Art Therapy and Ecology 3

January 16, 2018

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Photo: An art therapy forest studio, County Louth

A Forest Studio

A forest studio can be foraged for art materials, it can also be the site for installations, walks, photography, writing, sketching, printmaking, journaling, enactments and the making of artist books. Celebrations and gatherings also invite festivity into the forest. 

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Photos: Ravensdale Forest Land Art and Archway Blackrock Forest Garden, Co. Louth

“Sitting in a wilderness [forest] garden you can almost hear the generative power of nature. It is like watching a speeded-up film, when buds uncurl, flowers open and shrubs expand as if by magic. If we were to leave a patch of land free from human intervention – no cropping, mowing, digging or ploughing – it would quickly revert to its natural state…It is this feeling of wild, unfettered energy one seeks to create in a therapeutic garden” (Dondald Norfolk, The Therapeutic Garden)

Forest gardening is a practical means of cultivation, it involves low maintenance in regards to watering and weeding. The forest garden appears chaotic and dishevelled, and yet its layered design is a complex arrangement of companion planting. It is a self-regulating habitat, an ecological system, which benefits both mind and body. “If a garden is to mirror [human] nature it must be varied, irregular, random and wild” (Donald Norfolk, The Therapeutic Garden).

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Photos Top to Bottom: Willow woven hut for children, land art workshop display and willow woven seat in Blackrock Forest Garden and Ravensdale Forest, Co. Louth

A community garden can also be a habitat for art therapy, art and participation, or arts and health. Blackrock Playground Park (Blackrock, Co. Louth) has a dedicated edible forest garden. The garden was originally planted with local environmental volunteers, children and families living around the park. Working with neighbours (of all ages) to cultivate a “commons” or supportive habitat within the pathways of everyday life, an edible forest garden is an example of therapeutic gardening that embraces nature as a regenerating source of well being. Edible wild plants, hedgerow and orchard fruits, herbs, vegetables, medicinal plants and living art materials (e.g. willow for living sculptures, plants for natural dyes, and symbolic plants associated with Irish seasonal traditions) grow together as a large scale public artwork. Not only is the food plentiful, its design is self sustaining, engaging itself in its own reproduction and fertility.

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Photo: Blackrock Forest Garden, County Louth

“Many gardening words and expressions illustrate how steeped the language of cultivation is in the vocabulary of personal growth and nurture…transplanting, uprooting, flowering, blossoming, digging deep, grounded, putting down roots, cutting back, branching out, growing new shoots, shedding, weeding out…”

Quotation from Sonja Linden and Jenny Grut, The Healing Fields: Working with Psychotherapy and Nature to Rebuild Shattered Lives 

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Photo: A family artwork for Samhain, Blackrock Forest Garden, County Louth

“The range of art materials available from an outdoor art therapy studio invites perceptive stimulation and can be combined with more commonly used art therapy materials in either indoor or outdoor settings. Land-sourced art materials (e.g. soil, clay, stone, sand, seaweed, shells, weeds, charcoal, ash, water, grasses, pine cones, pine needles, roehips, seeds, flowers, ferns, nuts, lichen, [moss], mud, bark, herbs, leaves, berries, and edible plants), along with landscape-inspired fibre arts materials (e.g. wool, felt, thread, handmade paper, beeswax, fleece, and natural fabrics), and construction materials for installation spaces (e.g. wood, branches, and straw bales) all invite imaginative responses that add to the participation evoked by more traditional art therapy materials…

Land sourced art materials, fibre art materials, and construction materials can extend the textures, dimensions, and sensations gained from more frequently used art [therapy] media. For example, paint, glue, clay or melted beeswax can be combined with leaves, pine needles, grasses, seeds, rosehips, or flower petals. Paper can be marked with mud, charcoal, soil, ash, [pollen, flower pigments], and berry juices…Pinecones, dried herbs, flowers, and leaves can be strung together and suspended from an indoor ceiling or used to embellish an outdoor den, or even worn draped across the body. Mud, dirt, berry juices, and charcoal can “paint” the skin for use in art therapy enactments, with the pigments of these materials colouring the body canvas.”

