July 2017

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEING WATER: A PERFORMANCE SCORE

Paradise Canyon
Plainfield, VT

JuPong Lin and Devora Neumark, in collaboration with Seitu Jones
Fierce Bellies Collective

Photo credit: Dan Goldman

With students from the Goddard College MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program (VT): Stefanie Batten Bland, Sarah Baldwin, Steve Clark, Ashley Murrock, Andrea Tutt, Dan Goldman, Isabel Filkins, Katie Schwerin, Alex Skitoslky, and Kathryn Egnaczak

The Fierce Bellies collective is an interdisciplinary collaborative that brings together an evolving configuration of individuals depending on the project, event or activity. Along with guest participants, JuPong Lin and I engage decolonial transnational feminist theory & methodologies and emphasize individual & collective wellness, and restorative strategies to cultivate resilience and joy. The name of this context-emergent living collaborative refers to the center of vital energy Qi (丹田), as identified within traditional Asian healing practices, and functions to remind collective members to act from each of their centers with fluidity, focus and powerful intentionality.

The Fierce Bellies collective locates the launch of this composition in Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh unceded and traditional First Nations territory, currently known as Vancouver, BC. We also acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of our current home places: Nipmuc lands now called Massachusetts; Kanien’keha:ka – unceded Mohawk traditional territory – a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst nations; and the home of the Dakota, where the Twin Cities began at the confluence of two rivers is Oheyawahi or “a hill much visited.”

We write with awareness of leading Indigenous voices coalescing around water protection and climate justice whose intentions include educating and empowering Indigenous Peoples. And we write acknowledging racialized and economically disadvantaged people working to develop a coherent set of strategies connecting the protection of the environment to cultural, spiritual, and economic survivance. In our desire to contribute to a radical alternative to the widespread eclipse of the truth about interconnectivity, we – the Fierce Bellies collective – lean towards each other and again outward. We invite new kinships and invoke ways of living and being to counter the current patterns of destruction stemming from the colonialist dualistic thinking that creates a sense of separation and otherness.

Performance Score

  1. Study the entire script, including the endnotes, before enacting this performance

  2. Find at least three other people with whom you are willing to make kinship

  3. Gather materials (print score on waterproof cloth)

  4. Make your way to the nearest body of water

  5. Acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples of the place you select for enacting this score

  6. Give thanks to your ancestors whose migrations (forced or otherwise) have brought you to this place

  7. Step into the water and open your senses

  8. Notice the temperature of the water, the smell of the air, the touch of your feet

  9. Listen with your entire being

    Voice #1: (sound of the water)
    Voice #2: (sound of your breath and heartbeat)
    Voice #3: (sound of winged and four-legged beings)
    Voice #4: (sound of wind)
    Voice #5: (all performers voice the question below)

    Lín ê lâng án-tsuánn kiò hài-iûnn? (Taiwanese Hokkien)

    How do your people call water? (Non-English languages welcome)

    All voices: (a chorus of above voices)

  10. While in the water, someone from the group speak the following letter out loud:

    Original French

    "Bonjour Devora,

    Je t'écris depuis le Nord du 50e parallèle.
    Chaque jour, c'est l'eau du Golfe qui passe d'abord me saluer avant de te faire signe à toi qui samedi lira cette lettre, à 1 000 kilomètre du monde boréal dans lequel je vis depuis deux ans.
    Samedi, comme promis, l'eau passera d'abord par ici.

    Samedi, je mettrai ma ligne à pêche à l'eau, à l'embouchure de la Mishtashipu (prononcer : "michetachébo"), de la Grande (Mishta) Rivière (shipu), là où la rivière, la Moisie, se jette dans le Golfe du Saint-Laurent pour l'accompagner dans sa puissance.

    Samedi, je me tiendrai à la pointe de ce territoire magnétique où se croisent les courants les plus contradictoires.
    Les Innus sont les gardiens du Nitassinan (prononcer "nitassinanne"), de la Terre-Mère. Historiquement, la Moisie constituait le lieu de rassemblement des Innus, des derniers nomades qui venaient chaque été y camper pour pêcher et fumer le saumon, pour y récolter les petits fruits, en faire provision pour l'hiver.

