Saturday, January 24, 2009

about to begin

hi everyone
we're about to get started. katherine and i will be streaming it live. i hope it works but if it doesn't just hold us in your thoughts.

katherine's stream:
(note there are three dashes between 2009 and kansas in that url)

miguel's stream:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Artist Statement from Katherine Ferrier

Artist Statement:
I have never been an overtly political person, and certainly wouldn't consider myself to be a "political artist" whatever that means. I've always lived in the territory of "the personal IS political". This piece pushes me, and I have questioned my motives throughout this process. I finally came to an understanding, and while still pre-verbal, the beginnings of a way to articulate that understanding about why I am doing this. For me, doing this piece is a deep practice of compassion...maybe my own version of tonglen, though I can't claim that word, never having formally practiced in that tradition. An intentional going into the darkness, breathing in whatever I find there...breathing out peace. Over and over again. Sending that out to each of you, to all of us...the big us.

We move through this world, alternating between feeling utterly alone and intimately connected with all that is around us. We never know what will happen. If we're lucky and can remember to show up, we sometimes get to know what is happening now. I have always believed in this work we do. This crazy dancing/art making/creating business. Even when it seems like the most irrational or irrelevant thing in the context of our chaotic world, I believe in it. And I believe in the power of intention, the power of transformation, the potential and possibility for healing, connecting. I believe that what we do matters.

May we all know happiness and the source of happiness. May we all be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May we all know peace, here and now.

KF, Kansas City, 2009.

foi response from Rhea Speights (AL)

i've tried to write down what the experience was for me though i guess i'm still experiencing it in some ways. the following is a fairly dry report of things that happened. i don't feel especially gifted in assigning words to feelings so maybe when i reread this entry, i'll be able to refeel some of what happened.

near the end of the 24 hours, maybe sometime around 7 or 8 or 9pm, i was crawling around on the floor telling myself that if i got on my feet and moved my arms around more, i might be a little warmer than i am now and the time might pass a little quicker. i felt someone nearby leaning over and i heard an older man's voice say "thank you so much for doing this. this is very similar to what it's really like. and nobody pays attention." maybe i was hallucinating, but still, it made me feel better about my self-induced suffering.

the beginning was difficult, the middle was easy, and the last 5 (?) hours were miserable. i guess i feel like those last 5 hours are the reason i was there. i thought about other people in the world suffering because of greed and power and fear and stupidity and while i didn't know how much longer of my 24 hours i had to go, they have no idea if any end will ever come. it was a humbling experience and i am grateful to have participated.

the first bit of information i received when i arrived at the bookstore was that there were 140kids milling about and a ska band playing upstairs. also, the internet bill hadn't been paid on time so i wasn't going to be setting up any webstreaming. the director of the bookstore had actually enlisted volunteers to help me set up and "babysit" me during hours the store isn't normally open. most of the ska kids left just before midnight and a handful of bookstore staff were around when I started. my earplugs hurt and only muffled sound. the store seemed to empty out except for two folks who talked for a long time about nothing i could understand and ended their conversation with "Well, it's not like she cares!" i assumed they were referring to me and i feared they had just concluded that it would be ok to make out on the couch while i was still in the room. maybe all they did was trade who was going to stay the night.

the beginning was difficult. i was alone. i hit my head on a table and a couple of bookshelves (or maybe the same bookshelf a couple of times). the heat had been turned off for the night. the two pairs of pants and three shirts i was wearing weren't enough to keep me warm. i was a little uncomfortable and a little tired. i thought i had planned out the previous day well enough to accomplish last minute tasks and get enough sleep, but the coffee shop where I work needed me to change my shift at the last minute and then i was too nervous to take a final nap before heading to the bookstore. before the sun had come up, i knew and had practiced the 5 activities that would break up my day:
1. warming-up exercises. i did 20 or so sun salutations in a row very early in the morning. i went through bartenieff exercises on the floor. i did my 3rd grade modern students' favorite warm up exercise, several times throughout the day.
2. exploring the bookstore's landscape with my fingers. the first time i did this it scared me. then it got easier. then it got difficult again.
3. dancing. in the sense that folks might have expected when they read the word "performance." the event felt like an anti-performance. i didn't always know if anyone was around or if they were there looking for a book and i was in the way or if they were there for me. i had a good time playing with movement and sometimes just checking how difficult it was for me to balance without being able to see or hear.
4. drinking water or coffee which included the complications involved in finding those items
5. going to the bathroom.
These were my options. If I was done with one, I could move to another.

i'd go so far to say that the middle of the day was easy. there were people in the store hanging out. some hobos had spent the night upstairs (i had no idea) and were playing guitar and singing for a nice chunk of time. the internet was turned back on and i realized that two of the staff were trying to set up the webstreaming for me. i hadn't yet let anyone know that i could hear at all, but since they were trying so hard and had gotten so close, i thought i should share my username and password (i don't even know what they look like and i use the same password for everything. did i become incredibly trusting in those first 10-13 hours?). they still couldn't get the webstreaming to work, and i now i had revealed that i could hear. i was disappointed in myself. i thought part of the project was to feel isolated and perhaps i had just injured my purpose. mike, the guy who runs the bookstore, was relieved i could talk and said i was much less creepy now. mostly they let me continue as i had before they knew i could hear, but mike would periodically ask if i was still ok. i usually responded with a thumbs up. the director of the school where I teach posted a video from this part of the day on youtube:

i thought it must have been 9 or 10pm, but it was probably more like 6 or 7pm. my thoughts were getting dark. when i heard about miguel's project and the opportunity to represent alabama, i thought, "AWESOME!" that was my reflex reaction. and thinking about the project the weeks before had mostly been practical- where will i do it? what will i need? who do i tell? But on the monday before new year's eve, I started getting nervous and occasionally scared. i worried that i would obsess over petty things like not getting invited to some party or i'd spend too much time thinking about the ways i've failed as a friend. i expected a transformation, but what if i transformed into a monster? And this is about the time that those sorts of thoughts started swimming through my head. my movement consisted mostly of walking back and forth on a path where i felt the heater blowing and occasionally i'd roll up and down through my spine. a group of people came in and asked if they could talk to me. i asked one of them to identify himself and laughed like a crazy person when he told me his name. i don't know why that was my response but i had enough sense to immediately regret it. they asked me a series of questions like What have i been doing today? What have i been thinking about? Do I consider myself a disciplined person? Why are we doing this? I felt like i was taking a test i had overprepared for. I knew what my answers were because i'd been repeating them in my head all day. I was honest about having petty thoughts and How do i feel now? I'm over it. I'm finished and just waiting for someone to tell me it's midnight and i can see again. that's what i needed most, my sight. they thanked me for answering their questions and i guess they left. i crawled around on the floor. i heard a man say, "thank you so much for doing this. this is very similar to what it's really like. and nobody pays attention." i wished i had had the sense to say "thank you for your comment. i will process it later." but i'm sure i smiled too brightly and said "ok" and "thank you" too many times. i went to the bathroom and gagged for a while. i thought i might puke. but i didn't have anything in my stomach to puke up. this thought made me laugh. i crawled around again until i couldn't. then i sat and rocked. i heard my friend sarah's voice but i didn't feel any better. some time later i heard my friend kim's voice. she had promised to be there at the end to let me know that i was done. she had said she was bringing me a salad! i must be done! kim sat in front of me and placed her hands on my knees. we talked about how i felt and she asked if i wanted to know what time it was. i thought i might have a half hour left so it would be ok to know, but she told me it was 10:30pm. this news seemed awful to me. The only way i made it through the last hour and a half was because kim spent that time rubbing my shoulders and back and describing people who were in the bookstore. my friends counted down the last 10 seconds and when i removed my blindfold, my eyes couldn't hold onto the edges of objects. everything seemed to slip together into a wash of colors i couldn't distinguish. i had seen the bookstore 24 hours before, but over the course of the day, i had completely reimagined it into something else, a much bigger and brighter and much more organized-looking space. it must have taken a good twenty minutes for my sight to feel normal again. i ate a delicious salad. kim drove me home and i slept for ten hours.

the birmingham news put something in the paper about the project on new year's eve so regulars at the coffee shop and parents at the dance studio where i teach have been asking me about the freedom of information project. now i don't know how to answer their questions. did i do this for me? i do feel like i did something difficult. and maybe other difficult things will be easier to do now. but really the project feels like something i just contributed to and it had nothing to do with me, like i donated my time and my body but i don't feel any personal pride in an accomplishment. i love that this thing happened with or without me.

foi response from Tonya Lockyer (WA)

Hello from Seattle.

I am really moved reading everyone's experiences.
I'm inspired by you, to share what happened here.

I think perhaps I had pretty humble expectations.
I want to write that it was hard.
I want to say I struggled. But I didn't. Mostly I felt gratitude,
happiness, like I finally had time. I love moving with my eyes closed.
I love exploring the world with touch. I love improvising. I felt
people come and go. Later I learned there were strangers too. I sensed
a few of them, but I like knowing that people came, witnessed, wrote
beautiful things, shared something intimate and I had no idea.

In many ways, it felt easier than my day to day life. In my daily
life, I tend to be moody: I get easily overstimulated, anxious,
over-extend myself to exhaustion, I feel nervous around people and
disguise it with humor, and I have an embarrassing tendency to cry
really easily when things move me...I'm called "overly sensitive."
Somehow, eyes closed, ear-plugged, finally having time to be in what I
love for all the time in the world, not expecting anything
miraculous...I felt good. I felt really good. I felt consistently
grateful, relaxed, happy.
Yeah, the blindfold was scratchy. Yeah, midnight seemed farther away
then I expected...but
It felt amazing, beautiful, decadent, totally beyond my expectations.

