Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Last Day in L'estruch

Last night I skipped my 'performance' for the final day of my -mini-residency.  I chose to skip in the studio space, aided by a spot light which spotted the center of the studio, and lit a black floor.  I skipped towards a corner of the room, facing a wall.  The visitors came, some sat and others walked in and out of the space.  There were some silent moments, but at times this was broken by my son's voice, calling out for his dad, surely in some kind of confusion.  What did he see, I imagine now:

A rope, cord, something long being held by his dad, and it just kept going up and down, and around vertically.  It hit the floor repetitively and made noise, but it also made noise in the air, like it was whistling. Sometimes this thing moved fast and at other times it moved a bit slower and his dad would jump up and down, up and down.  His dad often moved forwards and at times backwards, never quite reaching the spot light which slightly hid his figure but gave off a shadow which amused him.

"I wanted to run to my dad, but was scared of that 'thing', that it would hurt me, as at times it seemed to be hurting my dad.  He was all sweaty and he often bent his head as if really tired.  I wanted him to stop really, so I could explore this 'thing', and, really, explore my dad.  Not sure if I had ever seen him like this.  He was alone, and very wet and no one was getting close to him, not even mummy.  There were times when it felt like he was going to stop, but he continued to jump, though much slower than in the beginning. Then he stopped for a second and grabbed another 'thing', with this one he moved slower, I guess it was heavier - and it must have hurt, cause sometimes it hit him and he would stop for a moment.  And then he stopped doing it altogether and bent his body.  He was breathing very hard, very hard, but he had  finally dropped that 'thing' and I went to it, grabbed it and smiled at my dad.  I couldn't make it move like my dad, and it seemed much bigger now.  I still don't know why he did all that stuff, the people didn't even clap like they do in a show, or say 'very good'...but he did smile at me and after a few minutes stood straight up, and the lights came on, and the big light in the middle went off.'

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Imagining You...

Speak to me old charged breathe of history, sun-burnt history, bring me closer to your ears, blinding as they may be, those two exulting falling pedals of a dooming flowered mind.

The Heart Pumps, the Sun Returns...

As the heart begins to beat faster, the lungs fill with oxygen.  The breathing intensifies, the heart beats with rhythmic pace; the body moves further to another space.  The space fills your mind and the body follows as the muscles question.  The heart feeds them blood; the blood is full of oxygen.  The nose breathes, the molecules enter, the smells heighten and the trees move.  The air sings, the clouds cover while the sun hides and the day cools; for a moment.  The nose widens and the hairs stiffen; the blood pumps.  The grip livens around the rope, the will pushes and pulls, the mouth opens and the breath widens. The sweat opens while the ears sharpen, and the toes relax.  I breathe strong and then soft, soft is softer and relaxes my heart.  The rope strikes my forearm and it stings, the pain pulls, my mouth opens and the breathe fills.  The heart hears and the muscle convulses.  The rope stops, the feet rest and the heart warns.  The blood coagulates and my forearm swells; and the sun returns. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Will I/She Ever be Ready?

I begin jumping this rope with no outward attention placed on the viewer, I become removed and concentrative.  I place my goal on distance and endurance; I want to mentally prepare myself for some of the battles out there for the war is too big to think of now.  But the realization lies in the obvious, I am not out there I am in here, supposedly, and securely, safe from…  So too I am safe when in my room, where I jump for fitness and mental distance; the fertilizing grounds for such projects, so I am safe then...!

She said that this was her metaphor for dealing with the silent bullets which infiltrate her psyche whenever she steps outside, damaging her electrodes, her stability and often leaving her mute and internally question-full.  She said she will fight with all her might, with all her might, with all her might, but first she must train.  Like the boxer she must devote her time towards strengthening her inner eye to sights so minute they are beginning to be like germs, there but note seen – she hopes they are there, yet doesn’t want them there.

She jumps on, feeling the pinch on the back of her ankles, is it really her Achilles hill, will it really be her weakness.  She notices ever so often, when her concentration is broken off by sudden movements from the peripheral, that she’s getting really tired, really, really tired.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Boxer

When I am in training I must focus on the coming challenge, I must prepare myself for a confrontational experience; what often happens when I am in a bout is I am confronting myself; really!

