ARTISTS NEED TO CREATE ON THE SAME SCALE THAT SOCIETY HAS THE CAPACITY TO DESTROY.
Over the course of time, this phrase has galvanized and supported me. Its illuminating presence as a neon sign at Metabolic Studio helps me to be steadfast in my commitment to generating actions—from the modest and un-dramatic seeding of shared hopes and aims, to the rendering of wild imaginings into social objects of wonder.
2016 has proved to be a harsh environmental and political context for the very idea of the role of artists in creating encounters with a better and more hopeful future for us all. And while self-doubt is a natural and necessary part of the creative process, I fear, like many, the penetrating destruction that comes in the wake of unmitigated oppression, hatred, and lies. I think back to the conception of Metabolic Studio, in the traumatic aftermath of 9/11, and the beginning of my endeavors transparently aimed as counterarguments and alternatives to the anticipated death rattle of Neoliberalism. My work is fundamentally a constellation of acts of restitution—of soil and water, of rightful responsibilities to our environment, and the re-unification of the human spirit with its material survival.
As I write, I think about the people whose words and actions create the space into which we can step with purpose. I think about Helen and Newton Harrison’s powerful vision of our environmental future; of Gloria Steinem’s capacity to shift imaginings into possibilities and plans; of Grace Lee Boggs’ embodiment of survival being only possible through taking care of one another; of Charles Eisenstein’s confirmation that the harm done to our planet and our fellow human beings is also done to us; of Arundhati Roy’s cutting through the moral failures of our world to ask, ‘what shall we love?’; and of Jonas Mekas’ belief in poets over politicians for the sustainment of civilization.
Within my studio practice—dedicated to metabolic action and survival through movement together—working at a scale that can match the destruction inflicted upon us, and our environmental resources, is an ever-evolving process. It ranges from simple and immediate gestures of inviting other human beings to spend time in my studio, to the timescale required for the reparation of land and water, and the journey from conceptualizing to realizing the signature actions of this active studio. More than ever, I see Metabolic Studio as a safe port for those of us still rowing together in this social storm, attempting to swerve the downgrading of our desire to work together to rectify and sustain what we share, and move beyond crisis into a better world. If I have one resolution to take forward into next year, it is to continue to orchestrate a scalable relationality between us, and with the environment that we depend on, and to know that it is better to proceed without full solutions than it is to be defeated.