Honoured and humbled to be asked to contribute to Serious Manoeuvres.
My pieces take you to a time when your world was still of magic and wonder. I think we need more magic and wonder in our lives nowadays. Right now I’m working in pre-production for an installation/film called The Aftermath of Dreams. If you may let me to take you there for a moment:
Imagine it is a day towards the end of the summer. The sky is bright, cloudless. You find yourself in a field of tall grasses that are a little burned by the heat of summer sun. There is no path; you make your own with every step. You put your hands out to the sides as if you were spreading your wings, and touch the top of the grasses on either side. As your hands make contact with the grasses, a pale glow emanates, following your fingertips as it brushes from stalk to stalk.
This piece was inspired by the Haiku The Ruins of Takadachi Fort, by Basho. It reads:
Over the warriors the summer grasses wave
The aftermath of dreams, however brave.
This piece resonates on many levels, and in different ways for every person experiencing it. It could simply be a magical place that will sear itself into your memory. But for those of us who have lost someone we love, it re-establishes a connection with them that transcends space and time. That’s the true magic of the piece.
Many times they come from poetry. The poem will resonate an image in my mind, and then I’ll spend months, or even years working to make that piece come alive. For my installation/film: Globe Mirrored in a Globe of Rain, the title came from a line from a Haiku by a turn of the centry Japanese poet. Ho-o. It was a Haiku called Indra’s Net:
The sun shower, mirrored in a globe of rain/ hangs for a moment/ never to be seen again.
And in just these few elegant words, this Ho-o captured exactly some very complex emotions of a particular period of my life. It summed up an awareness of a beautiful time that I knew was coming to an end.
Certainly, all the time! It is better to let the pieces speak for themselves, and the less I say about them the better!
For years and years I didn’t even know that this was a phenomenon that other people shared, until I heard Dr. Oliver Sacks talk about it in a lecture in San Francisco. Basically I see shapes of colour when I hear sounds, and the pitches are associated with particular colours. And if my mind is quiet, I’ll hear pitches when I see fields of colour. For me the shapes are three-dimensional, they take up space in a room, and look like transparent Henry Moore sculptures, blending from one form into another. If I am dancing, I’ll see the colour of the music surrounding me as if I were a Sufi Dervish under lights of changing colours.
I absorb things like a sponge, and for better or for worse; I take all words to heart. In many ways I am the product of the hours and hours of conversation that surrounded the dining room table of my youth. My mother, who is a teacher, has always had an amazing cadre of friends-- fellow educators-- brilliant, insightful, caring women. This piece was my expression of gratitude to all the brilliant women who were a part of my life growing up. They have helped me grow into the woman whom I have become.
Often it seems as if the world is pulling us down, but sometimes I hear hopeful stories of women lifting each other up. It is important to surround ourselves with people who lift us up, but it is not always under our control. But we can choose to not listen to those who bring us down, and we can choose to be the person who lifts others up.
I love listening to and watching slam poets in NYC-- This burgeoning revival of an ancient art form is truly exciting, fresh, and raw--humanity at it’s best. Performed live it engages people like no other art form do. I love the work of Suheir Hammad, a slam poet who lives in Brooklyn. She embodies strength and beauty, brilliance and anger, all in a single line, a single silence. The words rise off the page and take flight into the air.
The Aftermath of Dreams
Sculpture in Light and Sound
by Sarah Beth Goncarova
Over the warriors, summer grasses wave;
the aftermath of dreams, however brave.
The Ruins of Takadashi Fort
ㅡMatsuo Bashō (1644-1694)