A Copy of a Copy
What does it mean to be in a place? Does it mean remembering the places the shadows fall as the sun moves across the sky? Internalizing a new color green, and it changes the color that was already there as a story about green? Many national parks have artist-in-residence programs, with the idea that being in such profound and glorious nature will undoubtedly inspire artistic desire, the urge to re-represent nature, to inspire others with a re-vealing and re-telling of natural beauty, the thing itself. Gedney Barclay was the artist in residence in Joshua Tree National Park this month, a theatre director with an interest in old stories and new languages, and re-defining theatre as part of contemporary art. Her reddish hair glows in the afternoon light and she talks about Annie Dillard and the idea of writing about pure experience, outside of interpretetions of said experience. How can you make art about nature? How can any language come close to describing where we are now? She wants to talk about everything while talking about one little part of it, encourage an experience of a now. We take a walk to a secret house in the park that isnt on any map, through a landscape that reminds me of the great plains, talking about copying and remaking, about dada and surrealist theatre as a rupture, about what it is to be a maker in the world, and what to respond to, and when it is appropriate to make a piece vs have a conversation.
Then 3 weeks later it was time for her performance, a re-interpretation of Persephone, with Louise Gluck poetry woven in. It was super windy and she was wrapped in a white sheet, the impossibility of stillness on granite. She spoke about the farawayness of stars, that we are not fire. She asked us what we were looking at. Then we followed her across the desert.
We followed her for 25 minutes, she didn’t turn around, sometimes she ran. There was an awkwardness, a question of whether or not we were free to be ourselves and talk, or need we shuffle along in silence. Sun set, orange glow, crazy pants. Movement stillness movement. From afar a blue blob on a giant boulder, a destination, a non-desert object we could tell from afar it was a part of a performance.
A striking image of blue against yellowish, the human impostition upon the lanscape, a statement and a stage for an action. In this case poetry yelled into the expanse, wind whipping, the truth of a body curled back into a perfect hole in the rock at the end of the show. And this frame for an evening an excuse to bring people into a magical land to feel their own bodies, cool faced, sand in your shoes.
Katie Bachler was our first HDTS Scout, and was in residence from 2012-2013.
The HDTS Scout Residency is dedicated to learning more about the people and places that make up our diverse and ever evolving community.
During Katie’s residency, visitors were invited to drop into the HDTS HQ, the Scout’s home base, to meet Katie, who could be found making maps, hosting conversations, and baking bread – in between her off-site adventures around town and out in the field.
Katie had a lot in store during her time here, including:
- a series of talks featuring local experts
- joining together to create a web of knowledge
- a research library and archive documenting the many spaces, places, plants, and people that make up this special region
- casual conversations with drop in visitors over tea
- site visits and field trips around town
Katie engaged the community by instigating map-making and rag-rug braiding workshops, the Scout’s Book Club, Art in the Environment classes for desert kids, casual conversations, site visits and field trips—all shared in her Scout’s blog, which serves as the foundation for her book.