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the (stillness) project

A five screen synchronized video installation:

This year (stillness) was shot at dawn on the summer solstice. A stunning day break unfolds in real time, from many points of view, across the greening fields of the Joseph Fiore Art Center,  Rolling Acres Farm to Damariscotta Lake. We begin in the dark with loons calling and the moon reflecting on the surface of the lake, a group of 20 humans move slowly across the field almost as if still dreaming. There is an abstract movement with cello in a graveyard followed by a group song about water, connectedness, love and strawberries. We encounter a porcupine, a turtle, a fish, and oh the bird song; bob-o-links, red winged blackbirds, oriels and more singing the morning chorus.  A story is told at a table and water and bread are shared. Finally a sequence unfolds with a 60’ magenta cloth and a dance in the the lake, which gently weaves together everything we have seen so far. Mostly still cameras with one embedded and moving with the players allows the viewers the privilege of being along on the journey or to imagine that they themselves are the stillness of the field or a bird observing from overhead. The video is contiguous, we watch this whole thing unfold in real time. Here is an excerpts clip from the installation but remember it’s real magic is in the immersive space, and day break unfolding in real time.

video excerpts from 2019

 

"This piece speaks to larger issues of land and water and our spiritual relationship to landscape and place. Given the conversation we are having right now about Climate Change, I think the this work could be a meaningful part of that conversation, with other artists, policy makers, environmentalists and spiritualists.” -Tracey Cockerel

"This work re-imagines an old/new way of humans being together with the natural world, not as separate from it but as an integral part of it. It is showing us a way." -Sally Stevens

"There were really beautiful metaphors that came and went…wrapping and un-wrapping with an embrace, the duration of the whole piece was really necessary to experience the salient connection of these metaphors. In addition to where the “action” was, I enjoyed the pastoral views, where I could watch just the light changing and I could move my focus, that really enhanced my experience of the whole thing because I could chose where I was going to focus.” -Tracey Cockerel

“I was so moved by the colors, every time human figures walked into a frame it shocked me in such a delicious way.” Naaz

“The sense of connection, togetherness and presence that I see in us moving across the landscape I think is a medicine for the sense of separateness, isolation and loneliness that permeates so much of out culture today.” Leigh Seeleman

 

How (stillness) came to be:

" In 2015 Susan Bickford initiated a pilot program inviting 10 local artists; dancers, musicians, visual and media artists to retreat at a river camp in Sheepscot Village at the reversing falls. The goal of this group was “not to impose ourselves on this natural wonder, but to listen, immerse ourselves and become part of the concert of nature that is always already going on”. This group considered the season, weather, moon, tides, sun, insects, birds and fish. “We forged alliances with landowners, and ‘performed’ for three days using the still point at the falls as our proscenium. We shot our exploration from 5 perspectives including two on boats, overhead and underwater. The 5 screen video installation of 5 synched simultaneous projections is available to be exhibited as a gallery show, from 2015, 2018 and 2019.

video from 2019

video from 2015

video from 2016

video from 2017

video from 2018

Conceived as a performance for video, it became clear to the participants that this could be viewed live and would be valuable to stage as performance.

Since then we have migrated through sites along the waterways of Midcoast Maine deepening our connection to each place and broadening our relationships through seasons over time.  A collective of 20 artists across disciplines iincluding, dance, music, story telling, visual art, yoga, videography, photography, printmaking, cooking, astrology, forest therapy, writing and foraging retreat for 4 days to create an original piece inspired by the place. On the final day each year we welcome the public to participate in a performance in nature which culminates with a foraged feast. Please contact sbickford@tidewater.net for more information about attending or to inquire about participating as an artist. We are currently seeking future locations and diverse bodies and voices to join our collaborative.

articles:

Bob Keyes for the Portland Press Herald

about (stillness)17 + 18

 

Bob Keyes for the Portland Press Herald

about the foraged feast

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