Hands

Holding hands

“When I hold your hand I hold a miracle”

– British writer AL Kennedy, in a BBC radio programme 

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Holding hands.

Something I do so instinctively, so intuitively.

To grab the participant’s hand and walk like we were friends.

When I reach for your hands, it is not only to guide and lead, but merely to say: I want to be WITH you in this, not ahead of you.

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Photo: Christine Fentz

I find that this simplicity of relation between hands does the difference in my guiding method.

On the blindfolded walks of Sensescapes, we explore the environment of everyday life as it is, completely out of the institutions art, with a minimum of pre-build constructions for the event, no fictional frame and no intended audience. For the staging of a walk I make either no, or very few, changes on the site.

And yet everything changes.

The change lies merely in the blindfolded experience, but this experience would not have such strong and emotional effect of etc. pleasure, relaxation, safety and playfulness, without the intimacy of the moving, breathing body of the “we” that is created in the connection between blindfolded and guide.

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Photo: Søren Gammelmark

Here at the farm or in the park, the meeting of your hands and mine change the experience of the relational space around us from everyday-like to something both familiar and extraordinary, both distant and very intimate.

In an abstract and curious dance between blindfolded and guide, our bodies merge into one.

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Photo: Angela Rawlings

It is all set in the beginning of the walk, in the radical shift from two strangers talking briefly in a yard or on a pathway, to the appearance of a vulnerable, curious pair of connected entities, through touch of hands and through a constant mindful awareness of each other.

We meet.

I ask you a few questions to get to know a little about you.

Then you put a blindfold on.

But then… I take your hands and we breathe together.

Both pair of eyes is closed, because I want to sense what you are sensing.

I want us to arrive in our bodies together.

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Then we walk, hand in hand.

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Perhaps the essence of Sensecapes can be summed up in the togetherness of hands being in touch, eccoing A.L. Kennedy:

“When we reach out for each other, we don’t just reveal our highly evolved and respectable selves. When hands open for each other, they open deep impulses, primate truths, touched before agriculture, before tools, before speaking.”

– A.L. Kennedy in the above mentioned BBC programme.

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Photo: Roland Schild

I find the feeling of deep connection and intimacy most meaningful when shared, like in this re-post of a reaction from one of the participants in the thesis-experiement:

“Even though I was blindfolded I could feel there was one hundred percent contact and attention. And that part is terribly strong! It was not until afterwards I discovered: oh my god, this is what I give my children. But how important it is to do this, because – wow! – how you lack this in real life! So, that was a pretty impressive experience”

– Stephan Gustin, participant on a walk in Aarhus, April 2014

I guess I fall a little bit in love with most of my participants. There is a powerful and mindblowing force in the freedom of being childish together, being brave together, being vulnurable together, being close together for a brief moment in life.

I love it.

Lotus

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Hands, Thesis experiment, Touch, Trust | Leave a comment

Sense experiment at Bart Art Symposium III

 

 

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Here is a tribute to my grandmother, who recently presented a thought experiment of sensorial walks without walking. Her question was: “Could I, who do not walk well anymore, get the same sort of experience as in your walks, by just sitting on a chair in my garden, blindfolded?”

Thus, on Secret Hotel’s Barn Art Symposium III in Mols Bjerge, a short sense experiment of blindfolded sitting was facilitated two days ago. Elements of text, touch, guided walking and change of place was added. But mainly there was just sitting. Alone. With very few sensory inputs, such as (outside:) the wind, the trees, the bench, my hands, (inside:) the sound of a noisy projector, the chair, the floor, the momentary steps of my rubber boots.

Afterwards, contrasting reactions were at play among the participants, which made it clear to me that in a shared physical place, with the same verbal instructions, in the same condition of restricted sight and movement, blindfolding sitting itself can be sensed emotionally and intuitively completely different from person to person. For some, sitting alone on a bench with eyes covered, might lead to a deep meditation. For others, plain relaxation. For others insecurity or irritation. For some, deep fear or anger.

At the end, the eight participants were asked to verbalize their experience in three words each. Some had words, others not. Here is what was said:

Hard. Wind. Happiness.
Space. Inner/Outer. Movement.
Isolation. Caress. Breeze.
Warm/cold. Wind. Unsecure.
Deep. Blindness. Light.
Simplicity. Trees. Contact.
Listening. Enough that I am not knowing.
Birch.

(Said by the photographing participant:)
Looks like peace. Harmony. I believe in you.

Photographer: Roland Schild

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Thank you to all the participants for taking the risk!

 

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Hands, Sensorial meditation, Short experiment, Silence, Touch | Leave a comment

Summer update from Sensescapes

A midsummer tale

Oh, what an unintentionally long pause there has been since my last blogpost!

Here’s the main reason:

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Photo: Kirsten Lykke Madsen

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Photo: Martin Wessel

Lotus og Rasmus Skovs bryllup 2014-11

Photo: Martin Wessel

Ten days ago Rasmus and I got married. We marked the event by establishing a DIY wedding festival in a big camp by the sea. Most of our friends and family stayed for the whole weekend and contributed in the making and celebration. The ceremony was held in an old forest of oaks and beeches in the national park Mols Bjerge – just a few kilometres from the farm were Sensescapes took place in april.

