Dear friends…

Dear friends of The Present Tense,

2015 marks ten years since our first event, Activate: an evening of occurrence. Back then, we had a simple goal to support a movement of experiential art that we felt was underrepresented and had few options for exhibition. The event was modest but well attended, and confirmed our belief that it was our responsibility to support this movement that we were a part of. From 2005 through 2009 we continued to organize a series of events ranging in size from intimate happenings to large scale international performance art festivals.  Our goal was always to show the work of artists at varied stages in their career from all over the world, to create thriving bridges between Boston and other places connected by experiential art practices.  The outcome of these efforts was intense discourse, countless moving performances, many new friends, and of course shoeboxes full of documentation.

In 2009 we both lost our space and launched The Present Tense Archive online, which was an effort to take the traces of the works hiding in shoeboxes and make them available to anyone. It was a daunting task, but with the help of many friends including the Berwick Research Institute, Vela Phelan, and Coco Segaller, we were able to create an archive in the form of a blog. Since then, the archive has accumulated more content than we ever imagined. Interviews, guest posts, and curated thematic posts populated the archive alongside the images and video we had captured ourselves. It became more than an archive, it became a community platform for the art and movement we had set out to support.

A lot has changed since 2009, especially ways for individuals to navigate the internet and strategies for archiving experiential-based works.  It is time for TPT to change, too. This will be the last post on this platform, and the rest of 2015 will be spent reconfiguring the way TPT exists. The form will change, but the function will not. Priority will be given to finding a way to make this accumulated content easier to navigate and more accessible.  We are also contemplating other, more experimental forms of archiving.

This does not mean that The Present Tense will not be active!  We will still be maintaining our TumblrFacebook pageTwitter, and of course our Vimeo page which hosts a large number of works by many artists including our own work.  We will still send out seasonal email updates about our activities.  The Present Tense was born out of our collaboration and has always been an extension of our own artistic practices.  You can also keep up with what we are working on through our personal websites. The blog, however, will remain untouched, enshrined as a relic much like the work it hosts.

Looking forward,

Phil & Sandrine

ThePresentisEternal@gmail.com

www.PhilipFryer.com | www.SandrineSchaefer.com 

Selections from Praxis 0.1

Little Berlin, an alternative space and zine library in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, played host to a new series in October. Wayne Kleppe, the event organizer, felt that Philadelphia could benefit from exposure to different forms of performance and thus started utilizing the space at Little Berlin to organize. Kleppe himself does not identify as a performance artist, however he and his partner contributed the opening piece to the show. I look forward to seeing what he does with this series!

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Wayne Kleppe and Janette Chien IMG_3155 IMG_3163

Eames Armstrong

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Philip FryerIMG_3178 IMG_3182

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Family – r0 & Soheila Azadi

Roberta Orlando

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The simplicity of pictures. A constant research for experimentation. Without walls.
Roberta creates, develops and produces the impact of visual communication with the digital audio sync.
She explores the restless, intimate, thoughtful. She observes the emotions of the body,
sound and atmosphere, surrounding the reality of sense.
An ambient of impulses, visions and extensions that can flow in the intimate space created by r0.,
where the body moves in various digital audio-visual languages.

Roberta Orlando is basing her artistic research on gender identities and performance art, 
with a specific attention to discrimination on sexual orientation. 
She works on visual art with video, photography, installation, performance and sound. 
Her artwork has been exhibited in several and different public spaces, art galleries and museums in Europe and USA. 
Further more her study on gender and LGBT action has been performed in different countries such as: 
Italy, Spain, Germany, Estonia, UK and USA. 

 

Soheila Azadi

“Climate of Fear 002”

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Climate of Fear 002 was performed twice in Wicker Park, Illinois in mid-December, 2013.  Could the fourth hippest neighborhood in the U.S. (Wicker Park, IL) have failed at being hip? I wanted to challenge Wicker Park by assuming a foreign identity, and in this case, my Muslim identity. I asked random people to take pictures with me. The first time I performed this out of about 52 people who I asked, only 20 said yes. The second time I performed this I asked about 20 people to take pictures with me, and 14 people said yes.  The result of this performance is a letter to my family, something that I often do. I also printed all the pictures and I will send them to my family in Iran in January 2014. Once my family receives this letter, I will Skype with them and I will document the Skype session. All the documentation of this performance will be shared here.

