Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yarn and Dry Bones

On Friday night, I was invited by Ventiko to participate in a new monthly evening of performances at Culture Fix.  For the event, I re-imagined the string sculpture that I had first seen in NYC with Freestyle Arts Association. In this incarnation, the sculpture started off as a bizarre PVC structure with yarn and scissors at the base.  
Inside the structure were simple instructions comparing the PVC structure to the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, in which God asks the prophet, "Can these bones live?"  The idea is that throughout our existence we are often confronted with the dried out remains of what used to be, relationships, institutions, dreams, which no longer seem to have use or meaning.  What do we do in such situations? Do we walk away?  Do we try to give them new life? Do we dismantle them and make something new?  
I have been assigned to start a new congregation in a neighborhood where the physical remains of Lutheran congregations that were robust one-hundred years ago are very present in the form of massive, badly deteriorating buildings. So for me, the question is a very real one.  Can these bones live?  And if so, what will they look like?  I hoped this yarn sculpture would give me some insight.
At first, people behaved as I thought they would.  They wrapped the skeleton in different colors of yarn.
But then something unexpected happened:  someone started to wrap the yarn around a person! 
Once one person started, another followed, until soon everyone was tying themselves to their neighbors, and weaving the whole room into one intersecting web. 
The sculpture started with the PVC structure, but through the inspiration of the community, it literally came alive in the bodies of its co-creators.  In doing so, it laughed, and danced, and jumped across the room. 
Looking back, participants making each other part of the sculpture is an incredibly obvious thing to have happen, but in the three years that I've known about string sculptures, I've never thought to imagine that it would.  And that gives me hope.

Of course, at the end of the evening, I still dismantled the sculpture (it fits nicely in a should bag and under my arm).  In two weeks the PVC will be reborn as something completely different for Animamus Art Salon, that I will be hosting at St. John's Lutheran Church (155 Milton, Brooklyn) at 7:00pm on Sunday, May 13.

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