Tuesday, June 27, 2006

again, a mass email. I apologize. It is not that I dont love you... (and I apologize for the lack of apostrophes, they dont exist in the Czech language.)

Hello everyone,
Upon arrival to Valasske Klobouky (Kosenka), I was greeted with hugs and kisses, fresh apple cider and slivovice. It was a beautiful reunion.
For those of you who received my previous emails, you have an idea of what Kosenka and this little town mean to me. My time here in the winter was the most profound part of my entire excursion abroad. It is the place where I felt welcomed and empowered to participate and I gained the confidence to aim towards the larger picture, rather than the immediate concrete change. And so I am back to add another set of hands to assist their endeavors and to recharge from my time away.

I am writing to you sooner than I had anticipated because so much is happening and everything feels great. My first full day at Kosenka, Mirek took me on a hike to see some of the White Carpathian reserves. He showed me the diversity of the land as we hiked up and down and around the mountainside. He took me to a meadow where there lives about 160 different species of plants, about a third of them medicinal. He showed me the many different orchids and taught me that while orchids have the smallest seed and can travel easily, they need a very specific community in order to grow. This meadow even has bugs that can be found nowhere else. During our last hike up the mountain, he took me to a field filled with wild strawberries, and so we hiked crouched down low, to find, pick, and eat the sweet, small berries.

Yesterday I sewed and weaved on 100 year old equipment! It was great to feel my body so engaged in these activities. And afterwards, my feet felt like they were still rocking on pedals of the sewing machine.

I spend my free time hiking and meditating and reading and doing yoga and writing. I write a lot. Things seem much more peaceful this time, but maybe I am just more immediately relaxed and comforted by the familiar space.

Upon your suggestions, I am currently engrossed in Octavia E. Butlers Liliths Brood, and I just read the mowing section from Tolstoys Anna Karenina, and I am taking in daily doses of Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. I would highly recommend them all. I meant to send you all an email of a compiled list of the suggestions I received, I will try to get that out to you soon. With all of the reading recommendations that were in my local library, I copied a couple of chapters of each so that I can have a taste of them all while abroad. I plan on using this paper for art projects as I finish reading each selection. Anna Karenina is on its way to become a paper mache eye (Mireks eye, whose wrinkles resemble sun rays)

At the end of the week I will move on to Barbara Benishs farm and camp (www.bbenish.net/artmill), where I will teach dance, participate in taking care of the land, and learn about how they are working towards sustainability. I will be there for about a month.

vsechno je hezky.
tak, ahoj,

p.s. uz jsem doma.

only for you. not in original email....
I spent this morning out in that meadow of 160+ plants, picking herbs for tea..... and I heard yodaling (it is so foreign to me, I dont even know how to spell it). I mean this wasnt like Jewel, or any other sexy pop star, this was actually someone calling for someone else on a different mountainside. Maybe they were calling for me? I didnt respond, I just looked towards the sound and smiled.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Post #2 for today:
(I am at a cafe with free internet, and I don't know when that will happen again.)

I just walked past Old Town Square, which is decked out with a big screen broadcasting the World Cup. As I entered the festivities, Mexico scored a goal on Portugal (I think... although there were no fans from the opposing team, so I couldn't be sure). The entire crowd broke out into song and dance! There were probably about 40 people wearing green shirts and sumbraros with Mexican flags painted on their faces. Afterwards, they started shouting "Si, se puede!" (a phrase I associate only with Cesar Chavez). The Czech Republic is one of the most xenophobic places I have ever been, and so it was unbelievable to see such a large international crowd (and mostly Mexican crowd) invading the center of Prague. Pretty awesome.

Tomorrow begins my journey to nature. My former academic advisor, a cronic worst case senario day-dreamer, has warned me about ticks and Lyme Disease, and other dangers in nature. She wants me to get a vaccine, but I am going to resort to deet and daily tick removal. If those of you reared in nature have any suggestions, please let me know.
I have returned home. Or at least it feels that way.

It is pretty amazing to go abroad and to feel completely comfortable, like you belong there. And so, it is the Czech Republic where I need to be right now, and it feels good.

I arrived yesterday afternoon and already I have spent hours on end at a cafe, given my tram seat up for 3 senior citizens, and ate a breakfast of jam and bread.
At each leg of this trip I will give up more amenities in order to learn more from nature.

I will keep you posted...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Last night I skipped the World Naked Bike Ride for the Busycle. Yes, the Busycle. It is the invention by some artists from Boston. A fifteen person, pedal-powered vehicle. I got to try it out a couple times. Sitting on rummaged office chairs, with my feet on bike pedals, "Go!" shouts the driver and cyclists down the line, and we start peddling, and the bus starts going. The Busycle is a revamped van, with only the wheels, gears, and steering wheel in tact. The cooperation of 14 pairs of legs make the wheels turn. As we go we stop traffic (literally because we are a huge van, making wide turns, and going very slow). Sitting in the cyclist seat, I got to wave to the passersby, and make the spectacle even more exciting. In fact, Angie and I began choreographing upper body actions to match the rhythm of our legs.