Yes, Decadent. I am so fucking lucky that I can spend 24 hours
blindfolded, moving, creating a space for reflection. That I can
respond this way to war, censorship, the desire for peace, the desire
for freedom...

I had incredibly generous, lovely witnesses from 8am to midnight.
I didn't feel alone or lonely.
People wrote and drew in the book I left out.
Sometimes I heard people reading what they wrote out-loud.

I discovered their tracks...the warmth of a light candle, pillows, scarves...
One woman moved with me, moving me.
I went with it.
Honestly, normally, that might have bothered me. I surrendered to her kindness.
Five people hugged me.
Beautiful, long silent hugs.
Was it breaking a rule?
Who gives a shit. It was beautiful.

A child rushed into the space.
If I still had an ounce of being sanctimonious in me, that incredible
little kinetic ball of curly hair and polar fleece shattered it.

I noticed new things. I didn't notice things I normally would.
I keep thinking how we are all missing senses like sight all the time.
I don't just mean distraction.
I mean, compared to an Eagle, I'm practically blind.
Compared to a dog or a salmon, I have no sense of smell.
I cannot hear from miles around through my feet like an elephant.

I paced myself.
And my body was so grateful.
Interestingly, after 24 hours of present movement I was refreshed and
much less tired
than after a 8 hours of the MFA program I'm currently in.
It's like my body finally feels awake again.
I only slept for 8 hours afterwards. I woke-up and stayed in bed naked all day.
It was awesome.

I think the most touching thing, is a lady who works across the street
saw it through the windows and found her way into the building. Pretty
brave really.
I read her writing after the fact. I love that she took a risk and
followed her curiosity. That working "6 floors down in the brick
building across the street" she was drawn by "the intimacy" she saw
through the window.

And of course, the solidarity was awesome.
And reading all of this writing is awesome.

How great that dance can live in such an expansive state of time,
space, energy and intent.

lots of love to you all

And here are some excerpts from the witnesses journals in Seattle. I
hope it reveals how what foi/yo/we did, effected folks here in

...I'm fed up with our economy dictating everything we do and
controlling every inch of our attention and our lives. The ruling
elite defend the holy sanctity of the free market. I'm fed up with the
lie that unregulated capitol maximizes happiness. I'm fed up with so
many people suffering from poverty in a country suffocating with
wealth and prosperity. I'm fed up with people born with privilege
explaining to the suffering that they earned every penny and they can
...I'm fed up with everyone wanting to be an insider, a player--People
who shove their human morals aside for a little bit of access...We are
a nation of spiritually charged people. Let that spirit help the world
and not obliterate it. Most of all, our nation is also an idea. An
idea of freedom. So let us not continue as hypocrites and actually
live up to the idea of America. Let us not be afraid."

...Everything about her is beautiful and magical, but not in that way
that peformers try so hard to be. Here in this way, in this setting,
for these reasons she is beautiful. Wow. I am so privileged (in every
sense of the word) to be here. I think of lying in bed this morning.
Sleeping sort of Aaron turns on Democracy Now! and in a sort of sleep
I listen to the reports of Israel bombing the Gaza Strip. Why?!! More
civilians dying, dying, dying, dying, dying.....

...we push to extremes in search of our simplicity. As usual, I have
finally arrived and it is time to take my leave taking. The seagulls
swirl at her back. The gestures make double meaning at the very least,
and thees is a spaciousness that I have been craving...her body a
facile, succinct reminder to continue, alone in the dead of night, to
feel the threads that spill beyond us and beckon action. Dancing,
believing in it, pushing forward against the tide, until perhaps the
tide turns...

...after so much time of letting eyes and ears go- what gets unlocked
in the body? To know the knowing of your body so intimately and
deeply, does it deepen empathy?

...I thought of you last night. There was a doc on TV about a young
Iraqi trying to stay out of Iraq: hustling in Prague and London,
trying to do anything to not have to go back to the refugee camp and
only digging a deeper hole for himself. Then there was a doc about
conscious objectors. THen there was a show about elephants showing how
deeply they love and care and will stay with each other even after

Your energy, nervous system, perceptual field is like a soft gossamer
blanket. Here's to the heart loving what it loves.

Singing, Other beautiful sounds, The lights moving against the
windowsill. A ball rolling. It is an effort not to dance with you. I
must go to work. Thank you.

A body is so much information. Even with senses diminished I see so
much freedom with so much information. Freedom we have to share.
Luxury, beyond luxury to those in Gaza looking for a fortified corner.
You rise like a phoenix from their ruble, a swanky angel, a righteous

Joy to the world. Rumbling, cyclical. Nothing is scraping. Everything
is soft, with smells of cooking. No lock on the door. This is beyond!

...Opening into the vast darkness and staying with it, you transform
immeasurable human loss and suffering to hope and healing.

...This city, singing to other cities--31 of them- sending and
receiving good energy for the important and necessary change that 2009
must offer to the world.

Thank you for taking your freedom to move and sing to acknowledge
those who aren't.

Recently moving to this city and struggling, struggling, struggling
with finding/creating the intimacy of home, I feel intimacy in this
space with you and others. Thinking of movement reflection across the
country happening NOW, with this exact mission in mind--and so many
other missions in mind. Perhaps it's less about trying to create
intimacy and more about remaining open for intimacy because all of a
sudden, without planning for it, here I am. I DO NOT KNOW YOU BUT I
KNOW YOU. And you have intimacy with the window, and your toe, the
red pillow, the radiator, the lights, your elbow...I am thinking how I
spent most of the day today, 6 floors below, in the building next
door, across the street working, typing, conversing, eating, standing,
peeing, moving and we were both in the midst of hours, minutes,
movements. But how many of those movements and minutes can I recall?
Reflect on? Remember? Reclaim? Celebrate? Joy to the world and much
gratitude for courage of all sorts.

does a teapot become tired?
Boiling water day after night
after day into night into
the kettle hot not bothered
by the boiling water bubbling inside
hot and unruly in the bubbling heat
she steams for water to be over and
out of her
out of kettle
out of tea pot black only to fill
once more with fire
after night into day
into fire might the kettle
want to rest as the water
wants to still but both are heated
til they rise black over black
over bubbles into day into night
on the stop top cooling.

Fascinating. Watching this makes me think there are a million
definitions to the word "meditation."

A field. A world. A world created here. It is great strength.

These are just excerpts from about half of the entries.

a huge hug to each of you.


foi response from Tahni Holt (OR)

As a participating performer in Freedom of Information 2008 from Oregon I entered into FOI08 thinking of it as a response, a response to many things. A response to the wars, the displacement, a response to the impossibility of knowing how to respond to these things. What I found in FOI08 was a deep personal, collective practice of compassion. I think we all know the difference between suffering at the hands of things one cannot control (at least we can understand the difference on a logical level) and suffering by choice.
I think Miguel explains a lot when he said: "I am, for better or worse, a dancer, and so my reactions to things often stem from a value system that is about what happens to bodies and what they feel." We all have different ways of making sense of the world and how to try and make sense of the things that have no sense. Freedom of Information 2008 was an individual and collective (31 people in all) response, as a dancer, to those things that 1. make no sense and 2. are much larger than ourselves. There are many different ways to respond to things. Some will feel more direct while others will feel indirect.
As a performer it is my job to create things that words cannot express. Words cannot express the hallucinations that happen from lack of sleep for 30 + hours or how shapes of rooms become non-shapes in solitary blackness. Words cannot express the space where there is no room for a literal translation. Words cannot express how dancing a love dance feels or how feeling a friends hand on your shoulder feels after 18 hours of darkness.
For me this was not a this or the other. I respond this way and therefore I have no room to respond in a different way. No, it is more about how do I create more room, more capacity in myself to feel things and engage in things that are way beyond my comfort zone, my value system of right and wrongs. This is the power that I as an individual have. And I have the power, as we all do, to share that as best I can with others. What they do with that information is up to them.
During the last four hours of this event I started to turn on myself and those that were caring for me. I started to think things like everyone had left the room (thinking I was going to collapse). Everyone and everything went against me. I hung on the wall, the only real support I could find. I believed in this myth, this unreality with all my heart. It was only afterward, only after I awoke from this dark place, when everyone around me proved how unreal those last four hours were when I was able to suddenly and irrevocably forgive someone in my life for committing suicide three weeks before. I did not know I needed to forgive them. But what I learned was people go into dark places and in that place what feels completely, utterly true at one moment isn't always the truth.
Sometimes Freedom of Information 2008 held many things, but mostly it reassured me how complex suffering can be. There is no easy right and wrong. We all know there is no easy answer to the wars that continue on all around us. Through Freedom of Information 2008 I woke up, remembered, held space for, and ignited the thing that makes me like everyone else. Compassion is my weapon. This is what unites me to you and you to me. Sometimes this feels like enough and at other moments it can never possibly be.

foi response from Janice Lancaster (NC)

