FM Birthing Greetings (First Round) -Art Piece

How delighted, ecstatic, and trembling I feel at this response (within 1st 48hrs) to the first call to join the FM, of which came as I reached out to my mailing list and personal contacts with whom I have some caring connection. You may send the invitation out to your circles of care. In the end, neither I nor any of us is going to control who and what may come from birthing a site of sacred discontent as a space/platform for change, recovery, transformation... and all the 'messiness' of which such a birthing may be--and all the joy and sadness--and all the creativity I look forward to. Calling this site Fearlessness Movement will have its own amazing potentials, reactions from others, I'm sure.

In the moment at a loss for words, more with many spinning ideas and energies flowing... and gratitude... I decided to make a piece of art, and actually it is more than a "piece of art" it is an artful inquiry, an arts-based (1) response to all of what is happening to me as I am a nomadic artist-in-residence on this 2015 sabbatical trip with Barbara Bickel (who is now in Turkey). The art piece below connects in arrational, irrational and rational ways much of what is stirring and you all are included (I'll make more of these as new people sign-up)--as my artistic aesthetic way to 'greet' and recognize some choice you made to join the FM ning. I don't take it lightly, and yet I do as this art piece below may reveal. Here's what I created. Then, I offer below it a brief process description of "why" and then offer any of you to respond in any way on the ning as you can imagine. 

Some of this digitally-made image will be self-evident, and yet most will not know the context core of the image of the large blue (metal) circle sculpture that is a public art installation called "The Travelling Light" (2). In my 3 wks residency now in Calgary, AB, Canada (my place of birth and most of my life), there was this amazing image of a ring (reminding me of ning)... just off the major freeways at the N.E. end of the city, a place I am very familiar with, but thanks to this art piece installed in 2013, the whole scene of the area is now quite unfamiliar, or at least it is disturbed to raise my attention and curiosity, regardless of my feelings whether I "like it" or "hate it" aesthetically (3). It is public contemporary art, that's for sure. What does it mean? Is it worth the cost? and so on... the questions may fly. You can see many articles online about this controversy from the moment it went up.

But I want to dwell in this summary on how this image came about in connection with the birthing of FM ning while I am in Calgary. I look for analogies, visual metaphors, ideas, critiques, rebellions, and syntheses. I was thinking of an image for the FM ning a few days ago and it is the black egg-like shape with 'FM' inside it as if a mark(ing) of some great historical event--or more visually a semiotic echo of (TM) for trademark signification that is so important in our legal system and based on the political and economic issues of "rights" of someone's ideas, property, logo, or whatever. No one is supposed to copy it or "steal" it. There is great moral angst, if not fear and hatred in such a signification if you want to look in the shadows. I inserted the FM ning signification into the blue ring of the art installation--my fantasy of what I would like to see actually done, and hang there and let all the millions of drivers in their cars, and others contemplate what the hell is that?

I sort of playfully feel that is what the birthing ring of the FM ning is all about. Gosh, could write poetically around that. Anyways, FM is signifying a powerful disruption to the fear-based way of living that is pre-occupying just about everybody and their trade marks, logos, and proprietary rights of this and that and this and that... I wonder if all this legal protection is doing us any good as a society, even if it protects individuals and corporations or even tribes that want their "rights" of one kind or another regarded. That's not my focus, but rather I wanted to acknowledge the FM tribe signing-up, with names, with locations of belonging, and the right to be there, here, and everywhere sending a message to the world about Travelling Light--about fearlessness. You can make your own connections too of course about how this image I have constructed and the public art installation itself--both, of controversy--albeit, FM is at this time not so public and obvious or sticking out of the landscape, but I think it is a 'sliver in the mind' (a la The Wachowski's The Matrix film, 1999) of consciousness and sticks out as something very different--a very different container for a social movement.

In my research in creating my art piece, I came across an art exhibition at the New Gallery in downtown Calgary (Feb. 28-Apr. 5, 2014), entitled "The Travelling Light Exhibition" and which there is a great essay online with that exhibition ("A Shadow Cast in the Travelling Light" by Steven Cottingham) that talks about the 6 artists who made it in this show reflecting their discontent on having "inherited economies and... administrative detritus that gradually accumulates and marks the passage of time, the loss of love, and the dissolution of dreams" (Cottingham). It struck me that if you added the word "fear" in there, that's what I am guessing is the real deeper shadow: as in fear-based economies we inherit with their administrative detritus--fear marking our insecurity of time, loss of everything... and in particularly, this is a sensitive (if not traumatizing) prospect as the new generations of children and youth face this world ahead... I loved the question the artists all came up with in this exhibition: "What do we do with a [fear-based] world we did not make but cannot escape?" They answer that artistically. I think FM ning is a public art installation for a fear-based world we did not make originally, but we are contributing to it. How can we stop that contribution in the best ways? How can we remake that world based on a new reference, rather than (pathological) fear? This question, implicitly, is behind all the Fearlessness Movements throughout time. Those I have studied and written about to some extent and participated in--go to the Wikipedia (time and again) to read about theFearlessness Movement histories, philosophies, theories. They are a counter Travelling Light in the darkness of a fear-based worldview and materialist-violent outcome of that worldview.   

Lest I stop before I get too pedantic... (smile)... 

End Notes

1. It is an application of a critical aesthetic practice in my repertoire, called a/r/tography-- the a for art, the r for research, the t for teaching and graphy for writing. I love to combine these, each as important as the other. There is lots on the Internet and books on this practice and theory and philosophy behind it--which formally came together in the late 1990s out of The University of British Columbia, from the lead of Dr. Rita Irwin, Prof. of Art Education & Curriculum and her students and colleagues. Barbara and I have been influenced positively by the spirit of a/r/tography as an integral practice. 

2. "The Travelling Light" is a collaborative artists' work produced by the Swedish organization Ignes Indee (design). It cost the City of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) $500,000 (and 80% of this apparently was spent locally in its construction). 

3. Aesthetic biases/judgments are incredibly powerful, the more I research this, and the more I find there is a fear-based aesthetic that is very toxic (see my A-D/ness research). Anyways, one newspaper article on the blue ring art installation told of the Mayor of Calgary, supposedly very art-loving, saying in public in the press "it's awful... it's terrible"--but more importantly, that superficial response led to the City elites deciding to change the public by-law on public art in the following year of the installation of The Travelling Light. They changed it to both cap the money to be spent on public art, but also that "public art projects will be more functional and more citizens involved in choosing them." This word "functional" (says Dormer, 2014, Calgary Sun newspaper) "meaning rather than just statues, installations and paintings, projects can [must] be designed for use by the public, like benches, bike racks, gateways, and windscreens." This is enormously disturbing to my aesthetic and artistic sensibility in terms of the negation in the use of "functional" criteria alone, as that is the sign of the loss of art that is about ideas and critique of the status quo. Very dangerous when we move in that direction of functionalism--a topic I have written about for over 15 years. 

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