Silence

Dwelling in the Woods

Not far from the North American east coast, in the depths of the state of Maine, there is a small region named Denmark. Here, where country roads curve between pine trees and big wooden houses, a spring retreat was held a couple of weeks ago at Nurture Through Nature Retreat Center. Our little family went there in the middle of three intense weeks of travel in the US, rooted ourselves and found a home for the heart to dwell and be silent in.

Here we are. In the North.

Arrival. At first, the sight is met by a sign with the logo of the place. A turtle. Here the retreat begins.

Go slow.

20160429_172336-1

Next, we find ourselves embedded in wood. Trees, wood cabins, wood surface under feet, over head, smell of fresh wood, of dry wood, of wood everywhere.

Our cabin is next to the big one. It has a name. Harmony. And a porch.

20160429_172424-1

There is sun.

There is snow.

We turn off our cell phones. Aahhhh. Why do I not turn that thing off more often?

IMG_0570

We eat (organic vegetarian delicious stuff). We gather. Ten bodies in a studio space (with wooden floor). We stretch.

We fall into place.

IMG_0002

Photo: Nurture Through Nature

There is an encouragement to be silent from evening to breakfast. We accept, let go of words and become Beings. I think, how can I be silent with a baby to take care of?

It turns out just fine. She sounds. We, the parents, listen. She goes to sleep and we listen to other things. The night. The super clear sky. Stars. Forest floor. Forest.

In the early morning, before breakfast, we all do a silent walk together. The land is breathing, the air is crisp.

Time to observe, feel, reflect.

IMG_0572

Time to sit and read, or lie down and play.

IMG_0613

Time to (re)open all senses, walk with bare feet, share a spontaneous, intimate experience with a another free spirit.

IMG_0579

Time for a ceremonial sauna! And a dip in the brook.

IMG_0622

Or just a walk by the brook. Connecting to what is flowing outside and inside.

IMG_0600

Listening to the water. (Next time you come across anything worth listening to, try sharpening your hearing like this:)

IMG_0630

Time for scaping the land and saying thanks.

IMG_20160501_183420

Photo: Rasmus Skov

Time for nurturing family togetherness by dwelling. Together in the woods. Another silent walk, just the three of us. Baby Iris laughing, me laughing along, daddy smiling. Playfulness needs no words, naturally.

IMG_20160501_184953

Time for (re)connecting with something basic. Taking a shit in nature (or, actually just on a really nice compost toilet, but still…). Walking slowly, slowly in the pit dark night with no lights. Waking up in the cold morning, cursing over the ice cold air outside the sleeping bag. Sweating in the steamy hot sauna, afterwards dipping in the stream, blood rushing from head to toe. Element-brush-up. Internet-break-free.

And perhaps most important of all: Being honest to oneself. Taking what there is for what it is. Not pretending. Not even thinking of pretending. Just being.

20160502_095948-1If you should come across Denmark, Maine, do yourself a favour and visit the place. It offers both all-inclusive retreats and accommodation for self-organized retreats. And Jen, the facilitator, is wonderful.

From Denmark to Denmark, cheers! For unexpected blessings, baby lessons and spring sprouts.

 

 

IMG_0028

Photo: Nurture Through Nature

Categories: Country side, Gratitude, Silence | Leave a comment

Sense experiment at Bart Art Symposium III

 

 

IMG_0988

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

IMG_0984IMG_0980

IMG_0990IMG_0991IMG_0996IMG_1001IMG_1004IMG_0994IMG_1008 IMG_1009IMG_1020IMG_1016IMG_1036IMG_1034

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

Sensescapes in Mols Bjerge#1

Yesterday I arrived at the farm.

Today I had the first two sensorial walks. On the first it rained.

Steady sounds of water drops on our hoods and boots and on the house and ground and everywhere.

Vertical landcape connections.

Soaked.

On the second walk photos were taken.

The participant’s name is Birthe. The photographer is Rasmus.

Here is a glimpse of the first part of the walk.

IMG_7203 IMG_7209 IMG_7216 IMG_7225 IMG_7239IMG_7264

 

Oh, and by the way, there are still two available walks in Mols this week. Friday and Saturday. Contact me at mielotus@gmail.com if you want to come on a walk.

Peace and light,

Lotus

 

 

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Landscape Dialogues, Silence, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensuous Knowlegde Production: or A Universe of Inspiration

Important lecture nr. 2 for the thesis student:

You are not alone.