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The sound of prayer, the smell of spices, and wet mud from bricks are still fresh memories. Isfahan, that historic city, once the capital of Persia, the city in which I was taught to communicate in Farsi and Arabic, is my home – it is Iran. After attending university in Iran, I immigrated to the United States in 2003. I have lived in Michigan and Pennsylvania for nine years before I moved to Chicago in 2013. I am currently attending University of  Illinois at Chicago. I am working towards an MFA   in Moving Images.

Family – Amapola Prada and John G Boehme

Amapola Prada
“Revolution (La Revolución)”

I have a strong physical resemblance to my mother and father. Physically, it is evident that I am a mix of the two of them. On a very internal level, I hold a piece of each of them and of their previous generations (their expectations, emotions, fears, frustrations, forms of facing daily life, unresolved situations); I contain the process of migration. My construction is not separated from theirs. The work of resolving the previous generations is concentrated in my body. Through my parents, I connect with these generations, and with them I intend to traverse the conflict. When I move, they move; when they move, I move; when we ourselves move, we also move the preceding generations, and the next.

This video is part of “Modelo para Armar: Rehearsing the City”, a series of 6 video-recorded actions realized in Lima, Peru and New York City that demonstrate notions of the city-as-hub, internal migration, and everyday aggression.

La Revolución (Revolution) from Amapola Prada on Vimeo.

Amapola Prada lives and works in Lima, Peru?. Her practice navigates the intimate spaces within human beings unprocessed by consciousness and expressed by non- rational impulses to create symbolic works resonating the social conflicts of everyday life. Her work has been presented by the San Francisco Art Institute; Performa 11; the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Belo Horizonte, Brasil; the Museo de Arte Contempora?neo de Oaxaca, Mexico; and the II Bienal Internacional de Performance in Santiago de Chile, Chile. As a Franklin Furnace Fund Fellow, her work was on view at the AC Institute in New York City. She received a BA in Social Psychology from Pontifica Universidad Cato?lica del Peru?.

Dais (chaos with chair) from John G. Boehme on Vimeo.

John G Boehme
DAIS (chaos with chair)

• Building of cultural chaos
Action:
• Construct a six inch high four foot by eight foot Dias wearing appropriate blue work wear with the insignia “Artist Working” above the upper right shirt pocket.
• Ciel 13 yrs old changes ringtones on mobile phone (loud)
• Place chair in centre of dias.
• Press record on video camera recording dias with chair.
• Change into appropriate white collar, chair sitting suit with tight collar and tie.
• Apply cologne
• Press stop then rewind on video camera.
• Sit on chair placed in the centre of dias.
• Make eye contact, acknowledging each person in room.
• Stand, Pickup chair and completely demolish dias with chair.
• Place chair in centre of dias remains.
• Press play on video camera attached to video projector project intact dias with chair in centre.
• Leave space.

Consider Compulsions 

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As a widespread ceremonial ritual of the industrial age, sport is remarkable for its ability to express two apparently contradictory sets of qualities: on the one hand, modernity, abstraction, efficiency, science, concept, and mind; on the other, the past, archaism, worship, emotionality, sex and the body.

-Varda Burstyn, The Rites of Men: Manhood, Politics and the Culture of Sport.

Professional sports has paralleled the emergence of capitalism, developing recreational activity into a secular religion. Sports are the arena where the social and political tensions are remorselessly played out. The language of sports is the language of war, struggle, and conquest. Terms such as offense, defense, and sudden-death overtime, provide evidence of the codified nature of its conflict.

The adoration of the hero makes sports the sanctioned site for eroticism, and the idealization of the body. Professional athletes have used the cultural space awarded to them to articulate views on class, race and economic struggles. Obsessive “fan” culture serves as a release for otherwise expressed communal energy

moment of unpredictability and infinite potential where the underdog might triumph. Sport can be precarious, dangerous and seductive – all qualities embodied in works of ceramic and glass.