(Quotation from Pamela Whitaker, “Groundswell: The Nature and Landscape of Art Therapy” in Materials and Media in Art Therapy: Critical Understandings of Diverse Artistic Vocabularies by Catherine Hyland Moon)

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Photo: Grand Canal Dock, Dublin

References for Art Therapy and Nature

Green Studio: Nature and the Arts in Therapy by Alexander Kopytin and Madeline Rugh (Editors), Nova Publishers

Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy: Integrating the Expressive Arts and Ecotherapy by Sally Atkins and Melia Snyder, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life by Ian Siddons Heginworth

Environmental Arts Therapy Website by Ian Siddons Heginworth

“Taking Art Therapy Outdoors: The ‘Greening’ of Art Therapy Practice” by art therapists Vanessa Jones and Gary Nash, BAAT Newsbriefing, July 2017. Contact Vanessa Jones and Gary Nash at the London Art Therapy Centre, where they teach a course called Environmental Arts Therapy Training with drama therapist Ian Siddons Heginworth. They also offer introductory level courses. Courses are held on weekends in London parks and woodlands. London Art Therapy Centre

The Healing Fields: Working with Psychotherapy and Nature to Rebuild Shattered Lives by Sonja Linden and Jenny Grut

The Healing Forest in Post-Crisis Work with Children: A Nature Therapy and Expressive Arts Program for Groups Ronen Berger and Mooli Lahad, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

The Nature Therapy Centre by Ronen Berger

The Therapeutic Garden by Donald Norfolk, Bantam Press

“Groundswell: The Nature and Landscape of Art Therapy” in Materials and Media in Art Therapy: Critical Understandings of Diverse Artistic Vocabularies by Catherine Hyland Moon

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Photo: An art therapy forest studio, County Louth

Community Gardening: Cultivating an Art Therapy Studio

Benefits to Wellness

  • Skill Sharing and Learning among Peers
  • Collaboration, Mentoring, Teamwork
  • Social Interaction
  • Achievement and Self Esteem
  • Cultivating nature, Enhancing the World for Oneself and Others
  • Working with symbols of Regeneration (Growth) and Cycles of Change
  • Physical release of Tension and Stress
  • Pride of Place, Making a Difference in the World
  • Mind Wandering and Reverie in Gardening and Aesthetic Experience enhances Cognitive Flexibility for Problem Solving
  • Soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae releases Serotonin to Decrease Anxiety and improve Cognitive Functions, Enhance Mood and Coping Abilities.
  • Foraging and Harvesting assist in the release of Dopamine which may promote  Energy and Enthusiasm.

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Photo: Artist Susan O’Malley, A Healing Walk, commissioned by the Montalvo Arts Centre, Saratoga California

Art Therapy and Ecology 2

January 15, 2018

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Photo: Pamela in her garden

“For most people, art has nothing to do with ecology, or our relationship with environment…Yet ecology, or environment, is where we live, where all life lives – it is where cultures lives, where the arts and human endeavor lives, since culture also cannot be outside the world.” (Beth Carruthers, “Art, Place and the Meaning of Home,” Essay for the Vancouver Parks Board).

In his book An Ecology of Enchantment, Canadian gardener Des Kennedy has written that “a garden is a work in progress, an artistic exercise that’s never finished, but at every stage of its existence stirs with the excitement of the creative process. The notion of the gardener as a pilgrim denotes a journey of discovery, of learning as we go. Gardening is the chance to live in touch with the earth, to find ourselves within its seasonal turnings, and to truly appreciate the extraordinary beauty of each ordinary day”.