The creators of the Busycle noticed that when they took it around Boston, no matter which neighborhood, a crowd would form of curious and excited people. When the Busycle stopped, the individuals met and talked and shared stories. The Busycle is a catalyst for conversation and community. And so during this U.S. tour, the Busycle rides end in storytelling. It is storytelling without any rules, just a blanket and a microphone. When a person felt like she had a story, she sat on the blanket and shared. Really simple. It was amazing to see people feel comfortable and share a piece of their history, themselves. (It was also interesting to hear the background information one must reveal in order to tell a clear story to a group of strangers.) Mostly the stories were funny, about awkward encounters with the police, nature, and foreign lands. I shared a story about the late master tap dancer Buster Brown, followed by my rendition of his soft shoe dance, a story of its own.

While we were on the Busycle we were interconnected, literally through chains and gears. The Busycle wouldn't move if we didn't work together. And the Busycle is a physical manifestation of our society at whole. Combining the Busycle with storytelling allowed us, as individuals, to make these connections and see the commonality among each other. The Busycle tour will expand these connections by sharing our stories with the next towns they visit and ultimately making a documentary of this whole experiment.

Check out their website for more information and tour dates. The Busycle may be coming to a neighborhood near you. yeah!

Monday, June 05, 2006

A mass email, written an hour ago. Knock out 2 birds with 1 stone....

Hello Everyone!
I apologize for the hiatus, but school and the end of school and life have all attracted and held on to my attention. I have been doing well, really well. After some long hours, late nights, and dark chocolate, all my work has been turned in and summer is well on its way. Chicago is now my home more than ever. I remember feeling at home when I began running into non-classmates in Prague, and then feeling strange when that happened my first time in Chicago in 2006. And so now, not only do I run into familiar faces almost everywhere I go, but I have enough beds, couches, and floors to welcome my rest whenever needed (I have already taken advantage of this).
The end of school did not at all feel like the end, which is great. I have made so many friends at SAIC, and we continue to keep each other active. Through phone calls, emails, tea, and bike rides, we continue to talk about life and art as one. I am beginning to feel more confident in calling myself an artist, although this is still one of my many identities. I am learning how art and academics can intermingle. art as exploration, as study. experimentation as art, fieldwork. On the last day of class, Lin Hixson briefly mentioned how a performer must simultaneously be in the performance, making it happen, and be outside of the performance observing both herself and the audience. This duality struck a chord with me and how I approach academic fieldwork and artistic performance. An academic doing fieldwork is simultaneously inside the moment, learning though life and experience, while outside observing the greater situation, position, and history of the entire experience. I think there are more connections between performance and academics, and I would like to continue to explore these themes.

My SAIC friend YoonYoung recently successfully completed a project dealing with art, community, and research. She held a garage sale/art exhibit outside of a local coffee shop. The items for sale were tagged with stories, questions, and comments relating to their history and her relationship to the items. And so passersby and potential customers were not only provoked by the objects themselves, but the humanity and character put on the object through the knowledge of its history. Through these insights YY and I could engage the customers (community members) in conversation. YY finally met her neighbors, exchanged email addresses with other local artists, and took a snapshot of each customer with their new objects, about to engage in a new story. The artistic mind which framed this project created the space for concrete action and insights into the community. We have written about it and will continue to work on these ideas.

* * *
Now, the summer. I wrote to you about the profound effect of the Czech lands on my mind and soul. I wrote that I felt the longing to return to that nature, that there was so much more to learn and gain. And so, with fate on my side and with the faith and finances from Sarah Lawrence College, I am to return... in two weeks! I was awarded the Meredith F. Russell Fieldwork Fellowship in order to study the relationship between sustainability and art making in the Czech Republic. I will return to Valasske Klobouky for a couple of weeks to assist in their annual scything of the meadows and then travel to Southern Bohemia to teach dance on an organic farm and 500 year-old mill. It is incredibly exciting and I am incredibly lucky.

So, in preparation for the next two months abroad, I am making a book list to supplement my experiences. If you have any good reading suggestions, non-fiction or fiction, that have something to do with sustainability, art-making, or interconnection, I would love to hear them. I hope to fill my days with hard work and new experiences, and my nights with writing, reading, and self-reflection. Maybe you can help diversify those night hours.

* * *
Speaking of good books, I just finished a great one by Daniel Glick called "Monkey Dancing." It's a non-fiction narrative about Glick and his two children (ages 9 and 13) and their 5-month adventure around the world experiencing soon-to-be-extinct natural phenomena. It is really enlightening and informative and honest. I highly recommend it!

And so I am soon off for another adventure.
I hope to email again before I leave, but you can also check my blog at http://mirovy.blogspot.com for (possibly) more regular updates.

Thank you always for your interest and support, I really appreciate it.
Wear sunscreen,