Channeling the historical connections between art and sports, manifest in society’s idealization of the body and its attendant homoerotic fetishism, this program will interrogate not specific contests or competitions, but rather those subjects within sports that “jump the hurdle” and “cross the line.”

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John G. Boehme’s early art practice included painting, sculpture, performance video and digital technology, installation and photography. Boehme describes recent work as “trans-disciplinary” often employing performance, video, audio and objects in a number pieces simultaneously, Boehme is not constrained to any particular creative mode and therefore utilizes integrated approaches to realize the work. John continues to have exhibitions, screenings and festivals across Canada, the Americas, United Kingdom, Europe and China. John is an adjunct faculty at University of Victoria, Camosun and Brentwood Colleges. 

Present Tense, 9 years

Each time July 29th rolls around the Present Tense gets a year older. Next year we will celebrate 10 years of the Present Tense, I can’t believe that nearly a decade has already passed. Late summer always brings a time of reflection on where Present Tense has been and where its going, this year I found myself thinking a lot about gallery SoToDo and the Performance Art Congress. While the Congress and SoToDo (which was a floating gallery) never officially worked with the Present Tense in an organizational capacity, it was the source of many of the artists we’ve connect with and shown over the years. While I was thinking about it a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find that SoToDo’s website was still up, despite it being inactive since 2009. On it, I found a wonderfully written statement from Theordor Di Ricco, the organizer of SoToDo.

Past, Present, Future; What is Performance Art
by Theodor di Ricco

Lecture
11. Sept. 2009
project space LAB39 in Mullae Artist’s Village, Seoul, South Korea

Walking into a room, removing a rubber ball from a pocket and bouncing it on the floor is performance art if the performance artist declares it to be such. Sitting in a lecture hall and watching someone dressed in yellow maneuver themselves to a seat can be considered performance art if the observer declares it to be such. Performance Art does not have a beginning or an end. It happens. Whether it is takes place as spoken word, as a manifestation, an individual action, or even as a foolish activity, it has always occurred because of the need to communicate information on how to live. Art is a vehicle of communication.
Human beings have learned to be creative and social in order to survive. At the dawn of civilization, the first art works were sculptured from stone and painted on cave walls to communicate lessons learned or deeds accomplished. As societies developed, those who controlled the access of information were the ones favored. In order to preserve their power, they subsequently developed a Machiavellian power structure to organize and control the community.

In every society there are fools, shamans, sages and artists who are set apart from the society in general. They are either crazy, have super-human abilities, are wise or creative. To deal with them, the society creates a micro system which mirrors the general Machiavellian structure. Within this tightly controlled micro-system, they are placed at the center and the rest of the community occasionally surrounds.
Within this group it is the artist sets an example how to live (make art). The artist is at the center and is able to see everyone.  This advantage allows the artist to act as a pressure valve within the society, expressing concepts and ideas together with actions and deeds that balance the spectrum of society’s common consciousness,

The alternative life style represented by the artist is tolerated and respected to a certain degree. Because if the quality of life within the society at whole diminishes, some within the community seek alternatives. The artist acts as a catalyst for change. However, for this privilege, the artist is trapped by the community’s focus and must manipulate each side in order to remain in the center (or alive).

The role of the community is to be shown how to live (make art).  The community is content to follow the example of the artist, and is freed from the responsibility of having to live (make art) for themselves. Their role is simply to experience.
The micro-Machiavellian structure is in place for the preservation of society and demonstrates a collective discipline on the part of the artist and the community in order to prevent a state in which everyone is living (making art) for themselves, or in short, a state of anarchy.

Once again, in order to survive humans are creative and social, Art is a means of communication As societies developed, those who have access of information found themselves in control. This lead to a Machiavellian power structure. Mirroring this structure, a micro-version is set-up within where the artists is placed.

Remaining in the center and acting as a pressure valve within the society an example of this is in the beginning of the 20th century. The Futurist and Dadaist, caught in the middle of economic and political extremes created by rapid Industrialization and the First World War, responded by creating time based environments mirroring the chaos of everyday life.

