Remebering a homeless woman

I have come across a strange parallel between a contemporary homeless person and a character in several Noh plays.

The character of  Komachi,  is based on a real poetess Ono no Komachi ( 825  to 900 AD). Talented and beautiful in her youth who becomes homeless in her old age. It immediately  made me think of an old lady  I have noticed in London, with shopping bags on her feet.  I later found that the resemblance goes deeper then their homeless status. She also was a talented woman, a concert pianist when young. She has sadly passed away now. Her name is Anne Naysmith, and I used to see her on a car park where we used to park sometimes.

This Christmas we have noticeable more homeless people than previous years. Some of them choose to be homeless and some have no other choices left. It is good to loose the prejudice even a little.

There is a great resource online with a large database of translated plays here Noh play database with downloadable PDFs.

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Remebering a homeless woman

Play Ground in John Hansard Gallery

Imagined by the John Hansard Gallery this was a week of play inspired activities. It finished in an Open House Day, on the 16th of July 2016, when the public was invited to visit and take part in our Play Ground. Artists with different concerns and methods were working/playing together for the duration of the project. For me it was a learning experience in several different ways. Observing how other artists develop ideas, learning my own and others peoples boundaries, enjoying collaboration from the simplest play to more engaged pieces. Maybe the most important were the conversations with some of the artists.

Ana Cozendey and me, developed the performance Weaving Memories as a part of the Open House Day.

First, participants were invited to contemplate the art object “Pinned Moth” and read the story behind it. This was my offering, a gift of my private memory. Then they walked and discovered objects, words and smells, as a way of encouraging them to get in touch with a memory that is special to them.

moth

After that they shared their memories, together with the collective weaving of a cocoon of wool. Speaking is easier when doing something with your hands, when people are making something together or alongside each other. Weaving memories was about sharing and encouraging empathy.

There was a participant who works with people that are loosing memories -he cares for dementia patients, also a nurse that works with psychiatric patients and we heard about the artwork they create and the effect that art has on them. We had participants from different parts of the world sharing memories and hopefully finding the common human thread. An older lady remembered her grandmother who worked as a pianist for a silent film cinema. This was well received by everyone weaving at that time! This showed the social aspect of the project. The positive reaction of this group of complete strangers from different parts of the world. People shared and sparked off each other. The threads interconnected and became an object, fine spider-web of soft wool.

 

In the same space there were two more artists, both very inspiring. Laurence Dube-Rushby was working with ashes.

Recently returned from a visit to the refugee camp in Calais, she was speaking in a very sensitive way about the temporality of existence and about loss. Building symbolic houses out of ashes almost ritually, that got destroyed and recreated during the performance. Part of this performance was also a letter by the artist addressed to a young boy, whom she had helped look for his belongings in the ashes of the camp.

coal

Bevis Fenner was concerned with work, its meaning and role in our society. He was painting coals white in a structured way for the duration of the week long Play Ground. A large clock was positioned on the wall above to ensure regular breaks and periods of work. He also organised a collaborative piece, matching images concerned with a variety of contemporary issues – some political and some of the popular culture. A thought provoking piece that I enjoyed taking part in.

This experience was very important for me. The performance developed in practise and both me and Ana gained a feel of how to guide visitors towards an experience we have imagined for them. In the same time open ended and interactive.

There was an opportunity to talk to a curator as a part of the Play Ground, this was particularly inspiring and significant for me. Some of these conversations, I have already started to develop. Sparked off by an idea to capture the smell of a freshly baked bread, I have started planning a performance. Obviously it is about bread and dough. I was planning to make a sculpture but I think that this concept is a lot better suited to a performance. It recreates the smell better! I have since come across some fantastic resources concerning bread, bread making and ritual. Nikos Chausidis is an anthropologist from the University in Skopje and his “The Mother of Bread” and “The Father of Bread” articles are incredible. He creates an unbroken link between the bread rituals surviving in the Balkans and the archaeological remains from the Neolithic in the same area. Using artefacts, analysing language and the psychology of the mythical images he creates new ways of looking. For me this is very inspiring and points towards a research valuable for me and connected to something that interests me as an artistic inquiry. The connection between art and ritual is very deep and old. It is part of our base. Ritual is an ancestor of art.

