Winter Solstenen Project work up at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, thru June 2013

Some of my work from my second 4-week residency in Iceland this January/February,  is up now at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, an installation of wallpaper repeated patterns and large prints on archival rag paper.  Glimpses pulled from days at Lake Myvatn, Kvera geothermal field, Skaftafellsjokull glacier and Jokullsarlon lagoon, turned into a vibrating layered wall of pattern.

PRESSice star monsterTrying to pin down what I had made with words, I wrote:

“Working with a hermetic and intuitive process in the extreme environment of the sub-arctic north of Iceland in January, I began to pull patterns and life forms and  colors out of the essential temperament of the land.  Using snow, ice, lava rock, dead vegetation, lichen and fiber, I held a frozen camera with a frozen body.  A barren snow-entombed solid white lava field begins to glow royal blue as human eyes search for color, for difference.  The myriad layers of turquoise spikes of ancient glacial ice are very much alive as a gobbling monster, gobbled in turn by human greed as heat.  Hot flamingo wings in the snow on the craters of a hot steaming lake become the energy of the magma just barely below the surface, forming everything.  I found myself a woman wrapped in worm skin, seal skin, sheep skin, not battling the cold and ice and sulfur steam, but lured in by the illusion of desolation and silence, and finding endless undulating repeating patterns of energy, appetite and expansion.”

I was surprised by what emerged and where it came from.  The long view was always so alluringly desolate, but just below my hands or my lens I found so much brightness.

Iceland seems like a dream to me now, one I get to walk about in,  sometimes when I have a span of time to open up my little silver hard-drive filled with images and film clips.  I get to coax out  some memories and day dreams of how my body felt in that place, a daily routine that involved exploring unfamiliar rugged landscapes and long stretches of being alone with my family.  It was not paradise or an idealized haze, but sometimes hard and cruel work, trying to find a vision of myself as a maker inside and pushing against those simple structures, as something that mattered ….especially in the blankness of the whiteness of the blanket of sub-arctic snow.

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Because I went to Iceland a second time with no plan, but a suitcase full of old and new, and unfinished plans– and rather a notion of what Negative Capability might be like, to let the land and weather and rock pull me to think on my feet, me like a little metal shard on a magnet — I spent much too much time in anxious fear that I was wasting my time, and my money.

Nothing was complete, nothing was revealed to me.  But…it was only once I dug in and played and prodded, and forgot to be productive, could I see that at some point I would find something that would sparkle.  I would see the steaming white lake of craters with swans and feel open to whatever happened.

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Then to come home and have the distance and a rollercoaster of life events, then have the season turn from cold to spring, to summer, and to dive back in private into the white nothingness of the places I went in Iceland, could I see the patterns I’d captured or tried to tame.  Like making up and twisting memory, as we all do, I coax something out that is more than what I experienced, but the more like the florid desire to return.

I hope you can see the show!  The firestorm gallery owner Sharon Arnold hosts the gallery on Saturdays and by appointment.
come see The Obsessive Unknown Origins of Grotesque Irregular... on Twitpic

I’ll be there as well this Saturday, hosting a light brunch and teaching crocheting from 10am – 1pm, then the gallery remains open until 3pm.  Read more about it here. 

Solstenen films screened at “Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance” : Film night at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater in Seattle

I’m so giddy to be showing some of my new Solstenen Project films with some of my favorite Seattle-based artsts/filmmakers during an evening presentation at Seattle’s gorgeous Jewelbox Theater!

“Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance : Film night with,
Gala Bent, Jennifer Zwick, Britta Johnson, Mandy Greer, Scott Kolbo and Vis-a-Vis Society at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater,  January 9th, 2013,    7-10 pm

Something old, something new, something odd, something blue.
In-process, foundlings, archived, favorites and brand new films by an exuberant collection of artists:

Gala Bent
Jennifer Zwick
Britta Johnson
Mandy Greer
Scott Kolbo and
Vis-a-Vis Society.

Films will begin at 7pm and cycle throughout the evening until 10pm.

