRVA – YouTube

TEDxRVA Pictures

TEDxRVA_Session 1 John Freyer


Image courtesy TEDxVCU photographer Shannon Lowe

Last week I had the great privilege to speak at the TEDxVCU event on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.  I talked about the origins of the FIW project and then had the opportunity to have a conversation with a member of the TEDxVCU audience.  AJ is a first generation college student who talked to me about the importance of the, almost daily, conversations that he has with his mom.    He chose to come to VCU so that he could study and be close to family.  At the end of our conversation he decided to leave a gift card that he received from his stepfather in the Perfect Mason Jar.  I had also come prepared to leave an object in the Perfect Mason and you’ll have to watch the our conversation on the TED stage to find out what is was.  (Video Link to Come)

Fountain Drinks

On April 21st, 1859, an incredible thing happened in London and thousands of people came out to celebrate it. Women wore their finest clothing. Men were in suits and top hats, and children clamored…

Source: 99% Invisible –  Fountain Drinks

Sherry Turkle’s ‘Reclaiming Conversation’ – NYTS

X After 127 distraction free, one on one conversations over ice water, I couldn’t agree more with Sherry Turkle!

Sherry Turkle is a singular voice in the discourse about technology. She’s a skeptic who was once a believer, a clinical psychologist among the industry shills and the literary hand-wringers, an empiricist among the cherry-picking anecdotalists, a moderate among the extremists, a realist among the fantasists, a humanist but not a Luddite: a grown-up. She holds an endowed chair at M.I.T. and is on close collegial terms with the roboticists and affective-computing engineers who work there.

Source: Sherry Turkle’s ‘Reclaiming Conversation’ – The New York Times

The Recovery Ride – Rained & Shined

Ready to roll! #FreeIceWaterRecoveryRide #JohnFreyer #1708gallery #Richmond2015 #uciworlds

A photo posted by 1708 Gallery (@1708gallery) on

On Friday night, an amazing group of people joined me on my custom modified “Water Wagon” for an alternative bike ride around Richmond. The tour included a few stops of significance on my own recovery journey but really followed the path that lead each of us on to that Bicycle. If I had not had that meal at Mama Zu’s with Brian and Paul, if Michael had not learned the accordion, if Hei Hei stayed in Hong Kong, and Devon not studied photo.. We all make subtle choices that lead us where we are. Thank you all for coming out, on a rainy Friday night to share your stories with me/us.


FREE ICE WATER: Recovery Ride


In collaboration with 1708 Gallery, John D. Freyer presents Free Ice Water: Recovery Ride.  This alternative bicycle tour corresponds with the UCI’s Conquer the Cobbles ride on Friday, September 25th from 6-8pm. The riders will shadow the UCI World Championship course in several places, including through the Arts and Culture District, and will also escape the crowds to visit unique points of interest on the artist’s own recovery journey.  Riders can join the artist on his 16 passenger Water Wagon Bicycle, ride their own bikes along the route, or ride one of the Richmond Rides touring bikes made available for the ride. The eight mile ride will start and end at 1708 Gallery in the Arts and Culture District and will also make stops in Oregon Hill, Byrd Park, Carytown, the Museum District and the Fan.   Refreshments will be served at numerous locations along the way.  

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 12.28.04 PM

FREE ICE WATER all over town.

Look for the Water Wagon! Downtown All Day!

FREE ICE WATER – mobile – all around town today. #freeicewater #1708gallery #VizArts #vcusustainability

A photo posted by John Freyer (@temporama) on

They Are Out

FREE ICE WATER – all week @ 1708 Gallery – Conversations Wednesday 1pm to 5pm.

A photo posted by John Freyer (@temporama) on

FREE ICE WATER is out and about in the RVA.  There will be 7 stations up tomorrow and through the week.  John D. Freyer will be hosting conversations throughout the week at 1708, Visual Arts Center of Richmond and Sediment Arts.  Freyer will also be rolling around town on his micro water wagon look for the orange bike with the giant blue mason jar.


Free Water Stations around the World!

Hello we are Join the Pipe, the first community of tap water drinkers. People joining from all over the world sharing the same dream of redistributing drinking water in a fairer way.

TODAY @ Mixed Greens: Artist Proof Give Away!