Many art historians define this two groups as the origin of performance art. I could continue mentioning groups or names of artists throughout the last century however people have always been using time as a media of commutation. It is therefore irrelevant to speak of a history of performance art, to drop names as to who was the first to do it and where it first appeared. What is important is to find the thread that links one’s cultural history to time-based events in contemporary life.

Even though Performance Art has always existed, it is only recently been named. The word Performance Art originated from the visual as well as the sound artists’ mouths when asked in the Seventies what they were doing. Later the word was used by art historians when labeling a generation of artists that was moving away from expressing their world in stagnate medium in sculpture, painting and music and consciously used the element of time as a media of artistic expression.

Since the end of the Second World War, virtual consciousness has evolved tremendously. The telephone and television had moved humans much closer to experiencing events simultaneously. Today, the internet is increasingly the vehicle of communication incorporating the two as well as being global and instantaneous.

During the last decades, artists have strengthened their international network respective to the developments of information technology. They also have moved closer to creating art simultaneously. Perhaps performance art is one of the first art forms that appeared in various cities around the world at the same time some forty years ago.

In the sixties, there were Happenings, Sit-Ins, group demonstrations where people came together to manifested a collective statement or common consciousness,

The seventies, Fluxus, in which an object or act is used and manipulated, thus giving it a new meaning. It developed from the concept debated during the period that everyone is an artist in the infrastructure of society; from the gardener, to the craftsmen, the dentist to the politician. It is particular to note, that it is at this time the word Performance Art was deemed proper to use when describing this new and controversial art form.

In the Eighties, artists continued expanding their networks locally as well as globally. The Performance Art began to incorporate the elements of dance, theater, video and music. New genres within performance art were created. An awareness of the body within time and space became Body Art Also, Endurance performance art where the artist explores the limits of the human body and Survival in which the body is physically mutilated became relevant statements with the context of performance art.

In the Nineties, Ritual based performance happened, in which the artist instigates a process, however abstract to impress the experience. Ultimate Mass demonstrations took place where people congregated at a site for a brief period and collectively performed one act. Thus the act of mobilizing had become the statement in itself. Theater, dance and music were increasingly incorporating some of the elements of Performance art and Live Art was created.

In the Naughts or the last decade, artists, having being taught by those who are relevant to the art of performance, have mastered the technique of video and sound and readily included others people in their performance.

Taking a closer look at the history of performance art, similarities in european history, can be drawn to predict it’s future in the upcoming decades. Between circa. 1835 and 1865 the secret police of Austria, Russian and Germany worked together to control the threat of revolution, which that had already occurred in France fifty years earlier. This period is referred to as Biedermeier.

A parallel has recently occurred during the thirty year neo-liberalism period between 1980 and 2010. This economic strategy where the market will control itself and therefore did not need government regulation was in response to the totalitarian communism of the Soviet Union and China.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the neo-liberalism which had already been exported to South America, ruled over the conversion of the former communist countries and China. The shock of political change disorientated many and allowed for a rapid installation of this laissez-faire economic plan. Dissent was labeled as acts against the state and dealt with accordingly. Then came 9-11 and terrorism.

This threat was not limited to the borders of any particular country. Though terrorist acts are site specific, security is global. This provided the impetus within developed countries to install their own neo-liberalism policies. As with the Cold War and now the threat of terrorism, fear is firmly installed and governments implement laws that erode civil rights.

As with the Biedermeier period, in the last thirty years people retreated into our their own four walls due to shock of a neo-liberalism and the threat of terror. When the artists band together to express an alternative consciousness, they are romantic not knowing how or whether there actions might someday justify their means.

Many understand that in order to change society one must also work from within. The current outlet for free speech is through the internet. With the dawn of Web 2.0, there are not three, nine or thirty-six television channels and a separate telephone line, there is only one cable. Both are replaced by the computer monitor, whether it is on a desk or hanging on the wall. Our social networks have become, in part, virtual. We are free to choose what we experience. Art via the monitor will develop within this parameter and performance art is it’s artistic media. Because the ephemeral quality of performance art is it’s means and has been turned into a commodity by those who create it. The future of performance art lies in the action of marketing this commodity via the internet.