    Samedi, il y aura certainement sur la plage quelques familles de Uashat ou de Mani-utenam. Les Mamans s'assoiront sur leur glacière Canadian Tire avec leur café de chez Tim Horton et riront de bon coeur en attendant le moment propice pour lever le grand filet à saumon tendu à 500 mètres de l'embouchure. Samedi, il y aura plein de petits enfants bronzés qui pousseront des cris de joie en se baignant tout nus dans la Mishtashipu.

    Samedi, je lancerai ma ligne dans cette eau nomade qui à chaque marée ramène vers ses grèves des épaves boisées qui font signe du Nitassinan : là où les épinettes noires sont la dentelle de la Terre.
    Samedi, je me nourrirai de ce temps-là que j'aurai enfin à moi, pour moi, en regardant flotter ces dentelles d'eau douce qui bientôt deviendront salées, océaniques.
    Samedi, l'omble de fontaine ou encore l'anguille décideront peut-être de faire mon souper.
    Samedi, sur le bord de la Moisie, je me poserai et me reposerai. L'eau passe d'abord par ici."

    Free Translation

    "Hello Devora,

    I am writing from north of the 50th parallel.
    Saturday you will read this letter: every day it is the water of the Gulf, which first passes to greet me that will come your way, 1,000 kilometers from the boreal world in which I’ve lived for the past two years. Saturday, as promised, the water will pass first through here.

    Saturday, I will put my fishing line at the mouth of the Mishtashipu (pronounced "michetachébo"), from the Grande (Mishta) River (shipu), where the river Moisie flows into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to accompany its power.

    Saturday, I will stand at the tip of this magnetic territory where the most contradictory currents cross.
    The Innu are the guardians of Nitassinan (pronounced "nitassinanne"), of Mother Earth. Historically, the Moisie was the gathering place of the Innu, the last nomads who came here every summer to camp, to fish and smoke the salmon, to harvest the berries, to stock up for the winter.

    Saturday, there will most certainly be some families from Uashat or Mani-utenam on the beach. The Moms will sit on their Canadian Tire coolers with their Tim Horton coffee sand laugh heartily while waiting for the great salmon net stretched 500 meters from the mouth of the river. Saturday, there will be plenty of tanned little children who will shout for joy while bathing naked in the Mishtashipu.

    Saturday, I will launch my line in this nomadic water, which at each tide brings back wooden wrecks, which signal Nitassinan: where the black spruce is the lace of the Earth.
    Saturday, I will feed on that time that I will finally have to me, for me, watching these bits of floating lace of fresh water that will soon become salty, oceanic.
    Saturday, the brook trout or the eel may decide to make my supper.
    Saturday, on the edge of the Moisie, I will self-reflect and rest. The water first passes through here."

    [Valérie Gill, from Letters to the Water, August 2015]

  11. Watch for the movement of the water

  12. Smell all that is in the air

  13. Wade deeper into the water

  14. Someone from the group read the following out loud:

    “I grew up fishing on weekends with my father and uncles in the Twin Cities lakes. I learned to appreciate the form, lines & functions of boats... and studied wooden boat building with a focus on African watercraft.”

    [Seitu Jones, January 2017]

  15. Share stories about your first experience in a boat

  16. While in the water, someone else from the group speak the following poem out loud:

    From across the ocean, and many miles of mountains
    and valleys, I fold, unfold, refold, shrinking the divide between
    my home on Turtle Island and my birthplace –
    Tâi-uân; between the Japanese empire and occupied Taiwan,
    an island someone called "mudball in the sea."
    My mother called it a speck, a booger picked from the nostril of China.

    [JuPong Lin, from 1000 Gifts of Decolonial Love, April 2017]

  17. Immerse yourself fully

  18. Taste the water on your lips

  19. Spot for birds flying overhead

  20. Pay homage to the lives lost at sea

    Voice #1: (bonded through the Middle Passage)
    Voice #2: (while yearning for safe harbour)
    Voice #3: (extinguished by swallowed plastic or covered in oil)
    Voice #4: (displaced by the rising seas)
    Voice #5: (choked off from water by imperial expansion)
    All voices: (a chorus of above five voices)

  21. Someone from the group speak the following letter out loud:

    Dear Water: The Blackfoot work Kiitohksin means “that which sustains us.” Not just the things that sustain us but the relationships & everything intangible we rely on (& that rely on us). We haven’t lived up to this vision of the world; we have abused you & our relationship with you. But this is not an apology; it’s a promise. In this time of reconciliation, mending partnerships starts with you – that which sustains us & binds us & creates us.
    We are water & we must heal ourselves.

