Saturday, October 31, 2015

Share #1: Bread, Cheese, Salami, Herring, Olives

REUTERS NEWS: Global stocks slip, but post best month in four years; oil gains Friday 30 October
Friday morning, I fasted. I wasn't particularly hungry and was busy with dogs and didn't find it so hard. I had green tea in the morning. I'm allowing myself water and tea. At noon, I went to the market and got some picnic-type food so I'd have something to share. I bought 1/4 loaf of desem from my favorite bakery Tall Grass, 1/2 pound of Barvarian Meat salami, a block of imported cheese and an organic green pear. I was on my way to read for PorchLit, something I've been meaning to do for a long time. PorchLit is a year-long project set in the International District (ID). Everyday someone stands on this one particular corner, in front of a boarded up house and reads a poem. Yesterday evening I spent a lot of time looking for the right poem. I re-read hundreds of poems from the files I've kept and waffled between wanting to read something whimsical and wanting to share something profound. I considered reading a local poet and noticed again how I have too few female poets in my files. PorchLit takes place on the corner of 12th & King, a half a block east of where I performed for NEPO 5K Walk Don't Run. I felt my own history there layered over a wider community history, something both ancient and newly forming, stretching time in both directions.

Before going to read, I called my friend in the ID to see if he would share a meal with me. He was home and willing. I've known Christian French for a few years. I've worked with him and for his and have seen his art. He's an exquisite artist, a collector and, to me, a bit of a teacher. Earlier this year, Christian mounted a large-scale installation on the Duawamish. Estuary was composed of 22 shipping containers stacked in playful poses. It offered an exchange between the natural world and our human activity. Christian says he is doing more than just playing with large blocks, he is playing with resonance. The piece brought hundreds of witnesses and performers to this site on the Duwamish, but from his perspective not nearly enough.

I offered my bread and cheese and salami. He offered glasses of luke warm tea, pickled herring and olives. We made a little table out of a box on a chair and sat talking about objects and about our attachment to objects and about collecting them and letting them pass through our lives. We talked about making art and what happens to the artist when they doesn't make art. I'm not sure non-artists quite understand how hard it is for an artist who is unable to make work. Maybe they're overwhelmed with their objects or with the work itself, or don't have adequate time or space or time,  or are exhausted from their day job or from writing grants, or from struggling with poverty, or are spent on a family ordeal? An artist who cannot work eventually rot, not all the way through but in parts. Like old bread, they can be refreshed with a sprinkle of water and some time in the fire. The fire is one's life. It must be heated up just right, with the right effort and the right nourishment. This tonic must must be drunk in large doses. The water and temperature and time must right. Only then can the artist come to fruit.

Christian was exhausted both from working and from the amount of things to be done. He thinks he needs more space. I wondered, how he would keep from growing more projects with more space? He and I are on opposite ends of the object management spectrum. I am almost out of things and trying harder everyday to lose what I still have. I am not as exhausted as he is. I am floating. I've been struggling with the sense the bottom fell out. It's as if, at last, I found that deep connection, something true, then failed to pursue it with every atom and was so set away, into the alley with the dogs, until I learned how to receive it. We spent the hour talking and gobbling. It was a good meal and a good share and we made plans for future shares.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Share: Declaration of Profits

MY SHARE is a durational, shared, eating campaign performed by artist A K Mimi Allin. It begins on 30 October 2015 and lasts for one month or 30 shares. This work is dedicated to the artist's brother, who lives in NYC, works as a senior executive in the high stakes world of international finance and who is entering his 50th year. Happy Birthday, Richard!

The artist borrows language from her brother's world, the business world, and applies it to her own, the world of performance art. In doing so, she draws parallels between their worlds, showing how both build, hold and transform community. In his world, a"share" is a unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset. In her world, the word "share" means one shared meal, with anyone, stranger or friend, any time of day or night. Like a shareholder who doesn't have direct control over the business's day-to-day operations, but who is entitled to an equal distribution in profits, the artist's brother will benefit from the gift of 30 shares in the artist herself, by sharing in the profits from her investments, all the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of 30 shared meals. This suggests a direct connection between the welfare of one and the welfare of the other, whether a sibling, or a member of the community.

Shares will be offered as picnics on park benches, chance meetings on street corners and invitations to private homes. Shares may, as funds allow, be taken in cafes (ah but funds rarely allow). A share is not intended to be an easily purchased or thoughtlessly consumed meal, but rather a meal sought after and depended upon. The artist may eat as often and as frequently as she likes, so long as the meals are shared. This demands that the artist invest herself in the community or go without. And, in fact, she may choose to go without, but when she does, there will be no profits. A daily log, posted online at Declaration of Profits, will document this work.

Sharing meals for 30 days may seem an easy task to those with spouses or roommates, to those who work or live in community, but for the single artist, with a limited income, who doesn't work a day job and eats 95% of her meals alone, this work will prove a large effort.

MY SHARE comes in response to a family crisis, or rather to a developing situation. As sister and brother begin to negotiate the care of an aging parent, it becomes quickly evident how their differences would tear them apart. The artist offers a commitment to seek and share herself, her resources, her profits, both spiritual and material, with her family and with those around her, as an offering from a life of love to one who is loved.

"To my community, I call on you. I ask your help, to make this work. Meet me. Eat with me. A pear, a slice of buttered bread." - A K Mimi Allin