I have been living at a French artists pottery studio in the woods, building a kiln and making sculptures. There was no internet there, so I haven’t been updating all of the story collecting events. I had the opportunity to set my sculpture up on the beach in Marseille, and stayed there for one night. I also set it up at Alain’s, (my host), grandchild’s birthday party. They were both well received, and I recorded quite a few stories. In the meantime, I made two ceramic sculptures, and Alain built a gas kiln. I got to watch the process, which was very useful, and I cant wait to make a kiln when I get home now. The first firing that was in the kiln were my sculptures, which are the 3rd and 4th of a series that I started at home. I am making all of the major Archana of the tarot card deck., and leaving them behind me when I travel. There are something like 27 cards, all rich with old symbolism. I am making them as self-portraits, in a way, though they don’t all resemble me so much so far. Before leaving, I made 0- The Fool, and 2-The High Priestess. I wanted to sculpt myself in these two forms before taking off on a new adventure, freshly without a job. The Two cards that I just made are 17- Star, and 18- The Moon. The Star is a card about hope and coming out of darkness. It is a card I pulled for a friend, Shann Weston, who has Lukimia and is working hard to keep her body strong. It is also a card for Alain, the man who is hosting me, because he just lost a wife. This card and this sculpture are about pointing your head toward the light and aiming for it. The Moon is a wolf, it is a card about intuition but also about being lost in dreams. It is about the magic of the night time.This sculpture I started making when my mom wrote me that another close friend, Jane Kitchell, was dying after a long and peaceful walk with Hepititus. Jane is the first person who I ever met with a real art studio, and if it wasn’t for hours of making sculptures and paintings with her, I would be living a different life. I am on the train to Paris now, and will be focusing on the story collecting until I leave for Africa, in 5 days! The project seemed to work better there generally, maybe because people are adept at English enough to understand the gaps in my broken French, maybe it is the culture. It seems that for such a small country there are as many or more regional foods, accents and mentalities as we have in the US, which I find charming. Make sure you buy wine for your hosts from your region, someone told me, which made me laugh, because all of France would be one region in the US. But don’t buy wine from 2 hours that way or it is no longer local! (The idea is that people save the best wine for their own people. I don’t know or care about wine, but I am learning how to make the many lovely people who are hosting me happy. The time has flown by, and I have been improving my language skills slowly. My bags are packed with random little stuff for my friends at the foundry in africa, and I am really looking forward to both the next few days in Paris, and the coming adventure at the bronze foundry. My Project: My project comes from somewhere deep within me. It is about that feeling I get when I look into an apartment building at night and see all the little windows lit up, each containing a universe. Believing and seeing and being awestruck by the diversity of humanity, is what pulls me all over the world, and what drove me to pick up a microphone and start this project 8 years ago. I wanted people to see what I saw, when I sat on the bus. The universe of adjectives and nouns, the goals and relationships, the lonliness, serenity, love, in every seat. There is so much diversity of human life. I don’t always remember this feeling. I get caught up things I think are important and in the lives I engage with, and with cell phones in every ones hand on the bus it is harder to feel the humanity in strangers. But when I am in new places everything glitters. How do I do this project in a way that illuminates that? More people? Ask a specific question? I am thinking of changing what I ask of people- Tell me something about you that I would know by just looking at you. That is the essence of what I am trying to get at. Anyway, I am going to spend the next few days experimenting
Hello world. It has been a while since I uploaded stories with the sculpture. Last week I set it up in Marseille, and had a really confusing time explaining how to interact with the sculpture. My french is broken, and there was some confusion. In the end I scrapped all of the recordings, because it got so jumbled that I didn’t find much worth to it. After that I spent some time writing up a description of the project in French, that explained how to interact with the sculpture. Yesterday, I set it up again and had a much more easy time explaining the project, but If I talked to 6 people, 4 would be interested, but only 1 will record something. Maybe 3 will want to listen to other people. I don’t really like making umbrella statements about the way different cultures are, they always seem to miss some of the meat of reality, but it is very different then other places I have done a version of this project. In Paris, people were more open and thought the Idea was “tres poetic” but Marseille it was just confusing. I set it up in another town last night, Cassis, and had some success. I feel like the unrecorded interactions that I have because of the project help in my objective as much as the recorded ones. My goal, in a way, is to disrupt normal life with art. Whether I record people or not, I am doing that, to some degree. Cassis is a seaside town, and I recorded people in a casual square in the center of town. It was great.