I’m so inspired reading everyone’s emails, and hearing about the powerful art we created together, and how we collectively invited this project into our bodies to let it change us.
I've been journaling about my foi 2008, and thinking about how to share those words. For me it was an empowering experience, the best combination of body cracking open thought and heart. To pen it is an elusive task. I don’t know how to express such expansiveness onto a page. Finding the words is definitely more demanding than the “doing” in which they were inspired. I’ll start off a bit by documenting my left-brain, seemingly mundane preparations, and then I’ll taper into a stream of consciousness about the rest.
I was presented at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, NC. A gallery dedicated to exploring the history and legacy of one of the world's most experimental educational communities. The current exhibition was titled Shape of Imagination: Women of Black Mountain College, and it was important that I not disturb the history on the walls.
So I set up a perimeter of corrugated cardboard on the floor that was 4 feet from any art, providing me with a safe moving zone that I came to know intimately as about 9 generous steps in length, 7 in width, and 13 along the diagonal. I had worried for weeks that I would not have walls to sloth along or guide me. Apparently, that was a naïve concern, as other foi reps have informed me of the hazard that their walls became. Did I cheat? I could feel the strips of corrugated cardboard through my socks and was grateful for its orientation, but more than that, my guide was near the earth and was a source for grounding.
I placed a cardboard box in one corner that contained water, kneepads, an extra pair of earplugs, and a paper bag stashing away two date bars and a banana. I had been worried that I could not complete twenty-four hours without any food. And, in a way, having the food there was the only way to ensure my mom’s blessings.
Yet, I never needed food, and this was empowering for me. My little body had enough junk in its intestines to sustain itself. In more esoteric thoughts, the ancient Agni fire furnace of my belly and mind energized me. Eight hours in, and I completely stopped caring for food. Except, nearing noon, the ominous half way marker, I craved stir-fry vegetables like a mad woman. I had rolled along, smudging my face into a spot in the floor that smelled as if someone had once dropped stir-fry right there.
I felt that, while I would be questioning US foreign policy, or even our collective impact in the world, I should also make a point of using reusable water bottles. I drank enough, but only so much to need the restroom four times within the twenty-four hours. In the same corner as my box I continued a strip of corrugated cardboard as a path to the restroom.
During preparations the day before, I found myself obsessively sweeping and mopping the gallery’s wooden floor. It’s beautiful chipped blue paint was surprisingly covered with a black dust. I knew that what I did not clean up would eventually be absorbed by my clothing, hair, and skin. In my obsessive cleaning, I became appreciative for the opportunity. It helped me come to know the give of the floor’s planks, the cracks between, and places that needed to be covered with tape so I would not end up with splinters in my bottom.
My husband, Adam, set up two cameras with an aerial view, one for streaming and one for a time lapse that would record one frame every five seconds (two minutes of movement to equal one second). We have 21 of the 24 hours in time lapse on
Sometimes I struggle yielding control, so I remember my own surprise turning down Adam’s offer for me to check the frame through the cameras. I felt knowing would induce expectation, and expectation I did not need. We decided to forego sound because the bandwidth for streaming would have more room for the image. I wouldn’t know this shit on my own, and Adam’s collaboration was essential. Later, I thought of how powerfully appropriate the silence was.
After the performance, I let a day pass before looking at a few of the clips that Adam recorded onto my ustream channel. His documentation is a dancer’s dream! As much as I’ve learned to protect my thoughts from my own laptop, I felt so grateful for the clarity of image that was circulated out and beyond via technology. Adam reported that the streaming received over 1000 hits!
All the day before, I was raising my eyebrows and shaking my head over my cluelessness on how to prepare. Fortunately, I’d been getting plenty of sleep for the past year, resisting skimping on dreams. And, in truth, it had been quite a year in the soul-searching department. Had I known on some level that I would be topping off the year with foi 2008?
Also, I had been thinking about drinking less coffee for over a month. My gynecologist had even suggested that it could be causing calcium deposits in my breasts. Mortality. I was conscious to be hydrated and avoid excessive sugar. I read and reread the participants’ loving emails. I read a crash course of Pema Chodron, “Start Where You Are.”
Out of nervousness, I almost avoided the 718 number of Miguel’s phone call. I made myself answer, and of course, I was relieved that I did. Soon we were laughing over a dream I had a few weeks earlier in which I fought evil forces in my childhood closet by belting the song, “I could have danced all night.”
Come 6pm, I asked Adam to smother me with physical affection. Then I napped. When I couldn’t sleep, I made myself continue lying there in stillness. Adam would wake me at 9pm. Until then, I would learn what it felt like waiting in the dark. I showered, dressed, and made sure I smelled good. I called my best friends. On my way to the gallery, I took in as much night sky and outside air as I could receive. I did not take it for granted.
All that was left to do before starting was to pee, poop, and decide what to write in the sketchbook that I would leave out for viewers. This brainstorming got my mind on the task of the next twenty-four hours. I wrote, “Share,” intending its dual meanings referencing wealth, resources, empathy, and expression. And “Thank you for your presence,” underlining presence. Then one last hug from Adam, insert earplugs, tie blindfold, midnight, and off to pacing my space, and my body.
I had a clear task – continue moving for twenty-four hours and observe my thoughts. Honestly, I was looking forward to the time with myself. I did not feel I needed to instigate more. I went in trusting that the commitment to the time and moving while blindfolded and ear plugged was a powerful image in and of itself, metaphor enough. Nothing could be too mundane in this context. My vulnerabilities would be evident. People would think what they think. Those who could hear the call for empathy would recognize it as bigger than me.
Over the previous weeks, and the more I engaged with foi 2008, I saw that my temperament would frame my participation as more of a humanitarian action than a political one. Yet, at the forefront of my mind was the week’s warring between Israel and Hamas. I was disgusted by my own revelation that my heart was hardening over their predictable fighting. Also, challenging my best intentions, were the words emailed to Black Mountain College Museum to say,
“The reason that you as an artist have the freedom to perform is due in a large part to the strength and diversity of the United States and the military that defends us. Try performing a contemplative piece about the cruelty and violence of the Taliban or Al-Qaida in a cave in western Pakistan.“
These are points discussed on the foi 2008 blog. I had already juggled his perspective, and agreed. I agreed, AND, I felt how his point came up short.
Only my doing could help address the incongruencies I’ve discerned over the past eight years. I can’t accept pre-emptive war, abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, and the divisive language used by our media and leaders. Even if all I could accomplish was to confront violence as it manifests in my own mind, I would be closer to rewiring ancient patterns, habituated reacting. Spanning 31 states and six time zones, could we improvise a world in which awareness could inform revolutionary peaceful solutions?
Time is relative, moving continuously twenty-four hours with its cycles and surges of exhaustion, energy, boredom, intrigue… desperation and strength, loneliness and profound connection… checking out and back in… coordination and nausea, disorientation and center. I gravitated to physicalized thought so I would not have to think about what to do next, or standards. I thought about time marching on, and how twenty-four hours would soon be behind me. I watched discomfort arise and dissolve more easily than it does in my day to day living, and it will continue to be a valuable life lesson.
Most of what folks have asked about has been my sense of time over the twenty-four hours. It seems to be the viewers’ point of piqued interest. Time/space - something that we all manage linearly, but experience subjectively - can understanding it one day ever dismantle violence as means?
Do we not all need a little more time to ourselves, less distractions, more play, time to reflect on relationships and our personal impact in the world? I’m drawn to Marlee Cook-Perret’s words about this after her foi 2008 in Michigan:
i want to spend more time alone. i want to spend time reflecting on how i treat people. and how i let people treat me. it's been a year of mistreatment, to myself, to my body, how i let others treat me, and how i treat them. being that alone made my mind swing to every relationship i have and have had, and how i want and need them to be in 2009.

Collaboration. I had a few markers for knowing what time it was based on who I had arranged to guard the space and voice recognition. When my father-in-law arrived I knew it was 2am. 4:30am when my mother-in-law arrived. 7am Connie, and 10am Alice. The hours between 10am-4pm were hazy because that was the longest shift with many visitors. With my tiny ears pushing on my earplugs, I could hear Alice explaining the history of when Josef and Anni Albers were offered teaching posts at Black Mountain College after the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis.
My brother-in-law finally arrived at 4pm. Claire at 6pm. But 8pm and onwards was long and impossible to guess. Probably any point after 10pm I was expecting the end at any moment.
It is not easy for me to wrap my mind around the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I like how Kylin Kleven, foi 2008 rep in Alaska, articulates the challenge:
War is complex. It is intertwined in capitalism, racism, sexism (and on with isms). Its complexity means that instead of stopping lots of things in isolation from one another, something must be created as an alternative baseline for living all at once. It matters that I've made an emphasis in my life leaning towards self-consciousness -- even when I'm alone in a room far, far away. It matters that others have made that same baseline shift.

I let go of intellectual pressures, and began with a form of tonglen. I contemplated the violence I’ve known, and extended this compassion to the people I know. If someone passed into my mind, I tried to keep my thoughts on them for longer, to feel their talents and creative energy, to feel how they struggle and how violence surfaces in their life: fear, right and wrong, malicious words, malicious tones, addiction, exploitation, poverty, objectification, mindless consumption, polarization…
I couldn’t escape how all violence seemed misdirected creative energy. I was happy to be moving and expressing. I felt grateful and abundant in light and love to be making art, and exercising that freedom. How healing. I focused in on a feeling I called “One Love.” My fingers began painting the words “one love” all over the floor. Anything else was “misapprehension” - “mortal mind.” Self-destructive and divisive, the source of violence is a branching from recognizing its ultimate creative source, “one love.” Miguel pretty much summed this up for me when he emailed the Alan Ginsberg poem that begins,
The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

my body observed that the corners’ double layers of corrugated cardboard were puffiest
stretching a reach into the vertical gave me orientation
handstands, headstands gave me comforting vertical orientation, plus a sense of center (more than I’ve ever felt with my eyes open)
my core felt strong
I liked feeling empty from fasting
my left hip, obstructed somehow, not rotating as smoothly as I’d like
calming figure eights
calming repetition
rolling about as passively as I could figure
arms with joints between joints
imagining wind, wind tunnels, diving planes, gusts, weather, and from that place exaggerating breath, vocalizing
breath derived movement lacked expectation, or standard, and sustained itself
I liked this best
tasks of balancing on one leg.
tasks of spiral turns into the floor
Sun salutation
my family energizes me
Streaming online inspiring me to keep going
I’m not sure what my energy would be without it
movement from my bones
From my breath
From my skin
From my distal points
From my center
From my emotions
From my tasks
From my thoughts
From my flesh
chasing foot steps
leading with the weight of my head
one hand on my heart, and one on my belly
I’m not sure what I’m saying, but I’m channeling mothers
a song on the corrugated cardboard like sandpaper
beeping when backing up.
pieces of crawling.
turn signal for corners
frivolous chit-chat between my hands
I’m not easily bored
body mechanics especially interesting in this state
anything to adjust my left hip
seeing black
seeing red maple leaves flicker
seeing a stone wall for beating laundry
a past life in England
a past life as a sufi
I like my mind
it does not feel destructive
Hamstrings, hips, quadriceps, IT band tight
left ankle pops
kinda a circus freak
cup my palms for holding
pieces of choreography
torso mimicking gossipers
be the beast
a transformer
a totality of body prayer

