Whalefall

(Sketchbook entry fall 2011)

“the waiting hungry multitudes

Setting up to brainstorm for the Whalefall exhibit… sand + water + fish + ocean environment + waves, surface + all the feeders +  depth  +  tiny shrunken cups from the deep  ocean  +  waves  + currents  + barnacles + whaleships  +  research boats  +  bahamian banks babies +  sounds +  other whales +  beach belly rubs  +  alaska spy hops  + in the distance far offshore  +  blow  +  orcas from jakes boat + finbacks in the wake coming home on Halcyon +  up through the Westwards steel hull,  then in the water as we swam +     and then the thought  of oceans depth and falling……. to the sea floor,  and a soul that fell and we tried to raise it, but never really did ,  stayed there in that deep blue sea. Probably sheparded off by whalesong  to a different strange place  that I dont know how to tell my son about.  The thought that maybe this is part of my connection to the idea of a whalefall, this story in my heart— it sat so heavy on my chest that a giant sigh came out and the tears ran and throat choked up in a way that doesnt happen when i just tell the story. We are looking so hard for connections these days, social network, webs and share buttons, and they are in everything we do and say and feel.   Already our own web of history and sights and sounds.  Im thankful to be in a life where i get to play these thoughts out to new realizations, to take a simple word and work with what it does to me and make it tell my story for me.  Let that story and its pictures out. More sighs are here, Ely is waiting for stories to be read. All this in an empty shop window. Wow.”

So one night I was sitting in the mountain cabin  ( this is not the sad story)  and listening to  a podcast from Radiolab about loops and one segment, one word really, caught my attention. Whalefall- when a whale dies in the water and falls to the sea-floor, (along the way providing food and nutrients for a whole world of creatures for a very long time after its death).  I had never heard this or even thought about the possibility and was drawn like a moth to the ipod and listened to the segment with notebook in hand oddly captured by it. Months go by and I keep thinking about it and why it struck me so. Then an opportunity for an art installation in an empty storefront comes up and I decide i will try and work with this idea somehow. From there it becomes a rather Butoh-esque thing as product is set a side and making art for process sake takes over. The notebook entry quoted above comes in here.  Now a year later the installation is up  at One Main Street in downtown Auburn, and it is a pile of ideas and things and images that have come along and connected the dots from here to there, most will walk by and say “huh”.  One group of boys said “is that supposed to be art”  to themselves outside as i was finishing up the install.  Its not really pretty, has its moments, but it is the traces of me figuring out how a piece of my mind works and  seeing the ripples of one day    15 years ago in so many things that i am doing now.  I should say thanks to the Auburn Empty Storefronts people for giving me space and resources to do this thing.  It does remind me a lot of my work as a Butoh dancer,  pretty naked and pretty out there, mind wide and running, with  an audience who are wondering what it is they are supposed to be seeing.  I guess thats the real question, what will all thats come befor help them to see?IMGP2804The exhibit will be up in downtown Auburn till Christmas, and if anyone knows a sciencey, or whaley, or conservationy, or marine biologisty friend who might want to use the “whalefall” image at the top of the post, let me know. I would love it to live on.

 

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2 thoughts on “Whalefall

  1. Your writing is as beautiful as your artwork. So inspiring and thought-provoking. What an indelible mark you are leaving. Love you!

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