A random collection of things that are filling my space
Things that matter first:
I’ve been working on a new website for the Commission for Mission, which can be found here. It includes a blog which tells the story of the work of the CFM and its staff. I know you’d expect me to say this, but it’s true nonetheless – this is an extraordinary and creative working community with a breadth of responsibilities and possibilities that’s quite overwhelming and a capacity to do them that inspires me every day.
The other things that matter:
Rubbings from concrete blocks at the Ujina train station, Hiroshima
I spent the first weekend of November at MONA in Hobart, at the Synaesthesia Festival. It was, as could only be expected, quite extraordinary.
It was a weekend of extravagance – an over the top abundance of music, art, image, food, gorgeousness. I came away knowing I was alive, and so very grateful that my every day life so often reflects, even in a tiny way, the abundance of the weekend.
There was food. A lot of it. And so beautiful it deserved the title of art installation itself.
There was a lovely moment of deliberate sacred space on the second afternoon. Brian Ritchie, an original member of the Violent Femmes, now lives in Hobart. He was one of the directors of the festival. He’s a master in the playing of shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute. In the far end of MONA, found only after wandering through labyrinthine rooms and passages, down the long corridor of sounds and past the library is a remarkable installation from Hiroshima. It’s blocks of concrete, taking from the benches of a train station in Hiroshima, which was, like much of the city, victim to the dropping of the atomic bomb. The blocks are part of a permanent installation at MONA, and one of the gallery’s interactive spaces where people are encouraged to do rubbings of the blocks. On this afternoon, Brian led a crowd of people down the corridors and through the spaces to where the blocks were, playing an ancient Japanese folk song on the flute. Placed on the blocks were calligraphic notations of the meditation music, on which people were invited to do rubbings. It became – as the best meditations do – an act of transformation. It was a seemingly futile act that made a different truth real.
It was the perfect example of how to create a transformative space: to put two truths together [beauty and devastation; longing and despair; fear and grace]. Not on top of each other as though they could ever cancel each other out, but a transparent layering – just seeing what might happen when they speak into each other.
At the end of the passage where the blocks are is a gorgeous light filled room. It’s one of only two spaces in the gallery [which is built down into the side of the hill] that have windows – and the other is normally closed off. There’s an Anselm Kiefer installation filling the space. I bought a book of his work to read on the way home. It explores how his art talks of post-war Germany and of Kiefer’s attempts through art, to try to make sense of being German. I was struck by this commentary of his work: Kiefer was not mourning the Jews, but using the Jews to mourn for Germany, and then his own comments: Looking for light is a tyranny we can’t afford right now.
The things that don’t matter:
I created a poem last night. I couldn’t sleep; some work stuff was paralysing my mind. I recall lying in bed thinking how beautiful the poem was, and that it was liberating not to need to remember it. It was enough for the moment. And then I slept.