There is much debate about what are the elements of performance art. What is most essential is that the method of communicating a message be honest and authentic. Repetition of another person’s work for entertainment purposes is not performance art. There is also much debate about the public’s response to performance art. Performance art does not warrent approval. The public is not required to applaud to show respect. They role is to experience.

A singular performance art action where there is no public and no documentation thereof betrays the necessity to communicate a message. Others can debate differently. However, this debate can be compared to the sound of one had clapping. It is endless and only relevant to those who try to answer it.

It seems nowadays to question the artist’s message and purpose is to betray common sense. As with every action, it has a political, spiritual and an eastectic statement. The can of dog food one buys at the market or the clothes one choses to put on in the morning is a message about oneself and how one interprets the society in which one lives. It seems to reason that if an artist uses the action and calls it art, that their message should be relevant and the concept clear. The need to communicate information to people on how to live (make art) is the purpose of the performance artist.

 

The winds of a silent revolution are taking place, the political and economic structures of the last three decades are changing. The world is moving away from neo-liberalism capitalism towards a socialist democracy. Currently there are more socialist countries than before the Cold War. The last Keynesian period of social democracy between ca. 1930 to 1960 brought the world modern art. This upcoming period will unleash a flurry of contemporary art and performance art is well positioned to be the art form of the 21st century.
Therefore, it is also extremely important that festivals and congresses centered around performance art happen. They bring together artists who differ in their distinct geographical and cultural temperaments, thus ensuring a constant influx of new ideas. They also provide an time based environment where the artists and the public can explore current contemporary means of artistic expression, communicate, pool ideas together and strengthening the bridges that link them further. The benefit of this exchange, whether artistic or personal, is a highly motivating factor for all those who participate. In the case of life following art, this collective artistic happening of performance artists is a service to themselves and to the society at whole.
The concept of performance art has been debated and has continued to evolve. It is the pinnacle of contemporary art simply because it is time based. It is the performance artist who first defines the moment, which is later interpreted in other artistic medium of sculpture, painting, theater, film, dance or music. Performance art is the act of making art on site at the moment. Yet, even though everyone is allowed to make art, only a few dare to do so.

So, To Do.

 

As I began working on this blog post, I noticed that the SoToDo website had disappeared. I can only hope this is temporary, as it houses a wonderful archive including an epic list of every artist that’s performed at the Congress dating back to 1987. For now, we’ll just have to view the site via the Wayback Machine.

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If a tree falls, does it make a sound? – Adam Rose and Ian Deleón

Adam Rose
“Walk to Milwaukee”

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In May 2013, I walked to Milwaukee, WI, from Chicago, IL. I walked an approximate 115 miles in 4 and a half days through northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. I documented the walk using disposable film cameras.
I had the idea for the performance while driving through Indiana. The midwest is often regarded as flyover country, and I wanted to do the opposite and instead experience the scale of the midwest by walking through it. The train ride back from Milwaukee to Chicago took an hour and a half.

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Adam Rose is the Artistic Director of Antibody Corporation, a mission based organization specializing in mind/body integration. His performances incorporate both movement and originally composed music.
Since 2009, he has presented performances in both Dance and Performance Art contexts throughout Chicago, IL, where Antibody is based, and nationally in Brooklyn, NY; Rosslyn, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Cambridge, MA; New Orleans, LA; Detroit, MI; Akron, OH; Columbus, OH; and Waterloo, IA.

Ian Deleón
“A picture of the [past, present, &] future”

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In October of 2013, I visited the archipelago of Puerto Rico for my second time. There was an afternoon, in which I would be alone for several hours, so I decided to walk the 15 minutes from where I was staying in Cataño, to the nearby Bacardí distillery. A good amount of my work recently has been a response to Bacardí’s ad campaigns, especially regarding the “Cuba Libre”, which depicts the U.S. occupation of Cuba at the turn of the 20th century as a benevolent and liberating act. I entered the Bacardí complex knowing that I would do something. After my first complimentary cocktail, I decided to try the infamous “Cuba Libre” right from the source–it was gross [see Image 1]. Leaving the gated complex, I noticed how different the architecture and landscaping was within this rum-bottling oasis, a marked difference from the surrounding neighborhood of Cataño. I find a pair of gloves left on the freshly cut grass and display them in a visual homage to Max Klinger.

