I recently attended a performance/lecture by Christine Fentz, an artist and performer from Denmark. She came to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center to share her “In the Field” performance. I’ll start by saying I’m often skeptical of performance art, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole experience, and what Christine offered were some very thoughtful ideas about time and place, and how those can be interpreted very differently by people from different cultures, and a very “real” interaction with a group of strangers. What I mean by this is that she made an effort to make us feel as though we were guests in her home, serving us tea throughout the performance, asking us to share parts of our experiences of time and special places, like home.
I’ve recently been somewhat stressed about my upcoming move–back to Georgia–and have been thinking a lot about my attachments to my home in DC. That may be why this exercise was so personally meaningful. Christine discussed how nomadic people in Siberia who she has spent some time with think of home. She talked about how they have a very particular order to how they pack up their things when the move to a new place, and a very particular way of unpacking. Then she asked us all to close our eyes and think of the things in our home that really matter. Then we imagine how we will pack for our journey, whether we will carry our things on our back, whether we will use a cart. It didn’t necessarily relieve my stress, but it did make me think about my journey with less trepidation.
Finally, after several other interesting exercises, we all lay on the floor on our backs and sort of meditated to sounds of birds, insects and things, and when we were instructed to open our eyes again we found a bowl of soup next to us, and passed around a basket of bread. I find these sort of moments quite lovely, and a bit disarming. I’ve shared a few photos from her website here to give you an idea of what it was like.