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CONVEYANCE \what’s here/ staged on January 11, 002017 at SFAI
Earlier this month, we made our first-attempt to stage small, ephemeral, unrepeatable acts with the intention of acknowledging and living the Anthropocene. This first gesture drew from a decade of smudge studio’s experiences in addressing planetary-scale geologic change and the uncertain, wildly open futures that are now in the making.
We’ve come to sense that small, ephemeral, unrepeatable acts attuned to specific situations, moments in time, and assemblages of people could be the most vital acts for us to perform, as artists, in response to currently unfolding material, social and political realities.
CONVEYANCE \what’s here/ took place as an hour-long micro-production in the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) Gallery. We had been in residence for three weeks, and the event arose from the conditions that shaped our time in New Mexico and from the people we met while there. Immediately after the event, we dismantled the string and paper structure that we designed to house the work and its participants. We consider this “production” of What’s Here: Unrepeatable Ephemeral Acts a first iteration of what we hope to be many subsequent and diverse reiterations.
What’s Here will briefly, and repeatedly, take form at sites and moments when we feel the necessity to create and pause within an ephemeral assemblage of place, people, events, materials. Each staging will offer, simultaneously, both refuge from and exposure to emerging (and often quite alarming) material conditions of contemporary life.
The designed, built, and/or enacted “spaces” will function as part studio, part teahouse and part zendo, and will be contingent on contexts and circumstances. At times, the primary gesture will be architectural. Sometimes, it will be embodied actions and movements. And at other times, it might be primarily conceptual in nature.
Each iteration of What’s Here will be intentionally composed — a shifting assemblage of those who attend, what they bring with them, and the changing conditions that compose the hour(s) during which the micro-production unfolds. Each staging will attend to the highly singular and particular, one-time meeting of human and non-human forces composing the site, its moment and its context.
At SFAI, we convened What’s Here as a floating teahouse of sorts. Eight, thirty-foot strings of jute spanned the gallery, forming a cube-like space and creating a porous structure that offered metaphorical sight-lines into deep histories and futures in the making. Given the thin, barely visible string, humility and attention were required of the guests (SFAI staff and artists-in-residence under the current residency theme of Water Rights) as they stooped and carefully stepped over strings to enter the space. Tea made of the complex tap water of drought-ridden Santa Fe (described in the artist statement below) was prepared and drunk.
planning sketch for CONVEYANCE \what’s here/
*all images FOP 2017 + sincere thanks to the Santa Fe Art Institute staff for hosting us and to our fellow residents for their participation.
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