    [Liam Haggerty, from Letters to the Water, October 2016]

  22. Retreat back to shore

  23. Sit facing the open water, a foot from the edge of the shore

  24. Be present to the rippling and reflections

  25. When the water washes over your knees, someone else from the group speak the following poem out loud:

    Black-tipped, wide-spread wings like the lost Siberian crane
    that landed in the fields of farmer Huang Jheng-jun this June,
    first sighting ever in Taiwan.
    The farmer named his rice in honor of
    this new apple-snail-eating helper friend--Jin Ho.

    This great-winged celebrity of critical endangerment,
    Majesty shielding its home from pesticide drenching.
    Enough beauty to keep alive its relatives?

    Fold, unfold, fold a prayer for the Siberian crane,
    the most critically endangered of the 11 sister cranes,
    pushed closer to extinction every warming year,
    their marshy homes drained for farming,
    their existence made precarious by
    the rising heat of insatiable pumps, sucking black gold
    out of sacred soil; blue gold from watersheds,
    our earthly commons.

    [JuPong Lin, from 1000 Gifts of Decolonial Love, April 2017]

  26. Wade along the water’s edge

  27. Find a place where the water licks your hips

  28. With your mind, draw up qi from the water through your legs, lower dantyan, mingmen, upper dantyan, head, and into the sky

  29. With your mind, draw down qi from the sky through your legs, lower dantyan, mingmen, upper dantyan, head, and into the water

  30. Dive into deeper water, immersing your body fully, facing down

  31. Float and hold your breath for as long as you can

  32. When everyone has re-surfaced, listen to each other breathe

  33. Below the surface, form a qi ball between your hands

    As you would on a cold day to warm your hands, rub them together while resting your attention on the feeling of your qi or life force. Feel the energy in each of your hands and also the connection between them. This may be subtle at first so your awareness may need to be heighted. Once you feel that your hands are warm and you can sense the qi, slowly begin creating space between them, keeping your palms, fingers and thumb parallel to each other in a relaxed gesture. Alternate bringing your hands closer and further apart in a slow and steady rhythm to further awaken your sensitivity to the qi (but don’t let your hands touch when you bring them together). Notice if you feel heat or an energetic flux between your palms.

  34. Expand the qi ball send the qi across the water to find where it connects with the shore nearest your heartland

  35. While in the water, someone from the group speak the following letter out loud:

    Original French

    Eau de la Terre
    Eau de l'Univers
    Eau de la peine
    Eau qui coule dans les veines
    Eau de la joie
    Eau que je bois
    Paix
    Amour
    Lumière
    Sur la Terre et dans nos coeur
    Merci de m'apporter la vie
    Namaste

    Free Translation

    Water of the Earth
    Water of the Universe
    Water of heartbreak
    Water that flows through the veins
    Water of Joy
    Water that I drink
    Peace
    Love
    Light
    On Earth and in our hearts
    Thank you for bringing me life
    Namaste

    [Roxane Poulin, from Letters to the Water, August 2015]

  36. When the water rises above your waist, someone else from the group speak the following poem out loud:

    Ancestral memory, manual memory, muscle knowledge, plant medicine,
    animal relations, sun-moon, yin yang cycles,
    always moving like salty waves, falling rising, folding-unfolding
    into infinite timelessness,
    a beak enfolds a reversal, enfleshes cultural memory,
    unfolds a revolutionary chorus of all beings.

    Fold for Bikini Atoll
    Still scarred by US nuclear weapons testing,
    Pu'uloa, Oahu, renamed Pearl Harbor by US occupiers,
    Turtle island where indigenous resurgence calls on
    Islanders everywhere to stand in solidarity.