Drop in when you can. Delicious treats by the Rendezvous kitchen!  FREE

Film still from "My farm and Yours", Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from “My farm and Yours”, Mandy Greer 2013

2322 2nd Ave., Seattle, Washington 98121

‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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Film still from Scott Kolbo

Film still from Scott Kolbo

Film still from "I shall loan you these rags", Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from “I shall loan you these rags”, Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from "Nothing to give", Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from “Nothing to give”, Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from "Birch Play", Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from “Birch Play”, Mandy Greer, 2013

The geologic calibration of the family: a show at NEPO House, Dec. 22nd, 6-10pm

I am really finding some peace in bringing some of our works in Iceland to a close ( or sort of…I never seem to be done with anything completely).  One strong aspect of Solstenen project was to use my family culture as medium, like it was a one of the materials I had to choose from.  I’ve wanted to do a Little Treats show at NEPO House for quite awhile, and presenting some of the work about family archetypes, embracing and rebelling against them, seemed so appropriate for Klara Glosova’s project.  NEPO House and Little Treats in particular is about finding new options for sharing and experiencing art, more approachable, less hierarchal, as “a series of exhibitions, performances and screenings at NEPO House. Our goal is to provide a platform for local artists to show new work and an opportunity for the audience to experience artwork in an intimate setting of a home. Ultimately Little Treats is about hospitality, our encounters with art and with each other. In order to avoid moving too much furniture the shows take place only and entirely in our entry room.”

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Pleas join us in December 22nd, 2012, from 6-10 pm. We’ll be making Icelandic heart-shaped waffles, Norwegian creme pudding and glogg and eggnog!  My favorite day to celebrate is the winter solstice and this opens the day after, so please come share some light with us!

“We Live Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span”

A multi-media exhibition by Mandy Greer, Paul Margolis and Hazel Margolis

NEPO HOUSE

1723 S Lander Street
Seattle, WA 98144

www.nepohouse.org

 

Opens Dec. 22nd,   6-10pm

Conflating the private and public — traveling to places unknown, but working as a unit — the Mandy Greer-Paul Margolis clan of multi-generational artists set out to engage with the natural environment of Iceland in an intimate and hermetic approach.  Through fiber and film, play-acting, intuitive performance, obsessive accumulation of found natural and man-made artifacts, many of the artistic results explore and tear open the archetypes that each family member inhabits.

Through play and repetition, the roles each member played became refracted, as each sometimes embraced, sometimes rejected what seemed inexorably inevitable.    The family culture became medium, and that microcosm was expressed in the macrocosm of the geologic, a move that transcends the heartbreak of the day-to-day.

In this way, the emotional force of the child became the slow but constant pressure of a glacier, both a monumentally creative and destructive force.  The maternal instinct both emerges and retreats from isolation, like squeezing water from a stone and appositionally, an endless gorgeous torrent of a glacial swollen river.  The distant but shelter-building father figure moves earth and fire in an autonomic process of both steadfast strength and hapless misadventure.

Greer writes, “By locating our bodies at the center of this work about familial bonds, we are attempting to confront, repair and heal rifts in our lives that have both made our artistic life together possible and also strained it to near-breaking.  In breathtaking geographic isolation, an honesty emerges about the possibilities and failures of blending our roles as artists, parents and partners.

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This presentation of photographs, installation sculpture, video, and performance artifacts is but one outcome of Mandy Greer’s ‘Solstenen Project’, a series of residencies over the course of a year exploring themes of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation — identity metamorphosing into the environmental — including 5 weeks in Iceland in the fall of 2012.

‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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As part of NEPO “Little Treats” series, Mandy and Paul will be cooking Icelandic heart-shaped waffles and Norwegian Rommegrot (cream pudding), and maybe some glogg!

Works for the body inspired by Iceland @Favorite Art Projects

Before we left for Iceland, I was invited to participate in this fascinating little project happening at The Henry Art Gallery.  Tova Elise Cubert has started up a non-profit called Favorite Art Projects with a “mission to instigate conversations about art and commerce in unconventional ways.”  This season’s iteration of Favorite is as a pop-up shop at the Henry Art Gallery that opened November 16th and running until February, in homage to Jeffry Mitchell’s show there ‘Like a Valentine’.

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Tova invited a group of artists who, I would say, are all investigating craft, comfort and home in some tangential way, which means they are all investigating the body.  Doesn’t it? Jeffry has always been a guru to me of how to make work that slips and slides between boundaries, pleasure seeking, about the body.  There is no difference in the electricity of an installation of his and a pickle jar or wall screen.  His work is always a teacher for me.

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Jeffry Mitchell Pickle Jar with Silver (swooooooon!)

