Tuesday, August 25, 2009

aka Lo-Fi projects @ Smoke Farm

I presented work this past weekend at Smoke Farm, a 360-acre farm on the Stilliguamish River north of Seattle. What a place! I first visited in June of this year and found myself wandering around conducting the tall grasses in the far stretching meadows and baptizing myself in the cool river. I was smitten.

The annual performance/installation festival was coming up. I was asked if I'd present. Yes absolutely! But coming up with an idea posed a problem. Before I could settle on something, I'd dream up another idea and another and another. The closer the festival got, the more ideas I had. In the end, I decided to show three pieces: two installations & a performance piece.

1. Egg Herding
Full-day (ambient) performance with eggs."From sunrise to sunset, on Saturday 22 August, performance artist Mimi Allin herds 40 fresh eggs across the Smoke Farm grounds – eggs carry depictions of the various homes the artist has known. Get in close to view the eggs, but please don’t disturb the herding process. Herding takes an incredible amount of attention & patience, and we certainly wouldn’t want any of the eggs to break because, at 8am on Sunday morning, on the shores of the Stillaguamish, the eggs that survive will be cooked into a FORTY-ACRE OMELET. All are welcome to breakfast with the artist."

Something struck me as lovely about the mix of bizarre, humorous and challenging idea of Egg Herding. Hah. I'd herd eggs (yes fresh eggs) across the farm on the various paths and dirt roads. The idea of drawing the various homes I've lived in on the eggs came to me at 3AM the week before. I added it to the sketchbook, bought some eggs and started drawing. I very much wanted to engage in a longer, deeper performance of my own. So many of my recent projects have been about engaging others in performance. I wanted a turn. I the end, it was an awesome experience. I started at 8AM as I'd proposed to do and went until about 7PM. I learned so much over the course of the day. A number of themes came up: collecting, distinguishing, counting, fracturing, threats, the lost sheep...

2. Composer’s Stump
Installation in an exposed tree root system on the Stilliguamish River with 8 mirrors, 8 composer's busts, several unfinished manuscripts and a blank composition book in which visitors are prompted to add their unfinished and abandoned "composition" (which will be left to decompose).

I was at the farm the weekend before the festival for another event called Target Art, where you were supposed to destroy your artwork (by shooting, dripping paint, etc), but instead of destroying my art, I spent all my time installing something for the festival. I'd found 22 mirror squares on the side of the road and brought them and a few other things out to the little beach to try some things. The first three ideas didn't work and ate up a lot of time. The last idea morphed and morphed until it became "Composer's Stump."

3. Rare Poetry Sightings
"Take a look around. Use the scopes and binoculars. Some rare poetry sightings have been made in this area recently. It seems Smoke Farm is in a unique fly zone for poetry. Be careful not to disturb any nesting poems. Log your findings in the Rare Poetry Sightings Log Book. Before you go, help yourself to some Patchen Duck Soup (in the tureen)." This is an installation with poetry, birds, binoculars, telescope, log book.

There seemed to be a desire for some literary/poetry related projects, so I came up with this one to satisfy the need. It was the last project I prepared and, luckily, the Goodwill had a healthy supply of birds. The idea was to choose poems you'd rarely or never see and attached the to birds at enough of a distance that you might use field glass to read them, but they were also close enough that you could just go over and read them. Some were hidden in the grass, others were on dowels, on stumps or in trees. The tiny red cardinals Vanessa loaned me were the most striking of all and I found a gorgeous poem about the heart of a bird, a little red bird, to go with them. Perfect.


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