I have been living at the house of a man who is a potter, working on a sculpture. I am including some photos of the sculpture. It is nice to get my hands dirty, and I look forward to firing it. There is a lot of ceramic art here, and it is really inspiring.
People watching on the beach in Nice is like looking at a Where’s Waldo picture. Floppy hats, Stripy umbrellas, colorful towels, every language in the world. I set up the story collector on the boardwalk at night. French people are great, but pretty reserved. One person in Five who was interested in the project actually wanted to do it, but I got a few good ones. There were a few drunkards who’s recordings didn’t make sense and who I deleted, but it went pretty great. I took some pictures before it got to dark.
Paris July 8– Please listen to the recordings for the day.
What a lovely day of recording. My friend Julia started out the project, and it continued with a more thoughtful series of responses then the last time. I am learning about different situations, and the types of responses I end up recording. I love the diversity, and some days the entire theme is sill, and others it is quite sincere. Everyone I recorded was interested and enjoyed participating. I am grateful to all the thoughtful people…. Tomorrow is our last day in Paris, so the next time I do a story recording will be in Nice, on the southern coast!
I have been here for 3 days, and decided to get in the swing of things a bit before setting up my story collector sculpture. I have been soaking up art museums and wandering around in the street, practicing my french and learning little things about what to do and what not to do. The Rodin Museum broke my heart with its beauty, and all the incredible things in the Louvre and Orsey are insane to see in person.
Last week- (That recently? I feel like I have been here so long) I set up the story collector up in San Francisco, and had some microphone problems, so I did a complete, timed, dress rehersal in my room before bringing it out to the public this time. The sculpture is collapsable, and fits into a wheely bag. When I take it out of the bag, I need to set up the audio recording equipment and then the legs velcro on to the torso, the arm onto the right side, and the heads velcro on top. For some silly reason, I keep forgetting to take good picture of it, but it works well because I can covertly wheel it anywhere I want and then set it up in 10 minutes. I brought it to a park that some was shown to me by some good family friends that are also in Paris.
It took place in the 3rd arrondismont, in the square du temple, which is full of teenagers, families, old people and general relaxation, as well as ping pong. I set it up- and then just sat there for a few minutes,unsure of the next step. People mostly approached me with my bike cart, but this sculpture is easier not to notice, because though life sized, it hangs against the wall. I would need to go asking people, I realized. French people are fancy and pretty intimidating. Then, miraculously, A guy walked by with paint on his pants- my chance! I approached him, “biensur” he said cheerfully and was more then happy to get things started. After that, I got more confidence, and recorded more people. Then the Police came. Whoops, I was disturbing some sort of peace, it turns out. But the first guy who recorded talked with the police, and he came back and said OK- 1 hour or so. Perfect. Here are the recordings for any of you who understand french:
Julia, a travel companion has agreed to help translate. I am not there yet with language skills to be accurate.
Hello again, after more then a year. I am proud to announce that “We Share The Same Stomach”, the story collecting project is back in the game, in a new form!
I did the first set of recordings in Novato, CA, last night, with a group of thoughtful and fun highschoolers, and it went smoothly. The prompt is like this. People answer a question posed by the last person, and then record for the next person.
This time she is a wall hanging sculpture, made of fiberglass, epoxy, wool, fabric and all the tec stuff to make her work. This is the plan: July 2, I am flying to France with her, and then spending 3 months collecting stories internationally! Thanks to lots of wonderful people who contributed to my Kickstarter Campain, I have fundraised the funds to build her s in a better way. Tonight, I started recording stories in Novato with a group of inspiring high school kids. I will post that as soon as it is organized.
I hope to do a few recordings in San Francisco, before flying to France, where I will continue it, though the language change will pose some new challenges.