So I went away on my travels, a little perplexed about how to investigate my current ideas in the context of commerce.  I have never been very good at translating my ideas into a smaller scale….I think because I have tried to make those small things ‘sellable’.  Which I am happy for things to sell, of course,  But putting ‘sellable’ in my mind always seems to put a wrench in things. I rarely sell my work, it rarely seems to apply to commerce, and I rarely seem to even think about that exchange (this can be both really good and very bad or both or neither, I guess…..common reaction from some artists). But then I began to think about specific people, incredibly creative strong weirdo women artists I admire, and imagined them wearing things I made, and it suddenly seemed very easy what to make.  ‘Sellable’ in my mind had somehow been a cue to hold back, yet my imaginary clients demanded no holding back, and I made what they and I both wanted! (check out a few things here)

I also wanted to use the techniques and textures and colors I was using to take with me to Iceland, as well as what filled my eyes and touched my skin while there.  For my bodily experience there was a pull between the essential comfort of the body to stay warm and the sometimes stark land the body existed upon.  I wanted to turn landscape into dense softness and warmth.  I had been using a super dense hand-weaving technique to make superthick blankets that I then sewed into big costumes for Hazel, Paul and I to wear.

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So I continued with the thick weaving and have made thick heavy ‘stone’  and ‘sulfur’ blankets for the shop, made of more than a hundred different hand selected and cut fabrics, reclaimed wool and cashmere sweaters. I have always loved to sleep under a huge stack of blankets, like gravity is thicker in the air.  And these blankets do this! I also did a series of neck pieces of pillows of puffy moss to surround the neck and the bright energy propelled by molten lava to represent the intense energy of the body.

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weaving blankets out of hundreds of handcut and selected fibers, wool and cashmere sweaters

I also feel influenced and  greatly admired the practice of many Icelandic artists to blend and hybridize art and design.  In some way this has always been a source inspiration for me from Jeffry Mitchell’s work, that lack of boundaries between art, craft, handicraft and design.  I made this work to celebrate what I love about his work and give the opportunity for my installations to take place on the small scale of the body.  I hope you’ll stop by the Henry and see all the other beautiful things by artists such as Izzie Klingels, Nicholas Nyland, Joey Veltkamp, Eric Eley and Seth Damm.

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Photo on 10-17-12 at 3.57 PM

pillowy mossy neck piece

I’ll also be hosting a Community Crochet event at the shop at the Henry (15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle) on Sunday December 16th from 12:30-3:30.  (Facebook event here). All skill levels welcome, all materials provided!  And will be delivering another round of wearable pieces and blankets in time for the crochet event!  Come join us!

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Tonight, 11/16/11, Solstenen comes back to TPR for an evening of community crocheting and films from guest artists Saskia Delores and Rodrigo Valenzuela

I have had an industrious fall in my studio…..not making piles of work, but excavating some physical and psychological space to do it….Many many things needed shedding, which seems oddly telling with the project I am working on, all about weight, burden, labor and armor.  But after a summer full of crocheting with people at The Project Room, I wanted to get back into the thick of the project by once again working on ‘Solstenen’ with anyone willing to join me.  And like this summer, I wanted to share the work of artists who are inspiring and mentoring my new body of work.

Please join me tonight from 5-8 at TPR for one night only of community crocheting, tea/treats, and films by Guest Artists Saskia Delores and Rodrigo Valenzuela.

At 5pm, I’ll be on hand with yarn, fabric and crochet hooks to teach anyone willing to learn to crochet, contributing stitches to the Solstenen crocheting heading to Iceland in 2012.

From 6-8pm, then we’ll continue crocheting while watching a presentation of films by Solstenen guest artists performance artist/musician Saskia Delores and filmmaker/photographer Rodrigo Valenzuela.
As with the other Solstenen guest artists, join me in an informal Q and A with these incredible filmmakers, as I pick their brains and find out why they make things.

Saskia and Rodrigo both make subtly provocative work that highlights how the magic in the mundane can be captured and bloom in the medium of film. Their bodies of work both reveal the cinematic psychological tension and expansive capacity of the eyes to reveal a volcano of emotion… how we reveal when we try to hide. And both continue to encourage my fledgling pursuit of using film/movement to explore themes in the Solstenen project. I am thrilled to share their work, learn more about their projects with anyone willing to take a dip into the Solstenen project, while also basking in their encouragement for expanding into new media with my work.

Come see their films on the big wall of The Project Room!

