i'm confirming the involvement of:
iowa - amanda hamp
maryland - sharon mansur
Friday, October 31, 2008
so i had this dream two nights ago that we had started doing foi and there were two other people doing it with me, well actually, they were doing it and i was watching, along with a bunch of other people in the room as well. and then about a half hour into it, one of the women doing it, whose name in the dream was "kako", took her blindfold off and i got all tense and said, hey why are you doing that? the whole point is to keep the blindfold on! and then she got frustrated with me and said, why are we doing this anyway? do you think that any of this does anything?
and then i woke up around that point in the middle of my rebuttal argument.
and i think that in the argument i talked about some of these things: that yes, i think that doing foi, does "do" something. i think that committing to this kind of an action changes the person who is doing it. i think that directing your intentions to a situation that is out of your control, but that you have strong feelings about, is "something." i don't think it's everything, it may not even begin to be enough, but it is something.
iraq body count (www.iraqbodycount.org) puts the estimated civilian deaths in iraq at somewhere between 88, 768 and 96, 887. yesterday i was thinking about that number. i imagined myself on some ridiculous tv show, say something like the "o'reilly show," and i imagined myself saying that number and i imagined bill o'reilly blowing up and saying, oh you got that number from iraq body count, come on!!! (i think i was thinking about a clip i saw on youtube where tim russert had paul krugman and bill o'reilly on and krugman cited "mediamatters.org" as a source of info and bill o'reilly blew up at him). and so i thought to myself, okay, let's imagine that those numbers are inflated. let's imagine that they're "doubling" the numbers. that means 44, 000 people dead. hey, let's imagine those numbers have been doubled. that's 22, 000.. and so on.. and suddenly, i realized the enormity of the numbers that we're talking about. even if the numbers have been multiplied 10 times (and i don't believe that the numbers are wrong), you're still contending with thousands and thousands of dead civilians in iraq alone. it makes me numb as i write it.
planning this event is turning into a real education, for which i am grateful. and that is something also.
and i wanted just to say also that it's been interesting that a couple of people who are interested in joining this action have expressed (quite justifiable) fear of doing it in their home states, for fear of some kind of potentially violent response. i just think that goes a long way in showing where "demonstration" and "democracy" stand in this country right now.
Monday, October 27, 2008
realized i forgot to post the call for participants that i sent out recently.. here's a copy of what i sent out:
7 years ago on december 31, 2001, in response to the frustration I felt about the US invasion of afghanistan I did something called freedom of information, a 24 hour performance/protest/ritual improvisation in which I tried to move continuously for 24 hours while blindfolded and earplugged. it was an intimate event, performed in my home studio, and mostly friends came to watch, but it was an extraordinary experience. I felt like I wanted to do something to acknowledge the people whose lives were being disrupted by this conflict, who maybe suddenly found themselves having to leave their homes, not getting to experience the serenity of event resting at night, instead, having to be constantly on the move.
here we are 7 years later, embroiled in two horrible wars that have killed, injured and displaced thousands of people. I am interested in reprising the action I did in 2001. only this time I am trying to get one artist in each of the other 49 states as well as washington, D.C. to participate in their respective states. my hope is to create a nationwide contemplative action of protest, reflection and solidarity. again, the event will happen on december 31st, 2008. I think it will be really incredible.
I've been lucky to get a bunch of folks who are already interested, but there are still a lot of states that we need to "represent!" so i'm including that list here and if you or someone you know is interested in this unique event, please let me know as soon as possible by writing to this email address: email@example.com
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
so here's the list of folks involved thus far in foi2008:
alaska - kyli kleven
california - keith hennessy
florida - heather maloney
georgia - diana crum
hawaii - brianna skelli
illinois - marissa perel
massachusetts - jesse zaritt
minnesota - morgan thorson
new mexico - eleanor bauer
new york - miguel gutierrez
texas - abby crain
vermont - selene colburn
virginia - zap mcconnell
washington - tonya lockyer
so we got a bunch more places to get but i'm confident we'll find the people for it!