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Photo: Shelter made in Ravensdale Forest, Co. Louth

“The natural world is a vital and alive medium for art therapy…The outdoors can be experienced as a signifier for the extension of therapeutic practice into the world at large. The use of gathered, rather than bought, art materials fosters a sensing of one’s way through tactile exploration. The outdoor landscape offers a nomadic sense of exploration and spontaneity, mediated by surroundings that are not predetermined by function. This exterior space can offer the potential for rambling and gathering, a place for physical immediacy within many spatial dimensions that stimulate creative investigations. ..The reverie encountered when working within a natural landscape challenges one to view art therapy not as the creation of images, but rather as an overall experience of assembly…In this context, subjectivity relates to a natural terrain that is continually in flux, a mirroring of one’s own nature in motion amid changing circumstances”

(Quotation from Pamela Whitaker, “Groundswell: The Nature and Landscape of Art Therapy” in Materials and Media in Art Therapy: Critical Understandings of Diverse Artistic Vocabularies by Catherine Hyland Moon)

Inspiration for Outdoor Studios with Applications for Art Therapy

Sharon Kallis 

“Sharon Kallis is a Vancouver artist who specializes in working with unwanted natural materials. Involving community in connecting traditional hand techniques with invasive species and garden waste, she creates site-specific installations that become ecological interventions” (New Society Publishers, Author Description). She works with a “one-mile diet” approach to sourcing materials that are freely available and close at hand.

“In community outdoor work, my creative process begins with a harvest principal that embraces communal stewardship of the land; weeding, invasive species removal, coppicing, gleaning and gathering. Oral traditions of knowledge sharing occur; my own experience with plants and their uses are exchanged with those familiar to a place through close investigation of the surroundings, walking, sharing stories about the landscape and observed shifts in eco-systems. Installation ideas spring forth through conversation, idea sharing, identifying what materials are suitable for harvest and the consideration of the inherent physical properties of both place and material used.”

Sharon Kallis has written a book called Common Threads: Weaving Community Through Collaborative Eco-Art.

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The East Hand Gleaners Society in Vancouver is a collective of artists who work with art, ecology and place. The word “gleaner” means to “gather something slowly and carefully in small pieces” (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/gleaner).

“By working with the plants around us using ancestral skills common to all cultures, we inspire participants to discover cultural connections, learn new skills, and discover novel sources of raw materials for creative practices, including garden waste, invasive plants, and textile waste.”

Oliver Kellhammer 

“I take biological systems and I remix them. In the way a DJ would remix music, I remix ecosystems and plants” Oliver Kellhammer 

“Oliver Kellhammer is an ecological artist, educator, activist and writer. Through his botanical interventions and public art projects, he seeks to demonstrate nature’s surprising ability to recover from damage. His work facilitates the processes of environmental regeneration by engaging the botanical and socio-political underpinnings of the landscape.”

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Oliver Kellhammer, Means of Production Garden, Vancouver

Artist Statement

“I am interested in exploring the processes of ecological regeneration in the wake of human disturbance, either through passive field observation (what can I not do?)… or by actively engaging the biological and socio-political processes that inform these landscapes by attempting to improve their relationships with each other. The latter approach often takes the form of what I call botanical interventions, whereby I employ horticultural techniques to mitigate problems between people and the landscape, enhancing both the sense of place and the ecological carrying capacity of a given site, as well as addressing such problems as erosion, food availability and the lack of local agency over the design of urban spaces.”

Perhaps we can afford to give up a little control to let this second ‘nature’ take its course. We’ll need to learn to tolerate a few weeds, a little uncertainty and a little mess, but we might just learn something” Oliver Kellhammer

The Means of Production Garden, Vancouver 

The Means of Production Garden in Vancouver grows living art materials for use by artists and community groups. Founded by artist and activist Oliver Kellhammer and the Environmental Youth Alliance in Vancouver (with land supplied by the Vancouver Parks Board) it offers “open source” resources that are harvested for “community creative use.” Kellhammer believes than an open source landscape encourages experimentation with botanical materials and an investigation into art and ecology.

There is willow for sculptures, flax growing for linen, plants for natural dyes, and foraged natural materials for weaving and fibre arts. Skill sharing, social gatherings, artist residencies and celebrations prevail within this artists’ garden. Kellhammer’s philosophy regarding open source landscaping encourages nature to enter the urban world in unpredictable ways. Kellhammer also believes that self-seeding trees, flowers, and weeds erupting along the edges of urban areas, may also stimulate experiments in community living.