To create feelings and thoughts in the visitors minds without a figure is an exciting challenge and it is growing in my head like a seed.

Play Ground in John Hansard Gallery

Moths and Memory Weave

moth1
Pinned Moth – object

I was working on this moth. After a conversation with a friend Ana Cozendey this object became a starting point for an interactive project called Memory Weave. Ana has experience in organising creative workshops, so the memory theme grew into a memory exchange. Where the participants are encouraged to share their memories and weave an object – cocoon together. A throwing of a ball of wool is used to mark the participants turn to both symbolically and physically contribute towards the creation of the seed object.

There is a story attached to this object. It is a part of the piece -the object and the story together.

Moths and Memory Weave

The Kröller-Müller museum in Holland

Sitting in the middle of De Hoge Veluwe National Park is the Kröller Müller museum and sculpture park.

The way the architecture, the park and the sculptures work together is beautiful. Winding paths, sculptures immersed in a forest. It is planned so well, the effect of each sculpture is magnified, and they look better then if they were displayed in a gallery. Going down hidden paths that do eventually open up their treasures, feels like an adventure and discovery.

The environment evokes a sense that this is a private moment, as the trees and flowering bushes hide the other visitors and the other sculptures. It is just me and the sculpture/strange tower, or this little shrine. As if we have stumbled on the piece by accident.

A grove of trees is hiding a bunch of satyrs. A monumental metal tower that looks like a fractal drawing, stands in a clearing. The repetitive pattern reaching to the sky.

satyr1
Jan Fabre

We stayed in a bungalow park also immersed in a forest near the national park. The smell of the forest pervading everything. The whole experience fitted beautifully together.

boccioni
Umberto Boccioni

The museum building itself is on one level, with flat roof and big floor to ceiling windows. Minimalist dream and beautifully sprawled in the greenery. The collection of Van Goughs is magnificent, I loved the Odilon Redon as well. The sculpture is as good and well displayed inside as it is outside. The futurist Boccionni’s famous man in movement “Unique forms of continuity in space” is here.

The use of the space, nature and architecture is masterful. Hiding and revealing just enough and always leaving you wanting more, like a delicious dish. Tantalising pathways talk to my inner child and I am certain I did not see everything hidden in this forest of a sculpture park. I will be back.

The Kröller-Müller museum in Holland

Duchamp Parallels

I am researching parallels between contemporary art and mythology. But I noticed this as a student studying Duchamp a long time ago, I am now getting back to this.

Duchamp is an intelligent trickster himself so it is not a surprise he identifies with Hermes. It is even more telling that his wings are made of soap bubbles for this “Obligation Monte Carlo”  bond.

Hermes himself among other things was considered the giver of wealth and good luck (ploutodotês), presided over the game of dice, and those who played it threw an olive leaf upon the dice, and first drew this leaf. (Hom. Il. vii. 183; Aristoph. Pax, 365; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 675.)

Duchamp

Another one of my favourite pieces “With hidden noise”.

Famously even he didn’t know what is inside. Hermetically closed, it playfully jokes with the mystery and power of the unknown. The fact that it is unknown, secret is the primary source of that power. Secret societies and ritual mysteries use this trick. I would like to draw a parallel between this object and an amulet.

Duchamp is laughing at the world in most of his work, but benevolently he ends with a positive image. He likes the traditional symbolism of male-female as matter- spirit. This is most obviously shown in the chess with the naked lady. The final revelation is hidden behind a door and can only be glimpsed.

Etantdonnés

Etant donnés

The carnal matter carries the light, the matter being necessary for the light to burn at all.

 

 

 

Duchamp Parallels