Get Yourself Together

TRAIN TIME

The last events of Solstenen at TPR: last Community Crochet event : today from 3:30-7:30

Community Crochet, August 23

Community Crochet, August 23

My days of working at The Project Room are dwindling…I have SO much information and images to process, so much to be grateful for, and so much to feed me as I continue on with the work of Solstenen project.  Not in the least has been the response of those people who have taken a leap, walked into the space and learned to crochet.  And most of them have returned and returned many times!  Today is the last crochet party of my 7-week residency here, but TPR curator Jess Van Nostrand and I have worked out a plan for me to return once a month beginning in October, on a sporadic basis, so please sign up for my mailing list or twitter or Facebook if you want to be kept up-to-date about those coming crochet events.

So please join me today and tonight at TPR from 3:30-7:30!  And we have a special guest coming, Erin Shafkind’s community project ‘Department of Artistic Licensing’ comes back for an encore from 5pm until 7:30!

UAL

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ALSO I NEED YARN:  This is a last minute plea, I know, but at MAN NIGHT Crochet, the men managed to use up all  my yarn…honestly I don’t know how, even with the giant crocheted chains hanging about the space.  If you have any gray yarn you’d like to donate, I would be grateful!

MAN NIGHT crochet...using up the yarn...

MAN NIGHT crochet...using up the yarn...

And lastly, come celebrate the work of Poet Sierra Nelson with an Icelandic pancake feast on Wednesday!

August 31, Wednesday, Guest Artist Event, 6 – 8 pm;  Poet, text-based artist and data-Dadaist’ Sierra Nelson comes in for ‘show and tell’ and conversation about her own journey to Iceland for the SIMS artist residency.  She’ll share her interactive surveys on ‘sending and receiving’ and photography of forgotten intimate spaces of Reykjavic.  And we’ll be making Icelandic pancakes!

Poet Sierra Nelson

Poet Sierra Nelson

Don't Miss the Pancakes....

Don't Miss the Pancakes....

Guest Artist Julia Harrison: mini-residency, artist talk, demo and show-and-tell, 8/29 11-2:30pm, 5-6:30pm

August 29th, Monday, Guest Artist Event, 11 am – 2pm; Mini-residency with Wood Sculptor/Jeweler and sweets enthusiast Julia Harrison, sharing with me some techniques to carve wood shoes!  Then at 5 – 6:30pm;  Julia does a show and tell of works-in-process,  images and conversation…and special treats!

When I began working with the idea of ‘A Stone Woman’ in mind for inspiration…a jumping off point, my mind went to Julia Harrison‘s incredibly detailed life-like carvings of elements of women’s bodies (and an assortment of other recurring forms that seem to have a connecting thread, a Julia-logic of sensuality).  She seems to do the opposite of my heroine in the A.S. Byatt story, rather than flesh turning into natural materials, Julia seemingly reveals flesh below the surfaces of wood…revealing a wood woman.

She is an insightful wit, eager to push her work into unknown territory through research, travel and writing, and share what she knows through teaching.  She also delves into our complex relationship to ingesting beautiful things, and has researched into the history of the Kashigata, a Japanese sugar mold, as well as writing about her own obsession with unusual treats.  Hearing Julia talk about how she strings all of this together (carefully and with great attention and skill…like her carved wood chain) should be fascinating!

Please stop by and visit , or join us for conversation, show-and-tell and treats!

Guest Artist Anne Blackburn speaks and carves tomorrow, 6-9pm

August 27th, Saturday: Guest Artist Event, 6 – 9pm;  Artist and Lo-Fi Arts Festival curator Anne Blackburn Artist Talk and hands-on demo of book-carving for her environmental installations.  Photos and films from her two-year installation of human-made shelf fungus.

Earlier this summer, just a week before I started Solstenen project, I had a small exciting adventure at Smoke Farm with Anne Blackburn.   Smoke Farm has popped up its amazing acreage into my work before;  I’ve walked all over the place, made a film, done photoshoots…but it continues to yield hidden places and surprises.  Anne took me to one; her two year Shelf Fungus Project.  I’d heard about it…seen some pictures floating around, and had missed it at the last Lo-Fi.

Teeth Marks....

Teeth Marks....

I always imagine  Anne so immersed in her work — which also includes curating and organizing and gathering people together — that she doesn’t really do the full onslaught of ‘marketing’ that seems the norm for our age.  And I’m glad…not really knowing all I wanted to know from the computer put me in the position to get Anne to take me on a hike to see her woman-made Shelf Fungus.

