I made it all the way to the west coast. Over 500 mantras were recorded in the trailer but I only have 200 archived on the website so far. Keep checking back I promise to have more of the travel log and all of the mantras posted by the end of the summer.
It has been an amazing journey and the people I’ve met! Thank you all for making this project with me.
05/06/08 Sunrise in the Canyonlands / Utah
Ringing a bell at sunrise near the Canyonlands National Park. This one’s for you Brenda! Daily Bell 2008
Here I am with my home, with Natania in front of her home. My visit to Galesburg was one of the best. The students and faculty at Knox College were outstanding and thoroughly engaged in their work and community. Some of the best recordings of the trip were made here and I got plenty of hugs. People waited for up to 45 minutes for a turn in the trailer. Natania is a poet who teaches at Knox. We met at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts last fall and she hooked me up! Galesburg was a peaceful antidote to Chicago. Lots of space and no parking hassles.
Next stop WEST.
Andy was more than a friendly neighborhood mechanic. Early Saturday morning I pulled into his shop after jack-knifing and forcing the Mantra Trailer out of an alley behind Threewalls Gallery. I dented my car car and the rear fin of the trailer. I was devastated. Andy said there was nothing that could easily be done to take out the dent, but he could fill the split seams with silicon so there wouldn’t be any leaks. As I watched him thickly ice the trailer seams with black silicon, he could tell I was still upset and simply explained that when there is nothing that can be done you have to move forward.
I can’t explain it but he was awesome. Later that evening he took me out to dinner and the split seams, dents, and devastation seemed like a blessing.
04/18/08 I Need a Mascot / Chicago, IL
I met Liz and her pug Winston in Chicago on Michigan Ave. People were lining up to have their photo taken with Winston which made good business for the trailer. He is a most irresistible dog. Liz has the perfect civic engagement project. All she needs to do is stand on a street corner with Winston. If only it were that easy to draw a crowd with the Mantra Trailer! To see more adorable pictures of Winston and his friends visit his blog – winstonthepug.com.
April 11 – 27, hosted by Three Walls Gallery, Chicago, IL
Here’s the current schedule of Mantra Trailer appearances in Chicago:
April 18, 11 am – 3 pm, the drive at 401 N Michigan Ave.
April 22, for students only, A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, Wicker Park
April 26, 10 am – 2 pm, Hyde Park Art Center, Creative Move: Moving Mountains, 5020 S Cornell Ave.
Life Radio Broadcast:
April 24, 10 am – Noon, “God Talk” on Vocalo.org 89.5 FM
04/06/08 Visiting Friends / Cincinnati, OH
Visiting my friend Denise Burge, a visual artist, in Cincinnati and meeting some of her best friends at a cookout in her backyard. Denise is a down and dirty Carolina girl and she was and always will be the hostess with the mostess. She also teaches art at the University of Cincinnati.
What a great turn out at the University of Cincinnati. The art faculty secured me a killer location right in the middle of the flow. I had a steady stream of students. Some stayed in the trailer so long I had to check in on them and break them out of their trance. Some came back two or three times with friends. The art and architecture students turned out for the lecture and asked great questions around ideas of psychogeography and anthropology. Look for an upcoming piece on the Mantra Trailer by me and Denise in the psychogeography issue of the online journal Drain.
04/04/08 Defiant Participation / Bethany College, WV
The weather was gloomy and the participation was light yet defiant at Bethany College, my alma mater. It seems some students wanted something edgier on the side of the trailer. Over night the mantra changed from WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER to WE’RE ALL IN SHIT TOGETHER. It brought back memories of late night pranks wrought during my college days.
After interacting with people all day I noticed that I was nicer and less demanding to the cashiers at Kinko’s, Smoothie King, and the Harris Teeter. Not that I’m rude usually but as a consumer I seem to carry around an inner voice of entitlement. It’s a voice so embedded that I normally don’t notice it. After a day facilitating the Mantra Trailer at the University of Virginia, I lost the embedded feeling of entitlement and noticed it’s absence. Like noticing silence after the repetition of a mantra.
I’m not sure why this happened. Maybe because I spent the day being open to every experience? Maybe from the careful act of listening? Maybe from being in the position of asking for participation? Maybe from relationship exhaustion???
I was at Davidson College the day after their Friday night NCAA win. It was cold and rainy and a large percentage of the student body was in Detroit but I still managed to get 19 people into the trailer. Their mantras were awesome.
I felt a new sense of integration while interacting with people who were less interested in participating. Graciously accepting rejection eased the experience of discomfort for me and the rejecting audience. Letting go of a personal sense of rejection freed me to encounter the next exchange with fewer defenses.
03/28/08 Setting Up the Mantra Trailer / Durham, NC
This is the first day of the cross-country tour. The kick off is tonight at the Center for Documentary Studies. I’ll be presenting the project during the Fresh Docs program. “Setting Up the Mantra Trailer” was shot in January with Erika Simon in Atlanta, GA. We edited it this week for it’s premier tonight at Fresh Docs.
01/11/08 Summit Coffee / Davidson, NC
01/08/08 Open & closed communities / Athens, GA
The difference between college towns like Athens, GA and tourist communities like Daytona Beach are night and day, open and closed. I must have archived close to 30 mantras on College Ave in Athens. There were plenty of curious folks ranging from the homeless, to students, to prospective students, to professors, to musicians. Many people approached me, eager to find out what the deal was with the trailer. In stark contrast to the suspicious rejection of the trailer in Daytona Beach, I began to wonder about people on vacation and the need to be in control in unfamiliar territory.
