Vision, The Ebb Project

 

Upon awakening from a mysterious dream on October 23, 1995, I began reading the work and researching the life of Victorian Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. There were other dreams that followed, but it is the first one that I recount in the performance and that "10 Dream Drawings" represent. The depth I was led to in the dream, into a cave that tunneled deeply under a body of water, parallels the depth this project has gone to and continues to go to. I believe it is the depth that artists and art must go to. We have not gone deep enough into the cave to examine what lies abandoned in the darkness. This is where our culture needs artists to go. It is something that Elizabeth delivered: enormous depth and intelligence motivated by love. She was wounded, suffered profound loss, could have failed and easily blamed the system, the patriarchal empire and all the odds that were against her to spite her so called privileged childhood. But she did not, and would not because we, her culture, needed her to succeed and speak as a poet and because her chosen art form, poetry, needed her voice. She wrote in a letter to her friend the writer Mary Russell Mitford regarding the task she faced on January 20, 1842:

 

"There will be no bitterness in the process whatever the labour..because it is not for the sake of popularity, no, nor of a higher kind of fame, but for poetry's own sake—rather, to speak more humbly & accurately, for the sake of my love of it. Love is the safest & most unwearied moving principle in all things—it is an heroic worker."

 

All that being said, this Project is about more than Elizabeth, and would have to be in any case—because her work (the work of art) was and is about much more than her. Art is always about more than the artist is or can speak of. The EBB Project is a synergy of creative processes in performance, visual art, writing and research. And here again, these directions mirror the paths that led "spoke like" from the central room I was led to in the dream ("Dream Drawing 5"). While I practice and produce work in these art forms separately; I don't see boundaries between them. I see them as resonances of each other. Some things can only be said with a visual image, some things must be said with words, some with gesture / action. This synergy of creative processes sheds new light on old ideas, leads to new realizations about the artistic process, its applications and offshoots. My research uses traditional methods that are synergistic with my practice as an artist. I wish to reveal the artistic process as a fruitful method for research and discovery and new ways to experience time, history and the complexity of personality. I am bringing these valuable insights to my cultures attention. The practice of a single form would not say all that I want to say here and perhaps more importantly would not allow the audience, my culture in all its complexity, to experience and have access to all that is going on here.

My Mom
My mother

 

I no longer see history and time as fixed things but fluid processes that are part of the present moment. To see our selves as separate from the past is to not see our selves. In addition, the idea that art is mutable and mysterious and history and science are fixed and factual is a myth. When we examine science it becomes, like art, an evolutionary, creative and mysterious process. Ultimately the only truth we arrive at is the truth of a creative process. That is what our lives are, creative processes. And we must, it seems, continually unbound Prometheus.

 

But there is also the truth of love. (Another creative process.) I speak here of the wisdom of love rather than the love of wisdom, as did EBB in her Sonnets from the Portuguese and as does contemporary Luce Irigaray in The Way of Love. Everything I am doing is motivated by love. (I love you.) I love my audience. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Thus begins Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43." How foolish I (she) perhaps sound to some, as if I do not know that there are problems in the world, or that post modernism has taken place. But as Julia Kristeva tells us: "The space of freedom for the individual is love. It is the only place, the only moment in life, where the various precautions, defenses, conservatism break down and one tries to go to the limit of one's being, so it is fundamental." My (our) love expressed here is stronger than death.

The love relation I create in "The Consolation of Poetry" is a situation where the limits between myself and the other are abolished. And that is how and why I become her in front of you so that we might abolish what separates and divides her from me and you (the past from the present), me / her from you (the artist from her people) in order that we may regain the discourse that art creates between us ("Dream Drawing 7").

 

My goal, among others, is to establish a discourse with and within the audience, viewer and or reader. When I began reading Elizabeth's poetry and researching her life I knew nothing about her. In part, I wish by example to empower my audience to launch their own searches, ask questions, and become scholars of their own dreams. We are all capable and we need to develop and practice a passionate consciousness of life. That process is a path to our truth. I believe more and more that our well being depends on this.

 

Aunth Edith
My Aunt

Though times are hard I see nothing but opportunity for artists. We are needed now more than ever. We can no longer afford to alienate or be alienated. Our culture not only needs us, the artists, to present the problems but look for the source/reason, read the texts, search for answers and provide them intelligently and passionately with some direction and hope. What I present here is the truth of my creative process and love. It is presented in reverence for all we once held sacred so that it might be heard by all who are drawn to it, so they or we might see what we still are, what we have become, and what we can no longer be, but what we must still feel and hold on to passionately in the process of becoming.

 

 

 

 

 

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