The Means of Production garden is a living art installation. It is a gathering place for community, and an ecological art form. According to Kellhammer it is a biological intervention Inspired by Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics which encourages the practice of art within social environments,  Kellhammer’s living art acts as an event, and ecological improvisation. Curating gardens as art projects, can develop gathering spaces for spontaneous interactions. Gardens themselves are unpredictable happenings, where irregular growth cycles, weeds, decay, and weather all influence ever changing conditions. Gardens can be both public art forms and places/acts of environmental and community activism.

 Common Ground 

Common Ground is a charity, based in Dorset, UK that explores the relationship between nature and culture,”seeking imaginative ways to engage people with their local environment.”

Common Ground “plays a unique role in linking nature and culture, working to inspire, inform and involve people in learning about, enjoying, and taking more responsibility for their own locality. We champion popular involvement and inspire celebrations as one starting point for local action to improve the quality of ordinary places and everyday lives” (Common Ground, “ABC: Learning to Read Your Locality,” brochure)

Local Distinctiveness

Local distinctiveness is “the web of rich understandings between people and their land and their histories, it is not about scenery, it takes us below the surface, to where the land might reflect back to us purpose and belonging. Sometimes we forget that our everyday surroundings are nature’s greatest reservoir, history’s biggest book…By focussing attention on significance in our surroundings and helping build courage to be demonstrative and to take action on attachment to place, then perhaps we can make our surroundings better for nature as well as daily life” (Common Ground, “ABC: Learning to Read Your Locality,” brochure)

“We sometimes forget [that we live in] a cultural landscape.”

“Local distinctiveness is essentially about places and our relationship with them…Places are process and story as well as artefact, layer upon layer of our continuing history and nature’s history intertwined…Meaning is entrapped in the experience of change [and] symbolism and significance cling to seemingly ordinary buildings, trees artefacts…

“Locality needs to be defined from the inside, with a cultural and natural base…”

“We are talking of quality in the everyday…[which] involve[s] emotional attachment…”

(Quotations Above, from “Losing Your Place” an article by Sue Clifford and Angela King in a book produced by Common Ground called Local Distinctiveness: Place, Particularity, and Identity)

 

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Photo Credit: Sandra Noeth

Sandra Noeth is a dramaturge, cultural scholar and curator based in Berlin.

Her research interests include “integrity and protest in relation to the human body,” the connection between aesthetics and politics, and “bodies in bordering situations” (CREATE Ireland + Dublin Dance Festival).

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Photo Credit: Siobhan Davies Dance and Dublin Dance Festival

As part of her residency with Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival Sandra Noeth showcased her ideas involving movement and environments. She asked these questions: “How might physical and choreographic strategies represent, implement, legitimise and rehearse social and political action?” and “How do empathy, presence, improvisation or compositions inform the experience of borders?” (Dublin Dance Festival Programme)

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Photo Credit: The World Atlas of Street Art by Rafael Schacter. Artists: David Renault and Mathieu Tremblin

Movement is integral to art production, the making of place and composing identity in relation to social and political environments. Art therapy involves the art of movement, and can contribute to an understanding of aesthetics and politics. An examination of borders is part of art therapy – making lines demarcating personal distinctions and demonstrating the crossing-over into new areas of discernment. Art therapy can also inform protests that are both personal and socially informed.

Art therapy marks out routes of passage within a designated space, it can design sequences of movement and denote a body in motion. Compositions on the move, explorations of environment, and art influenced by context that simultaneously re-imagines space according to somatic knowledge.

The art therapy studio can also include the world-at-large.

Art therapy contributes to civic dialogue – art therapy asking complicated questions about expression and representation in civil society.

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“I am currently working both as a curator as well as an academic researcher on understanding the role, status and agency of the body in bordering processes. I am looking at different experiences of borders and boundaries – national and geopolitical, architectural, material and built borders, as well as more symbolic, imagined, social, gender-related ones. They are very often negotiated through the body, through movement, physicality and performativity. And I question how the body, how movement-based strategies can inform us about these processes. How for example practical and theoretical knowledge from dance and choreography, how composition and improvisation, embodiment or somatic modes of attention, rhythm and affects might help us understand the experience of bordering but also how borders are staged, aestheticized, rehearsed, represented, and ultimately legitimised maintained or challenged”

