Take a breath and picture yourself walking into a fragrant forest of eucalyptus on the night of October 2nd. There is the warmth of lights, sounds and sights that usually are not allowed to live there, but curiously enough, they seem at home for this one night stand. There are freeze frames of energy explosions suspended in between tall limbs while filmed images of settling dust play quietly inside carefully placed monitors. Across the way projected animated color and collected noises aesthetically and sonically mix together to make the normally dark, quiet space feel new. Figures in black crocheted masks move in choreography over the paths as a ten-foot tall horse-hoofed figure slowly passes in between them. A fox mask covers the face of another man as he moves without speaking from the untouched corners of the grove to creepily greet guests with strange requests. His back is adorned with a white lab coat and a mailbox. He carries a fifteen foot striped pole with a bell at the end to guide and weird out visitors that may or may not be aware of his presence. All the while a massive sculpture by Robert Irwin acts as a sentinel high above us in the black. Keeping watch on something that seems like it shouldn’t exist. The night felt like I was living in the deleted scenes of a Stanley Kubrick film.
I was recently asked to participate in this nighttime happening on the UCSD campus for a group show titled, We can’t stop thinking, so we’re running away. The show was a creation of native San Diegans Farrah Emami and Alex Field. It was a strange and beautiful night, and I loved trying to diagnose my own reactions to everything that was going on. I was surprised and thrilled to watch the faces and shadows of new friends around the trunks of trees as they viewed and participated in art in a way unfamiliar to almost everyone there. Video projections, performance art, and sight specific installations were spread out over a seventy five yard section of the woods giving visitors a chance to truly explore and take strides on a very well received Friday night art adventure. Everything placed in the forest that night seemed to stem from a protest to growing up.
These ideas live in daydreams and closely kept journals. They hide in the secret places of who you are and are rarely given chance or choice to take form. They are persistent and ever calling and on that this night, they were offered shape in the woods. To top it off, the dreamy, surreal melodies of piano-based Black Mamba could be heard live below the trees for a portion of the night. Here is the artist statement for the show:
Let us, just for a moment, dwell in the mind.
But then where are we?
Think of a forest—a dense mass of tangled objects, as if it’s a network of thoughts and human experiences. It’s where we think and where we feel. It’s a place where the outside becomes the inside.
In this moment, the forest is either the mind itself or it’s an illusion created by the mind, as the mind is all that exists around us.
We are trapped inside this dark, mystifying space—perhaps our own psyches? Although the idea of “self” is nothing but an illusion here, it is still the immutable core within all of us —nothing to be feared, but to be explored.
Fear of the unknown is innate and, yet, we yearn for things we cannot quite grasp and as artists venture into territories unknown in search of a greater meaning.
We should not run nor hide. This is a place where reflection and introspection are essential in order to understand the mystery of psyche, consciousness, and body, as they collide and create our perceived experiences.
This forest is a place where we are constantly surrounded and entangled within ourselves and within each other—leaving our thirst to never be satisfied and this search to never end….
For my part in all this I built a live-in-able fort out of collected scrap wood and filled it with maps, records, and family photos from a deceased Swiss-German man named Otto. The remnants of his wonder-filled life left abandoned in a silent home somewhere in Marin County. My courageous adventure-seeking and trespassing friend Valeri sneaks into old time cast off quarters such as his, and sends the scraps to me via post. (Thank you!)
And in accordance with Fort Guideline #1, my friend Sean and I spent the night on its dirt floor. Extra dirty and slightly shivering as Alex’s Mexican blanket protected my arms and legs from the unspoken fog that crept in and covered the grounds, I fell asleep content at the close of a day that was filled with an art experience I had never tasted before. I savored that taste as I lay on my back, slivers of light leaking in through the scrap roof to make pretend cut out stars all around us. I would look forward to viewing or being a part of any show or happening that Ferrah and Alex take on in the future.