Who do we choose to let in?

Since September, I have been spending one morning a week meditating with inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary. Our sits occur in the chapel. Before entering through security I lock up my belongs: car keys, phone, wallet, hair clips, scarves (and other items which could be used as a weapon against me). Then I exchange my ID for a red badge with my picture on it. Inmates are separated by security level and if necessary their gang unit. Some weeks, I sit with the men in minimum security. The air inside the concrete passageways before and after each checkpoint is cold and stagnant. Other weeks, I sit in medium. Here the passageways are outside in the elements, surrounded by mazes of chainlink fences and razor wires. We pass through numerous gates: #8, #9, #32, #29, #17, #16. As if inside a institutionalized forrest, I could not yet find my way out without my guide. I haven't honed my instincts enough, yet; maybe next week. At each juncture, one of many gates slide open as if by magic. Security observes us from above. Two females slowing walking, careful not to move with too much purpose or mission; we wouldn't want to be seen as a threat. We are seeking an opportunity to sit in silence with a group of men who label this as some of the only silence they experience inside this fortress. 

I've continued my work with the five silent structures of Fort Lawton. Videographer Jack Leonard has rendered old video I took in 2015 to create a mock-up of a four channeled installation.  Each video will be projected on one of four walls of an enclosed room. When you step inside the room you would be virtually transported outside, surrounded by the four walls of a structure whose exterior is publicly maintained with care and yet whose interior is inaccessible and uninhabitable. The doors are locked with a dozen deadbolts. The windows have metal and plexiglass facades. Where I am able to peer through the foggy yellow plexiglass, I can see the floors inside covered with broken glass, dust so think it looks like dirt and cobwebs, so many cobwebs. The air inside must be stagnant. I wonder, should the final videos be filmed during four different seasons?  I wonder, do pedestrians ever consider the silence inside these structures. And I wonder, is representation enough for me? 

What would make absence more visible?  What would cause a person to pause and question how permeable there own interior world is to the external one?  What might inspire someone to question personal, structural and systematic incarceration? And would they consider the actions that led to this moment?

Who do we choose to let in?

 

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A tour at the pace of my 1.5 year old

Six months ago, I moved to Walla Walla with my partner and one year old son. Walla Walla is a vibrant small town in rural Eastern Washington, nestled among expansive agricultural fields and the Blue Mountains. The pace of life here is unhurried. And the pace of life with an 18 month old is dawdling.  

What if I were to give a tour of my town, my new neighborhood as I experience it? 


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A response to my sketch: between

In early May, I shared a sketch titled, between.  As further response to and exploration of the questions that lead to that work, I composed the following piece employing Anne Carson's 'short talk' poetry form.   The work consisted of a plaque, posted on an informational sign post situated at the intersection of two diverging paths. This sign post was one of a series of 10 for a piece titled, Short Talks, Short Walks that was displayed at Smoke Farm for the Lo-Fi Arts Festival // Ad Hoc.  An intimate performance corresponded with each post and was enacted during the festival.
 

Short Talk on Pairs

Socks are worn in pairs, usually matched.
Brackets are always used in matched pairs.  
When writing, brackets can be used to inject or
set apart text. They can denote an idea related to
but separate from the original idea discussed.
Empty brackets indicate omitted text.
Before I leave the house I put on my shoes.

Press your hands together in front of your chest.  
Pause. Separate them slightly. Pause. Repeat.

 

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What is a threshold?

a fence
a diving board
a door sill.

a tideline
a url
an entry (gate).

a place or point of entering. a beginning.
the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect.

a door sill
a portal

a limen.
liminal.

-tia kramer

 

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re-visiting TAB

Control "t"
06. 2006


Q: Why do you think she just moved her left arm into a slump? 

A:  Art allows me to reconfigure and re-contextualize information,
to draw awareness to the inherent meaning we accumulate in everyday life.

Q:  What circumstances allow openness?
A:  If you press down on the ‘control’ key and the letter ‘t’, the transition function
will appear.

Q:  How should one respond to ambiguity?
A:   I am rather engaged with experience, time.  Watching time pass and un-pass, watching my history unfold and fold upon itself.  I am  interested in impermanence and making tangible my relational  experiences.

Q:  How do I relate to my shoes?
A:  I draw upon  my experiences studying music in Ghana, West Africa, and with the  Macalester College African Music Ensemble in Minnesota.  Sowah Mensah,  my primary mentor, repeatedly instructed our ensemble, “Do not think.   Do not try to understand this music.  Simply follow my movements  [exactly].”

Q:  What does it mean to bridge a gap in understanding?
A:  There are two ways to cross the river.  One is to take the bridge, the other is to row or swim.  I prefer rowing.

Q:  Is there a word that means, “to embody with the intention of growing intimately familiar?”
A:   Through the processes of mimicry and repetition, I accumulated musical  knowledge through the conscientious practice of intimation rather than  note reading or intellectual comprehension. I am captivated by how this  approach challenges Western epistemology.  Such an approach favors  intimate knowledge gained through experience over publicly verifiable  knowledge understood through the mind.

Q:  How do we integrate seemingly unrelated, or conflicting information into our lives?
A:   The variegated thrush, a bird found in the rainy regions of the  Western United States, makes a call that simultaneously sounds like both   a whistle and a hum in dissonant harmonics.

Q:  How do I create meaning in my life?
A:  It’s under that down pillow.

Q:  Who ate the last of the black berries?
A:   Habituating re-enlivens objects that are disempowered or silenced by  their loss of function as well as by our own lack of awareness. The silencing of these objects correlates to the systematic silencing of  communities of people, such as many Ghanaian women who have found  themselves financially paralyzed since the onset of colonialism.  Some  women from the Adaklu Region have begun using their traditional textile skills, particularly spinning, to tap the tourism industry to gain  financial independence.  The re-enliving of these silenced containers  references this emancipatory act.

 

 


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