(Sandra Noeth Quotations, from CREATE (National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts, Ireland), News/May 2017, Sandra Noeth on “Bodies, Borders and Movement” an interview with Deirdre Mulrooney)

Either Way, Make a Move

March 6, 2017

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Photo: Hazel Meyer, Hyper-Hyper (Artist in the Classroom, The Pedagogical Impulse)

A Workshop for the School of Arts Education and Movement
Dublin City University, Institute of Education

Pamela Whitaker, Groundswell

  • Classroom as Art Studio
  • Teaching as Performance
  • Teacher and Students as Artist Collective
  • Social Choreography in School
  • Students as Curators
  • Education as a Happening 

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

I am interested in the theme of choreography, and how students can generate movement motifs through interacting with objects and words that stimulate physical actions and movement responses. Choreography is a change of space, new ways of going, and actions taking shape.

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Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

Dance and Movement Benefits Children’s Physical Development, Emotional Expression, Social Awareness, Cognitive Agility, Mental Health, Communication

The classroom as an artwork can inspire movement, creation and also a disruption of ‘order’ (Stephanie Springgay, 2014). We will explore lines of connection between different spaces in a classroom, and develop routes of movement that interrupt expectation. We will be unconventional, in the moment, and attention seeking. Words, situations, and objects will move us on.

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

The classroom as a happening is about animated learning. A situation is created whereby students re-define their educational surroundings. It is subject to flexibility. Art in this sense is related to environment, an atmosphere, and a studio of ideas. Happenings were first introduced by the artist Allan Kaprow. They are experiences where art, physical action, sound, words and environment are assembled within a specific time frame to promote participation and improvisation.

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Photo: Graffiti Inspired Movement in a Pedestrian Tunnel

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Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

“SOCIAL CHOREOGRAPHY engages everyone’s perception and knowledge of….[movement]…inquiring if and how individuals can imaginatively order and re-order aspects of their personal, social, cultural and political lives.” Michael Klien, The Institute of Social Choreography

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Photo: Sophie Nüzel, http://www.sophienuezel.com

Stephanie Springgay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She considers a classroom a work of art.

As an experimenter, the artist-teacher does not mold students into a work of art, as if the students simply become raw materials. Rather artist-teacher-student-classroom become a creative assemblage filled with the potential to open itself to future creative instances. If a classroom operates as a work of art, not as an object manipulated from the outside, it becomes enmeshed and enlived. A “classroom as a work of art,” we argue, re-conceptualizes the artist-teacher as productively co-mingling with students and space. Stephanie Springgay, The Pedagogical Impulse, www.stephaniespringgay.com

All the listings below are links to Springgay articles:

The Pedagogical Impulse: Aberrant Residencies and Classroom Ecologies

The Pedagogical Impulse: Research-Creation at the Intersection Between Social Practice and Pedagogy

How do you make a classroom operate like a work of art? Deleuzeguattarian methodologies of research-creation

Cloth as Intercorporeality: Touch, Fantasy, and Performance
and the Construction of Body Knowledge, International Journal of Education and the Arts

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Photo: Landmarks: Nature, Art, Schools Workshops in County Louth

image-5.jpgPhoto: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Therapy Classroom Installation

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Photo and Article Link: Teaching with Contemporary Art in the Classroom by Joe Fusaro

 

herman de vries: to be all

November 19, 2015

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Photo: herman de vries standing at the Kilianseiche near Falsbrun, Steigerwald (2006) [photo susanne de vries, Eschenau]

For herman de vries, human existence is rooted not in thought but in consciousness; this consciousness is primarily sensorial. Natural phenomena and processes first of all evoke the meanings of their physical presence; as an extension of that, the works and installations of herman de vries possess an immanent poetry that can be experienced directly…each natural element is itself and nothing else. (herman de vries, Visitor’s Guide, Dutch Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2015).

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Photo: herman de vries at the Dutch Pavilion, Venice Biennale by Judith Jockel

The Dutch artist herman de vries (b. 1931) does not differentiate between nature, art and existence. His exhibition at the Venice Biennale entitled, to be all ways to be, studies properties of nature as a way to comprehend consciousness and knowledge.

