Team Check-In Assignment #1
- read Val Plumwood's "Being Prey"
- let the content of the writing guide you/inspire you to visit a place you have never been before
- create something time-based in that place (video, performance)
- if it includes any text, the text has to come from the Plumwood article
I will tell you the story of my morning, because my efforts at documentation were not as successful as I had hoped.
In fact, this little performance seemed to cunningly resist capture.
First thing I could not find my camera or the Gorilla pod that would allow me to manacle the device around a tree. I have a lot to learn about working outdoors with rapidly changing materials I have little control over while attempting to record myself in the process. But at the very least I needed a camera that could be bound to a tree.
I could not find it.
For a week now, my only clarity on the subject of this assignment: I want to lie my body next to a river and think about crocodiles.
And then a bunch of far less clear thoughts of manipulating the impression of my body in the soil, climbing in and out of it, filling it with six feet of water, decorating it with red a simulation of blood.
I thought I was looking for mud.
I left the house and it was raining. The final throes of a nasty cold are still strangling my voice box, itching my throat, filling my head between eyes ears and sinuses with drip. I was not eager to tramp about in the damp but I could see no way around it, and I had to admit the rain was fitting.
I struggled on, through driving rain, shouting for mercy from the sky, apologizing to the angry crocodile, repenting to this place for my intrusion.
I got out of the car and realized of course I needed to use a restroom and would just have to wait so I had several forms of physical discomfort layered on top of my experience of the day
all of it conspiring, every bit of bad “luck” and every poor choice placing me inside this story you know, assisting my climb into character.
Last night it snowed a bit. I find the path and follow a single set of tracks walking in the direction opposite to mine. An animal’s footprints cross them here and there. Then geese, mucking about
this place is called sanctuary. I wonder who I might have consulted for advice and permission to visit.
I was looking for a flat sort of spot where I might lay my body next to the river
I thought I was looking for mud.
Snow covering the ground, the material of the bank was difficult to discern. The edges lined with long grasses covered over in whiteness. I’m not going down there, there’s probably nothing underneath all that grass
In the place where I stopped, the ground sloped down from both sides of the path and there was a long stretch with no trees. Something alerted me to halt and consider this place. I was still pretty skeptical. All kinds of grass down there and no sign of solid ground. This is wetland where I’m standing, marsh really, who knows what is what
Yet something suggested I pause
So with a shrug, I took my snowpants out of my backpack, put them on, looked around me a few times, and tentatively slid down the bank on my bottom whilst feeling about on the ground for squishy bits.
It all held.
At this point I considered setting up the camera. Who knows what I might want captured? But no, I reasoned, I would experiment first, make a plan, and then turn on the camera.
All right then.
Gingerly I lay my body down.
Imagined crocodiles circled in the water as coporeal geese cried above me.
Technically I could hear the traffic from Congress St. but in my mind it was quiet.
Eventually I sat up and pondered. Beyond this lying down, what was I going to make or do? I check out the impression I’ve made in the snow, but it’s not very interesting, hardly discernable.
The grasses that surrounded me were enticing. I tried pulling a tuft up with my fingers. So long! And human-hair-like they were embodied somehow, or maybe I mean they were full of intention
And so I begin arranging grass. It molds so easily beneath my fingers. I surround the silhouette of my impression, the spot where I was lying earlier, and quickly assemble a direct copy of Mendieta’s siluetas. I give this body a head. I am frustrated. A direct copy of Mendieta is not what I’m after. And yet
I begin to give my lady arms, and they splay sway outward
she’s really taking on life now
I will begin to record.
I scramble up the bank to my camera, eventually found, and when I turn around to see the silhouette I gasp. I mean genuine shock. Her left third is submerged in water.
The water around the spot where I had been lying was full of crocodiles. That spot was under six feet of water the next morning, flooded by the rains signaling the start of the wet season.
I’m scrambling now. Take a few pictures of her the way she is. Try to find a new spot to copy this, make it happen again, before it is too late.