Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On patience.

For the past four years, I've been involved with a strange project - FRAGILE: Global Performance Chain. It started in Italy by artistic duo VestAndPage, who wanted to see if a fragile object (a glass plate, made for the project) could be passed hand to hand, artist to artist, around the world and make it back to the place where it started. Each artist would create something that utilized the object and document it before passing it on to the next. There was an initial call for artists, and I signed up, along with 750 other people. I remember getting the full itinerary of the journey the object was going to travel. I was assigned a spot sandwiched between someone in New Mexico and someone in Kansas. I had hoped a bit that the person to whom I'd pass the object would be in a different country, just so I could have an excuse to travel, but I was excited anyway because I'd never been to Kansas.

I still haven't, four years later.

I remember initially brainstorming ideas for what I would do with the object, or how I would get it to the next person, roadtripping to Lawrence. But the reality of the project set in within the next year, when we saw just how slowly things were going to progress. You can scroll down here and see that progress, the places it's been are the orange dots, the ones it still needs to go to are the black. I'm in the USA slot that's at about 3:00. My friend Misha in Houston recently let me know that she had finally received it, so it has left Europe and entered the United States after all this time, but still has a long way to go throughout North and South America before it comes back to Texas and to me.

Progress as of the writing of this blog post

Based solely on how long it has taken to travel the cities within those first seven orange dots, I'm guessing I have about another 19 years. I'll be 57, and most likely not living in Texas, and hopefully not the same artist I am today. The amount of brainstorming and thinking I've put into this project over the years has dwindled. Hearing that the object did arrive safely in the US is definitely exciting and I'm 100% still on board with the project - but I've also figured out that this is definitely a work of art that can't be planned at all. The object will get to me when it gets to me, wherever I am.

I've had very few opportunities to create like this, and never (obviously) with this unending amount of time allotted. My MFA thesis was one, and it was as close to a perfect collaboration as one can ever hope for. Even then, though, the creation took place mostly within a six month period of time. I'm imagining starting a project with no idea if it will ever materialize, or in what form it will materialize, and being ok with that - but continuing to work on it and let it evolve and breathe however it wants. I imagine Caden Cotard in Synechdoche, NY, creating with no ending in sight, and no real need for one.  I'm starting to brainstorm an immersive piece with Will right now which I imagine we'll have to approach in this way. Maybe at some point the project is finished; maybe it isn't. It's very Buddhist, letting go of the outcome.
It involves keys. That's all we really know.

I am currently undergoing another process in my life that is taking more time than I had anticipated - the academic job search. And I'm learning the exact same lesson, that planning and thinking too much about jobs as I apply to them - where I might live, what my life might be like - makes the long wait to hear back from anyone much harder. This year has taught me that as I move into the next round of searching, I need to let each application go as I send them off, and move on to the next one, or the next project, or the next thing going on in my life at the time. Reading about others' processes during academic job hunts helps - it's unfortunately good to know that there are too many people for too few positions right now. I know that I'm probably an atypical lighting design candidate for these positions and the "right" position for me has to come along. It might take awhile; of all the positions to which I've so far applied, TWO jumped out as a "perfect match," and neither one came to be. I have to breathe, let go, apply, and trust that eventually the perfect match will actually exist. For someone who doesn't believe in fate and carefully plans out each step in her journey, that is a tall order. I've never been a very good Buddhist. But dwelling too much on a nebulous outcome that will happen sometime that is the future leads to forgetting about what's going on now, and ultimately leads to unhappiness and stress.

The process and the journey are just as much of a work of art as the finished project.

Notes from Dublin: Rambling, Emotional, Barely Coherent.

This has been a strange two weeks to be in another country, especially one that isn't a major world power. Ireland doesn't have the ...