Tag Archives: community

Death, hibernation, rebirth and growth

I’ve been meaning to write a post about death for the last couple of days. It just seems that death is everywhere right now. October, is all about death. Which is a good thing to put attention to once in a while, you know? A little ODE to DEATH. A little hello, how are you. A little acknowledgement that- oh yeah, death exists. Everywhere, all the time. Just as life exists, death exists too. And in October in particular this year, it seems to be significantly present.

First and foremost is the way the leaves on all the trees are dying. This is the time when free-spirtited, sunny, hot summer transitions to cold, intense, icy winter. Here are a few recent photos of the trees and dying leaves around my neighborhood:

The amazing thing about this time of year is that even though everything seems to be dying, it’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a change taking place in the environment that is not only visible externally, but also felt internally. I know that this time of year can be hard for a lot of people. It certainly has been for me- a lot of questioning, inner turmoil and struggle taking place. And yet… it seems like it’s a good thing, despite the fact that in moments it can be very challenging. Even though it’s just the beginning of a long, SNOWY winter. BUT- and there is a but- there is always rebirth on the other side. All those leaves will bloom again, things will grow back fresh and new, and we will appreciate it all once more as if discovering it for the first time. And that’s what I appreciate about changing seasons- it’s an opportunity to get in touch with a cycle within our own selves that reflects the environment around us- a cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth, and growth.

Other things about death this month- well obviously Halloween. It’s like suddenly everyone is obsessed with the morbid. Part of Halloween is about dressing up in something completely out of the ordinary, while the other part is about celebrating the imminent death that lurks behind every corner. Our own little ZOMBIE world. As a tribute, I’ve found a lovely zombie animation from vimeo:

zombie! by animation block

And then, of course, we can’t ignore the recent death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Obviously, this is a huge victory for the people of Libya who for 42 years suffered under a man who “warped his country with his idiosyncratic vision of autocratic rule.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/20/gadhafi-was-a-brutal-unpredictable-leader-killed-b/ Washington Times). I am very happy for this new (and surely challenging) phase in Libya’s history post-Gadhafi. And yet- is any death a celebration? There’s nothing wrong with fictionalized zombie movies and the imagination of horror, but when the real thing is played over and over on the television screen, no matter how important it is for so many people, there is an element of disturbance that goes with it. What if Gadhafi had lived, and had to pay for his atrocities in another way? Would not that have perhaps been even better? In the same way that the death of Osama Bin Laden was celebrated this past May, there is something fundamentally wrong with celebrating any person’s death, no matter how atrocious they were. I can’t say what is right or wrong in this situation, and I don’t in any way want to undermine the importance to the Libyan people in this moment of rebirth from a very long and dark period in their history. But… I wish there was another way to heal wounds besides death in this situation- it just seems like a never ending cycle.

In the end, it all comes  back to that cycle I described in the beginning of this post. A continuous cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth and growth. Internally, externally, and for people and communities all over the world. We can only hope for the best in every situation, and remember that death, in its essence, is meant to remind us of our own precious lives, and to be thankful for them. Perhaps the best death there is is the imagined death- the death that becomes a means of artistic exploration and acknowledges with a light heart that in the very end, despite everything, we’re all going to die.

Art That Brings People Together

Unfortunately, 9/11 divided people just as much if not more than it brought them together. On the 10-year anniversary of the tragic event, of course we want to honor those who died and the families who lost them; remembering that sad day when all hell broke loose in New York and across the world. However, as so much of the alternative media is discussing in relation to the ten years that have passed since that day, a lot else has happened. And I’m sure you’ve already heard that it ain’t all good. Rather than try and sound overly smart myself, I’m just going to quote a few articles I’ve read over the day that have struck home for me.

The first is from Al Jazeera English, in an article written by Mark Weisbrott titled “The Decade of 9/11: war without end”:

The most important way that 9/11 changed the world, as tens of millions of Americans understand, is that it provided an over-arching theme and a rationale for the kinds of military adventures, invasions, bombings, interventions and atrocities that our government had previously carried out under other pretexts. For half a century the “war against Communism” served this purpose.

From OpEdNews, in an article written by Abdus-Sattar Ghazali titled “American Muslims ten years after 9/11”:

Alarmingly, the post-911 America has become less friendly to Muslims to the extent that they have probably replaced other minorities – Hispanics, Native Americans and Afro Americans – as targets of discrimination, hate and prejudice. Many American Muslims have a story of discriminative treatment ranging from physical attacks, a nasty gaze, casual comments to work place harassment, burning mosques and the Quran. Muslims have witnessed the ever-growing marginalization of their communities. According to a PEW survey released on August 30, 2011, forty-three percent had personally experienced harassment in the past year. The survey also said that 52 two percent of Muslim Americans complained that their community is singled out by government for surveillance.

And from USA Today in an article by Harriet Baskas titled “How the airport experience has changed since 9/11”:

Outside of sending men and women to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, no aspect of Americans’ way of life has been changed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as much as their travel — especially air travel. Many Americans say government air security requirements intrude in their lives in ways that not only inconvenience them, but also invade their privacy, humiliate them and even change the ways they behave.

Rather than dwelling too far on all the negatives, I’ve decided instead to look at the role of art as a medium to bring people together. Often referred to as participatory art, interactive art, and social practice, this style of art often brings art into public spaces, encouraging participation and interaction between people who might not usually come together in everyday circumstances. Here are a few examples of some of my favorites:

Improv Everywhere’s “Say Something Nice” project. To read more about their project, visit the post on their website at: http://improveverywhere.com/2011/08/22/say-something-nice/

French street artist JR’s “Inside Out” project. Visit his website here: http://jr-art.net/

Spencer Tunick’s crouching nudes in Mexico City (http://www.thecreatorsproject.com/en-uk/blog/creativity-bytes-a-guide-to-participatory-art)

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (http://www.whatisparticipatoryart.com/)

Nick Tobier’s mobile hot chocolate tent (http://playgallery.org/stories/nick_tobier/)

Rose Petal Pool by Rounder (Joanne Jovinelly/Figment) (http://radioboston.wbur.org/2010/06/04/cambridge-river-fest)

Cardboardia. (http://cardboardia.info/)

Do you have more info or links to art that brings people together? Please share them below!!! Thank you.

Article Links:

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/2011910151711228528.html (Al Jazeera English, “The Decade of 9/11: war without end”)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/American-Muslims-ten-years-by-Abdus-Sattar-Ghaza-110905-979.html (OpEdNews, “American Muslims ten years after 9/11”)

http://travel.usatoday.com/experts/baskas/story/2011-09-07/How-the-airport-experience-has-changed-since-911/50300998/1 (USA Today, “How the airport has changed since 9/11)