Seven years ago, on December 31, 2001, in response to the frustration that I felt about the United States' invasion of Afghanistan, I decided to do a 24-hour improvisation titled freedom of information in my home studio in Brooklyn, NY. The rules for this improvisation were simple. I was blindfolded and wore earplugs. I stayed in my empty studio, I didn't eat anything for the entire day and I attempted to move continuously through the space for 24 hours. Moving continuously meant walking, dancing, rolling, running, sliding, crawling, etc. I allowed myself to drink water and tea, and, because I had stipulated that I wouldn't leave the room, I urinated into empty milk jugs on the periphery of the space.
My interests were threefold. First, by continuously moving, I wanted to create solidarity with the people in the world who are displaced by armed conflict, who do not have the basic right of rest after an active day, and who instead have to remain ever-vigilant for violence, ready to flee from their homes at any hour, and in worst case scenarios, become refugees. By depriving myself of seeing and hearing, I wanted to highlight and enforce both the disorientation that constant movement creates as well as the self-examination that happens when those basic senses are taken away. By depriving myself the freedom of leaving the room, I wanted to show how my ability to roam where I want when I want is actually a privilege, while for others, having to constantly move and find new shelter is a form of imprisonment.
The title freedom of information alludes, of course, to the American legislation, originally signed into law on July 4, 1964, that "allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States Government."* In choosing this title, I was also thinking about the constant stream of thoughts, images and feelings that emerge out of a practice of sensory deprivation and continuous movement.
I considered this action an intimate performance, protest and ritual. I notified the people on my email list, and people were free to come and watch throughout the 24 hours. I had a notebook in the space for people to write or draw their responses to what I was doing, and I set up a video camera in one corner of the room to record the daylong event. freedom of information was extraordinarily difficult, at times harrowing and excruciating. Some people came repeatedly throughout the day, and there was a good-sized group there at the stroke of midnight on New Year's when the piece ended. The extreme euphoria and compassion I felt in the moments after it was over and I was finally able to rest and take the blindfold off and the earplugs out were unlike any emotions I had experienced before or have known since.
Considering that we are, unfortunately, still engaged in the war in Afghanistan as well as the war in Iraq, it struck me that it was an appropriate time to reprise freedom of information. This time, however, I am inviting one artist in each of the other 49 states and Washington D.C. to perform the piece as well, in their respective states, creating a nationwide contemplative action that underscores a solidarity with the thousands of people who have been affected by these horrible wars and solidarity with the community of people who still resist and reject the U.S.' interventionist tactics abroad. In inviting other artists to participate in freedom of information 2008, I am interested in multiple expressions of the original action, in a wide variety of spaces that will be accessible to a broader segment of the population. My hope is that the participating artists will, on their own, identify spaces that they want to perform in with the co-operation of those spaces, which I hope will be donated to the artists free of charge. As with the original action in 2001, the event will be free and open to the public. Again, I hope that there will be opportunities for spectators at all of the sites to write their responses to the event. I am also talking to an artist about creating a video link so that people everywhere can follow the action on the web.
Obviously this endurance based action, while certainly a physical, emotional and psychological challenge for whoever chooses to participate in it, is not and cannot be a direct reprieve for the many people in the world who do not have the ability at the moment to alter their current conditions. We, the artists participating in the action, can ultimately take off the blindfold and earplugs when we want, we can leave the room, we can return to the creature comforts of our daily lives. I believe that freedom of information 2008 is definitely a symbolic gesture, one of many, of solidarity with the many bodies that the action is meant to acknowledge, with the other artists involved and with the people who come to watch. I think of it as a ritual because it is a practice of consciousness, an exercise in paying attention and in engaging the unknown, and an opportunity to propose an alternative contemplation of the word "freedom."
I thought it would be appropriate to perform this action on December 31st again, because as one year ends and another begins, we have the opportunity to reflect on not only our own lives, but on the lives of others, and we can attempt to begin the new year in a heightened state of consideration and mindfulness.
This blog is intended to document the preparations, ideas, activities and difficulties leading up to and around freedom of information 2008, with contributions from the participating artists, myself, and whoever is interested. Thank you!