Among many art projects that deals with senses, performance, phenomenology and landscapes, my thesis production is just a small-scale experiment (even though it does not feel like that at the moment). In some way that is revealing to know. I am not attempting to suggest that I have found a new and totally un-investigated field. Many others have traversed the fields of sensorial investigation long before me, exploring these landscapes out of philosophical curiousity and political interest. Even though I will not (at the moment) characterize Sensescapes as theatrical work, I am shaped by experiences with the sensorial theatre of Carte Blanche. And through the last five years, experiences with human specific performance installations of Cantabile 2 and Wunderland have opened a new world of performance art for me (just to mention a few production units based in my own country). Now being a part of Secret Hotels‘  project “Landscape Dialogues” I have placed myself in the midst of another inspiration source. When the mind tunes into the fields of experimental performance, sensorial works (and walks) show up everywhere. Behind these works are passionate and experienced artists, working with non-acting methods, creating sincere and ground-shaking meetings between humans.

Last week I visited another great inspiration source that I have recently discovered. Sisters Academy – a large-scale, combined performance and research project that investigates sensuous knowledge production as a basic teaching methodology in the education system. The project is conducted by Copenhagen based performance group Sisters Hope and the first manifestation of Sisters Academy currently takes place in a high school in Odense, ongoing from Feb. 24- March 7, 2014. In the press release the founders of Sisters Hope explains their purpose with the project:

”The current crisis rhetoric was one of our initial inspirations. To us, as artists and researchers, it is all about exploring what  kind of society we can create in the future. And in this aspect the educational system, where our minds to a large degree are being shaped, is central. In this full-scale experiment we create a parallel world based on art and the aesthetic experience and mode of being as the primary system. This means that the political and economic system has less impact in this world. We are exploring what an educational system would look like if the sensuous and aesthetic were the center of all action and interaction. The school that carry out these explorations we name Sisters Academy.”

Video in Danish, introducing the founders of Sisters Academy:

It was very, very inspiring and touching to be a guest at the academy for a couple of hours. Seeing manifestations like this one come to life in my country, in the education system, right there as a part of 22 teachers’ and 175 students’ everyday school life, is a sign of hope for the future of our society, as I see it.

I feel I am becoming part of a bigger movement with my small experiments of blindfolded walks as a way to enter a sensorial state-of-mind. It is good to know that there are many people around working so whole-heartedly with sensorial perception, acknowledging the importance of a more open, curious and experimental approach to how we learn, live and encounter the world we are part of. Our society is too concerned about economy, growth, competition and measurements. We need other ways of thinking.

Several profound meetings were given to me during the few hours spent in the open house day at Sisters Academy. I met students, teachers, performers and the Sisters who run the academy and spoke with many of them. All of them were honest, kind and deeply connected to what they are doing. In the middle of it all I had a beautiful meeting with my fiancé Rasmus, who is a performer in the project. His character is The S – the silence and the seeker. The S do not speak, but live and search in silence. When I arrived the staff had been performing non-stop for five days. I met The S under a staircase, sitting in a meditation position. I sat down beside him. For a long time he was looking me deeply in the eyes. That moved me to tears. Heartbeats. Tension. Deeply felt love, intensified by the all the words we had not shared for five days, and still could not share.

There is so much powerful potential in the non-verbal conversation.

Later we drove home and Rasmus spoke a lot of his experiences in the week-long performance. On the day before he had walked around blindfolded in the school for the whole day. We reflected on the difference of being blindfolded on your own and being blindfolded and led by someone else. And we talked about the students and teachers who participate as students and teachers in the experimental academy for two weeks. How will they continue their school days when Sisters Academy is over? Will the performance experiment change their approach to learning and teaching?

Could it be that a sensuous paradigme is the future of our school system?
Of our society?
How would it be if that happened?

New doors open. New questions arrive. I will not go into this explicitly in my master thesis. The field is becoming too big for 60 pages. Way too big. But landscapes and paths continue to unfold around the thesis. And after.

Inspiration knows no ends. How disturbingly wonderful to dwell in the universe of poetics for a while.

And then stepping out to reflect upon it.

1969309_591235204288691_216590146_n

The staff of Sisters Academy with The Sisters in the center

sisters_825233y

Students in Sisters Academy. Photo: Diana Lindhart

sisters_hope_foto_j_822334y

Sisters Hope. Photo: Julie Johansen

audiens_hos_s_stren_825231y

A visit at the Sisters’ office. Photo: Diana Lindhart

More about Sisters Academy:

A collection of news paper articles and other press material about the project.

More atmospheric photos from the first five days at the academy.

Sisters Hope on facebook.

Categories: Closeness, Euphoria, Gratitude, Motivation, Silence | 1 Comment

The Farm II

This week I’ve been on a small retreat. The artistic leader of Secret hotel, Christine Fentz, has opened the doors to her home in Mols Bjerge and let me stay here.