In the last two hours, I observed myself trying to instigate resolve and an end. Many people came into the space around 10pm. I thought, “they must be here to spend the last hour.” But then these folks left, and more came, and I was thrown about the time.
I decided to try to hear the sounds from the street. Folks were rather loud outside on New Year’s Eve. I expected they would be at their quietest nearing the countdown. I also suspected that the group in the gallery would surround me at the end, so every shuffling of feet, or shift in the wood floor, had my interest piqued, but there were many, and it wasn’t reliable.
Eventually I dared myself to walk the path of the corrugated cardboard as fast as I could. I moved the box away and dragged my feet along the strips trying to pick up pace. I was dizzy and not so good following the path. I began to run in a circle. I could not keep a safe axis. I began to run in place. Like an instance, running, my eyes filled with tears. I felt my most visceral empathy with people whose lives have been wrought with war. My own adrenaline cycle helped me to know someone else’s fight or flight.
I ran for nearly fifteen minutes. I thought, ”Of course! I’d run! I’d run until I couldn’t run anymore… EXCEPT, would my family slow me down? How could we all keep up? What if we lose someone? How long can I stay like this?”
The duality was that my own running felt sustainable, and I could quit whenever I’d like. I could quit the whole piece of art whenever I liked. I could take my blindfold off, walk out the door, and go to sleep in my safe bed.
I wasn’t breathless. My heart felt good. I liked the openness I felt through my veins. My body was more than willing to cooperate. I was intent to run until the end. I had no way to know when that would come, but I was free. I knew that there was a definite end in sight for me. Not knowing would be a primal desperation.
Just then, a man burst through the front door of the gallery demanding $9.25 in his own drunkenly primal desperation. It took a group effort to redirect him. And Alice learned that someone had been beat up out on the street and called for assistance. These surreal events were loud, ironic, piercing. I heard them through my earplugs, through my running. Privileged, fearless - I could trust that others were holding the space and that my job was to stay at task.
To stop running would be a bold choice, just as it was a bold choice to start. I worried “what next?” briefly, but almost simultaneously I stopped and found myself balancing on one leg. “Of course,” I thought, taking a lesson from my body, “It is all about balance!”
And I was pleased, because balancing upped-the-ante in a different way, and it was an invitation direct to my community, for all of us to find equilibrium, balance, and share. Finally when I fell to the ground from balancing and felt a strip of cardboard, there was nothing left to do but to pull it up. Ahhhhh, and tearing up the perimeter was fun and cathartic. I felt the chaos that the corrugated cardboard bundled up to be was creativity at loose, alternative ideas to preemptive wars. I began to partner with the cardboard. Interactivity became process for coming back into the world.
At 12am the group gathered in a circle around me. I felt the proximity of their steps near and the timing for them to kneel by me. Yet, no one said anything. I wondered if I could take my blindfold off. So I asked, “Is it 2009?” No answer. Then I asked, “Am I done?” Giggles. So I took the blindfold off and saw the most beautiful eyes, some familiar and some new, taking me in. Visibility.
I felt clear. Colors and contours were very distinct, and I wondered how much of life could stay this way? My face felt like it had symmetry, and this struck me with an overall sense of harmony through my body. Upon questions, I liked how my words were arranging themselves. I moved slowly. Exaggerated intention imbued everything. Claire pointed out that my veins were elevated and thick.
A woman named Caprice, very tall, had learned about foi 2008 the day before. After visiting earlier in the day, she felt inspired to bring me food for the end. She prepared brown rice, tomato based vegetable soup, an orange, a banana, a granola bar, an oatmeal cookie, a chocolate, applesauce, juice box, and spritzer. An offering. I was moved. My eyes ate it all, but my belly could only hold the soup and half the rice… slow spoon to mouth – chew – swallow – smile knowingly at my family.
When I left the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center it was as if I had just arrived. The last twenty-four hours were a dream, a blip in time that may or may not have really happened. I looked at the sky and saw so many stars. Actually, I saw way too many stars! My mind was turning the lining of the clouds into Milky Ways of numberless stars. So amazing!
Adam and I showered. He was tired, having been nearly as invested as me, but without the performance high. Washing my face, I closed my eyes and began to hallucinate a scary, swirling face. I opened my eyes and made it go away. Not real. At some point pre-foi 2008 I had learned that the sleep deprivation, fatigue, and/or sensory deprivation could induce hallucinations and I was not alarmed. I thought about how beautifully I could progressively access my visual cortex during the pass twenty-four hours.
1:30am. I was more interested in elevating my feet up the wall than sleeping. Adam turned out the light, and when I closed my eyes I could see the bookcase in my parents bedroom. It appeared to me so vividly that I opened my eyes in surprise. Yet, with my eyes open, I could still see the bookcase as plain as day, as if I could reach and grab a book. I tapped Adam’s chest, “Ok, I’m hallucinating. I’m seeing my parents bookcase as if I’m in the wrong room.” He turned on the lights and the hallucination went away.
I had enjoyed this sense of being in two places at once. And, later speaking with my dad I learned that around that same time, he laid in his bed with the light on, bookcase at the foot of the bed. He had had a difficult time watching me that day.
My mind was tired of not seeing. Lights out, and it would fabricate something to see. Even with the light on I watched a crack in the wall swell as if to burst, but I knew it could not, and then I’d watch as the swell subsided as if defeated. I did not have to react.
Finally, I fell asleep with the light on, and woke up four hours later. I had the instinct that my eyes wanted to be open and blinking. Blinking would help them cleanse themselves. I washed my eyes with saline solution, turned out the light, and went back to sleep.
In the morning I was up around 8:30am. My appetite took priority. Yum, a breakfast of toast and eggs. Then I napped again until lunch. Called my sister. Lunched again. Called my mom. Wrote by the wood stove. Protected my own thoughts. Avoided internet because I associate it with multi-tasking and I just wasn’t there. Dinner of black eye peas, collard greens, beets, a little wine. My body was only sore in my calves, from the running.
By chance, that night I watched “Charlie Wilson’s War.” It’s about the covert war in which the US supplied Afghanistan with weaponry to defeat the Soviets during the Cold War. Then the US missed its humanitarian calling and failed to fund for Afghanistan’s rebuilding, leaving a population in which most were younger than 14 with no infrastructure. These youth grew up in a land ripe for Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
This being human is interesting, all of our blind spots. No human endeavor is immune from criticism, or unworthy of compassion. I think about Tahni Holt’s words, foi 2008 rep in Oregon:
”Compassion is my weapon. This is what unites me to you and you to me. Sometimes this feels like enough and at other moments it can never possibly be.”

Sometimes, in the saturation of our busy small worlds, our preparations, and getting things “done,” the body’s empathy taps an expansive hologram of light that knows a humbling interconnectivity. One love. Lets continue to materialize it.

foi response from Miguel Gutierrez (NY)

hi to all of you

I am writing to you from an apartment in san diego (not my own), where I’m staying for two weeks while I make a piece on students at UCSD. I’m staying just a few feet away from the beach here – an unusual and fortuitous circumstance, though one that comes mixed it with a little bit of frustration at having had to leave new york so soon after the new year, and so soon after foi.

I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the overwhelming amount of feelings that I have been having since last week. It’s also been incredible to hear all of your responses. Truly remarkable. I haven’t been totally sure about what my role is supposed to be inside all of this. I’ve been trying to honor the amount of time that it’s taking me to process the experience. I think I’m just letting myself listen to you while remembering what happened to me, too.

I can’t tell how much of the way I’m feeling is about me having trouble “re-integrating” into the world, or how much of it is just my general experience of living in a bubble outside of things. Hmm, that’s not really it, it’s more contradictory than that. I have been vacillating a lot between that outsider-ness (probably just par for the course actually), and an uncommon sense of belonging or, for lack of a better word, harmony with things. Hmm, that’s not it either. In one of my other spiritual practices, they talk a lot about being a “worker among workers.” I think it’s kind of like that. Even as I sit here, on this futon in this room that is not mine (does any room belong to anyone?) I feel myself part of a “divine” composition, simultaneously arbitrary and perfectly placed.

And that’s a lot of what came up for me during foi last week. There was so much banality for so much of it, maybe most of it... there was so much, oh my god here I am again. Here I am again. Oh and here I am. Again. There’s that nail sticking out of the floor. There’s that piece of paper taped to the wall. There’s that pillar that feels rough and indented. And there’s that cold window that, like a big block of ice, appears to be emanating frosty vapor. And look I have to pee again. And again. And again. And again. I was embarrassed at how much I had to pee. And so sometimes I did just do it in the bathroom in the corner of the studio and not in the jugs. I pee a lot when I’m tired, but this was ridiculous. It was like, move a little, pee, bump into shit, pee, moan and groan, pee.

