Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portraits of Impermanence

We have been calling the piece "Joplin", since it began with our trip to Joplin, MO after the tornado hit  last May. I created a performance in a kitchen in a residential home last June that explored the fact of Impermanence. Now I am  developing "Joplin" for the show, Alley 38, and continue considering the fact of impermanence through a series of portraits. 

A fact of Impermanence: Whatever IS will be WAS.

The fact that life blossoms among the ruins proves not so much the tenacity of life, as that of death.

Tree wrapping- a pagan tradition to celebrate trees. To change (create) a thing with your action, to enjoy your creation (pleasure), to destroy the thing you created by unwrapping (destruction/loss). 

I am experimenting with what kind of effect could dressing an object downtown have. What does it communicate? So I started testing this imagery in my back yard. I wrapped an old birdcage in green tulle so that it was indistinguishable. Then I watched it. The object looked like a bush because it was placed in between bushes. It looked like a fake bush, as if it was trying to fit in but not fooling anyone. I felt embarrassed for it. After gazing at it, the birdcage transformed into a large present because I had wrapped it, leaving a little flourish on top. It looked decorative.  

And then the light came through a cloud, casting an ethereal effect on the object. It became a cathedral.

After studying the object and allowing the many associations, I brought out Fletch to watch me unwrap it. Unraveling the tulle methodically put me in a ritual where we slowly saw the object become itself again. I thought of the walking group who walked to the woods, methodically wrapped a tree with ribbon just to unwrap it entirely after all their work. The unwrapping was evidence of the acceptance of impermanence.  I didn’t necessarily experience any sorrow or ache from the destruction of my careful project until I spent time looking at the mangled metal structure. I thought of nature and the tenacity of a vine climbing through the cracks of foundations in old forgotten houses. The birdcage is especially trashed. By the look of it, someone had run it over.  The white paint has faded as the rust spread. The object retains the evidence of its original purpose, but it is hard to imagine it being anything but what it is now- a waste. A piece of trash. Without meaning or purpose any longer. 

Wrapping made me think of the structures hidden under the natural growth that persists through our manmade world, and how although you may forget a place that once existed its, it is still there, haunting the grounds. And it made me ache a little, even thought it was beautiful. 

“I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago
And left no trace but the cellar walls
And a cellar in which daylight falls
And the purple- stemmed wild raspberries grow… “

Ghost House by Robert Frost

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