    [JuPong Lin, from 1000 Gifts of Decolonial Love, April 2017]

  37. Immerse yourself fully in the water a third time

  38. Follow the tide to shore

  39. Consider building a boat

  40. Link arms and face the open shore

  41. Listen to each other breathe

  42. Follow the breath in and out of your body, breathing into each other’s bodies

  43. Open your pores

  44. Teach one another how to save a life

  45. Retreat to shore

  46. Sit at water’s edge

  47. All participants speak the following letter out loud simultaneously:

    Original French

    Chère eau,
    Je t’aime. Je t’aime parce que tu es mon symbole de résistance. Tu t’infiltres, tu t’enrages, tu te calmes, tu résistes, tu aspires, tu propulses, tu nourris, tu abreuves, tu nettoies, tu transportes, tu protèges, tu coules, tu tombes et tu t’élèves.
    Tu es puissante et indomptable, je t’aime.

    Free Translation

    Dear water,
    I love you. I love you because you are my symbol of resistance. You infiltrate, you enrage, you calm, you resist, you aspire, you propel, you nourish, you quench thirst, you clean, you transport, you protect, you flow, you fall and you rise.
    You are powerful and indomitable; I love you.

    [M-A Poulin, from Letters to Water, August 2015]

  48. Consider what you would offer by way of gratitude to the water and one by one speak your thoughts and feelings our loud

  49. In repose, sense your openings, your pores

  50. When the skin on your neck feels dry, someone speak the following letter out loud:

    Thanks to a gathering of molecules most extraordinary. A delicate balance of two tiny atoms dancing around a larger one. Millions of groupings moving and changing and holding together. An attraction that makes life possible. Thank you for your movement.

    [Andrea Mackay, from Letters to the Water, August 2015]

  51. Study this image

    Gandhi at Dandi, South Gujarat, picking salt on the beach at the End of the Salt March: behind him is his second son Manilal Gandhi and Mithuben Petit.
    5 April 1930
    Photo: Unknown source, 1930.

  52. Consider the Salt March: After nearly 400 km, upon arriving at the coastal city of Dandi in April 1930, Gandhi and thousands of Indians illegally collected salt from the seaside as a symbolic act of defiance against the British Raj.

  53. Ask yourself: What is my Salt March?

  54. Share your stories of activism with the group

  55. Repeat as necessary

Quotes from Participants

There are several points of connection between "Instructions for Being Water" and my own community arts practice: in form, the use of event scores and contemporary rituals; in content, an intentional focus on exploring and attending to the physical environment. Participating in the Plainfield, VT iteration of "Instructions for Being Water" affirmed my interest in using event scores to provide focus and structure to group actions while still allowing them to remain open, organic, and responsive. My recent creative work and research has involved place-based, site-specific modes of performance that are designed to encourage group exploration and identification with localities, and I'm greatly interested in how communities might find commonality and mutual recognition in sharing space and being present to one another in that space. The "Instructions for Being Water" score provided a mode of intense concentration on the unifying element of water and encouraged a spirit of connection among us participants through our shared experiences and narratives of water. Of additional value to me, the score is portable and adaptable to various bodies of individuals and bodies of water.

There was something powerful in emerging from my daily environs and routines - from the web of associations with my other demands - and to enter into an event where the basic structure was given and the only responsibility was to enter into the score - no more prepared and under no greater expectations than anyone else involved. This entailed a certain degree of mutual vulnerability too - perhaps aided by being in a relative state of undress, being more exposed to and exposed before others than in everyday dress, and sharing in the uncertainty and imbalance of wading into the water. In these ways I shed certain (self-imposed) limitations on the performance of my identity, to be more simply, wholly present. The reoccurring group actions of immersing ourselves in water, wading to the shore and wading back into the water again - along with the prompts to pay attention to specific qualities of the water - allowed me to shuttle between my own memories and associations and the group action. The prompts provided a check against turning too much of my attention toward the interior while still allowing those personal associations to arise.

Before any specific policy or action on climate change, before any consideration of the human impact on the environment, it seems necessary that we turn our attention - as a community, as a society - to our deep connections to the environment, to find ways of being truly present to the natural environment and recognizing the shared, essential elements of our existence. My own future practice will be influenced by the basic realization that there needn't be an explicit ideological or political context for this form of engagement with the environment to carry significant implications on how we approach environmental issues.