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A few hundred feet away from the gates, a row of palm trees lines the road leading to La Esperanza (Hope) park–former holding site for the unassembled monstrous statue of Christopher Columbus designed by sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. A headless palm, with a soft, rotting trunk catches my eye–something I have never seen in person. As I investigate the surface tension with my foot, I am reminded of a quote I had recently read from the novel 1984: “Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”
Thinking of Puerto Rico’s ongoing colonial relationship with the U.S., I decided to make this short performance.

Ian Deleón (b. 1987, Miami, 2nd generation Cuban/Brazilian)

“My current body of work may be best understood in terms of its allegorical relationship to archaeology, in which the meticulous uncovering, analyzing and restructuring of ‘media fossils’ allows me to better understand and critique the particular popular culture from which I have emerged. This deconstruction of images, sounds and text (strengthened by a background in film and video editing), provides an opportunity to re-examine mass media output through a variety of critical lenses, such as the post-colonial, feminist, Marxist, cyborg, and post-modern theories.” – Ian Deleón

If a tree falls, does it make a sound? – E.Aaron Ross and Samuel Glidden

E.Aaron Ross
“204 Hits Illuminating, Exhausting”

This piece follows a previous piece of a similar format where I find a tool that seems out of place in its environment and use it to make a performance and sculpture in the environment it was found in.

While the last piece was an urban tool in a rural setting, for this new piece, “204 Hits Illuminating, Exhausting”, I wanted the reverse. I purchased an ax from the Swap-O-Rama on Chicago’s South Side, and located a group of cement pillars only a few blocks away at an abandoned factory. In the pitch black and silent night, I swung the ax into the pillar until I was too physically exhausted to continue. The sound of the ax hitting the pillar created a sharp and metallic echo, triggering a pair of audio sensitive flashes to fire, illuminating the scene for a brief moment for two video cameras and one still camera.

With each swing, dust and cement filled the air before audibly sprinkling the ground. Towards the end of my performance (approximately 8 minutes), the battery life of the flashes also became exhausted, firing less frequently (sometimes only every few hits or out of sync with the hit, allowing sparks from the ax to be visible). Eventually, the flashes stopped firing all together, and I myself stopped soon after from physical exhaustion.

This work produced a 2 channel video installation, 23 photos from the still camera connected to flash (when the two fired in succession to create a lit image), and a 3 piece photo installation using 1 photo of the performance, 1 photo of the pillar after the performance, and the ax itself mounted in a light box.

“204 Hits Illuminating, Exhausting” seeks to embody a fruitless anger and masculinity that I find repulsive, but intrinsic in myself. This work is an exercise in futility and aggression and its necessary expression.
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E. Aaron Ross is a 29 year old single white man living in Chicago. He grew up in the Western Suburbs,skateboarding and playing music in punk and hardcore bands, before attending the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he graduate with one B.F.A. in Moving Image (video/ film/ studio art), and a second B.F.A. in Graphic Design. He is the product of a blue-collar conservative father from the South-ern United States, and a workaholic single mother from Indiana.

Samuel Glidden
“Digging Graves/Buried Dreams”

It is snowing and I walk for a while down side streets until I reach a dead end and climb over some clusters of rocks and end up on a beach next to a wooded area I have never seen before. I blindfold myself and walk down the beach, recording whatever was in front of me. I reach the woods and wander into it, cutting my hands and face on branches and thorns. As time passes it begins to snow harder and I am overwhelmed with fear of the cold and the fact that I couldn’t see anything around me. I could feel the snow and wind hitting my right side so I walked against it, figuring it was coming from the ocean. I eventually feel nothing around me so I take my blindfold off and am on the same beach I began on and walked home. I was lost in the woods, blindfolded, for about an hour.
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” I am a native of Massachusetts and spent most of my formative years in Springfield, MA. When I was 18 years old I moved east and have been residing in Beverly, MA for the past two years, studying at Montserrat College of Art with a concentration in Book Arts.” -Sam Glidden