Increasingly since the event, I’ve realized how all of this is stuff you get to, go through, by doing any kind of intense meditation. There’s that scratch again on my nose. There’s me almost falling asleep. There’s that vision of that person I know.

But I don’t formally meditate very regularly, and so doing foi was like jumping into the mega super advanced Zen workshop in a day. Well even as I write this I realize that I think of performing as a spiritual experience. So maybe this event was just my way of going to the advanced Zen workshop – saying fuck I wanna dance for 24 hours straight. I want to take into account how this fits into the rest of the world and all of the things in it that confuse me.

And the irony of it, of course, is that really what the practice is/was, really what came up for me more than anything, anything else, was love.

I don’t know that I was aware of it the whole time. I know that I spent a lot of time, particularly when it was hard, envisioning each of you and dancing “with” you for part of the time. It was simple stuff really... a lot of time it was just a mind game to see if I could remember all of the people and all of the states involved. But I loved doing that, loved the different ways that people’s bodies and faces and general spirits entered and exited my consciousness. Some of you I still haven’t even spoken to, so that was super abstract, of course. I felt so lucky, so very grateful, to have you as support though. It was extraordinarily different doing it this time, compared to 7 years ago, because of that support. That and, well, I’m just a really different person than 7 years ago. I can’t quite convince myself into a trance anymore. I am more aware of the solidity of my presence and of its attendant questions, concerns.... My head is full of a lot more... STUFF. And also I’d done it once before. So inside of the panic or misery or fear of what it was going to be was the underlying knowledge that it WOULD, eventually, end. I wasn’t trapped.

But wait, I was going to talk more about love. So there was the love I felt for you all. And then, there was the love I felt for the people who came to watch - a constant, mostly anonymous to me, cast of people who I’d bump into or temporarily touch. Touch was so powerful, though it was also confusing. I’ve done too much dance touch/pseudo-bodywork to avoid a tendency toward thinking of touch as exclusively a “healing” or “information-getting” practice. I don’t know how to just... touch. And then, at one point, when I was going around a pretty full room, convinced that I only had about 3 hours left. (WOW WAS THAT WRONG), I came across my friend Michelle, who I thought had only just gotten there (I found out later she’d been there several times already), and she was one of the only people who I truly recognized and I instantly went to hug her and we instantly burst into tears together and we held each other for a long time. And I had to pee right after that and then after THAT I broke into a heart-cracking, total body/spirit offering, super energetic dance where the overwhelming mantra that kept going through my head, through my body was I AM ALIVE. I AM ALIVE. I AM ALIVE. and the simple reality of this statement, its undeniable, corporeal force, brought me into an energy that justified all of the agony of the past 16 hours and that truly surprised me. I mean, over and over again during foi, I kept realizing that I had “more” than I thought I had. I had more love, I had more energy, I had more work, I had more movement, I had more acceptance, I had more bullshit thinking going through my head. It was a lot.

After the heart cracking dance post michelle hug, I thought of everyone in my life, and named them. My mom, my dad, my sister, my sister’s girlfriend, my niece, all of my friends, my extended family members. Everyone. I thought about them, I thought about how much I loved them and how much I need them and how many good things I want to have happen to all of them.

And I have to insert here, that this thought grazed by me again, almost imperceptibly, the other day when I heard about the suicide bomb attack in Baghdad in front of the Shiite Temple. Coupled with the general incomprehensibility of what that kind of experience must be, was the embodied consideration that scores of people lost someone they loved that day. I’m still not sure how to take this in. But I do know that part of what it means to take it in involves time. It’s stopping and thinking about it. It’s about the importance of doing something with the privilege of being alive.

And I say that here because, like many of you I think, the idea of “contemplating those who are displaced by the wars...” was, at best, an abstract reality for me throughout the event. It was like there were the people in the room, who were solid, there were the people in my life, who were historical but readily visible, there was you all, who were a combination of the previous category, the imaginary, or the phantasmagoric, and then there was.... a kind of ether, or some kind of stretched out, cloud like, spacey fuzz like when you see pictures of far away galaxies. I had guestbooks that people could write into during the event and I got so many extraordinary, beautiful responses from people. One of those responses was quite critical, and it has really resonated for me, was already resonating for me before I even did foi, I think... it said “Can we do something more besides lament?”

Of course this question has stayed with me. But I think I’m really in tune with what Kyli said here about the complexity of war and about there needing to be a “baseline shift.” This is an idea that interests me, one that rubs up or hits against a mode of being in the world that is about “reaction” to an existing perception of reality. I often find that “reacting” to things just leaves me enslaved to those things still. Am I revealing myself to be terribly naïve here? I don’t know. When people say things like “War is an inevitable part of life,” and then they point to history to demonstrate how it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, I can’t help but think to myself, REALLY? Have we really, as individuals, as a group, tapped into our total power as spiritual beings, as thinking bodies? Have we exhausted compassion? Have we been blind to other, parallel histories that have been developing at the same time? I see examples of thoughtful, compassionate living all of the time: The way my relationship with my parents has changed over the last 20 years since I came out to them, the way that I am able to listen compared to ten years ago, the way a group of people of all different backgrounds can sit in a classroom and argue, or at a meeting, not interested in hurting each other but instead able to unite around a common interest or purpose. I live in New York, for god’s sakes, a combination of short fuses to be sure, but also a petrie dish of incredible tolerance. I know these are really really small things, that they are all entrenched within the complexity of their own circumstances and histories, but I am encouraged by them. I am interested in the way the body itself is an ever shifting topography of violence and reconciliation, of separation and integration. I mean, fuck, I don’t think I would have stayed interested in a body-based art form for this long if I didn’t have this interest. I like the thickness, and the changing nature of what bodies do and signify.

The day after foi, I woke up and felt amazingly good and peaceful. And then I tried getting up and was so very sore and heavy. But then I drank some water, had breakfast, started doing things in my apartment and my body began to be more fluid. I started cleaning my desk (a Sisyphean task if there ever was one) and I have never felt so intentional IN MY LIFE. I moved one thing at a time to its clear place. I finished one thing before I did the next. It all moved along easily. I listened to music, I think, and I went on with the next task. Maybe this is what people who are Virgos, or just really calm, feel like all the time. But wow that is so not my reality very much. It was extraordinary. All throughout the next few days, even into today, there have been waxing/waning levels of this intentionality, in ways that are surprising, profound. It was incredible to feel, “well now I should do this. And no I shouldn’t do that...” and so on. Granted, this intentionality has already seen its path thwarted, re-directed.. But.. it’s okay. I felt that, too, during foi. During one extraordinary moment, the voice in my head kept saying: It’s all right. It’s all right. Again, nothing the Buddhists haven’t been telling us for years, but I needed to hear the voice myself.

I think to myself: What happens now? There are so many directions to go with this, if I (or we) want.

I wonder how people would feel about me posting their pre/post emails about the event onto the blog.

I wonder if any of you video taped some of your event and if you’d be willing to send me, as soon as you could, a dvd or some amount of that footage, even just in an email if you know how to do that...

I wonder how I am going to do this again in 2 and a half weeks as part of a festival in berlin. During foi and shortly after I first thought, oh no, I can’t possibly do this again. But then over the weekend it hit me, no, I CAN do it again, and in fact, I SHOULD do it again. You don’t meditate only once a year. It’s a practice. If I try to imagine that that event will be like last week’s, well no way could I do it. But if I try to approach it as another practice of compassion, another attempt to stay awake to turbulence of my continually-seeking-full-actualization body, then I think I’m okay. If some of you are able to get footage to me soon, I’d love to show some of that during the event in Berlin. This is an idea that is still developing and I haven’t fully figured it out... It might be better for me to just keep it simple there, though.

I wish I had a couple thousand dollars so that I could bring us all together, for real, into one room where we could meet and talk and, well, sure, dance.

I want to understand more about the world. I want to use this action as a platform for keeping my eyes and ears and heart open to the difficulties within and beyond my immediate reach.

I feel so humbled by this event. I feel so humbled knowing you participated in it. I feel lucky that my life is different now.

with love and respect

foi response from Gregory Holt (NH)

my mom brought me miso soup, and i went home, slept some, and returned
to philadelphia on 11 hours of busses. two hours wandering the
freezing fucking streets of new york, warming up periodically in metro
entrances. hmm. for me, it was-- less. in most ways. less everything.
less isolating, less emotional, less discovery. half hearted. the room
was too small and everything i did felt truncated. i couldn't work up
any real speed, any real hysteria, any real devotion. just boredom;
totally aggravating and constant. except movement could always
undercut anything i was thinking- if i was moving, everything felt
almost 'normal', almost familiar, but just for the first i guess
twenty hours or so, and after that something shifted and my body
became ___, it became one thing, all of it, at once. what i did then
was familiar but different, without localizable origin, a
decentralized unity. i connected to my breath as this thing which
could hold my mind and body away from flipping out about losing all
(most) other landmarks. i counted breaths into the thousands, and they
stayed slow and deep even when moving relatively rapidly around.

i was so ready to quit. i was like what's the point?!?! i could tell
everyone that it was over. i could fake an internet problem and cut
the streaming and just stop. i have no idea where hte commitment to
continue came from, as i had no grounding of who or what i could be
reaching- i certainly wasn't sure even i myself was benefiting in any
way. what saw me through was probably pure arrogant sheer
self-conception as someone who completes his commitments, who finishes
what he starts.

i was definitely hallucinating a good chunk of the early morning,
seeing potted plants all around me and thinking i was sitting in a
large comfortable chair etc etc.

and at the end 'that was it?' was there a great revelation? catharsis?
expansion of dimension of being? i was left with a sense of
uncertainty- did it 'work'? did i fail because i think i passed out
for some blank amount of time during the first night, because i didn't
exhaust myself athletically, because if i went to the window i could
tell if it was daylight or not and so refused to totally surrender
marking time, because i didn't meditate very much about how to learn
political truths from my body?

but then i briefly looked in on some of the west coast dancers- one
had a chair which she was pushing around listlessly with her feet, one
was walking slowly across the back of an empty room, one was just
lightly hugging himself and rocking. not in agony or insanity or pain,
just sort of shifting weight. could have been for hours. and i was
filled with so much compassion, so much empathy, so much awe for the
beauty of some kind of spirit which cannot be contained, which is so
much more powerful than our ability to rationally know or be certain
even that it was there. may the spirit we have shared fill our work.


foi response from Taja Will (MN)

Hello sweet people,

I have spent the last few hours writing, about dreams, and reality, and then read all the responses to foi from those of you who have e-mailed , tears in my eyes, at times sobbing out loud, here in the Bad Waitress Cafe.