Alex Skitolsky

The experience made me consider the ancestry lineage of the water in my area. The town I currently live in is built around the water, and product of a huge development in western expansion. The history here is deep, and the water brought the people. This experience [also] made me think of the water of my homeland. […] I consider the glacial waters of my home to be pure and sacred, and even though they are cold, they make me feel so deeply cleansed. I learned that water could be a source of surprise and joy and laughter as much as pain and grief and sorrow. […] I felt that more of my spiritual body was welcomed into the score as we proceeded. I was so grateful for this.

Andrea Tutt


September 2017

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEING WATER: A PERFORMANCE SCORE

Soak on the Sound
Port Townsend, WA

JuPong Lin and Devora Neumark, in collaboration with Seitu Jones
Fierce Bellies Collective

With faculty and students from the Goddard College MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program (WA):

Participants: Jamie Figueroa, JuPong Lin, Petra Kuppers, Kindred Gottlieb, Tracy Grisman, Christine Shannon, Tess Howsam, Rosemary Alpert, and Neena Massey

Live drawing documentation: Sharon Siskin

Photo credit: Tamara Wallace

Facilitation: Devora Neumark

The Fierce Bellies collective is an interdisciplinary collaborative that brings together an evolving configuration of individuals depending on the project, event or activity. Along with guest participants, JuPong Lin and I engage decolonial transnational feminist theory & methodologies and emphasize individual & collective wellness, and restorative strategies to cultivate resilience and joy. The name of this context-emergent living collaborative refers to the center of vital energy Qi (丹田), as identified within traditional Asian healing practices, and functions to remind collective members to act from each of their centers with fluidity, focus and powerful intentionality.

The Fierce Bellies collective locates the launch of this composition in Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh unceded and traditional First Nations territory, currently known as Vancouver, BC. We also acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of our current home places: Nipmuc lands now called Massachusetts; Kanien’keha:ka – unceded Mohawk traditional territory – a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst nations; and the home of the Dakota, where the Twin Cities began at the confluence of two rivers is Oheyawahi or “a hill much visited.”

We write with awareness of leading Indigenous voices coalescing around water protection and climate justice whose intentions include educating and empowering Indigenous Peoples. And we write acknowledging racialized and economically disadvantaged people working to develop a coherent set of strategies connecting the protection of the environment to cultural, spiritual, and economic survivance. In our desire to contribute to a radical alternative to the widespread eclipse of the truth about interconnectivity, we – the Fierce Bellies collective – lean towards each other and again outward. We invite new kinships and invoke ways of living and being to counter the current patterns of destruction stemming from the colonialist dualistic thinking that creates a sense of separation and otherness.

Performance Score

  1. Let’s start by acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples who continue to live in relationship with this place: Hoh, Quilieute, Jamestown S’klallam, Port Gamble S’klallam, Makah, Quinault, Lower Elwha Klallam

  2. Give thanks to your ancestors whose migrations (forced or otherwise) have brought you to this place

  3. JuPong will now lead us in an a Qi Gong energy bath

  4. Step into the water and open your senses

  5. Notice the temperature of the water, the smell of the air, the touch of your feet

  6. Listen with your entire being

    Voice #1: (sound of the water)
    Voice #2: (sound of your breath and heartbeat)
    Voice #3: (sound of others breathing)
    Voice #4: How do your people call the ocean?

  7. [While everyone is in the water, read the following out loud:]

    Bonjour Devora,

    Je t'écris depuis le Nord du 50e parallèle.

    Chaque jour, c'est l'eau du Golfe qui passe d'abord me saluer avant de te faire signe à toi qui samedi lira cette lettre, à 1 000 kilomètre du monde boréal dans lequel je vis depuis deux ans. Samedi, comme promis, l'eau passera d'abord par ici.

    Saturday, I will put my fishing line at the mouth of the Mishtashipu (pronounced "michetachébo"), from the Grande (Mishta) River (shipu), where the river Moisie flows into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to accompany its power.

    Saturday, I will stand at the tip of this magnetic territory where the most contradictory currents cross.

    The Innu are the guardians of Nitassinan (pronounced "nitassinanne"), of Mother Earth. Historically, the Moisie was the gathering place of the Innu, the last nomads who came here every summer to camp, to fish and smoke the salmon, to harvest the berries, to stock up for the winter.

