Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hunger by A K Mimi Allin


Hunger is a month-long work about the artist's hunger, or lack thereof. It aims to reignite the vital spark of the artist whose soul is flagging (mine) and to open the door (now frozen) to a new and fully engaged artist. How long can one swim in an empty trough waiting for the soul to harvest intention? It is going on 22 months since I returned from my spiritual center (Tahoma Kora) and nothing has budged. Is there no way forward? This is not artist's block. It is a bardo state en route to a reincarnation. I've tried to be who I was before. I am not that person. I must look for the way to my new order and set upon that path.

Hunger is a quiet, genuine, intense endeavor that involves an extended fast followed by a time of receiving, setting the stage for a shift in thinking about who receives and who gives when a work is shared. Hunger takes place from 24 August - 21 September. Starting Saturday 24 August, I'll take only water and salt.  In 2 weeks, I'll break my fast, at NEPO 5k Don't Run 2013 on Saturday 7 September, and in the coming weeks put my hunger in your hands. NEPO 5k attendees and the larger community are invited to consider what nourishes the artist (in you and in me) and to bring me anything that will assist in my growth as an artist.

What does nourishment look like—food, drink, touch, color, song, dance, truth, presence, poetry, love? What does the artist need to survive? To thrive? From 7-21 September, I will live on your carefully considered gifts. Each will have a profound impact on my recovery and on the dialog surrounding this work. As you may have guessed Hunger is my not so transparent ploy to receive (you). This work is grappling with the question (issue) of giving/receiving.

I am equally scared and excited about Hunger. I am a healthy eater. I love food. My weight is normal for my height. I've never fasted. I am expected to lose a pound per day. But if I can rebuild my hunger (the hunger of the artist), it will have been worthwhile. If you are stuck now considering the wisdom of this tack or are worried about my health, read Steve Hendrick's article Starving Your Way to Vigor on the history of fasting and its curative effects, then perhaps you'll want to fast along with me?

When we fast, our bodies shift from burning sugars to burning fats and, in just 3 days, we lose our hunger. For an artist who champions hunger as a motivating force, fasting sounds like a tricky proposal. Apathy, indifference, comfort–those things we can no longer taste because we've had too much–can all incapacitate the artist. But for the one who seeks to rebuild her hunger, what are the choices?

Psychologists say we're hard-wired to give, but are we hard-wired to receive? To receive, one must face what it means to be weak, to need help, to rely on others. About this, I am no good, no good at all. Hunger will bring me face to face with this difficult truth—I am tied to you—while celebrating the artist in everyone. Indeed we need one another, if we hope to grow and transform. That is, I need you.

The formal time for receiving will end on 21 September. From that time forward, I will then take what I have learned and set out on a new path of self-nourishment. If you live in Seattle, consider attending NEPO 5k. If you live elsewhere, postcards, letters and packages are most heartily welcome (Send to: Mimi Allin, 117 E Louisa St #201, Seattle, WA 98102).

Further posts about this project will appear on a separate blog, The Hunger of the Artist. I welcome you to follow my progress there.

* This work is dedicated to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, 106 of who have been on a hunger strike since March 2013. I invite you to join me in writing for their release.

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