Monday, September 21, 2009

Relational Rita

As I began the walking trek with Rita Kamacho late this morning, I watched carefully how nervous she appeared to be. She is small in stature but full of presence - in that gentle way that knocks you on your bum.

I have to admit that I was tickled to be watching Rita's performance as I love relational performances, which I would define as intimate encounters between the artist and their collaborators (e.g. the audience, the other person, the recipient). I do also admit freely that all of these words are cumbersome to explain the partnership - but awkwardly deficient in their moniker as while the artist often begin the exchange, their can be - dare I write magical things that come out of it, especially when the person engages and switches an really gets into the interchange with the artist.

We arrive at Beaver Hills House Park and Rita parks her wheelbarrow filled with small glass bottles, corked, and labeled.The people gather around form a semi-circle - completed by the bar of spigots that in summer shoot out a small water fall in the park. Rita tells us about the way in which vibrations can change water's molecular shape. (Masaru Emoto) She asks each of us to take one bottle marked LOVE and one marked GRATITUDE and to think about the word that is labeled in the small bottle; say it out loud; and use the water for a special occasion. After a few minutes Rita tells us that she will go bother others with her message and physical things to connect with people in the park. As people group together and chat I am struck by our colse knit community of repeat attendees, staff, volunteers, and artists - a beautiful group and how we connect as communities from near and far and how important it is to see the work of other artists and to absorb their actions, thoughts and intentions. This is integral to Visualeyez and I am happy.

As I try to do as much as possible during the festival I stay for the entire performance - perhaps not always visible, but definitely there - a trick learned from Paul Couillard - one of many. There have been times this year where have not been there for an entire performance - or in the case of Micheal and Jason, missed completely, this unsettles me and I try to find ways of maneuvering these feelings into positive action.

I watch Rita as she gently places the glass bottles into cardboard white boxes and I am reminded of traditional wedding cake - often a fruit cake! That is cut up and placed in boxes and often mailed to guests and sometimes eaten on the first anniversary. It is true too that I associate food with many things - but family and friend gatherings always involve food. I feel that it is often about the sharing and the prop for conversation, for learning, for sharing, for caring, and for giving and receiving. Rita's one-on-one or one-on-two interactions are with generosity and interest by the people she approaches and engages with. I feel that her actions are gentle and focused on a way that as she leave the people - they are smiling and have a certain gaze of peacefulness in their eyes. I am again pleased to bear witness and grateful that Rita bothered these people.

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