After a hike down a path I was familiar with, we took a sharp turn towards the mountain and under some evergreen boughs that opened up into a cathedral-like clearing where you can’t see the sky.  The most striking element were the many very tall old-growth stumps, with the notches carved a century ago by lumbermen, tool marks still very much visible.  Each stump now has a 50 year old ‘new’ tree sprouting out the top, creating this dense canopy, but also very much showing the process that Smoke Farm itself is undergoing; renewal in the form of decay.  Once harnessed and used for human industry, the land, the trees, the water – through human care and the unceasing urge of nature to renew – are changing back (or changing forward) to a wild place….or a place that references the wild place it once was and can never truly be again.  It was easy for me to see a time-lapse in my mind of the clearing of the land, the farm being built, the cows, the effort, the lives made and past.

I could see the trees head to the saw mill and go through a myriad of processes to become any number things to meet  human needs, including books.  Then in this little village of massive stumps, we see Anne’s human-made Shelf Fungus….made of books.  Again, I can see another time-lapse of paper being made, books being bound, and used for half a century — law books about property rights, no less — then discarded when the weight of digesting information in that form became too cumbersome.  They became trash.

Until Anne Blackburn takes them up, carves them like one would if they were wood (because they are…..) and makes them back into the image of something they once were, a flourishing opportunistic organism, an ecosystem.   The tools marks remain, just as they do on the stumps in that old and new forest.  Then she sets them back into the forest, to decay and renew at the same time; in private, the only audience the life that goes on around them, and sometimes with human visitors.  Anne, an enthusiastic scholar of land art, science and the gathering of human effort, asks ‘when is the work done’ ?

On hearing that the Fungus project was nearing an end (if there is one….), and that there were miles of unedited footage of days and nights passing before a little wildlife camera trained on the Fungus installed, and the incredible overlapping of cycles of destruction leading to creation, leading to destruction leading to creation…some by human industry and need and some by the ever-pervasive natural cycle, I really wanted to learn all I could about this work where the edges seem to bleed over, and share it with everyone through my time at The Project Room.

Please join Anne and me, as we look over images, and artifacts, actual pieces removed from the forest (as books always are anyway…) and explore ideas about when anything made ever really ends. Have some treats and join us for conversation I’ll turn into a Solstenen Artist Profile.  We’ll add one more layer to how ‘work’ evolves and lives on….when it inspires.

See even more images in the slideshow below…

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Poet Sierra Nelson’s ‘Rune Library / Runasafn’ poetry installation is up at TPR, now until Sept. 2

“Like many games, sacred and secular, the Runes are meant to be played upon a field.  The field represents the world that is always coming to be and passing away.”  – The Book of Runes, Ralph H Blum

Poet Sierra Nelson came by The Project Room yesterday to install a quiet but bracing installation of interactive poetry, the Rune Library / Runasafn.  She used the word ‘bracing’ to describe the effect that one can feel when reading the meaning of Runes, and I think it is a fitting word for her entire project.  Going through the process she sets up for you, selecting a small volcanic stone out of a tattered black satin-covered box lined with purple velvet – found in an antique shop in Reykjavik Iceland – you catch a glimpse of your hand as it passes in front of a decaying mirror, like a disintegrating membrane between this world and another just behind the glass.  Whether through chance or luck, fate or the sensual attraction of a particular shape of stone, you are selecting a poem that will be yours, that you then find in the library and sign out on the traditional library cards we no longer use, writing your name behind the others who share your poem.  Then you have a few bracing moments with Sierra Nelson whispering in your ear, her voice coming back from a time she spent in Iceland as she interpreted longer voices coming through the Runic language, ideas that still resonate with our daily lives now.

I’ll be the caretaker of the Rune Library / Runasafn until I leave The Project Room on September 2.  Please drop by and find your poem.  Also Sierra will be back on Wednesday August 31, 2011 from 6 pm – 8-ish to share more of her work created in Iceland, talk about her experiences and just generally letting me pick her brain.  We’ll start with an Icelandic pancake feast, cooked here at TPR, while Sierra roams the room asking you to fill out a survey she created in Iceland about the mythic and mundane activities of ‘sending and receiving’.

More about the Rune Library / Runasafn….

M: What inspired this piece for you?