It’s the last week of “New Dominion” and I am giving away a signed, matted, mounted 8×10 artist proof to the first person to have a conversation in the gallery @ Mixed Greens today.  Going, Going, Gone – The show closes this Friday July 17th.


HYPERALLERGIC: From Climate Change to Race Relations, Artists Respond to Richmond, Virginia

Interdisciplinary media artist John D. Freyer also thinks about interpersonal relationships. Freyer’s “Free Ice Water” (2015) is an ongoing seven-step participatory art project that invites gallery-goers to partake in one-on-one conversations during visits. Before beginning, participants are instructed to fill a mason jar (provided by the artist) to the brim with ice water (also provided by the artist). Upon conclusion of the conversation, both parties take a drink from the jar, refill it, and then seal the jar which is then displayed on a shelf in the gallery. Originally conceived as a method to discuss the often taboo subjects of addiction, mental health, and recovery, the project uses relational aesthetics as a means of centering human relationships. Within the context of this show, participants are encouraged per Freyer’s instruction booklet, to “have a real conversation” on any topic in order to generate intimate, vulnerable moments of introspection.

Source: From Climate Change to Race Relations, Artists Respond to Richmond, Virginia

Last Chance, Final Week @ Mixed Greens

Don’t miss the final week of “New Dominion” at Mixed Greens Gallery in NYC.  The show closes on Friday July 17th.  There are still a few “Perfect Mason” jars and time slots available this weekend for one on one conversations.  Bring a friend, meet a stranger, talk to the staff at Mixed Greens. (they are very good conversationalists, talented artists, and all around cool peeps)

GIVE AWAY #1 – I will be giving away a signed, matted and mounted 8×10 Artist Proof (14×16 Archival Matte) to the first person to have a conversation in the gallery on TUESDAY 7/14.  (Just leave your info with the Staff @ Mixed Greens)

Also in preparation for the closing I will be listing a few objects on eBay this week to distribute “Free Ice Water” DIY Kits around the country.

Give Away #2 I am giving away a 2nd signed, matted and mounted 8×10 Artist Proof (14×16 Archival Matte) to the first holder of a DIY Kit to send me an update on their “Free Ice Water” conversation.

Don’t miss the group show that Artnet called a “Not To Miss Summer Show.” Including work by Sonya Clark, Noa Glazer, Arnold J. Kemp, Hope Q Ginsburg, Richard Roth and Ben Durham. Curated by Lauren Ross.


On eBay Now! – My “Martha Wilson” Glasses: PINK

On eBay Now!

I bought these Philip Starke glasses at the end of the year in 2010 just before we moved to Sweden, thinking that they would fit right in in Stockholm – (they did not).  I was “that American with the pink glasses” in Stockholm.   One day I saw a Facebook post by Martha Wilson and she was wearing “my glasses”.  After a bit of correspondence on the issue, I decided that I was in fact wearing “her glasses.” and always called my “pinks” my “Martha Wilson” glasses (take that Philipe Stark you’ve got nothing on the MW!)

Two years ago in March 2013 I started an artist residency at Light Work in Syracuse, New York.  After graduating from college I worked for 4 years as the Lab Manager at Light Work’s public access photography lab.  Being invited back as an Artist in Residency was a huge honor for me, in a sort of “local boy’s done good” kind of way.

Unfortunately, one of my first questions when I arrived was not about the facilities, or digital printers, or my proposed project, but about where the nearest liquor store was.  You know when your parents told you that when they walked to school it was uphill both ways?  Well, Light Work sits half way up the large hill that Syracuse University sits on.  And the nearest liquor store is over that hill.  So on my first night, in a snow storm, on a bicycle, I went up hill both ways to get a bottle of Jameson’s.  It didn’t end well.

I had to leave Light Work a week early and realized that I just couldn’t drink anymore.  Cold turkey, no moderation, all or nothing.  And like any good alcoholic, I decided that I would do it by myself, because “I’ve got this”.  I’d gone through periods of non drinking when I was in college and when I was making ski/snowboard films and had zero money for anything.  I’ll do it my self, thanks.

Ask anyone who has battled addiction and you quickly find out that “doing it yourself” seldom works. It wasn’t until May 21st 2013, that I finally asked for help.  But not before returning to drinking with gusto, pushing away the people that loved me most, and stepping on and breaking my “Martha Wilson” glasses in a drunken stupor.

