Patrizia and I got together the other day to talk about the workshop in Puglia. It didn’t feel right or appropriate for me to envision it as a traditional art workshop. I don’t approach my own work in that way, and it isn’t relevant for today’s world. What is required today is that we reinvent ourselves, especially as artists. To me that means that firstly it is necessary to think in different terms. Not by society’s standards, but by being deeply connected to oneself and then to a larger whole, above and beyond the politics of this disturbed world. I’m not advocating ignoring what is going on today, but for example, wars are not the answer to making this a better world. Killing only provokes more killing.
What does art making have to do with this? Everything. First, it puts us in touch with ourselves, which is a prerequisite for change. We need more coherency in the world, and making art is one of the best ways to do it. I had the good fortune of meeting the late, Giacinto Scelsi, in the late 70’s, in Roma. He was a renowned avante guarde composer who introduced me to this idea.
My way into my art is through movement, which allows me access to feelings. And what happens when I dance is that thoughts are transformed to something else; something more interesting and often joyous that gets channeled into the making of visual art.
So with all this said we have changed the title of our workshop to The Invisible Life of an Olive Tree. First because we will be working amidst 17 acres of olive groves in Puglia, near the white washed town of Ostuni. And also because the olive tree is a metaphor for that which deeply connects us to the earth and to our creative self. And through the olive branch, an historical symbol of peace, we recognize that art making is a way to help create coherency in the world, and is needed now more than ever.
For those of us who have lived in other countries there is often a longing for that place, or another place that is not here. The other day I was walking in the city when that kind of nostalgia for Roma washed over me. Places can be like lovers that live inside of you even when they are no longer around, but whereas some you memorialize, others you want to forget. Even those become part of you.
I realize that those moments of nostalgia are often accompanied by not feeling connected to myself. It is then that I want to be anywhere but here. Usually that means that I am off in my head, and out of my body, as the saying goes, stuck in the grooves of old thought forms that are repetitive and uncreative. They allow no new information to come through and they perpetuate that feeling that something is missing.
But sometimes that feeling of missing someone or something is beautiful. It has a haunting quality that in essence is translucent and intangible.
Sometimes one’s perception of things and events can be mistaken or colored by one’s state of being. Recently, for example, I spent time with an old friend, with whom I’ve had relatively little contact with over the past decade. We had the opportunity to talk about the past and how each of us saw it. It made me aware of how the ideas that I held at the time had an adverse effect, making something lovely into an overly dramatic and unhappy situation. Of course, this is the simplified version, and there are many details I’ve left out. But it was very healing to talk about now. It’s never too late to forgive and reclaim your own power.