By Elite Kedan, AIRIE left: the studio. right: the chapel. or vice versa. or one and the same.
I entered the Everglades residency open to a lot of ideas. Wanting to include everything – the biology, the geology, the history, the technology. At times it became overwhelming. Like a thick swamp of subjects that were going to suck me into the mud. And there were also the dark internal pools that I couldn’t ignore. But I wouldn’t arbitrarily cut things out while I was just beginning to read the map.
Plus, I had internet on my phone. Before the rains came, when I would dine outdoors, if I wasn’t with a book, I’d Google stuff, I’d read the Herald, I’d check my Twitter feed to ‘research’. Scroll glaze, (as my friend calls it), set in, and nausea. If felt like too much world.
I went back to my first impulse for the residency. Something about “becoming a primitive”, which is to say – in relation to some of the ways in which I’d been trained and had adapted to over the years, which had created disconnects – this would be about behaving from an authentic place, connecting to some origin or source energy. Maybe I could access this more readily in the natural world. If I strip away the neuroses, what am I left with, or what opens up?
A corollary to this attitude is the desire for a kind of unlearning or re-learning. Rebuilding from a more connected place – as a creative practice. This was the second part of my residency agenda. How could I use the month to practice this kind of practice, to get familiar with its rhythms and projected forms; as well as get to know the obstacles to being in that place. Could this kind of practice be a tool help me better process myself and the world?
There’s a phrase that Steve (Tennis) used to define the level of wilderness that he hoped might be attained in the ENP one day. I can’t remember his wording exactly (and I apologize to him if I’m mangling his meaning) but it had to do with a balance between the ideal and the achievable, or between the aspiration and the adaptation. Maybe it’s not a conflict. Modern wilderness is an intention, a sacred state that happens from the negotiation, the friction, the disruption between the human world and the natural/cosmic one.
Perhaps likewise, individual primitive space, or personal wilderness, and the cultivation of it – the practice of it – is a productive space where you get rubbed. Where your lizard brain meets the robot, and they howl together, or tussle, or it gets weird. Maybe the primitive instrument is the only sane way to acknowledge, navigate and regulate the too-muchness of the world without shutting down. And also a method to protect the space where dark swamp waters can percolate and the animals can do their thing.
At the conclusion of the residency, I’m leaving with more directions and questions than when I entered. But maybe with slightly less anxiety about trying to sort it all out. And with slightly less fear about collecting all the stuff that comes in the vicinity of my path. And slightly less freaked out about shedding most of it in the process. So, there’s still the whole world. And too much world. And less resistance. And hopefully participation.
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