His collection of natural elements interspersed with debris acts as a commentary on the juxtaposition of ecologial and cultural habitats. The artworks are an encounter with nature as a force that transforms everything. de vries collects distinct categories of nature (i.e. soil and plant collections) in order to enlarge their energetic significance upon human life. His ethos is to enhance each person’s sense of reality through sharpening their perception.

Everything is all ways significant for all. (herman de vries, quotation in herman de vries, chance and change by Mel Gooding, 2006)

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Photos: IMAGE CREDIT http://www.hermandevries.org, herman de vries at the Kunsthalle Schweinfurt arranging the ‘steigerwald cosmology’ (2010)
photo Katharina Winterhalter/Main Post

herman de vries interrogates his surroundings by researching a particular land area. His philosophy of being with the immediate and the actual, incorporates the belief that nothing is stable, with every moment becoming a new manifestation of reality (herman de vries, chance and change by Mel Gooding). Through walking, observing, collecting and presenting his discoveries, he invites each one of us to become more intimately involved with our habitat. Each walk becomes a journal and an immediate experience of being, an inclusivity of everything and the significance of ‘all’. The body intertwining with its environment absorbing the complexity and pulse of natural phenomena.

The world is my chance, it changes me everyday. (herman de vries, quotation in herman de vries, chance and change by Mel Gooding, 2006)

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Photo: herman de vries Journals http://www.hermandevries.org
IMAGE CREDIT im winter auf dem grossen knetzberg • ein journal, 2013 [Photo Bruno Schneyer, Zeil am Main]

The methods and reasoning put forth by herman de vries are an invaluable resource for art therapists interested in resourcing the natural world for art, field trips, and metaphorical discussion. His dedication to astute observation, the ordering of findings, and attending to the details of human nature are about working with every day discoveries. Each walk is a quest for enhanced concentration upon existence in all its complexity. A journey’s documentation becomes a journal of perception in contact with greater essences of life.

A personal journal is a record, but it is by its very nature subjective and partial…It’s purpose is to record a process or a progress in time, in a particular place or on a particular journey, and to use the events as the basis for reflection and speculation…It is worth noting that the Latin diurnalis (daily) is the root both of ‘journal’ and of ‘journey’ (originally the distance travelled in a day): ‘journal’ thus encapsulates the idea of movement through time and space. de vries has made several journals, usually in the course of a journey or a visit to a specific place or area, each of them having in common the ordered bringing together of a series of framed ‘entries’ of material gathered in the period of the journey or stay.

The heterogeneity of the materials reflects always the diversity both of the artist’s experience and of the landscape in which they have been gathered. They may include plant forms, animal traces, mineral objects, and human artefacts: leaves, twigs, seeds, stems pieces of bark, lichen, fungus, shells, feathers, stones, earth and ash rubbings, fragments of ‘rubbish’, text works, photographs. They demonstrate, by implication, unity in diversity by means of the visual order of their presentation in grid-like arrays. Each ‘entry’ may seem to be a fragment of reality: put together they present an image that implies both a thrilling chaos and a beautiful order in things. The visual ordering accords with the underlying principle that in every part of complex reality there is both the natural disposition to form and order and the impulse to entropy. (Quotation by Mel Gooding, herman de vries, chance and change, 2006).

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Photo: Burned III, After a Summer Bonfire, de vries, Dutch Pavillion, Venice Biennale

References

http://www.hermandevries.org

herman de vries: chance and change (2006) by Mel Gooding

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The creation of an environmental installation by many hands, is largely an improvisation of collective desire. An installation can be a meeting place. Manipulating materials and physicality, re-shaping space and investigating possibilities, composes a landscape of ideas. The desire of each participant generates meaning as a production. The energy of actions with others, can reassemble an area, and become an installation of a new environment, that unfolds within a pre-existing environment. Another location erupts from collective intentions.