Many thanks to my awesome hosts Chris Hubbard, the creator of the Heaven and Hell Art Car and Susan Staley.
I took the day off and enjoyed the beach at San Sebastian State Park. When I walked over the crest of the boardwalk I saw salmon blue clouds and the peep of the sun over the horizon. I had decided to get to the beach early enough to watch the sunrise and it was astounding. There were multiple flocks of sea birds worshiping the sun at a single point on the beach. My first impulse was to grab my camera and try to capture the image of natural beauty in front of me, but then I would miss seeing it for myself.
On this journey I decided not to image the “natural” landscape without evidence of human intervention. The experience of witnessing nature is a sacred event when it moves the heart. This is not an experience that I can bring to you through an image. I thought about the way images dilute the sacredness of a place. With better and better imaging technology we are tricked into believing that seeing the image is just as good as experiencing the real thing and more convenient to boot. If people choose not to experience nature first hand there will be no witness, which can lead to inaction, to the deadening of the spirit, and to the diminishing of our sense of and desire for the sacred.
I’ve also decided not to take any images of the interior of the Mantra Trailer for the same reason. It’s a space to be experienced, explored and witnessed from the heart. Like our own interiors, like nature, the interior of the Mantra Trailer is not a curio or spectacle to be merely viewed, or examined.
For those who do not have the opportunity to experience the Mantra Trailer in real life, I invite them to look inward to imagine the interior space. Imagine a comforting oasis, a warm, bright womb.
After all my bad luck in Florida I stopped in this public parking lot for two hours determined to record at least one mantra. I got three!
01/05/08 Long Point Park / Vero Beach, FL
Erika is staying a few extra days with a friend in Vero Beach, FL and will be flying back to Chapel Hill later in the week. I’m taking the two-night stay at Long Point Park in Melbourne Beach, FL to pull away into solitude and enjoy time alone in the trailer.
After our fun evening at The Top the night before, I checked email and found a big fat rejection email waiting for me from the Creative Capital Foundation. The next day we took the Mantra Trailer to Daytona Beach. It was rejection on top of rejection and disappointment. Maybe it was my state of mind, maybe it was the tourist mentality? I couldn’t get a single person to listen to me for 10 seconds let alone enter the trailer. I felt down and out on the project. My mantra for the day was I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I’m taking this time alone at Long Point Park to re-center and find my track.
Thanks Erika for being such a patient, non-judgemental mirror and traveling partner.
01/03/08 At The Top (and the bottom) / Gainesville, FL
It was hard to find foot traffic in Gainesville on public property. The Walmart parking lot was the busiest place in town but operating the trailer would have been soliciting. We recorded a couple of mantras in the parking lot of the 2nd Street Bakery, but the cold and lack of public spaces made Gainesville a bust.
Erika and I spent our last night in Gainesville having a hearty meal at The Top while summing up the trials, errors and triumphs of being on the road. We made plenty of lists, things for the trailer, rules for scheduling work and recovery days, what makes a good location, best weather conditions, requirements for a good hosting situation. I was reminded of a mantra recorded in Durham, TRY AGAIN, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER.
We ended our evening visiting our fascinating host, film maker, Roger Beebe, at his shop, Video Rodeo. Thanks Roger!
See if you can guess the emotional states of mind we reenacted from our Mantra Trailer experience.
The Mantra Trailer met RV, the Latin lover, on the way to Gainseville, FL. He kept passing us on I-75 with a naughty, sexy glint in his eye.
01/01/08 Spaghetti Junction / Atlanta, GA
The Mantra Trailer visits Atlanta but not before getting lost on Spaghetti Junction. The I-85 & I-285 interchange must be an architectural wonder and it’s almost as fun as riding a roller coaster. The mantras used in the video were both recorded in Atlanta. Erika and I set the trailer up in front of the Java Monkey in Decatur on New Year’s Eve day and at a private party in Virginia Highlands on New Year’s Eve. Response to the Mantra Trailer was friendly, curious and diverse. This entry is dedicated to our most marvelous Atlanta host. Thanks Audrey!
12/30/07 1st Day of the 1st Tour / Spartanburg, SC
It’s raining steadily in Spartenburg, SC. Erika Simon is joining me on the first leg of my trip to Florida. Our first stop will be Atlanta.
12/22/07 Bonding with the trailer / Durham, NC
Last night was my first night sleeping in the trailer. Now that I’ve given up both my studio and apartment I’m trying to relocate my sense of “home” to the trailer. I’m like a snail carrying my shelter with me wherever I go. Tomorrow I leave for South Carolina to spend time with my family for the holidays. They don’t know I’m bringing the trailer!
Carrying my shelter like a snail or reminds me of Elizabeth Demaray‘s project to fabricate shells for hemit crabs.
The Mantra Trailer visits Sweet Briar College During exam week. Check out the feature story and multi-media slide show posted by the Lynchburg News Advance.
11/28/07 Signboard Heaven / Lynchburg, VA
Filmed during a residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in November. Lynchburg is the home of Liberty Universtity, founded by Jerry Falwell. Fast food empoyees say “It’s an honor to serve you and have a blessed day.” There’s a church signboard on every corner.