We’ve landed in Iceland…..but this isn’t it. It’s Lake Crescent in my own sweet Washington State. Earlier this summer Paul, Hazel and I went to this humming and mysterious body of water, carved out by a glacier and filled with cool pristine clear turquoise water, deep and hidden.
We went to spend a small few days together after a frantic ride of a big project with not enough time together. Which seems to be always…It was like Iceland-practice, spend all our time together, making some things, shoot some images and be together, being alone. Paul and I spent some time at dusk playing in the strong wind and the waves, him photographing me wearing one of the costumes for ‘Saltus Chori Aevum’, pressing my hands against the wind back and forth with billowing silk, and him finding ways to make the sun disappear.
I learned a few things while there, which since then have really tumbled forward with momentum in importance. I realized many, most of my ideas might be impossible…impossibly heavy, large, bulky to transport across the world, and then into a wilder place…on my back. I have to carry what I want to do on my back, along with gear, etc. One long hike to an incredible old railroad cave along the far edge of Lake Crescent would have been an amazing place to shoot some pictures, but by the time we found the amazing site, it was too far away from my gear and costumes in the car to go back and get them. I would have to have some really portable options for Iceland or miss some stunning places to work, places we would only be able to walk into. But (silver lining) I’m now determined to make it back to that cave next summer…
Even so carrying the billowing silk around the lake side was a relief to the heavy monstrosities I have carried around, nearly killing myself. I’m tired of killing myself. I’ll say it again. I’m tired of killing myself. I’ve been whispering it to myself for awhile during the course of the past year, also feeling like it was a cynical voice, or a lazy voice and so repressing it at times. But it’s a voice that has been louder in recent days, and I think I just need to be with it. I’m not lazy, I’m not cynical. I’m not even cynical when I see really lazy artwork celebrated…I tend to just look away. I tend to be nonplussed. But I tend to beat myself up when I feel I’m ‘lazy’ and ‘lazy’ usually means not following my ideas as far as possible, not impressing people, having simple goals…..sigh.
Perhaps I am here in Iceland to redefine some things for myself. I’ve known that all along, but what definitions I’m changing keeps shifting. Can I make potent fulfilling work that isn’t an encompassing experience? Or maybe all ‘encompassing experience’ is something else than I have imagined. I am a person who is attracted to the quiet, the small, the subtle, the slow. Maybe these are the qualities I will draw out here. Because it was not possible to drag huge mantels of stones across the Atlantic Ocean…maybe a richer, better funded artist could have done that. I had to leave many crocheted rocks at home. I couldn’t afford it, no matter how I stretched and squooze the grant money. But (duh) I will find more rocks here, and will have to spend my evenings working nets around them….and have to leave them here to meet my weight limit for the plane ride home…something melancholy about this too.
And that body I’m trying not to kill? It is teaching me a big lesson. I have to slow down. It got sick two weeks before we left…I’m still laboring under fatigue of a lingering cold….and much of what I planned to bring here remains undone. So the body, slowed down to a rolling stone’s pace, shifted and adapted what I have been imagining for so long. I will make work here, finish things that I’ve started….and this is probably brilliant, exactly what I needed to do to get out of patterns that are running down. I HAD imagined being so on top of things, finished costumes, movement scores, story boards, an expert at my new camera (yea Mark II !!), meetings scheduled….even with trimming things down, streamlining, things seemed to always be getting away from me. Until the final two weeks seemed like when I would have to pull out all the stops and pull all-nighters and be so together something miraculous would happen. And, bam! I got really sick. I lay in bed a week before we left and realized I had no other choice but to adjust and bring things with me, sew the feather cape together sitting next to a glacier, rather than having some master plan completed. My body has forced me to go with the flow…maybe a slow flow. But I am still moving, and I have to accept it in a different way. I have to give up my angst about things abandoned, and observe what is actually in my grasp. I have to trust this will teach me something.
The one huge weight I felt as I lay there sick with a huge impending project undone, I ticked away all the time I spent on things, people, paths that seemed to eat up my time and divert me away from the essentials of this project, distractions I allowed for one reason or another. There is no use crying over wasted time, I know. I actually find a great deal of productivity in procrastination and mind-wandering activities. But this is about something different. I was unable to do anything for a few days, I realized I am going to get very selfish on this trip…I’m going to do what I want to do. Not what I proposed, or outlined or imagined, or even think I should do. Just what I want to do. I’ll abandon quicker what isn’t working and just seek elsewhere.
That sick few days, Paul and I were to meet with Seattle-base choreographer Corrie Befort on developing some movement scores/practices, and I had to stay home while she and he worked together one day. But I was stunned by something she said as we tried to outline some things for sick me, a way to begin finding a seed of something potent. Stunned by how righteous it it, and how as a visual artist I shy away from it (or feel I have to or have been taught that I should). She talked about, just begin with something you are attracted to, something that lures you, attracts you like a magnet, and just begin to work with it before you even know why. I KNOW this is already a lynchpin in my work as an artist, but some part of me is an apologist for it all the time. Oh, I must know why I am using this seed, I must justify it. This, right there is sloughing off me…I’m letting this go. My sick self told me it was okay. I am here to wander and go towards what attracts me. So out first day here in Iceland, lazy wandering has been the way….today we napped by some horses (you’ll see….). I am here to let down some burdens, and I’m going to be pretty militant about it.