Something Gained: My expectations for this trip was to find something that challenged my dad and I. We are both adrenaline junkies, highly competitive and bond over shared experiences. This could make us great partners, but often end up competing against each other.
I needed to find something that provided no frame of reference for either of us, so we could completely surrender to the experience.
So, I took my dad dog-sledding in Ely, Minnesota.
The entire experience was incredibly sensory. Instead of being given a freight team, we were given endurance runners. This means instead of four, thick and fluffy dogs built for pulling. We were given six slender endurance dogs built for racing. We took turns driving the team and remained completely silent except bouts of laughter and giant exhales after seconds going by of breathtaking scenery on the trails.
We ended at the lodge with cups of cocoa playing with the dogs by the fire.
We walked away grown and grown closer.
Don't know what I'll have to do next year...skydiving?
"Chiharu Shiota is known for her performative installations in which she weaves human-size webs from black thread, turning entire galleries into labyrinthine environments and often enclosing personal objects or even herself. Inspired by the installation and performance art of the 1970s, Shiota left Japan for Berlin to study under Marina Abramovic, whose influence can be seen in Shiota’s endurance-based performances like Try and Go Home (1998), in which the artist smeared her body with earth, entered a hole, and fasted for four days. Shiota’s work is also influenced by and aligned with that of Rebecca Horn, Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse, revealed in her use of materials and performative exploration of states of anxiety, oblivion, and remembering."
As mentioned in class this week, I took a class from visiting artist Chiharu Shiota when I studied sculpture at CCA back in 2011.
When you experience her work, you feel a sense of depth that reaches further than your imagination, inviting you to explore the depths of your own mind. I not only admire her as an artist, everything that she's accomplished, I admire her as a human being as well. She is very humble, very sincere, and very quiet. Yet she is strong- a strength that is felt, not shown.
Chiharu Shiota is an internationally renowned Japanese artist and has shown works in museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington DC, The MoMA PS1, National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and participated in the 56th Venice Biennale.
Although my classmates and I assisted with installing in a gallery in SF, the show isn't even in her CV on her website- as it must've been "too small" to include between her shows in Australia, France, Germany, China and Italy back in 2011. She had an opportunity to show at the Berkeley Art Museum while she was in town for the semester, but used the opportunity for us, her students, to pitch our installations instead- which, by no surprise, none of us received.
Here is a photo of her when she took us on a field trip to Fort Funston in San Francisco. We took a bus limo there, which was pretty cool. It was on the way back though that was interesting. She had us give her our phones and walk along the beach experiencing it without any distractions. We were also not to talk to anyone. We could sketch, but that was it. Thankfully, I had a camera so I could take pictures. For two hours, we were to get closer to knowing ourselves.
We all went our separate ways. Even though it was about 40 degrees out, I soaked in everything around me.
Fort Funston is absolutely magical. Between the cliffs and the ocean, you walk along the beach, feeling insurmountably small. There were hundreds of crabs, sand dollars and other random things. I still have an old Budweiser beer can that I found from the 70's. (not shown for some reason)
I simply lost rack of time. There was no one else in sight for stretches of miles. I felt like the world was at my finger tips; and it was mine. It also felt like it was starting to be around the time to get back, to I went up into the dunes to head back to the parking lot.
I underestimated the labyrinth of the dunes. Sure, there were paths, but they have been completely changed from decades of strong winds.
At this point I was really worried- it was nice not to have anyone around me for a little bit, but now I just didn't know where ANYONE one was. Not even someone walking their dog to tell me what time it was. Even if we weren't supposed to talk.
I had no idea what to do- if I should have walked back along the beach, or keep following footprints in the dunes. I realized how far away from the city I was with no phone and felt even more lost. At least the mission I was sent on was accomplished- I had to find my way when so many paths were directing me in different directions.
I finally found some dog owners and eventually a friend of mine from my class. The bus had already left, but since I didn't have my phone, my friend stayed behind until I got back. A while later, Shiharu shows up in a taxi, we all jammed in the back seat together, and drove back to the city.
I will never forget what she told me once during a one-on-one: I have a fire inside me, and that I need to keep it going.
She is hands down- the wisest person I have ever known. And I am so lucky to have had that experience.
There's this really cool concept that J.R.R. Tolkien came up with. Tolkien, best known for his books The Lord of the Rings, has this theory called the eucatastrophe.
Eucatastrophe is a neologism coined by Tolkien from Greek ευ- "good"
and καταστροφή "destruction".
“Eu-cata-strophe” as a word:
(always important to remember that Tolkien was first and foremost a student of languages)
“strophe” = turn
“cata” = down, against, back
“eu” = good
He writes about this in various letters. (If you're interested the MCAD library has the book of Tolkiens letters)
"I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a storywhich pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it isthe highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there ledto the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is asudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material causeand effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a majorlimb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if thestory has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – that this isindeed how things really do work in the Great World for which ournature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection wasthe greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest Fairy Story –and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which producestears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comesfrom those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, asselfishness and altruism are lost in Love."― Letter 89
In his On Fairy-Stories Tolkien describes eucatastrophe further:"But the 'consolation' of fairy-tales has another aspect than theimaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is theConsolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert thatall complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say thatTragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but theopposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess aword that expresses this opposite — I will call it Eucatastrophe. Theeucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highestfunction.The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or morecorrectly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for thereis no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of thethings which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is notessentially 'escapist', nor 'fugitive'. In its fairy-tale—orotherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to becounted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe,of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to thejoy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if youwill) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving afleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignantas grief.It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more completekind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible theadventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn”comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to(or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form ofliterary art, and having a peculiar quality."― On Fairy-Stories That's a lot of words but the basic idea is that if you accept that catastrophe can and will happen, we must also accept the inverse - that good things can and will happen out of nowhere. It doesn't mean a happy ending, but it means that good things will happen.
This site you will all be invited to participate as part of the class. • Post your images • Post your web sites you find interesting • Pictures that inspire you - etc etc. The
best part of this- is that you will always have access to this site -
so over time, if you want to come back to things, or see what another
class is doing - you are set.
I hope you find this useful
Here are some different video interviews I did a few years back with people who have amazing Visual Journals