I hate disclaimers, I use them far too often...disclaimer: I feel compelled to share, although I am not sure how to address you all, because I feel so much love for every one of you, I'm not sure how articulate I am, if at all. So I will share short portions of my post foi journal with you. No specific order, some of it doesn't make sense to me, but it is truth.

Jan 1st 9:30pm:
Finally now I feel ready to be with me, and my thoughts- in this moment, naked, soaking in a hot bath- words ready to pour- raw and humbled.

...I premeditated participation for months feeling afraid, knowing I was safe because Minnesota was already being represented, until four days before. On Sunday, in church, in the middle of the sermon, I got up and left, didn't know why, checked my phone, a message, asking me to participate...yes

...Tuesday the 30th, began with..."Amazing Grace", at my grandmother funeral, then my delayed flight from Iowa to Minnesota...missed Miguel's call, I knew we weren't meant to speak before panic attack, called Amanda (Iowa rep)...reached Minnesota around 7pm...

IN...20 hours done, I think, last four hours, raw exhaustion, lack of energy from myself, knowing I was alone in the room, couldn't seem to summon any energy from if a solution from an unknown source I became cold, freezing...

...exhaustion tasks,repetition, buzz, fear, distrust, obsession, truth, compassion, becoming, morphing, trans- formation,forming, itional,itioning...

...what happens next, then, after all that I know, all that I can do... soapbox? a mantra? didn't have one, my meditation didn't work...I did have a phrase, movement phrase, it happened and stayed, repeated. touch my eyes, tap my ears, reach to the sky, hit my heart, and whisper to you (all of you) "we are strong, we are powerful, we are beautiful, we are divine"(MG)...

... I though of myself as a vessel, w/out identity...

..."and because of you the war has ended" a friend said jokingly on the 1st, something told me to be offended, upset with him, but I wasn't, I simply heard...

...crawling, suddenly scooped up and hugged, a completely sincere hug, Tim my 18 hour witness, who donated his apartment when I couldn't find a space, my dear friend...

...I became obsessed with my blindfold, wanting it to come off, felt like I had formed hives underneath it, I dug at my eyes constantly throughout the entire time, in the last hours the blindfold became almost too painful to keep on, feeling like it was digging into my skin with no letting up until the moment it came off...

...I heard what I wanted to hear, my phone ringing ( it was on silent), I talked to myself until I could feel the heat of the sun coming in the windows, heard all my thoughts, heard my voice as I sang when I was afraid, I didn't need the extra loud alarm at midnight, I heard the countdown from the apartment on the floor above me, or I imagined it at exactly the right time...

...drinking: every single time I drank water I thought I was going to drown, no like I was drowning, perhaps from the combination of sensory deprivation and being slightly congested with a mouthful of water...

...fear, manifested in anger, at self, at everyone, everything, I pounded the walls, the floor, my chest...when jolts of surprising small pains were revitalizing, not hurt so good, but hurt so necessary...

...time of sobbing, no idea how long it lasted...

...time of bliss, Karen Sherman and Morgan Thorson (original MN rep), I knew it was them, moved with me, moved me for me, first witnesses to engage with me... in my corner, stubborn wall (bruises, battle wounds), uncomfortable pants, lucky sweater- it was my dads until a week ago, when I took it off the pile of clean laundry and asked if I could have it, my dad, a supporter always, even when doesn't understand or agree, he loves and supports..

...time of bliss with myself, completely alone, (forgetting the camera) I sang, I let what was next enter my body, allowed honesty...

...the last, lasting (what I think was the last 15 minutes)...feared I would stop moving, shaking uncontrollably from the cold, knees hurt too much to craw, back hurt too much to roll, every muscle hurt, too much pain to go on, sitz bones hurt too much to sit on, then I couldn't stand anymore, thinking tomorrow I will pay, too much pain in my body, scared for my lower back, I became haunted by my three months paralysis four years ago...I could only slowly rock until time...

...blindfold off, I was surprised to see people I didn't know with me, some I thought were there but weren't, and a few I knew were there, speechless, and tearful- euphoria, grateful, humbled, no longer exhausted,not cold, not a place of truth and bliss

...grateful for small loves/bliss, humbled by the task, sharing task, being with...raw truth...


that's it, all I want to share in this moment, a lot more then I thought I would want to, my stream of consciousness writing goes on for 8 pages, even some margins filled. I am happy to report that I don't have a sore muscle in my body, I feel wonderful and completely in love with something, perhaps everything, no maybe not everything, I don't know blah, blah, blah. I love you all, that feels true, disclaimer: I've been told I say "I love you" too often, I've tried to stop, and did within the last few months I stopped to think carefully about who, or what I said I loved. I love you all. Thank you.

lol (lots of love)

PS If any of you are in the area, I would love to meet you, or see you again.

foi response from Marlee Cook-Parrott (MI)

to my beautiful non-stop moving comrades.

i have finished freedom of information 2008 and am resting nicely in
the dining room of my parent's house.
my stocking is still hanging on the mantel. and my dogs are sleeping
under my feet.
wednesday was so many things. and an email may be a poor way to share
them with you.
but here goes nothing. or something i suppose.
it's a bit long. but so is 24 hours.

my friend colin and i arrived at the daac around 11:40p on tuesday,
greeted by my friend sam and a reporter from the grand rapids press,
rachael. we had a nice conversation, and within no time, i was
blindfolded and grooving.

* see the article with all of the passionate comments :

i attempted to nap a few times on tuesday, but to no avail.
my head was spinning and my heart kept falling down and running in to
all of my other organs.
so by the time i began i had already been awake for fourteen hours.

the first few hours were the scariest. i felt so much anxiety. can i
finish? can i do this? am i doing it the right way?
but after a few hours my dad came. with my pillow and blanket, and a
large board so that i could write on it if i felt moved. feeling his
hands and flannel shirt made everything ok. and from then on it was
smooth sailing. or at least for a few minutes.

between about 9-12 (or at least what i perceive to be that time) was
very difficult. i had been awake for over 24 hours. i fell over a few
times, hit my head on the brick wall, collapsed a few times, and most
damaging jammed my thumb and broke a lot of my fingernail. i felt my
brother's presence at one point, and could feel him worried. i heard
him say to someone - she is ok she can do this. and bam wam thank you
maam. game time. i had no problem staying awake the remaining 12

from that point until 7:30 was perfect. i switched into the other
brand of earplugs i brought that blocked out the sound better and were
much more comfortable. my left ear was in a lot of pain from the
plugs i had been wearing and it felt great to put a softer and more
deafening pair in. for those 7 or so hours i danced, twisted and
grooved like never before. i couldn't tell who was in the room, where
i was, or what the time was. i started moving in ways i have never
moved before and felt so comfortable and raw in my own body. it was
the "bullshit free" zone. no school. no money. no parents. no
newspapers. no work. no boys. no friends. no girls. no co-op business.
no lovers. no homework. no dues to pay. just what was going on in my
little head.

INSERT THOUGHT BUBBLE HERE : i want to spend more time alone. i want
to spend time reflecting on how i treat people. and how i let people
treat me. it's been a year of mistreatment, to myself, to my body,
how i let others treat me, and how i treat them. being that alone
made my mind swing to every relationship i have and have had, and how
i want and need them to be in 2009.

at one point i found my friend sam snedeker, who was my 24 hour rock.
he was there the whole time and everytime my hands found the sleeve of
his puffy coat i found the ability to be calm. this time when i found
him i grabbed his pointer finger, which i so unrightfully assumed
meant one hour. oh baby. was i wrong. so there i was dancing my
little heart out, when i realized it had certainly been more than
hour. my legs began to feel like expired pudding and i wrote on the
board - tell me what time it is. now.

colin replied, 7:30, and i lost it. i had a mental break down. i
cannot keep doing this. why i am doing this? is this real? am i dead
yet? how can there be 4 and 1/2 hours left?!?!?

but there was. and i was going to keep moving.

in my moments of severe pain - mostly in my lower back and left knee -
my thoughts went to my mother. she stopped by after a doctor's
appointment, and it meant so much to have her there. after having a
double mastectomy two weeks ago, her pain and displacement is like
nothing many of us will ever know. and my weak knees and fingers were
no comparison. oh how i admire and love that woman.

i hallucinated the daac into the most beautiful place, with high
ceilings and long corridors, comfy two piece couches and a light
yellow chair. that is what sam was sitting in the whole time. it was
made of wicker with wooden handles. it was a huge space, with many
rooms and secret places. and not once did i believe i was making it
up. i was sure it looked the way i was imagining.