I have worked since May 21st, 2013 on keeping myself sober every single day.  I’ve gone through two pairs of glasses since these, but I’ve only lost/broken them on my own with nothing/noone to blame but my clumsiness.

John D. Freyer &  Johan Lindquist and their Lil' Billy Mobile Research Lab outside the Dept of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.

John D. Freyer & Johan Lindquist outside the Dept. of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.

Martha Wilson - Photo Credit: Christopher Milne

Martha Wilson – Photo Credit: Christopher Milne

Constantine’s “Perfect Mason” – Seed Saver.

Iowa City is on my brain because I am here for this week and next. When I drove through to pick up the contents of my studio at the University of Iowa in 2013, I installed a temporary show in the Eve Drewelowe Gallery in the Studio Arts Building. It was kind of a show and kind of a mess, but I was able to show 10 years of work that was in storage and install the first iteration of Free Ice Water. Constantine helped me de-install the show on the day I left town. Lots of stuff was thrown away. At that time I wasn’t sure what the “Perfect Mason” jars were really. I gave Constantine one and when I visited him this week I found it in a place of honor holding castor bean seeds in his kitchen.

New Dominion @ Mixed Greens – Artnet Must See!

"New Dominion" @ Mixed Greens, Photo by Etienne Frossard, Courtesy of Mixed Greens.

“New Dominion” @ Mixed Greens, Photo by Etienne Frossard, Courtesy of Mixed Greens.

Artnet picked “New Dominion” curated by Lauren Ross as a must see summer show!

New Dominion @ Mixed Greens

Free Ice Water is currently on display at Mixed Greens Gallery, 531 w 26th St, NYC, as part of the New Dominion exhibition curated by Lauren J. Ross.  John Freyer hosted a series of one on one conversations in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.


John D Freyer – FREE ICE WATER

In 2013, John Freyer begun Free Ice Water, an art project in which he sits down with individuals for conversation over a Mason jar filled with ice water. Intended to be focused and uninterrupted, this conversation can be around personal, even difficult topics. At its conclusion, the participants sip the water, drop a small object of personal significance into the jar, then seal and sign the jar with its lid. This ongoing project is loosely based on therapeutic methods of treating substance addiction, and arose from the artist’s questioning of his own dependency on alcohol.

Free Ice Water offers the possibility of art as a gesture of giving; a humble service, free of charge, intended to encourage moments of self-reflection and sharing between people. Each jar offers something universal—water, one of the most basic, elemental needs—combined with something very individualistic, as captured in the object and signatures.

Lauren J. Ross, Curator
Institute for Contemporary Art
Virginia Commonwealth University

Bring a friend, find a boo, meet a stranger // Come participate in John Freyer's Free 💸Ice❄️Water💧 project ~ #freeicewaternyc

A photo posted by MIXED GREENS // GALLERY (@mixedgreensnyc) on

Grab a buddy, date or pick up a stranger in Chelsea & come participate in John Frayer's FREE ICE WATER project. #freeicewaternyc

A photo posted by MIXED GREENS // GALLERY (@mixedgreensnyc) on

Ginny Atwood & Jonathan @ The Virginia Collegiate Recovery Conference

At the end of March I was invited to lead a breakout session at the 2nd Annual – Virginia Collegiate Recovery Conference.  I talked for about 20 minutes about my practice and then informed the group that they were all going to become conceptual artists for the day.  We broke up into groups of two and had one on one conversations over ice water.

There was no set topic, but since we were at a recovery conference many of our conversation revolved around addiction, sobriety, recovery and loss.  Participants were asked in advance to bring in a token object of significance that would fit in a jelly jar.

Ginny Atwood brought the dog tag from her brother Chris Atwood’s Pug, Manly.  Chris died of a heroin overdose in 2013 and Ginny founded the Chris Atwood Foundation in his honor. As someone in recovery and grateful for the life that I am privileged to lead, I take inspiration from the work of Ginny, her family and the Chris Atwood Foundation.

The Chris Atwood Foundation works to provide recovery support and resources to people and families affected by addiction; to change the conversation and policies about addiction from ones of stigma to support; and to prevent the disease from taking hold of future generations.

I don’t know what Jonathan and Ginny talked about over ice water, but Free Ice Water is not really about listening in on conversations, its about making a space for meaningful one on one conversations to happen.