Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Meditation on China

China Adams came to BoxoHOUSE with a characteristically ambitious and inspiring agenda. She decided to pursue two parallel projects, one as research and the other as production. 

On the research side, China has been examining making artworks that do not involve physical materials. This builds on her practice of recontextualizing discarded materials, as she has done in her own work as artist and as curator of the highly successful The Loop Show exhibition she curated late last year. For this residency, China proposed considering human energy as a material and asked to be connected with members of the Joshua Tree community who are expert in this area. 

I put out a note in some circles I'm familiar with and got an enthusiastic response from a couple who are well versed in energy channeling and meditation practices - Susan Jordan and David Zimmerman. Susan and David host a weekly meditation session and dharma talk, hold tai chi classes and offer various other spiritual development practices to the community and beyond. We scheduled a series of evening meetings to discuss China's aims and to delve into practices which might further her investigation.

Back on the  material side of things, China has been making work that involves filming interesting pieces of garbage that are blowing in the wind. In this project, titled Activated Garbage, she hints at the potential for beauty in an object, no matter the value assigned to it. The specific context for furthering this work in the desert was filming against the beauty of the piercingly blue sky. And the ever-present wind that the temperature changes bring about.

China Adams Activated Garbage 2012


Shortly before our first research session, Susan emailed me to say that she would have another skilled practitioner in energy channeling and perception along, Klaus Soupy. Klaus is an Austrian therapist, expert in constellation work, who has recently located himself part-time to the area. We all gathered on the evening of China's arrival. Our meetings were a wonderful unfolding of dialog and connection. The basic question that China had was how to create energy that would be palpable to others. After introductions and setting of aims, Susan and David demonstrated their ability to create an energy field between them and have us sense it's presence. Klaus also demonstrated constellation work which pointed to the power of intention and attribution. We came away from the first session excited and with much to ponder.

Over the next few days, China kept up a schedule of morning hikes and meditation, filming activated garbage in various locations and painstakingly editing down the footage. We also visited the Noah Purifoy Foundation, an inspirational site for anyone interested in the intersection of art made from found objects and land art. The evenings returned us to the energy project and our meetings with Susan, David and Klaus. 

Early into the second session, we had a realization that changed the course of discourse. Susan and David advised that we could learn ways of raising our energy, however this was not the key to the challenge. More important was finding ways to have the "viewer" prepare themselves to be able to perceive the energy. A discussion followed on various ways to do this. We then went on to meditate together and afterwards discussed how different this felt from meditating solo or in a pair. This pointed to the energy created by a group, just by dint of intention and gathering.

At our final session with the research group, David introduced a way to raise one's energy when going into meditation. We then meditated again and perceived the shift quite clearly. China realized that she was at the start of a process of learning and practice that could eventually lead to presenting energy as an art material. 

On the last evening of China's residency, BoxoHOUSE hosted the monthly meeting of the Transition Joshua Tree Heart & Soul group. We were joined by several artists and by Klaus. Each meeting features a presentation of spiritual or personal development practices. China and I presented the findings to date of her energy project, I introduced David's energy raising meditation and we meditated as a large group. In the discussion that followed, we again discovered that the energy could be raised and was palpable.

I am very grateful to China for bringing her projects to BoxoHOUSE and for entering into the local community with such openness. I am also very grateful to the community, Susan, David and Klaus in particular, for being receptive to working with artists and sharing their learnings so generously.

China's Activated Garbage pieces will be on exhibition at BoxoOFFICE, NYC in October 2012.

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