    Saturday, there will most certainly be some families from Uashat or Mani-utenam on the beach. The Moms will sit on their Canadian Tire coolers with their Tim Horton coffee sand laugh heartily while waiting for the great salmon net stretched 500 meters from the mouth of the river. Saturday, there will be plenty of tanned little children who will shout for joy while bathing naked in the Mishtashipu.

    Saturday, I will launch my line in this nomadic water, which at each tide brings back wooden wrecks, which signal Nitassinan: where the black spruce is the lace of the Earth.

    Saturday, I will feed on that time that I will finally have to me, for me, watching these bits of floating lace of fresh water that will soon become salty, oceanic.

    Saturday, the brook trout or the eel may decide to make my supper.

    Saturday, on the edge of the Moisie, I will self-reflect and rest. The water first passes through here.

    [Valérie Gill, from Letters to the Water, August 2015]

  8. Sound out three words that resonate with you from the letter I just read (everyone call out these words simultaneously)

  9. Smell the salt in the air

  10. Bring yourself to a standing position, close your eyes if you are comfortable to do so. Take three centering breaths, making the exhale longer then the inhale.

  11. [Read the following out loud:]

    I grew up fishing on weekends with my father and uncles in the Twin Cities lakes. I learned to appreciate the form, lines & functions of boats... and studied wooden boat building with a focus on African watercraft.

    [Seitu Jones, January 2017]


  12. Please share stories of your relationship with water or prayers to water

  13. Immerse yourself fully then find a position that you are comfortable in

  14. Taste the salt on your lips

  15. Pay homage to the lives lost at sea

    Voice #1: (bonded through the Middle Passage)
    Voice #2: (while yearning for safe harbour)
    Voice #3: (extinguished by swallowed plastic or covered in oil)
    Voice #4: (displaced by the rising seas)
    Voice #5: (choked off from water by imperial expansion)
    All voices: Let sound emerge in response to these voices.

  16. [As the chorus winds down, read the following:]

    Dear Water: The Blackfoot word Kiitohksin means “that which sustains us.” Not just the things that sustain us but the relationships & everything intangible we rely on (& that rely on us). We haven’t lived up to this vision of the world; we have abused you & our relationship with you. But this is not an apology; it’s a promise. In this time of reconciliation, mending partnerships starts with you – that which sustains us & binds us & creates us.

    We are water & we must heal ourselves.

    [Liam Haggerty, from Letters to the Water, October 2016]

  17. Find a place that feels comfortable for you and 10 slow breaths with a healing intention.

  18. [JuPong to read out loud:]

    Black-tipped, wide-spread wings like the lost Siberian crane
    that landed in the fields of farmer Huang Jheng-jun this June,
    first sighting ever in Taiwan.
    The farmer named his rice in honor of
    this new apple-snail-eating helper friend--Jin Ho.

    This great-winged celebrity of critical endangerment,
    Majesty shielding its home from pesticide drenching.
    Enough beauty to keep alive its relatives?

    Fold, unfold, fold a prayer for the Siberian crane,
    the most critically endangered of the 11 sister cranes,
    pushed closer to extinction every warming year,
    their marshy homes drained for farming,
    their existence made precarious by
    the rising heat of insatiable pumps, sucking black gold
    out of sacred soil; blue gold from watersheds, our earthly commons.

    [JuPong Lin, from 1000 Gifts of Decolonial Love, April 2017]

  19. [JuPong to instruct how to form a Qi ball:]

    As you would on a cold day to warm your hands, rub them together while resting your attention on the feeling of your qi or life force. Feel the energy in each of your hands and also the connection between them. This may be subtle at first so your awareness may need to be heighted. Once you feel that your hands are warm and you can sense the qi, slowly begin creating space between them, keeping your palms, fingers and thumb parallel to each other in a relaxed gesture. Alternate bringing your hands closer and further apart in a slow and steady rhythm to further awaken your sensitivity to the qi (but don’t let your hands touch when you bring them together). Notice if you feel heat or an energetic flux between your palms.

  20. [JuPong says]:

    Expand the Qi ball and send the Qi across the water to find where it connects with the shore nearest your heartland

  21. Listen to each other breathe

  22. Teach one another how to save a life

  23. Speak out the names of people who have saved your life.

  24. Take a breath and let out the air slowly, emptying your lungs fully.

  25. Consider the water protectors at the Oceti Shakowin // seven fires camp and their efforts to safeguard the water. What do you know about the NoDAPL movement?