hunger was far less an issue than i had anticipated. towards the end
my stomach pains vanished, and i was mostly focusing on moving. for
the last two hours i mainly crawled and writhed around on the ground,
my body was basically failing me, or at least not filled with the
energy it had held hours before.

i drank a lot of water and green tea, compliments of lipton. it kept
the hunger down, and soothed my sore throat that had been lingering
these past few days.

the journal i left out is filled with funny and insightful comments
and wonderful pictures, and a long piece from sam that makes as much
and as little sense as me in the daac for 24 hours.

a quote in the journal from daddy : "there's tea in my boot"

and my talented brother/best friend who was playing music just a few
doors down from me at the same time : "don't question the futility or
purpose of your actions. it truly is an inspiring feat and a cool
thing to be part of"

i must be honest and real to let you know : i thought very little of
war during all of this. but like most of the thoughts that entered my
mind, i named it and moved on. that was one of the most important
things i got out of my phone conversation with miguel. when an anxious
or negative thought enters, name it, accept it, move on. i still feel
very little connection to anyone that has been effected by a war or
similar situation, and in doing this i found myself wondering why i
don't get off my ass and do something about it. change something.

i will never know what it feels like to be displaced by war. or in
general for that matter. for those 24 hours i always had one person
in the room that i could trust my life with, and share any thoughts or
concerns i had. i had water, (AND COMMERICAL BRAND TEA!) a flushing
toilet, my coat, and all my limbs.

i am going to Viet Nam for the month of may (FIRST TIME OUT OF AMERICA
WHOA) and look forward to spending time in an environment so deeply
impacted by war. i will need no blind fold or simulation to feel the
reality of displacement in a post-war country. it will be so real.

my greatest reflections have come from reading the scathing comments
on the gr press' website.

yes, i am a nutjob. and no, i don't do much to help the cause for the
anti-war movement.
here i am here i am. a white middle class liberal WITH SO MUCH TO SAY
every time i went to the bathroom, which was a lot, i found myself in
the cold dark room questioning art. why am i doing this? why is
RIGHT NOW? is it making any sort of difference? what could i be doing
instead? would it be more useful?

i never found very good answers to any of these things. but i didn't
really need to either. they were just thoughts. that i named. and
left in the bathroom. the thing was, they stayed in the bathroom,
some where between the plunger and that damn metal cabinet i kept
running in to. so every time i returned the thoughts came flooding
back, but they were less and less upsetting, and more and more
uplifting. what can i do now to make art that says something? that
gets people all riled up, or just not give a flying fuck. either one.
i want it. i want to be a part of this community. with these 30 or so
other people, two of whom i have met only briefly, and most whom i
have never spoken to. the energy of of your movign bodies flowed through me
during those 24 hours, and i don't know what the hell i would have
done without you.

INSERT SELFISH REFLECTION HERE : when i awoke from my long slumber at
3:30p on thursday i spoke with my friend danny for awhile, reflecting
on my experience. it was nice to hear his voice, and shoot the shit
about normal things, as well as have him be the first to hear of my
experience. our conversation strayed to thighs at one point, and what
they look like, smashed down on a porcelain toilet seat. i do hate my
thighs, and every time i go pee i see them and have a negative
thought. i never saw my thighs for 24 hours. so peeing was no big
deal. and now when i pee. i can look at my thighs with a smile.
because they are really just flesh, and i am damn lucky to have them.
and i really don't mind what your thighs look like either. smashed
against the porcelain or not.

i returned to the daac on thursday to see my brother and some friends play.
it was so strange to come back to the space and to see such a
radically different event taking place. it was my own little secret,
to be sitting in the door frame knitting, knowing what i was doing in
that door frame yesterday, and so few of them had any idea. milly
geronimo played, and they strummed some tunes about sailors and hard
times, and i danced in my seat on the stoop, just as i had the day
before. and now as i re-read this paragraph i wonder why i chose to
say "radically different". maybe they were just the same. people
sharing their work. and impacting someone else' life in a positive, or
negative demanor. and just like my day at the daac, everyone left
tonight's show with a reaction.

i was on npr!?!?!
i sort of sound like a dumb ass. but what can you do?

i leave you with a note from emily goble (my winterbreak08 goddess of
good thoughts) : that was left in my journal :

" 'that might confuse her' your dad said when he saw my water bottle
next to yours. new things confuse people. but you know what my water
bottle looks like. things that are where they weren't might be what i
mean. reaching for your water bottle, you knocked mine to the ground."

good new year to all of you. i can't wait to read of your
experiences and your thoughts.

as steve may so perfectly put it - let's continue to bring the mother
fucking ruckus.


foi response from Jesse Zaritt (MA)


I want to join my voice to the chorus of appreciation: thank you for sharing your freedom of information with me.  Thank you for this dialogue.


I am about to share a lot of information… I have been writing and writing and tried to condense my thoughts as much as possible.  Some of the writing is still rough, and some of it I've probably over-thought and over-edited in an effort to understand what has been going on in my mind since the beginning of the year.  I am grateful to be able to put some of these thoughts into words, to have this community to address...


An introduction:


Through en email that I sent out on Dec 30th, I invited about 400 contacts of mine to think of me and of the questions that I would be dancing with during the transition to the new year.

This is some of what I wrote:


I think that artists today are searching for ways to make work that is relevant, vital, and responsible.  I feel the urgency of this search, but feel far from confident that my work as a dance artist meets these challenges.  I'm driven to experiment with different ways of using and creating dance in order to try to align my artistic practice with a way of being in this world that feels ethical, meaningful and somehow useful.  Seeing Miguel perform freedom of information in 2001 helped to open up an awareness in me that dance could be more, and do more than what I had previously imagined.  Ultimately, for me, freedom of information is an experiment: an attempt to understand how dance performance might become a provocation, an act of solidarity, a protest, and/or a simple meditation on sustained physical awareness.  I feel privileged to have been able to choose to be part of this experiment: this opportunity to isolate my body in space and time, to investigate my relationship to a violent reality that is both unknowable/distant and painfully close in image after image that I consume daily from the news media. 

And now some post-performance writing-

Part one written in early January:


My freedom of information was performed at the live/work space of Tirtzah Bassel, an Israeli artist and close friend living in Boston.  Before beginning FOI, Tirtzah and I had a long discussion about the current war in Gaza.


Some background: I moved to Israel several weeks before the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 (I just moved back to NYC this fall), and Tirtzah grew up in Israel- with memories of days and nights spent in sealed safe rooms during the First Iraq War, the years of the Intifadas, siblings and friends as soldiers.

Despite my proximity to war while living in Israel, I maintained my non-Israeli privilege and distance from conflict.  In terms of my sense of security, living as a Jewish American in Tel Aviv was not so different from living in NYC.  

At the start of my two years in Tel Aviv, I made some pathetic attempts to participate in the actions of Israeli center-left and far-left groups, but was so taken by the raw, passionate energy of the dance community I encountered that I abandoned my activist posturing in favor of moving alongside those inspiring bodies.  I tried to align Israeli choreography with political activism- dedicating my MFA thesis to an effort to uncover/create instances of resistance in contemporary Israeli dance.  I want so much for my practice and love of dance to be integrated with my politics, my sense of what it means to live ethically in this world.  I keep coming up short, dance keeps disappointing me:  but I keep trying, dance keeps trying. (Not at all sure about referring to dance as if it is this thing beyond what we construct it to be...)


Back to the last day of 2008:  Our conversation about Gaza was circular, frustrating- echoing conversations I've been having about Israel/Palestine ever since I first visited in 1995.  How to position myself?  My mind spins between attachment and disgust, connection and alienation - my concern for Israeli family and friends, my horror at the unjust treatment of Palestinians.  I end up ideologically, emotionally, and intellectually paralyzed: I have never attended an anti-Israel demonstration, nor have I ever attended a pro-Israel demonstration.   This paralysis disgusts me, until I consider the potential power of being in-between, occupying not the one-or-the-other, but the both-and-more position.  What kind of living is possible from this uncharted, complex, non-fixed position?


I feel that America, and certainly the Bush regime, encourages citizens to believe in clear but false oppositions.  Our media thrives on it.  Reading the posts from some of the press about our action reminds me that people are not comfortable with an art event that does not situate itself neatly inside a fixed category of being.  Movement is not a thing that can easily be judged as good or evil, effective or ineffective, liberal or conservative.


My answer to the paralyzing, oppositional emphasis on either-or has been movement, which for me has become an always-in-between practice of dancing through an idea.  I believe that if I can keep my body moving with these conflicts/questions, that I'll find my way to a place of arrival, a position from which more questions will inevitably emerge.  I remember that during the escalation of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, while some went off to fight, and others to protest- I spent a lot of time improvising alone in empty studios, on my roof-top porch in Tel Aviv.  (Soon after I started teaching movement to young adults with disabilities, to orthodox Jewish actors who had never been given permission to express themselves through movement.  I know:  It is indirect, it doesn't all line up, but it was a way toward action that kept me from feeling bound up in my own selfishness and helplessness.)


How perfect that freedom of information asked me to improvise continuously while attempting to wrestle with all these questions, inviting me to consider how this might be an act of protest.  Freedom of Information allowed me to try to line it all up: dance, protest, awareness, change, hope.  I am moved by how differently we all encountered and embodied this proposal: for some of us- it did line up, and for others it did not.


Tirtzah and another Boston-based painter where my only live audience members during the 24 hour action.  I had no live internet feed.  While Tirtzah slept from 12:30- 10AM, I was totally alone.  