When the boxer is in training she must mentally prepare herself to such an affect that she anticipates herself, for her opponent, though metaphysically different, is just like her – a boxer.  Her opponent often encompasses the same strategies and tools needed for preparation, so that what we have in training is the self often facing the self. 

One of the most meditative periods in a boxers training is when she is jump-roping.  This act has many imperatives, often recognized only to those who practice the sport. With its essential guise it actually balances all areas of the working body, working the synchronic level the physical boxer needs to attain equilibrium in the ring...the ring is the stage.

A Morning in Pictures

My Two Workout Tools

In the Studio

When the Rope Strikes Back


Rope Marks

In the Studio

Much of my work consists of time in the studio, painting, reading and researching.  My skipping project is something which connects me to the outside, in many ways the outside that is not literal but internal, and often external to the extreme.  But I also mean the literal outside, the air, the sun, wind, people, places and architecture.  Yet today it has been interesting bringing my skipping activities into the studio.  I have to say that at times it is great to not have the sun burning your back, but I do often miss the wind.  The outside is the ideal, but the inside can often be a space of thought and calculated work; such as the photographs in this entry.

In this particular studio there is an interest in the shared space.  I am, after all, in a mini-residency, one I am enjoying as a collective project.  There are different actuations around, words, thoughts, 'things' from other participations, this then becomes, and influences, the thinking of the skipping.  The floor is smooth, black and cool.  The windows tall and very clean, allowing the Catalan sun to sneak in enough to make you feel awake, and alive.  The ceilings hangs old pyramid style, with flies up high looking down, I am sure, in confusion, at times resting on the strong wooden structures which hold all these studios up.  In here there is not an 'Otherness' of escape, mostly that of the artist's work, my contemplations are often fixed and directed.  But I can't deny how I most often think of my paintings in these spaces instead of my skipping (and this is while I skip), how physical space is that which often think about the most, to walk in, step back in, move, tilt and hang big paintings in, but also how the space can function in many other ways and as many other things, a place to listen to music, have conversations, lay down, eat lunch, or even, workout!

The Demons

I come from a Cape Verdean background, where superstition is still very much alive.  The fusion of western religion and old West African believes mesh in contemporary society, as bugs bunny and The Simpsons run through-out the day on television.  This new world mix is a place of acceptable confusion and quick assimilation.  As I roped Tuesday morning here in the yard I did so purposefully facing some graffiti murals that surround the main yard, and as the calves burned from the previous day's workout, and the sweat poured from the days 11 o'clock sun, my mind started to imagine and create stories and histories about the images in front of me, everything from monkey faces to dissolving alien creatures.  Not too long ago (and still in many parts of the world) these images would be (are) connected to the spaces of evil.  I thought about such images being thought-of in the minds of my ancestors and how they would have been perceived.  It is not uncommon for a person to be possessed in Cape Verde, their bodies controlled by a demon and imprisoned for the duration of the attentional deed, and yet here they, such imaginations served as art and popular distance, reflective differences of otherness and incredibleness.  These images around me now (as I do this residency) are creative symbols of a different imagination, but as I skipped in front of them I thought of their acceptance and wondered about time travelling.  These would have been ghosts, some of them unfathomed images which would have needed immediate attention (from a witch doctor likely).  Such images in dreams might have been death to the mind or soul, if not to the physical body as well!

Some Words from the First Day (Skipping on Dirt)

I felt my calves starting to tense and I thought about how much technic saves you from massive pain, injury or just immobility.  I hear of West African runners having better prepared feet when it comes to marathons, that this slight advantage may be the reason they are some of the top runners in the world.  Running on mixed terrain, different natural platforms, earths of multitudes, can only help.

I started skipping on dirt and as I described in an earlier entry the ground supported my feet, the action of the rope beating the ground produced soft earth which rested under my feet, allowing me to continue on without much pain.  But my calves, well, that was something else.  My achilles flexing up and down, repeatedly, at times twice per second, and my deep soleus producing slight cramps, which later in the day needed icing.  I continued on, feeling and knowing, that for many in history, those I reflect upon so often in my works - and for many now throughout the labour world - stopping was/is not an option.  Yet I understand I have that option (a contradiction I am very aware of), I understand this every time I stop.  This is why one of the project's focuses is endurance (not only physical but mental endurance of reflection). 

