After days of struggling with
technology it was a welcomed relief to deal with something that didn’t need a
computer in order to work.
We were quickly able to get
the rocks off the truck and down into the gallery where Louie and Jorge poured
them onto the floor and started organizing them inside the installation.
It was amazing to experience how the rocks
changed the space both visually and energetically.
The 3-tons of marble chips
brought a sense of calm with them. The physical act of moving their
weight, handling their cool, wet exterior and smelling their rockness brought us back to our bodies and
away from the frenetic world of the computer.
Once the rocks were in
place Jorge and I sat for a long time looking out of the installation.
What had previously been a frantic, stressful environment for the past few days
was now a peaceful, soothing oasis where the imagination could flow
freely. Setting up the projectors and dealing with the computer programs
brought us up to our heads. Installing the rocks brought us down to our
feet and the ground.
photo by Benedetta Valabrega
This is not to say that I
personally privilege working with natural objects over working with the
technology. They are both important for me and I need both in order to
explore my ideas fully. I love the videos and sound in the show. It's
been thrilling for me to use the computer to make the 4 videos sync
and to manipulate their shape and I am also so glad that we were able to use the
computer to create a multi-channel sound environment. Equally, I love the
rocks and their innate power and independence from technology.For me, it's a perfect balance.
So, after nearly a year of planning, thinking, worrying and wondering, Jorge and I started to install Passage yesterday. I love watching things grow, so I decided to take a few photos everyday to see the transformation fron the empty white gallery space to the magical world of our dry landscape.
The project Passage has been, from the moment the ISE accepted the proposal last year, a thrilling, stressful, frightening, frustrating and truly exciting experience. I can remember many nights laying in bed being overwhelmed by fear and feeling doubtful that I could ever bring this idea to life.
I am happy to say that I stuck with the project and got through all the many financial, practical and emotional obstacles so that I could now be standing in the ISE gallery with Jorge, as my installer programs QLab to play the videos and the sound engineer hangs speakers and mixes the sound with us in LIVE. It is wonderful to see the images and sounds Jorge and I have been working with for so many years come to life and also to be exploring all of this fantastic technology.
This is a test pattern to help position the videos. It is
not one of the videos that will be in the show
The process of the installation has been stressful and extremely frustrating at times- especially when the technology doesn't work- which it never does, but it has also been incredibly fulfilling. As the work starts to slowly come together I feel thrilled and grateful to have this opportunity to show this project in such a public way.
When I was walking home from the gallery today I thought about how much I am enjoying this moment. This is exactly what I have always wanted- to be focused on my art, produce projects and be able to share them with people. Unfortunately though, as much as I want this, it has been very difficult to make it happen a lot of the time, but, at least for now, I can enjoy being consumed with the installation and exhibition of Passage.
"And yet the simple act of standing a stone upright can be spiritually and aesthetically powerful. One thinks, for example, of the dolmens of Stonehenge or Carmac. Lafcadio Hearn, an international writer who became a naturalized citizen of Japan wrote "Until you can feel that stones have character, that the stones have tones, values, the whole artistic meaning of a Japanese garden cannot be revealed to you." http://www.glowmagazine.me/the-perfect-traditional-zen-garden-in-london/
Jorge and I took a trip to Bay Aggregates, a supplier of hardscape
materials, in Port Washington, Long Island a couple of weeks ago to choose the gravel
and rocks that we will use in PASSAGE.
As you know, the installation is inspired by the Zen garden and we want
to use rocks and gravel in the installation to create a sense and concept of the
garden. I thought this would be easy, after all, a rock garden is only a big
rectangle filled with rocks, but even though we have thought about it a lot, it’s
been hard to settle on something that that feels right.
wonderful being at the very dusty Bay Aggregates and looking at all
the different rocks. There were white marble chips glistening in the
sun, sensuously smooth river stone from Mexico, oversized gravel in a multitude
of shades of pink and brown and jagged Bluestone from Pennsylvania, to name
just of few of the many rocks and stones on display.
