Set at sites of geologic, or social transformation, the photographs of the Ritual to Reveal Hidden Boundaries series record performances I have undertaken on behalf of the camera. Over the course of hour long exposures, I dance and pace, repetitively retracing my steps while bearing colored lights that will mark the film with the boundary I contemplate. The mysterious spectacle that appears in the landscapes highlights and blurs invisible lines between what we generally term human-made, and the natural, investigating the idea of the Anthropocene, or the era of humans changing the planet on a truly global scale. The proposed term Anthropocene either delineates the era since the rise of carbon emissions (the Industrial Revolution) or the dawn of agriculture. Either way, humanity's mass activities have completely altered the face of the planet and nature in contrast to that state of the earth before the advent of the modern human.
I perform these photographs in meditation and repetition, thus generating the title of the series. The photographs I am making seek to underline a presence that's unseen, historical, transcendental, or mysterious and potentially transformative. My action of movement serves as a symbol and as my humble attempt to connect with, or else to emphasize, the location of the ritual.
In the Owens Lake images, I photograph within the nearly-dry lakebed of what was, until 100 years ago, a thriving lake and forest ecosystem perched in the arid rainshadow of the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Now, it sits damp and saline, coated with a skim of 5% of its previous acreage of water, while the other 95% is siphoned off 30 miles north to run into the Los Angeles Aqueduct and quenches half of the thirst of 25 million of so Angelenos.
For Full Moon Ritual, San Pedro, I completed a performance by full moon light in the ruins of an abandoned housing development. Shifts along several earthquake faults (also responsible for the oil wells visible at sea) doomed the homes to collapse after they were built. In the last eighty years since their abandonment, they’ve rotted away and fallen over the cliffside into the Pacific Ocean.
Ritual to Reveal Hidden Boundaries, San Andreas documents a dance over the San Andreas Fault, one of the largest earthquake faults in the world. It is gradually pulling California apart; eventually Los Angeles will sit across the bay from San Francisco.
In Nike Missile Control Site, LA-96, the photograph visits a Cold War military site that was armed with radar and missiles to protect Southern California from an attack, presumably from the Soviet Union. The Cold War and its specter of nuclear holocaust dominated the late 20th Century in America - and via proxy wars, elsewhere - with politicians expertly sowing seeds of terror to fund an expensive military machine. Now, the sites sit vacant, the fear forgotten, with younger generations not even sure why there was a wall in Berlin or what a nuclear attack would mean. In a performative gesture, I added a lone SOS signal, flashing for the duration of the photograph.
For Blood Moon Eclipse Ritual, along with my one year old son, I engaged in a dance ritual at the height of a full moon eclipse, that the recorded for the camera. The ritual welcomed the rebirth and return of the moon. Occurring as it did close to the child’s first birthday, the ritual also celebrated his existence and presented a healing experience in the wake of a year fraught with extensive trauma, change and evolution - like most of the years of our lives.
The results are photographs that exist as a documents of an expanse of time, of movement and as evidence of a presence that would otherwise be invisible, addressing issues of place, the body and our impact upon the earth.
Nike Missile Control Site LA-96
Owens Lake Performance Ritual No. 1
Owens Lake Performance Ritual No. 2
Full Moon Ritual, San Pedro
Ritual, San Andreas Fault
Blood Moon Eclipse Ritual
Santa Ynez Mountains, before the Rocket Launch
Arroyo Seco Ritual
Rub My Belly for Good Luck
“Rub My Belly for Good Luck” is the result of five performances presenting my 8.5 month pregnant belly to the public on the Venice Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier by standing next to a hand-lettered sign stating “Rub My Belly for Good Luck.” For those who chose to take part, I photographed their hands on my distended stomach, as seen from my point of view. The series consists of prints but is exhibited as a slideshow and currently being developed as a book, along with documentation from a camera placed slightly away from me that recorded video and stills of the interactions with the participating strangers.