  26. What is your NoDAPL?

Quotes from Participants

I have always been drawn to wild spaces, and this [event] showed me how we can bring a sense of the "wild" into even confined, restricted spaces like a hot tub by bringing an awareness of the earth into the setting. Un-programmed Quakers do not believe in sacred space hence their dropping the term church. But I forget that to honor only certain places as sacred and natural is no different. Water is all connected and we created sacred space by tapping into that truth. […] I had never considered the connectedness of all water in the way that it was offered up during this experience. We were asked to express how the waters of the world are feeling, and I found myself experiencing a deep mourning and was able to give voice to the oceans by crying out.

I am struck by how beautiful the images and drawings are. As strong as the experience was, the images created are just as provocative. They certainly raise the entire event to a whole other level because as a participant, I was not anticipating what the artists present were able to capture.

Kindred Gottlieb

I have always been drawn to wild spaces, and this [event] showed me how we can bring a sense of the "wild" into even confined, restricted spaces like a hot tub by bringing an awareness of the earth into the setting. Un-programmed Quakers do not believe in sacred space hence their dropping the term church. But I forget that to honor only certain places as sacred and natural is no different. Water is all connected and we created sacred space by tapping into that truth. […] I had never considered the connectedness of all water in the way that it was offered up during this experience. We were asked to express how the waters of the world are feeling, and I found myself experiencing a deep mourning and was able to give voice to the oceans by crying out.

This was the first time I participated in an art experience such as this. It felt sacred and ceremonial; I am still nurturing the feeling of "being in the water" with the group of women. It has opened up possibilities on how to create work collaboratively.

Rosemary Alpert

The experience of “Being Water” brought forth the reality of our connectivity, commonalities, diversities, dependencies, and urgencies we share with each other and everything on the planet. The spa transformed into a place where positive possibilities, ideas, and solutions could emerge. The practice of listening to one another’s personal stories reminded me how vulnerable, diverse, and fragile all life is and how important the stories and water is to all life. It reminds me that my own daily behaviors have an impact to the whole. The communal experience of combining the theme of water while experiencing that very element made for a powerful, humbling place to learn about oneself and from that community.

Tracy Grisman

While participating in the “Becoming Water” score, I crossed a line that had been drawn deep within myself. I began to feel emotions as liquid and translucent, I could contain them no longer. I remembered times in the ocean when I had been in great danger. I had thought those memories were stored deep down, inaccessible. I had thought I came to terms with the trauma, I had, but I had not been able to drain it of the poison, the bite. In this room, full of stream and women, I found healing. The witnessing was gentle and present: not the violent birth of a moment or the death of a star, but a gentle wave of emotion, here and then there. Now, I have washed the memories, and although they are not clean from tragedy, they are a source of power and creation. In the desert, the flowers come with a few drops of rain. As I felt the embrace of the water and heard the sound of the score, I began to connect with somatic memories based in water, as far as I could recall. The powerful moments I had spent in water, as well as the emptiness spent without the presence of water, all culminated in the recital of a poem that I had written while journeying through my personal history in search of myself.

I had brought symbols of past time spent in water: salt, mud and paper. I was called to share these things with my co-creators in the score. It was a powerful feeling to share the salt I had carried from so long away and so long ago. As I parceled out small mounds to each woman, I looked in their eyes and thanked them. My thanks was for allowing me to share a part of my history. It was fluid that passed between us, and fluid that surrounded us: we were becoming water. In the presence of water, connected by the atoms, the quanta, the thing that is, water can become nothing else. The water in my blood was the water in the sound was the water on the plains was the water in her.

With the stories of the protectors of water, I knew the connection, and it was strong. No longer a witness only, I was a hologram, a whole piece of the whole piece. The tears that fell were not unlike the salt of the sound, heated and brought to a temperate place. As we each brought our own memories to the surface, the thoughts of the outside world fell below the surface. The moments spent in the pool, becoming water, hearing the stories and witnessing the resurrection of memories haunt me still. The power in the room was moist and thick; it smelled of the ocean run through the veins and pores of those in attendance. It was important.

Christine Shannon