I was surprised
to realize how pleasurable it was to notice the subtle differences in the
colors, feel the textures and experience the intensity of the weight of the
stones. Jorge, who grew up in
Costa Rica, is closely connected to nature and has talked to me on my occasions
about the beauty of stones, how they carry the heat of the earth and hold time and memory. I can’t say that I really understood
what he was talking about before, but it became clearer to me as I stood amidst the huge piles of stones and got covered in rock dust.
back from Bay Aggregates, Jorge and I have decided on the final design for our
dry landscape. I think my new
sensitivity to the rocks has helped me to have a different
relationship to the installation and ultimately to be able to make decisions with greater ease. Rather than seeing the rocks and gravel
as objects to be properly placed in a space in order to evoke the feeling of a
Zen garden, I have stepped a little outside of my thinking mind and have begun to
pay attention to the rocks themselves- to their smell, sound, irregularities, defiance and
humor. I have started to wonder how long they have
been around, what creatures have touched them and how they were formed. The stones have started to feel like curious entities to me and rather than using them to get my idea across, I have started to let their character lead the way and be the inspiration for
what Jorge and I share in Passage.
I am very happy to report that Jorge and I have raised $4,000
through RocketHub for Passage and we are deeply grateful to each and every
person who pledged. I have learned
that fundraising involves a lot of time and effort although over the past week my
attention has been drawn more to the project itself and I haven’t put as much effort
into the fundraising, but I will make another call for support this week and
hopefully raise some more funds.
Please tell your friends and share the site with anyone you think may be
video still from Passage
This past week, Jorge and I have started reconfiguring the
videos we will be using for Passage and it has been exciting to see the concept
and ethereal narrative of the installation emerge in the juxtaposition of these
images. We have also decided to
add a fifth video, which is a video we shot of the river in Housatonic, MA
where I had a studio in 2010. Jorge
and I have used this video of red water in numerous installations and
performances over the past few years. In fact all of the videos that will be in
Passage have been used before: the pigeon that Jorge filmed outside his
apartment, the windows with blowing curtains and the figure standing in an arch
which I shot when I was in Turkey in 2010. I have a feeling that we won’t use these images again after
this show because they have really matured and found their home in Passage. In
this sense, Passage feels like the culmination of years of exploration and
investigation into the life, spirit and poetry of these images.
video still from Passage
On a seemingly less creative note, we are also dealing with
the many practical issues that need to be taken care of for the installation
like choosing video projectors, figuring out how to hang the projectors
(apparently we can’t drill into the ceiling, which makes it all very
complicated), finding a technician to install the technology, deciding on what
media players to use and if we want to sync the videos as well as exploring
options for transporting the gravel. It seems a little overwhelming at times and it has made me
think a lot about the creative process and how I define this process.
“Art is a
guarantee of sanity” – Louise Bourgeois
Generally, I think of the creative
process as those moments of inspiration and magic when I feel connected to my vision
and I am doing something like performing or editing video or drawing. Those are good times and I tend to
think that these are the times when I am really “working” and somehow the other
aspects of putting the project together like figuring out how to move 250 bags
of gravel, how to hang the projectors or how to pay for the project are just a
nuisance. Well, obviously there is
no project without dealing with practical details and it occurred to me this
week that I may be better off seeing it all as the creative process rather than
just calling the parts I like creative process and the rest an annoying
obstacle I wish didn’t exist. It’s
all good and it’s all important and it is all part of the creative process.
“Genius (or art
in this case) is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration” -Thomas Edison
long-term collaborator Jorge and I will have a solo show at the ISE Gallery in
lower Manhattan from November 8 – December 31, 2013. This
is our most expansive project to date as well as an extraordinary opportunity
and big personal challenge. At
this point, Jorge and I have our concept, have chosen the videos and designed
the space, but there are still so many decisions to be made before we are ready
for the opening on November 8. This is a demanding process on many
emotional, creative and practical levels and I think this blog will be an
interesting space for me to sort out all of these pieces and for you to join me
in the creative process.
Ryōan-ji garden, Kyoto
the moment, I am working on fundraising for the show through RocketHub, which
is a crowdfunding platform. I never imagined that I would ever try
raising money this way, but the project is expensive and it is extremely difficult
to get grant money, so I figured I would give it a try. I was very anxious
about doing this, so it took ages to shoot and edit the video, write the text
and then, most frighteningly, decide what the monetary goal of the project
would be. The budget for the installation is close to $11,000, but I didn't
think I could ever raise that much money. It’s embarrassing to say, but all I
saw was an image of myself sitting alone starring at the computer screen where
it said “money raised: $0.00”. I
thought it was going to be a big public humiliation, but I decided to take the
risk and do it anyway and set the goal at $3,000 figuring that I could make some anonymous pledges of my own in case things got really desperate. So, I launched the
project and the pledges immediately starting coming in and within 2 days Jorge
and I raised $3,000.