Building on Feminist performance art involving the female body, much of my earlier work has been grounded in ideas involving the sublime, both in the Romantic sense and from a position critical of that.I realized very early in my pregnancy that the experience of being with child would be the most sublime of my life. Deciding to allow strangers to interact with me, my body, and with my unborn child grew out of a practice of engaging in performance specifically for the camera (see my Glow series) and the visceral experience of being pregnant and tolerating the advances of known and unknown people who desired to touch my changed physical self. It is clear that the presentation of a pregnant female in contemporary society is that of an object of curiosity, sometimes awe, occasionally disgust, and almost always of strong emotion. Some were clearly afraid to engage with me, while others were excited. In positing an innocent, non-monetary interaction, I challenged the usual dialectic between strangers, and expectations and codes of commodified exchange, especially considering those involving the female body – the bearer of all life.
The Embodiments series features a transparent human figure. The figure is me, and the series is intensely personal, touching upon issues of disassociation, and feeling ephemeral and transient among the islands of permanence that we generally perceive the landscape to be. Created over the course of a year and half of nearly incessant travel, I act as both the documenter/director and performer. The images document one person’s attempt attempt to tear herself away from everyday obliviousness, a quest to find connection with the infinite and eternal in the world.
She begins her quest in remote areas, referencing the Romantic tradition of the Sublime, but she eventually returns to the city, and she meets other people. I have expanded the series to feature multiple figures in recognition that the story of one entity does not play out alone in the expanse of the universe. The pieces are made in camera (not digitally altered) and the process of working with long exposures reflects the conceptualization of time in all its permutations - frozen, infinite, expanding, lost. For the making of the long exposure, I ask myself or the models to meditate so that they stay focused and still. This request accomplishes a dual purpose as it also provokes the participant to consider the concepts that the series is ultimately about: impermanence and mortality, our place on the planet and our connection to the places we travel whether they are remote and momentous, or urban and banal.
Campfire stories is a site-specific installation whose video projection, ambient audio, found materials and a invitational sign entices visitors to sit down and share their own stories with each other or the artist.
Campfire Stories, Singapore
2013. Dimensions variable. This iteration was site-specific to Singapore.
Interactive installation consisting of two colored flashlights, two plastic molded stools, found materials, jasmine flower wreath, pedestal, sign and video projection with sound on 9 min. loop
When We Are Robots We Will Still Gaze at the Stars
When We Are Robots We Will Still Gaze at the Stars consisted of four main components. There were three tents set up, fashioned from found branches, Mylar emergency tents and parachute cord, in which the viewer was welcome to crawl. Each tent featured a padded cushion made from emergency tent material and a television playing either a still or a very still video with an accompanying soundtrack. Projected at much greater than lifesize on the walls, there were two videos displaying a spectral figure walking in a ghostly landscape. On one wall, there were three photographs displaying a performance of an hour long tracing out the boundaries of remaining ponds in the otherwise dry lakebed of Owens Lake where Los Angeles gets half of its water. And, finally, the audio, heard throughout the space consisted of a processed drone music that seemed to be a livefeed of some sort, that was “found” on an FM frequency in the Owens Lake area. Other audio, found only in the tents, consisted of the heartbeat of an 8 week old fetus, which clearly represented the coming future.
Faith in Science
2013. Dimensions variable.
Sculpture consisting of a wood platform supporting freshly planted and watered sod, and gelled fluorescent lamp bulbs.
video loop 1 minute 40 seconds
Musiques pour Cultes with Jean-Luc Sinclair
Musiques pour Cultes, Full-Length Video. With Jean-Luc Sinclair
ShredSat 3162 with Kevin Cooley
2013. Dimensions changing over course of exhibition. Approximately 98 x 100 x 84 inches.
Sculpture consisting of a strip-cut shredder attached to a DirecTV receiver, a ream of redacted National Security Agency documents made available through lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, inkjet prints of redacted NSA documents, aluminum tape, insulation coating, foam core, metal structure and motion detector.