During the first few hours, it was exciting and pleasurable to be able to isolate and indulge my body's love of movement.  I felt free, and I accepted this freedom as a gift of the action.  I was struck by how much choice I have in how I conduct my life- when and how to move in any way that I want, whenever I want.  


(Side note:  In a rare moment of Zionist identification during the winter of 1999, I told an Israeli friend of mine that I was going to stay in Israel and join the army.  She told me that the world needed more dancers and less soldiers.) 


The middle of the night and the early morning were difficult for me- I spent hours shaking and tapping different body parts, leaning against a wall and absently swinging my legs.  Once Tirtzah woke up in the morning, and gave me some oatmeal to eat, I regained energy and began moving more fully.  With my small audience, I returned to my movement investigations.  Tirtzah danced with me for an hour, I ate another snack, I moved with reckless abandon for the last hour of 2008 (Tirtzah told me when I had one hour left).  

I remember thinking as I finished freedom of information that I should teach more and perform less-  that more people should be able to discover how to access the kind of pleasure and awareness that I feel when I move.  

Shifting gears: some thoughts from January 16th 2009

I am generally an optimistic person.  I think this optimism fuels my belief in dance’s ability to be part of a vital and necessary creative dialogue around issues such as war, justice, and suffering. 

For me, as impractical and impossible as it may seem, Israel has been both the site of an imagined, yearned-for utopia and a failing, corrupted state.  Lately, America - in the transition between Bush and Obama – also embodies this both-and quality:  overwhelming failure makes possible a kind of desperate hope and optimism. 


The past few weeks have been difficult for me as an optimist.  I find it difficult to discuss this with others, but somehow trust this grouping of people.  This war in Gaza has induced a drastic decline in my ability to believe in human progress.  I feel choked, remote- as if the logic of both sides of this conflict has become completely unhinged from a reality where actual human beings live and breathe in the world.  There are very few people in my immediate circles who seem willing or even able to position themselves in the in-between- and all around us exists a vast sphere of growing hatred and condemnation, hope becomes more distant.  With eyes toward the inauguration, and a desperate, failing optimism pinned on a new America, I already feel as if it is too late. 


I have to reposition myself, this is the beginning of an eyes-more-widely-opened transition.


Again, my deep gratitude to all of you, to Miguel for taking on this project, this experiment.  I know that we have to keep pushing ourselves, keep asking the impossible from ourselves, from our chosen art form.


-Jesse Z

foi response from Sharon Mansur (MD)

if we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. –george eliot

as a fellow dance friend once said “language is not my first language” but here’s my initial verbal response:

apartment living room
kitty Mia
human witnesses via internet
showing up

words that emerged-(in my mind, in my body and on paper)
displacement, displace, this place, misplace, a place, place, place mat, can’t place you
out of place, in place, replace, the place, in place of….

what would it take to have peace when human nature embraces both violent and nonviolent tendencies?
a sense of forgetting, letting go of need to avenge, revenge?
what does true forgiveness entail? can one truly forget? how does a new pattern start from old?
if I was wandering what would I take with me? where would I go?
tired, cold, unsettled, how do maintain a sense of yourself?
leave a trail…so you can find your way home…
conflict….tensions…..power……poverty……lack of voice, lack of choice….anger….what else can I do?

feels oddly peaceful, being blind and deaf, a cocoon….a portal


displaced memories... bringing them all back together….important to remember it ALL…dark and light
my Lebanese heritage….how does that relate? Lebanon’s civil war history, can’t visit safely to see where my father’s family is from, a cousin’s husband caught in Beirut summer 2006 conflict, got back to the U.S. ok, I've been called a terrorist...
another cousin of college age, same side of the family, is serving in Iraq, an out of the box choice for our family,….what would he say in response to this?

this is the place, ain’t no place for your kind, no how, no room at the inn, space, save face, and leave, the human race, space case, home is where the heart is

kept some furniture in the room, daily life familiar
fabric draped around perimeter
still camera on hand
sketchbook and pencils
blanket and pillows
at the last second grabbed a piece of red fabric to start on seated, and a set of mongolian bells my friend Daniel gave me for Christmas.
they became my starting rituals for each segment, my “place mat” throughout the event

my movement-
more minimal than full bodied, task oriented, pedestrian, gestural, some periods of fuller physical expression, rocking, sitting, struggling to stay awake, fell asleep for a bit
somewhat limited by the size of my space but containing as well
desire to move in a less typical dance-y way for me
the creation of various tasks to maintain focus emerged over time, felt comforting

brought a rocking chair back into the room
evoked several images:
sense of waiting for someone or something to come back after being away
passing of time with each rock
myself as an old woman, my mother, my Lebanese grandmother I never met
myself as a baby as my mother rocked me in this chair after I was born

….sense of “place” =wherever my body happens to be

some recurring movement themes-
repetition…..lots of repetition
using my hands to cover my already blindfolded eyes, then uncovering hands, then lifting up the blindfold to reveal closed eyes
hand brushing across mouth
weight shifts, pelvis moves then body responds
rubbing hands and turning palm side up, then down, here, then there, then here
tracing edges of things: the red fabric, the wood floor slats, the couch, the sketchbook paper
touching various parts of my body, then extend into space, I’m here, this is there…
tearing large paper into small, scattering then gathering
the number 189
the number of pieces of a certain paper page torn, then scattered,
then a repetitive morphing movement section evolved with 189 movements executed once, then again later
rocking and rocking and rocking
unraveling threads off the red fabric, then winding the threads from one hand to the other
singing and humming wordless songs at one point

used bathroom when needed still blindfolded and earplugged
took a few breaks to regroup, eat toast, check video equipment

lost internet connection shortly after my second segment started but didn’t realize that until 12:00. provider problem not restored until 6:00pm with neighbor's help. taped first hour of each segment on mini-dv, took still shots of the room each break, did a series of shots while blindfolded

midnight to 5:30am was most challenging period, but found out later my friend and dance colleague Gesel stayed up to watch that entire segment online, she recalled I said I wouldn’t have anyone with me in person

the next difficult were the last 2 hours….nodding off at the end in my rocking chair, but overall kept showing up and time kept passing and it was what it was

my friend Jenn in Minnesota, a geologist and professor, watched an early evening segment and commented later that it was striking to see me in my sense of place, my home, as I was meditating on displacement

my partner Jon who’s also in Minnesota, helped me test out ustream, kept an eye on me online, tried to help me troubleshoot the internet, on the phone with me at 12:05am

the sensory deprivation and meditative aspect appealed to me, no doubt harkening to my catholic upbringing, doing without for a time in order to focus the heart, spirit and intentions

overall…I felt a sense of lightness, ease and balance immediately after and through all of new year’s day and is still with me now

glad I chose to have it relatively private, at home, with support from afar

truly felt the collective energy of our group as well as those witnessing online, don’t know if I could have kept my focus without that palpable presence

yesterday I picked up a book at the library “In the Hot Zone: one man, one year, 20 wars” by Kevin Sites, informative, eye opening and touching, covering conflicts worldwide from Somalia 2005 through Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon summer 2006, from a broad as well as personal story focus;;

interesting that such a relatively simple act can be a powerful touchstone for so much emotion and thought and sensation, as I tune into myself, read your responses, talk with others, see online postings

thank you all……


P.S. my cat was a fabulous witness…

foi response from Amanda Hamp (IO)

Hello again everyone.

At this moment one week ago I was a few minutes away from completing the action of freedom of information 2008. The project intends specifically to be an act of recognition of and solidarity with those displaced by war, but it extends to all who are suffering. For the 24 hours I was blindfolded and ear-plugged, not eating, moving continuously, and, aside from whether it was day or night, I did not know the time. My personal intention for the 24-hour action was to stay conscious. While this encompassed such synonyms as mindful and contemplative, frequently throughout the 24 hours it was hard to simply stay awake. My experiences during the 24 hours ranged from quite difficult to so blissful.

I entered the 24-hour action questioning my connection to those affected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So persistent were my thoughts that my experience in this action could not even get a glimpse of the experiences of those who suffer the violence of war. The distinction between my choice and their subjugation was so strong. Questions about how I and this action could possibly reach people in Afghanistan and Iraq, so remote geographically and experientially, continued for much of the event.

What I was sure was nearly the end of the 24-hours lasted for a very long time, and it became very difficult to stay conscious. It was simply hard, and to some extent, I was suffering. Though I had a choice, and the freedom to stop at any time, I had submitted myself to the commitment, so I had a feeling of being subjected to something. This is when I started to have, rather than only a cognitive understanding, a more experiential comprehension of people who suffer subjection to displacement, violence, torture and confinement. Because of this action, I feel empathy differently for those affected on both sides of war.

A very significant and powerful aspect of this piece was other people: the other foi2008 participants, family and friends who were present and supportive in their thoughts and attention, and people who came to ArtHaus, most especially, Andrew, who was my witness and support throughout the 24 hours. Though I was doing this alone, I was very much not alone. I felt the strength of many people, and this was how it was possible for me to fulfill the action. It was and is so wonderfully humbling.

Several individuals and organizations in Decorah very much supported the idea of the project, as well as its logistical needs. Again, I am deeply grateful to Kristen Underwood and Lea Lovelace, co-directors of ArtHaus, who donated the space for the event and also hosted a public discussion of the project. I am grateful to you, too, for any way that you supported or thought about foi2008. I am so fortunate and thankful to live and work in such a rich, generous and vibrant community, both in Decorah and in connection with each of you.

If you attempted to watch the webstream, thank you, and I'm sorry that it didn't work. Andrew tried several times throughout the day to broadcast, but the internet connection just wasn't strong enough. There are photos, though, and I've attached some.

Thank you for reading, and just THANK YOU.
With love, Amanda