Ryōan-ji garden, Kyoto
This was completely shocking to me and has given me a chance to shift some very old and
unhelpful ways I have imagined myself and my relationship to the world. Each time I see a new
pledge- no matter how big or small I feel deeply touched. I feel a form of support, a connection to others as well as a sense of being lifted up by their belief in me and my work. I
have always been someone who shied away from money, seeing it as something a
bit tainted and negative, but I see now that it can be good thing. There is something very positive in
receiving money and in giving money and it is certainly okay to ask! It is an
exchange of positive energy and I am thrilled to know that I no longer have to
imagine myself sitting alone looking at a big $0.00 sign, but can instead can see
myself surrounding by supporters who are cheering me on.
makes me think about the installation itself.
Essentially Passage is about moving through the stages of life, change, awareness and
transformation and that is what I see happening for me during this
process. Once of the main
inspirations for the project is a quote by the Buddhist scholar D.T Suzuki and
I am going to share it here as I think is beautiful description of this
“When traveling is made too easy and
comfortable, its spiritual meaning is lost. This may be called sentimentalism,
but a certain sense of loneliness engendered by traveling leads one to reflect
upon the meaning of life, for life is after all a traveling from one unknown to
another unknown”. –D.T. Suzuki
on that note, I am going to post the link to my RocketHub site and to ask
pledge to Passage in any small or big way you can and even if you can.
I love watching people move in everyday life. I love watching the guys at the gym box and I love watching a woman I know with cerebral palsy gesture as she speaks and I also like paying attention to the way my students move through space. Movement for the sake of movement fascinates me and for
this reason, Lucy Guerin’s piece Untrained
wasn’t a big leap for me in terms of appreciating the untrained body in motion
although the performance was still a revelation and fascinating
The 1-hour program consisted of 4 men; 2 trained dancers and
2 men with no dance or performance history. The men interacted in a variety of ways throughout the
evening and some of the things that
happened were: the non-dancers tried to copy the movement of the dancers and
vice versa, the trained and untrained created movement pieces together,
they showed videos that each of them created of themselves moving, sang made-up
love longs, drew quick portraits of each other and offered stories about
such things as their relationships with their father’s or something about their
bodies that makes them feel vulnerable.
Untrained in Wollongong, 2011
The genuine respect and camaraderie that was created between
these men was impressive and touching.
What could have been a potentially humiliating experience for the
untrained was turned into a chance to cultivate a deep humanity and also to see
how the untrained movement was no more and no less than trained movement. At one point, each of the men spoke
about their experience of being part of the show and what they learned. The trained dancers explained how the
untrained opened them up, released them from the stress of performing and being
in competition. The measuring stick of what was deemed beautiful or successful had
"Untrained" - live at the 2010 Australian Dance Awards
In the post-performance discussion the untrained shared that
during the auditions, Lucy had told them to just be themselves and I imagine
that this is what she said to them through out the entire production. While watching the show I was impressed
by the inventiveness and imagination of these 2 men who have no performance
history and apparently work regular desk jobs during the day. I don’t think this creativity was
necessarily a sign that the 2 men were undiscovered artists, but rather that
because they had the courage to be themselves in all their imperfection that
their unique inner voice was able flow. It made me think, yet again, about how
damaging education can be and how the drive to be something (a dancer, artist, filmmaker
etc.) can be utterly crippling or at least, make you completely average.
There are a number of places in my life where I get to enjoy
the unexpected magic of the untrained.
One interesting place is in my pole dancing classes where I find some of
the women so moving to watch. The remarkable women usually aren’t the ones who
have perfected a routine, are particularly graceful or have the strength to flip
upside down on the pole, but the ones who are dancing from their hearts. In
their quirky movements, awkward gyrations and inflexible bodies they are able
to express their inner desire, yearning and eroticism in a completely honest
and unique way. It is sincerely
beautiful and is yet another reminder to leave aside all the education and
expectations and trust what comes naturally.