S: I’ve always been interested and curious about runes, and while doing a residency at SIM in Iceland, it seemed like the perfect place to investigate and work with them … in a Nordic land where runes were once used, and where people still find it interesting.

I wanted to make my own set, so I began gathering stones, and many of the ones I used are small volcanic rocks from the Vatnajokull glacier.

I also was gathering notes during my stay in Reykjavik and while traveling to different parts of Iceland, images and ideas, the way I would for any kind of poem. Then when I sat down to write the rune poems, I culled these images while thinking about the different runes, to find which pieces would resonate together.  As I was learning about the runes, a poem would emerge from these images coming together.

M: Your Rune Library in The Project Room has with it “The Book of Runes: A Handbook for the Use of an Ancient Oracle” by Ralph H. Blum.  Did you have this book with you in Iceland?

S:  I did, I had the book before I went.  It’s from the 80’s and it does have a very different take on Runes, just as any book would that has to do with esoteric ideas, every era has its own perspective.  But I really liked his approach to Runes; it’s a little bit more philosophical.   A little less “This Will Happen to You,” and more describing a process that we are all in, that your life is always a cycle and this rune can help show you where you are in that cycle, and maybe offer some insight or advice for that state.

Blum uses a great deal of imagery from the natural world, which made a lot of sense to me, considering where runes are often used, often scratched or written into a stone or carved into a tree or wood.  Each letter symbol has an individual meaning that was thought to have a symbolic power as well, and could be used as protection, to create a spell, for divination, or to give you some sort of strength during a process you are going through.

M:  Have Runes always been used this way?  To help people make choices or decisions?  Or have they also been used to record narratives, as well?

S: They can come together to express words as an alphabet, so they can also be used to communicate ideas, as a means of expression.  But they have also always had that connection with the power of the actual word itself, that symbol itself, as well as the tradition of writing the individual symbols on different pieces (stones, or pieces of wood cut from a branch) and them drawing them out individually, an act of chance or divination that could provide meaning. People could also carve them and carry them as a talisman, to invoke some sort of power that they needed to go through an experience.

M: So their function is to carry the power of the word in a physical form?

S:   Yes, to me runes speak to the power of word itself.  The action of creating the marks for the words brings something into being.  Which is exciting!  Especially in the world of poetry, when each word has quite a bit of weight…and you’re thinking about what is happening in that small space of the written poem, each sound and letter can have a resonant meaning as well.  You can say Runes out loud or incant them, but the actual marks themselves carry weight and meaning. I enjoy the importance of their physicality.

M:  So each poem in the Rune Library has to do with the rune symbol it’s associated with but also has to do with your own observations during your residency as you lived your daily life.

S: Yes…a bit of both.  I was gathering imagery as I walked around Reykjavik and to excursions around the country.   I was also gathering images from the traditional symbols and their meanings.   So then as I sat down to write each poem, I’d read a bit about that particular rune and look back through my notebook and see what resonated from my experiences and what stood out in relation to the particular Rune.  They are my own slant on the rune, but I really view them as gifts from Iceland, experiences that I was able to put into the poems.

M:  I’ve only read two of the poems — the one I chose and the one that Hazel got — and they are remarkably like little windows onto an intimate experience of place; being in a new location for an extended period of time, once you are there for a certain period, you get to have a certain quality of daily life, an ‘ordinariness’ instead of a ‘specialness’ which actually leads to what feels like a deeper understanding of a place.  I think I gasped when I read my poem!  I really love the flip-flop between such a sense of history and permanence of the Rune – carved in stone —  and that you could translate and record something so transitory as your lived experience of private moments into forms of an ancient language…

S: A lot of contemporary images were coming through the poetry from when I was gathering impressions from my experiences.  But it seems like part of what the runes are as well, what they have always been used for – reflecting back your actual life, but you have to find what those connections are.  What some of the symbols represent can be quite intense – ice, disruption – they have this bracing quality.  When you find yourself in that moment, within a broad range of strong emotions, it’s really nice to have the reassurance of the runes that this is part of the natural cycle too, to have them reflect that back at you.  The rune meanings give you a helpful framework to realize it is transitory, the intensity of emotion…you are a part of a much larger cycle.