In this first day I found myself distracted quite easily.  The space here is like two big yards, with a car park and different buildings slightly surrounding them.  People come in and out, not constantly, but enough to catch my attention - sometimes I actually hope for it.  There are also small bar/restaurants around and through the yard's fences I can hear, and often see, people eating and chatting;  I suppose a large part of my distraction is self inflicted.  The space is new and my eyes and ears wonder like a child in the forest.

I also noticed the heavier rope that I brought.  I chose this particular rope because it allows me to focus more on strength and not on speed, and with every passing minute the weight is felt.  My upper back swells and sweats, and my left arm struggles to keep up with my right.  By the end of that day I had taken some images, noticed the art left on the ground by the rope and my feet, got used to the swell of birds that hover above me from time to time, and even lost myself for a moment - the rhythm allowed me some escape, and I reflected.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Rope and the Sun

These last few days of skipping have found the sun beaming down on my back.  I have been removing my shirt, allowing my dark brown skin to breath, greased with sweat it pours in excessiveness, shinning and reflecting the surrounding buildings, whose residents momentarily look at the unfamiliar site panting in front of them.  I still look like an athlete, so the gazes of often for a moment - a person is simply working out.

Around me I have shade, though I don't use it.   There are places to hide from the rays, but the rays make me reference and give me history.  The rays speak of consistency, impermanence, they have been there, and I am the one who will come and go.  Just as it has been, it was there at that specific point in time - yes, that time.  It has shown also on other backs, whose skins were also reflective .  

I beat the ground with my bear feet like a preacher's sermon, the vocabulary often distant, but pounding clear and direct.  The ground made softer with each skip, the soft dirt softer with each whip of the rope, the fine dust settling on my ankles, while the hard pebbles bounce off a near by tree.   The sermon is heard by those who choose to listen, its deliverance aids me, and guides me.  The sermon is a conversation with history.  I feel they listen as I listen to the pounding of bare feet, jumping as if in a trance, as if reaching towards some Gods.

The sun makes me think of work, and the worked.  The rope continues to whip the ground and the marks penetrate layer by layer of dirt, and that fine dirt makes the bottom of my feet feel softer, yet it is all to make them harder, for tomorrow I will continue.  The sermon must continue, the histories must accost me, my feet mus endure.

The First Day at 'l'estruch'

Started skipping yesterday as part of a mini-residency run by a group called Accio Cultural Metropolitana (you can find them here: in 'l'estruch', Sabadell, Catalonia.

I have titled this specific project: Internal TransmogrificationDefeat (Me) They Must
(Performance Art Piece)

This is the working statement I provided Anna:

This Mini-residential week I will be tapping into moments of endurance, exploring mental stability as it runs into instability and the transmogrification within the process; as it responds to physical exhaustion.  I will be doing this with a skipping rope and will be doing the action for continuous moments, at times for as long as the body will allow.

The rope is an important part of my personal critical and creative studies, its history of punishment, servitude, enslavement, order, tension, security, connection, dependency, imprisonment and more, make it a strong utensil to explore many facets of history and our links to such histories.  Though my concerns with history can often be particular, this piece is personal in some ways but completely open for viewer interpretation.


And there you are a academic view of the work, stripped of feeling and poetics.  In this blog I intend to add a bit of the poetics, the feelings and some documentation of the everyday (it will last a week).  Besides this there will be a 'performance' day this coming Saturday in 'L'estruch' of which its activities I am still not sure of.

I have noticed that when I speak of skipping a pleasurable moment comes to people, possibly a connection to their childhood, the games which included the rope and the memories fill their minds; they smile at me for simply having said the word 'skipping'.  The connotations are endless, at times, boundless, yet there it is, it is binding - as most of its use suggests.  When people speak of happiness they want to connect, share and re-record, and I acquiesce them in with my imagination of their youth.

Yesterday there was a dancer here, who too is doing a residency (though a longer one) and she was asked what came to her mind when she heard 'rope' and she immediately thought of hanging..  The rope then can jump from moment to moment from different spaces to even more different spaces and many such spaces are somewhere in the memory fields of most of us.

The rope has many links and jumping it is something we do more often than we think!