Field of Possibility

The shape of things to come.

You seek to make art as event, not product. What happens, you wonder, when you open clay with found objects? Here is a sweater between God and your mother, and here, another mouth. Open, your hands whisper, open. Now an old bus shelter, fused glass. Look.

What is it? someone wants to know, in an unintended effort to avoid the long look, the absorption into the blobby forms that melt and lean into one another, a gathering of materials in various stages of becoming.

And what else are we, but these bubbling amoebas, opening and melting and falling endlessly into each other, in defiance of the neatly angled forms we keep meaning to hold?

***

Inspired by the work of Jessica Jackson Hutchins.

Holding the Beat

Anchoring breath to breath.

If time is the rhythm of a group, breathing, consider the befores an inhalation. When tomorrow comes, we will exhale; and again, and again. 

How different this is than the model of the pointed arrow, to pierce the next flesh of its landing.

If time is the rhythm, it is now, an anchor point that moves nowhere, holding the beat of our breath. 

Imagine

When despair is beside the point.

What is needed now is a bravery reason can’t summon, a hope that persists beyond all rights to it; a solemn acknowledgement that our despair is none of our business.

The greater the possible effect of our actions; the less we are able to see it. When senses become myopic, only imagination will do. It seems our capacity for fear is too small, outstripped by the magnitude of the moment. How strange, to need the courage to be frightened; to frighten thy neighbor as thyself with fearless, stirring fear. To understand how fear for is distinct from fear of.

Camouflage, once needed to hide from an enemy, now prevents the actor from knowing what is being done. Strip meaning from language and the lie no longer needs a disguise. 

Let us remember, repeated frustration does not refute the need to repeat the effort. Every new failure bears fruit. Instead of deferring to experts, may we collectively interfere with established pretenses of expertise.

What would happen, one among us asks, if you dared to make yourself as big as you actually are? And what could happen, echoes another, if we do not?

***

Inspired by (and with borrowed phrases from) the philosophy of Günther Anders.

How to Be Moved

Notes for a community chorus.

Like this, she said, hands open, singing. Gonna let it move me, she sang, and we followed, fingers splayed and pressing into the space of the circle we made with our attention. Now stir, she said, and we did, and it stirred us up.

Let it come, she sang. We laughed, cried. Feel this, she sang, and by then we couldn’t help ourselves because our centers had shifted to the space between us, and it was this that we pressed with our open hands. It was into this that we poured our voices, surrendered our attentions––

And we held it like that, stirring and singing together, here. Something shifted, and we went with it. 

Life, she sang, let this life.

Expanded Expansion

The artist makes room.

Your aim was an art that would not behave as art. While dying, you made your untitled rope piece, layering industrial latex like paint over string and wire suspended from the ceiling. It resembled a decimated fishing net after a storm, or the work of an overworked spider gone mad. You welcomed unseen others into a shadowy space, inviting us to attend to what crawled, flickered, and flashed. You did not specify how long to look, or where. How is it possible, we wondered, to feel so in the way in a mostly empty room? 

Touch, you said, and meant it. Who could do that now, with all the insurance? Come in, you said. But try another door. You left it to us to find it. There are other openings, you said, and more hollow spaces than we were accustomed to noticing. 

What do you know? One skeptic asked and you said Nothing.

***

Inspired by the art of Eva Hesse, and by Mignon Nixon’s article “Eva Hesse Retrospective: A Note on Milieu,” (Spring 2003 in October).

Music for Digging

Thoughts on getting down with it.

Here’s an invitation to stomp through the track-lit hallways of an administration building and sing in a waiting room, wailing exhalations of various shapes.

Consider this a reminder not to chase the light too hard, to balance those ethereal divinities with the ever-present nuisances of daily demons.

Against the weight of daggered baggage, here’s the forgiveness of emptiness. Over the round hoop of the ancient zero like an open mouth, weave a nest for the unborn and make it big enough for the recently departed. 

A body will reveal its resilience in rest, holding until only spirit is left, leaving calligraphic marks on the skins it brushed.

Song is a mother. She is working in the dirt and it is everywhere.

***

Inspired by, and with borrowed images from  Spencer Kornhaber‘s recent Atlantic article, How to Listen to Björk, According to Björk, regarding the artist’s latest album, Fossora. The title comes from the Latin word for digger.

Possibilities for Becoming

With Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

If much of sight is the weight of understanding––the weight of the world, as the saying goes–– why not a vision to pull us forward and up, binding us to one another and this earth? What happens when one person and then many––live in devotion to the process of discovering this renewal: its anatomy and breath, its sublimated wants, and how its needs at their core might include us? In an age of crisis, we face over and again the possibility of a coming end, on a road increasingly populated by our dead and dying. What does it take to remember love––even here, and hold it long enough to see a way to its next beginning? You noticed sacredness in imperfection, even pain––because it is, because we are, because we are becoming. Of this age of loss, you suggested, now we are getting somewhere.

***

Inspired by the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Becoming Unbecoming

Undoing: an anti-manifesto.

In the spirit of helping, we began to work together, and in the process, unmade ourselves. Now we live in a hall of mirrors of our own creation, accompanied by nightmares and jokes. Some of these are our creation, others not, but there are no guards at the door. There are no doors either, so you get all kinds.

Don’t walk through here barefoot. There are shards of utopias all over the floor. If you look at certain times of day, the light playing in these is a wonder to behold. 

If there are any unbroken ones out there, you can keep them. Heroes, too. We are done with all of that. Keep your mastery, your individual agency, your sense of your own significance. In our madness, we think human beings would be a good idea.

Let us play. The game is you are not yet and neither here nor there. The game is care. The game is adapt. The game is laugh. Let us begin. Begin by stopping right here.

***

Inspired by, and with borrowed phrases from, the opening of Hyposubjects: Becoming Human, by Timothy Morton and Dominic Boyer.

A Centering Moment

Body and web.

Thread upon thread to bind us, forward and back in time, and no reason will save you. Given enough movement, a body becomes so unreasonably wound up in it that an old impulse returns, to believe the smallest movement of one affects the fate of all, and what follows is more touch and the grief that comes with it. The child’s glorious maximalism: no master of any fate, only servant to a call that defies translation, which is bound to make its listener seem foolish at best, and probably mad. But there it is again, the music of vibrating strings, resounding.

***

Inspired by Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Double Exposure

What haunts a body.

With a flash of brilliance against the eye, here comes another reminder that it is still possible to meet the heavens, here. Things fall, after all, and each of these may carry layered ghost images of what it was before. How many suns have fallen into this stream?

Invisible landscape, what was here before? What is also here now?