Two days ago Christine went to Copenhagen to work and left the farm in my care. Since then I have enjoyed the farm land all by myself, with space to think, to dwell, to open up and to start the process of preparing the big work ahead. The contract for the final thesis is signed and delivered to Aarhus University. So now the thesis project has officially started.

So. Here’s another way to enter the proces:

Go away from the library, the reading halls, the desks and the usual procedures. Go to somewhere with lots of space and air.

Think.

Go for a walk in the woods.

Go for a walk around the house and look for poetic inspiration.

Get distracted by that same poetic inspiration.

Investigate the place. Take pictures. Take the temperature. Take a deep breath.

Share.

IMG_4818 IMG_4823 IMG_4825 IMG_4832 IMG_4838 IMG_4839 IMG_4851 IMG_4840 IMG_4849  IMG_4853 IMG_4854 IMG_4856 IMG_4830

In April, the first series of sensorial walks will be held here, around the farm.  The participants will be blindfolded, so they will watch the farm land with their hands, through their feet, ears and nostrils.

Exciting?

From three days’ work and life here on the farm evolves Process Lecture Nr. 1 for the thesis student:

It is good to go on a walk each day.

While writing this, I realize how this very simple thing – a walk –  connects to the starting point of the thesis. I propose that the physical act of walking/moving with a certain (aesthetic) attention through the landscape can become a way of connecting to something. That “something” could be anything around: the cold wind, the soft ground of the woods, a bird among the trees, my own breath or my whole body. Or it could be something less material: feelings of sadness, boredom, longing, a realization of confusion, satisfaction, tiredness, stress or the arrival of certain crucial reflections and thoughts. Here the moving, perceiving body in relation to the surroundings is what creates these connections.

So. Let’s have a look in the theoretical section.

There are several ways of describing this body-landscape connection theoretically. Rebecca Solnit writes about walking:

 Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body and the world aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be on our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being made wholly lost in our thoughts. (Solnit, 2001: 5)

Solnit’s ideal kind of walking seems to be peaceful and harmonic. What do you think about that?

In the foreword to an antology about landscape conversations, Katrin Anna Lund and Karl Benediktsson writes that the landscape is:

 …not comprehended as a predetermined, culturally contrived “text”, but as a conversational partner that is certainly more than human […] (Benediktsson and Lund 2010:8)

Now, if landscape connections can be seen as a (peaceful and harmonic?) conversation, how does the landscape communicate? DOES the landscape communicate? This is one of the questions I ask in my research.

At the moment the thesis process is facing a mountain of words yet unread. Not my words, but others’. Yesterday I wrote a very long literature list of things I want to read. Interesting books are lying in stacks, waiting to be read or re-read. Here are some of the works I expect to be key-works in the thesis so far:

IMG_4857 IMG_4858 IMG_4859 IMG_4860 IMG_4861 IMG_4862 IMG_4863 IMG_4864

And there are many more. An interesting, but surely not very easy mountain to climb. I love and hate reading. It can be so tiring. Boring. And sometimes eye-opening! Words, words, dead and alive. New horizons. New land.

BUT. As this project seeks to move away from a system dominated by words and images by introducing an aesthetic perception mode with multiple sensorial sensations, my imaginative mountain of words wants to be combined with other inspiring landscapes. Like this farm land itself. Or in fields of artistic works by others.

Here’s the book I found most inspiring among them all yesterday.

IMG_4865

A short artistic work called “Slices of Wood”, with poems about trees and pictures of trees.

Words about trees on material made of trees. Underlining the belief that it is nonsense to construct a split between nature and culture.

Tonight I go back to the city. With slices of the farm on my camera and my mind. Next thing will be to open some of those books!

Another way to enter the process:

Close the computer.

Read.

Take the weekend off.

Go for another walk. Ideal or not ideal.

Be imperfect.

Litterature:
Solnit, Rebecca, 2001: Wanderlust: A history of walking, Verso

Categories: Country side, Landscape Dialogues, Material, Motivation, Process, Secret Hotel, Sensorial meditation, Silence | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

Gry Worre Hallberg

Life flashes by in an instant

The Plant Intelligence Project

Us, them and our bushy dendrites

Artcademia

A philosophical exploration of the potential of combining academia, art and critique

Cinesthetic feasts

practice based research into multi-sensory perception and embodiment in moving image - by Tereza Stehlikova

Representations of the Other

Language, Body and Space in Cross-cultural Performances

LOTUS&SKOV

en logbog om landskab og sanser