It was one of the most beautiful, meaningful and emotionally overwhelming experiences I have had in my life. We couldn’t have picked a better environment for our union of souls than between old trees, on an old hill, under a shining midsummer sun. Being barefooted in the forest, writing our own vows,  keeping the programme informal and getting friends and family to contribute in different ways… all this resolved in a wonderful, almost magical atmosphere of deep love, care and connection.

I felt completely in my right element, surrounded by rural landscapes and people I love.

And there were strems of tears. From joy, from overwhelmed senses and from gratitude towards the favours, food, words and positive energy exchanged between so many hands and hearts. We had live folk dance music and a great dj and the most luxerious cake buffet seen. We had the sea right outside the door. We had summer solstice and wind and sky. We had a tipi for the wedding night. We had a fine old car borowed from a generous stranger. I had a wedding dress made from hand dyed silk, so light and soft I could have slept in it. We had a room full of yellow balloons, we had tons of fresh strawberries, wonderful speeches, hilarious entertainment, home brewed mead, a lovely, easy-going priest, a choir made for the occasion, and unique rings made from several pieces of golden heirlooms.

I think we were all drunk on love.

It took months of hard work to prepare, and I decided long ago that in June this would be more important than thesis work. And so there has been a pause in the thesis department. A magical pause, that is.

Now, with all the exhaustion and satisfaction that follows such flood of emotions, a slow return to the more analytical and not completely emotional self has begun. Academic life is calling.

Not that Sensescapes had been sleeping entirely. No, there has been life underneath the surface. Still growing, still on its way.

So here’s a short report with news from the sensorial working field:

Debate weekend and a test workshop

By the end of May, Sensescapes participated in Secret Hotel’s Debate Weekend, where around twenty people from interdisciplinary fields in both Denmark and abroad met for three days to encounter, share, discuss and investigate thoughts, themes and pieces related to Landscape Dialogues. For me it was a weekend of profound meetings, bondings and mutual inspiration.

On the last day Sensescapes was tested and found fit for being practised as a workshop! Curious about the importance of shifting surroundings and urban landscapes, the group had moved from Christines’ farm in Mols Bjerge to the cultural production center Godsbanen in Aarhus. And new faces had arrived. Since we did not have time to go through a long introduction, I had Christine interviewing me about the thesis work. Then she was blindfolded and we made a short demonstration of guiding methods in front of the group.

Then they formed groups of two and explored the area for themselves for about half an hour. In each group, one was blindfolded and one was guiding. And there were no words, of course. Same as usual.

It sounds so simple. It IS so simple.

Just put a blindfold on, and you will feel the world change completely.

Since there was no prepared route, all groups went in different directions, which gave us all quite different experiences, facilitating our own urban sensescape. My blindfolded walker and I had great fun and shared lots of laughter, driving each other around in an abandoned shopping cart outside the buildings. When he drove me, we both were out of our comfort zone, which made it even more fun. I had to create a verbal sound system of alarming sounds to signalize danger and communicate with him as our roles of guide and follower became mixed and blurred. Since we had allready spent a couple of days together, and since my blindfolded compagnion was a theatre person who seemed quite comfortable in doing crazy things like this, it became one of the most impulsive and fun sensorial experiences I have facilitated.

I hope to show more pictures from that day later. For now these are all I have:

 

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Photo: Secret Hotel

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Photo: Secret Hotel

In the end we met to briefly share our experiences. One participant asked me:

“Who is experiencing this sensescape you are talking about? The blindfolded person or the guide?”

He suggested that the guide must be more open to a multisensorial experience of the surroundings, since the guide has to have every sense highly activated during the practise of guiding.

That made me think.

So far, guiding has been mostly about facilitation, in my mind. I think this participant made me realize how important the guiding practise is for the door to a sensescape to be opened AND stepped through. I will reflect more on this.

Iceland coming up 

It is a pleasure to announce that I have been granted a student scolarship for participation in Nordic Summer University (NSU) this summer! On their website it says:

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a long-established institution within the Nordic intellectual arena. During more than 50 years of existence it has provided a lively forum for academic and intellectual debate, and involved many leading academics, politicians, and intellectuals from all the Nordic Countries. The NSU has always been at the forefront of intellectual thinking, juxtaposing views from the international and Nordic academic arenas, and introducing new thinking and influences into the Nordic Countries.

Expectations are rising! It will be one week from July 24-31 and it will be in Iceland. I can’t wait to go back to the special landscape that has given me so much.

In top of all this, Secret Hotel has offered to cover half of my travel expenses.

All in all I will conclude that June 2014 has been a month of enourmous gifts. To give and recieve so much makes me feel as rich as ever.

May life affirming exchanges continue to flow, in Sensescapes as in the surrounding lives and atmospheres.

A great summer to all of you!

Lotus

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Euphoria, Hands, Landscape Dialogues, Secret Hotel, Short experiment, Trust, Workshop | Leave a comment

Sensescapes in Mols Bjerge#2

Glimpse from the first ten minutes of today’s walk with Christine.

She lives here on the farm.

So in a way she was the host and I was the guest.

We had a wonderful time exploring her local landscape together.

Photographer: Rasmus Malling Skov

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Categories: Blindfolding, Country side, Hands, Landscape Dialogues, Secret Hotel, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

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