M: I looked up the rune I chose in your Blum book and it did catch my breath, how the ancient meaning behind it was oh so pertinent. I chose ‘constraint’, it said ‘…the role of nauthiz is to identify our shadow, our dark or repressed side, places where growth has been stunted resulting in weaknesses that are often projected onto others’.  And then in italics like I was suppose to really remember this…..‘don’t take this world personally’. It was, to use your word for it, bracing!  I am so drawn into this work of yours right where it intersects with my own process in making art; I am always hunting, sometimes randomly, and usually by luck for those moments in mythologies or archetypes where I see my own life reflected back at me.

I wonder, what has it been like for people to choose a poem at random, by luck or chance and their reactions to the connection they find in ‘their’ poem?  I guess that is a question I should answer (laughter)…..

S: I can speak to that somewhat…It was such a pleasure writing these poems because I didn’t feel like I was writing about me or just my own experiences — other than pulling images through my physical person.  My intention behind each poem was thinking more about that person who might be pulling this rune, what they might need in that moment, what the poem might be useful for in their life.  That is why I did not want the poems to live in a book  — though they certainly could — I wanted to present them in a way that people could have some kind of active experience connecting with a particular poem.  Being able to choose a poem through chance or fate, it becomes a more meaningful event because it came together in that way; it creates some energy and aliveness between the reader and the poem that doesn’t have to do with me.

M: This interactive quality seems important to you, both with your own work and what you have done with Rachel Kessler with Vis-à-vis Society and earlier with Typing Explosion.   Putting things in flux…it seems very important to you for a long time now.

S: There just is something so great that happens during those interactive moments… Rachel and I both are very much interested in the public/private relationship.   There are these kinds of moments we all have all the time, and Rachel and I aim to find ways to look closely at them.  Our intention is in finding ways to reflect back those moments through the process of making art, like say, with the making a graph of data of private experiences.  We try to find ways to facilitate and value the way people have a private moment of reflection, and yet we can create the opportunity for people to see their own private thoughts collectively through graphing and recording the patterns in everyone’s experience.

Vis-a-Vis Society

Vis-a-Vis Society

So it is an important private moment, choosing your rune stone from the box.  But to also have to sign out the rune from the library functions as a public way to mark and record the larger patterns. The Rune Library records what is happening on any given day, and potentially providing a larger sense of where patterns might emerge. It’s a library of experiences.  Were there certain rocks that people were drawn to on that particular day? Are there some runes that are pulled more frequently over time?  Is there some pattern to these random meetings?

 

Directions for Rune Library / Runasafn

 

1. Choose (or select at random) a rune stone from the container.

2. Find the corresponding symbol on the library card envelope.

3. Write your name and the date on the card.

4. Find the corresponding poem to the symbol and rune name.

5. The poem is yours to keep.

6. Return the rune stone to the container.

Takk fyrir!

Updated Guest Events Added to the Events Calendar!

The Solstenen project residency at The Project Room has a little less than two weeks to go before I take Solstenen to the privacy of my own studio.  So why not pack these last two weeks with events and terrific people!  Here’s a list of the newest events scheduled.

  •  August 25nd, Thursday – 31st, Wednesday, Guest Artist Installation, on-going – please drop by; Vis-a-Vis Society’s Sierra Nelson, Interactive Rune Poetry installation “Runasafn / Rune Library”.  Poems written during a residency in Iceland, Sierra shares them by having you choose a rune stone which corresponds to a poem, you fill out a library card and take your poem home.
  • August 27th, Saturday: Guest Artist Event, 6 – 9pm;  Artist and Lo-Fi Festival curator Anne Blackburn Artist Talk and hands-on demo of book-carving for her environmental installations.  Photos and films from her two-year installation of human-made shelf fungus.
Anne Blackburn's Shelf Fungus book

Anne Blackburn's Shelf Fungus book

  • August 29th, Monday, Guest Artist Event, 11 am – 2pm; Mini-residency with Wood Sculptor/Jeweler and sweets enthusiast Julia Harrison, sharing with me some techniques to carve wood shoes!  Then at 5 – 6:30pm;  Julia does a show and tell of works-in-process,  images and conversation…and special treats!
  • August 31, Wednesday, Guest Artist Event, 6 – 8 pm;  Poet, text-based artist and data-Dadaist’ Sierra Nelson comes in for ‘show and tell’ and conversation about her own journey to Iceland for the SIMS artist residency.  She’ll share her interactive surveys on ‘sending and receiving’ and photography of forgotten intimate spaces of Reykjavic.  And we’ll be making Icelandic pancakes!