Willow Smith recently trapped herself inside of a box during a 24-hour exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. During the exhibit, Smith transitioned through eight stages of anxiety from inside of the box, as the Los Angeles Times reports.
Smith was accompanied by Tyler Cole, her creative collaborator (and possibly her boyfriend), and the other half of Smith’s duo The Anxiety, during the exhibit, which began starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday (Mar. 11).
Smith and Cole went through the stages that consisted of emotional states: paranoia, rage, sadness, numbness, euphoria, strong interest, compassion and acceptance.
Visitors to the exhibit were separated from Smith and Cole by a glass wall. The other three sides of the box were composed of canvas, on which Smith and Cole wrote and painted affirmations.
Smith said that the idea for the exhibit emerged during a late-night studio session with Cole while the duo was recording their album The Anxiety. Smith and Cole have plans to release the music, which is a mixture of alternative rock and punk, immediately following their performance art show.
After completing their recording, Smith and Cole began discussing the catharsis they felt after putting their emotions into the music they made.“We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be so interesting if we could personify this experience? Starting from being scared and feeling alone and moving to a place of acceptance and joy?” Smith said.
Willow Smith eventually told her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith about the idea, and she was supportive but urged Willow to make it clear that “everyone’s anxiety takes different forms.”
“We understand this is a very sensitive subject,” Willow said. “And we don’t want to be like, ‘Our experience is the experience.’ This is just us expressing our personal experience with this.”
Cole, a Detroit transplant who moved to LA when he was in middle school, met Willow via a mutual friend about five years ago. The two bonded and then began to open up to each other regarding their struggles with anxiety.
Cole was “always thinking that things can’t go well for too long because then something terrible and tragic is going to happen.” His anxiety was so bad that he used to wake up every morning and vomit.
Smith and Cole were previously photographed by the paparazzi mid-kiss. However, the two are reluctant to define their relationship as a romance, according to the LA Times.
“We are the best of friends,” Smith insists. “I like to think about it in terms of friendship because I think that a lot of attachment and control issues come in when you start down that romantic road.” Check out a clip from their exhibit below.