June 2013 residency

Fungi in the woods

Photo: Sarah Butler Peck

The thin layer of icy sleet that whitened the pavement outside my home in Cambridge, MA this morning felt at odds with the sounds and images of early summer I’ve been delving in these past weeks. At long last, I’m pleased to present an update on our 2013 residency at Zelený Les. The week of June 8-15 was moist, to say the least! Our days were blessed by persistent, soft rains that swelled the banks of Kidd Brook and the pond, induced exquisite sounds of flowing, dripping, trickling water, nourished the fungi in the woods and intensified the verdant green that was everywhere. WATER was our mascot – a fitting for one for the watershed that is Zelený Les, Delaware County, and much of the surrounding region.

Water-laden leaves

Photo: Sarah Butler Peck

Our group doubled in size this year. Margaret Bellafiore, n. noon coda and Sarah Butler Peck were repeat visitors, and Colette Aliman (collaborating remotely with Maria Molteni), Dennis Friedler and Matthew Glover were first-time resident artists. Working as a collaborative team, Sarah and Matthew shot hours of video footage and interviewed the artists for a documentary short about Zelený Les as part of a larger piece to examine artist residency programs. Stay tuned!

Our time together was enriched by inspiration, collaboration, good times, great food, and dewey moisture on our cheeks! I was happy for the chance to make work too (gratitude to Dennis for saving my skin…feeding us after my performance). Scroll down to view slideshows. Click here to view our new Vimeo channel!

Maria Molteni| Colette AlimanAfterswarm video still 1Afterswarm video still 2

Afterswarm – Parallel performances for video / Video stills: Colette Aliman and Maria Molteni, Slideshow images: Sarah Butler Peck

Colette and Maria, both Boston artists of the inflatable persuasion, have consumed enough bee product and lore to develop acute Hive Minds and a very special artistic relationship. At Zelený Les, they performed remotely from one another in response to the 24-hour controlled burning of the original farmhouse and colony of bees that built a home in the ceiling of the upstairs bedroom (it was rescued and relocated by a local beekeeper). At the site of where the farmhouse once stood, Colette constructed a 36-foot hexagonal perimeter of smoldering coal and wood chips contained by foil. The smoking of the hexagon refered to a dichotomy between the destruction of the farmhouse by fire and the apicultural technique of using smoke to induce delirium in bees.

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During her performance, Colette arranged assorted materials, including windowpanes and slate from the foundation of the farmhouse, as well as water from Kidd Brook, a protected stream. The video of her performance was juxtaposed with the video of an off-site piece in which Maria collected bees from a hive and performed controlled stings to each joint on the left side of her body.  Maria subsequently did public a performance at Anthony Greaney Gallery in Boston, MA. ♦ ♦

Margaret Bellafiore

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Water = Life – Photos and video: Margaret Bellafiore

“Catherine had told us that on hot summer days in her childhood she used to like to take cooling brook walks. I had wanted to try this although Kidd Brook was now flowing furiously after 4 days of rain and overflowing its banks in many places. I recorded my thoughts as I walked. I thought about my interview with Heidi Gogins at her Catskills Citizens for Safe Energy stand at the Farmer’s Market in Delhi. She was protesting the fracking of the Marcellus shale for gas. She explained the side effects of this process threatened to poison the water as it already had in nearby Pennsylvania. The water from the Catskills is the source of the drinking water in New York City. My recorded brook walk became a way to mark and reveal this precious watershed.”

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Giving Thanks – Recitation and interactive performance at Kidd Brook / Artist: Margaret Bellafiore, Photos: Margaret Bellafiore and Sarah Butler Peck

“I  found a book in the bedroom bookshelf at Zelený Les containing a folded up yellowed page from the New York Times dated May 27, 1979. It was a full page ad taken out by John Lennon and Yoko Ono addressed to the readers : …”Sean is beautiful. The plants are growing…We live in a beautiful universe. We are thankful every day for the plentifulness of our life…We understand that we, the city, the country, the earth are facing hard times and there is panic in the air…It’s goin’ to be alright! The future of the earth is up to all of us.” When I read this, 34 years later, I was shocked at its resonance! I wanted to share their sense of hope and resilience with the others at the residency in the form of a personal performance. I told noon, Dennis, Matthew, Sarah and Catherine to meet at a certain time at a group of flat rocks on the banks of the running brook. I was partially hidden in the bushes on the other side of the meanders. I came out and read out loud the entire piece that John and Yoko had written. I then traversed the brook and asked each one separately to come to the edge of the water so I could reach out and hold their hand. I poured a cup with brook water into each of their hands, thanking each one for how much I appreciated their personal gifts to me.”  ♦ ♦

n. noon coda

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Bedstead – mixed-media sculpture with flower stamens, evergreen, cheesecloth, cotton, embroidery, barn wood, stones, twigs, thread / Artist: n. noon coda, Photos: Sarah Butler Peck

Waterline – hand-sewn ribbon, pine trees / Artist: n. noon coda, Photos: Sarah Butler Peck

“Bedstead grew out of a sense of poignancy that I experienced under the shelter of 6 tall spruce trees, of which 4 were planted for each of Antonín and Adele’s children. Sitting under the trees here, one has a view up the long hill on the property and can see the present house that the parents built with the intention of year-round use upon their retirement. It was important to me that the materials I used (with one exception) were only from the property itself. I created a small coverlet and embroidered a family monogram, placing the bed under the grove and facing the uphill view as I did.

Blue line (no. 2) was an extension of last year’s blue line piece Sky Sketch. Where the earlier piece was about “retrieving” the sky, Blue line (no. 2) felt more connected with the water. The abundance of the natural springs on the Tutter property, Kidd Brook, and our rainfalls the week of the residency became a reference to water line.”  ♦ ♦

Catherine Tutter

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Memory Yarn – Interactive performance / Artist: Catherine Tutter, Video stills: Sarah Butler Peck

On a day with some sun I exposed 17 cyanotype prints to UV rays over the course of an afternoon on squares of mulberry paper, each displaying an iconic image that evoked a childhood memory of summers at Zelený Les. In a late afternoon performance on the bridge, I spun each square into yarn after it was handed to me by an audience member. The chooser of the image shared why she or he picked it, and I shared my childhood memory. I used water from Kidd Brook to soften the paper strips while I spun, and stones plucked from the roots of an ancient tree by an alabaster goddess (aka Sarah) anchored the paper squares to the bridge. 3 hours later, I had a spindle of yarn and 5 images remaining. It was getting cold and people were fidgeting. Concluding with a debate about the merits of spinning until all the squares were spun or not, I reached my stopping point and the performance ended.  ♦ ♦

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