As we reacquaint ourselves with our breathing bodies then the perceived world itself begins to shift and transform. When we begin to consciously frequent the wordless dimension of our sensory participation, certain phenomena that have habitually commanded our focus begin to lose their distinctive fascination and to slip toward the background, while hitherto unnoticed or overlooked presences begin to stand forth from the periphery and to engage our  awareness (David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous)

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Sculpting public space, through collaborative artworks, creates new arenas of exchange. Physical and mental affects are refreshed. Installation art can re-make a specific area into a new social ecology. Weaving the supports for new movements and new perspectives, can ignite the  adrenalin of experimentation. The desire to exceed pre-existing life structures, and make new formations broadens experiential dimensions. The architecture of life becomes malleable, a living art. Subjectivity is an ecology that involves a web of influences. Collaborative art can structure improvisation and new gestures of growth into a shared social assemblage.

The social context, is an ecology of human biodiversity. Relationships between people manufacture artworks that exude complexity, divergent paths of discovery and new areas of exchange. The collective takes us out of our habits, compulsions and routines. A social movement, can be a group artwork. Movement is a basis for perception; it can induce more fluid or lateral thinking that includes the ‘ands’ of the group experience.  Our own familiarity of how we do things, is challenged; it is not always ‘right’. Making art within a community of people, goes beyond personal limits, and we are challenged to create in ‘unusual’ circumstances.

The core of the movement experience is the sensation of moving and being moved. There are many implications in putting it like this. Ideally, both are present in the same instant, and it may be literally an instant. It is a moment of total awareness, the coming together of what I am doing and what is happening to me. It cannot be anticipated, explained, specifically worked for, nor recreated exactly (Mary Whitehouse, “The Tao of the Body” in Don Hanlon Johnson (editor) Bone, Breath, Gesture: Practices of Embodiment)

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Community sculpts us differently. Physicality and structures of thinking can be re-shaped and opened through contact with others and new experiences. Certainty is questioned, and the power of improvisation is the capacity to experiment with materials, conditions and people without knowing what will happen. A certain reverie enters through sensory stimulation that takes us out of our usual physical postures, ways of moving, and social presentation.

And even more important, this moment of surrender and new sensation can demonstrate to me that I am not permanently obliged to continue acting out a habitual compulsion. I can see that the habit is a habit, that I am something else, and that for the moment I can choose to repeat it or not. And if I can drop a compulsive behavior or attitude for a moment without causing a crisis, then perhaps I can dispense with it altogether (Deane Juhan, Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork).

References

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

Felix Guattari, The Three Ecologies

Deane Juhan, Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork

Mary Whitehouse, “The Tao of the Body” in Don Hanlon Johnson (editor) Bone, Breath, Gesture: Practices of Embodiment.

Photos

Petronas Gallery, Habitat Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1999

Connectivity

March 7, 2013

There is no being, which is separate from the processes of becoming. Our world consists of moments of becoming, the mingling of bodies, the meeting of forces, a constant interpenetration and interconnection of all phenomena. (Simon O’Sullivan, Art Encounters: Deleuze and Guattari Thought Beyond Representation)

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Simon O’Sullivan’s book Art Encounters: Deleuze and Guattari Thought Beyond Representation discusses how movement forms the basis of art that physically connects to instinct, impulse and improvisation. Movement connects locations of subjectivity, through transversal actions. Subjectivity is a becoming that can be appreciated more in the making of art than as a representation of an artwork’s meaning.

Meaning is always fluid and plural for Deleuze and Guattari, the self is never enclosed as an entity, but instead a work of potential becoming. Potential is in the production of “new plots of land”, it is not a re-tracing of one’s steps over what has gone on before, but instead creates a new landscape of connections. Each artwork adds on to identity as an accumulation, a series  of ands.

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Deleuze and Guattari use the word subjectivity to denote a system of environments that compose identity not as a singular entity but as an assemblage. Their plea is for everyone to experiment with opportunity, to realize potential in many different places. To embrace life as a learning system that grows laterally. In art terms this system of life locations, could be called an imagescpae, a collection of personal images that reflect a variety of life activities and circumstances.

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References

Simon O’Sullivan, Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Represenation

Photos

Textile Workshop – Stitching with Wire and Plastic, FE McWiliam Gallery, Northern Ireland

Scratched Line on Ochre Cliff, The Creative Arts Retreat Wales

Artist Book made with Sandi Sexton Book Artist, Ireland