Where Are We?

This place is in the middle of nowhere. No one comes here, so they say. We are dismissed. We should leave, but we stay.

Here in the middle of nowhere it’s winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s daytime, but we’re shrouded in night. We turn on lamps so we can see. All you need is enough light to see what’s in front of you. A page, your work, a tool, your meal, a face. You can read some of them, and the rest will help you live. It is something, to be in a spot that is lit yet all around you it’s dim. Edges glow then drop off into darkness. Outside is quiet. Car tires rush past with waves of sound on iced streets. You are after all, in a city, in the middle of nowhere, but you remember you are near water. Voices rise from time to time, but trail off as talkers move quickly to get into warmth. One’s breath becomes cold with speech, so we think instead. Preferring silence to words, we use looks and signs.

To move one’s body through space, through cold air, through darkness- is to be aware of your place. It’s to realize that movement is survival, and movement towards shelter is necessary. Once inside, there are things to do. There are books to read, fires to make, meals to cook, and one’s handiwork. Crafting materials into objects, objects that are useful, objects that tell stories. Objects that hold secrets, that have jobs to do, but do them well and with meaning. This is not out of the ordinary. We want to spend time with beauty even when we are simply surviving. Especially when we’re simply surviving.

What does one need to survive? What can one live without? What are the basics, the necessities, the extras, the frivolous, the wasteful? Needs. Wants. Musts. For me, here in the north, in the winter, it is art, literature, music. In that order. I’ll eat potatoes every day, but I need my books, my paintings, my instruments, my tools. With these I can communicate, I can be alone and still hear the voices of other human beings. I can close my eyes and see clearly. Sleep and awaken with stories from the other side. And I can speak to others through an object that will tell its story beyond my time.

We’ll be looking at things that tell stories. Things that are compelling, things that are present. Things that contain their own history, that absorb the energy and stories around them. There will be artists’ books, works on paper, paintings and objects, bound together through a material culture that gives rise to narrative implications. Mysteries. Solutions. Ambiguity and contradiction. Questions, answers, call and response. Conversations. Something to get us through the cold and the dark.

Advertisements