Thursday, November 24, 2005


Well there have been lots of complaints. I thought I would end this episode as a cliff-hanger. But the public demands to know -- how did it end? Well, you will be happy to learn that our project was a success. The people were happy. We all kissed and made up.

The picture depicts me, after the show opened.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

August 25

We are one day from show time. What I have noticed is that all the groups have overlapping projects. We made a stop motion animation sequence and so did another group. We are digging in the field outside as part of our performance, and another group is doing the same. I wonder if Cesta has ever had a shovel shortage before? Also, I worry about the dance group that is performing in the same field. They better tape their ankles.

Last night we filmed a section of the Madillah video in the town square. It was around 23.00 and we attracted a lot of attention. The police followed us and I thought we were going to get arrested. I totally forgot how to say, ¨I am an artist¨ The only Czech phrase I could remember was, ¨please, may I pay the check¨. Which was not very useful. Fortunately, the police never stopped us and we got a lot of good footage of the police following Madillah as we loped through the town square. I found out later that everybody was watching us film, and I think they would have come to rescue us.

My piece is almost assembled. I have made Spirit Monuments using text applied onto beer bottles. There are 16 monuments and they have all been translated into Czech. I know it sounds a little prosaic but the bottles read like labels and they turned out really well. I am just not sure how to explain my project to my funders. I am totally excited by being translated into Czech. Later, I would love to come back here and work with a Czech co-writer. Perferably Petra who translated and co-wrote the monument piece.

I am preparing to leave Cesta. To leave this crazy social experiment. Yesterday, I sat at the breakfast table and listened to a French artists translate a question from German into Italian and then into English. It was another of many Cesta moments.

I have learned a lot of things about myself as well as the group I am working with. I learned how to compromise more. To give up control and to trust others, and I also made some art while I was here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

August 23

The rain came back and poured sheets and sheets of water on Cesta. Often, we go down the stone stairwell into Cesta and it will start raining about the second stair down the hill, and it will not let-up until you have reached the second to last stair on the top of the hill. Everybody is getting damp again. The whole attic smells like a wet dog.

As far as show prep goes, people are starting to get a little crazy. You can hear people talking well into the night. The once early risers are seen tumbling out of beds well into the afternoon. Romances seem to be blooming, so far no break-ups. All behavior predicted by Cesta staff as foretold to us when we first arrived.

Our group is lucky, I think, because we go first. I look forward to watching the other shows after ours on Friday -- although the prospect of Friday looms--ready to strike. The day after our show, we meet with the Cesta staff for our critique. I am thinking about being sick that day.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

August 21

Monument 1
On August 13th Andrea cried. On August 14th I cried. I do not know who else cried and on what days.

Monument 2
Collaboration is like a story. It has a beginning and an end. And something happens in between.

Monument 3
We all travelled as a group to Praha. The whole time I wanted to ditch my group and be alone. When they finally left, I wanted them back.

Monument 4
Last night I went to a peformance featuring an American techno performance artist, an Italian composer, a Czech techno duo all rounded out with a Lithüanian punk rocker. Now that is what I call a cultural exchange.

August 21

i start to feel a little bit tiredi feel a little bit traped in my life.why am i here and not to a nice beach somewhere?suddently i feel like i have to respond to all this spirit matterswe( sabine and i )will make a t shirt that wil say:"i hope there is nothing after death" or something like thisat the beging i was justifiing all this spiritual abstract, most of the times, feelings/ but lately i feel really angry.some people use emocional tricks (unconsiusly maybe) for explaning their experiencesi dont need to indentifie myself so as to feel compasion towrwads a human "tragedy" like death or pain or..misunderstanding!suddendly i feel like i have to articulate a big truth and this scares me because i dont beleive in big statments..i dont know if what i write can be understood,writing or expressing ourselfes needs a lot of talent and strangle shadows in a wall of a religious monument,spiritual darkness,a fight for a subjective point of viewbla bla bla blim blom

Friday, August 19, 2005

August 19

The days have become sunny and we are all drying-out. Laundry is stretched from one end of Cesta to the other. Everywhere you look, there are clothes; clothes hanging from tress, clothes draped over shrubs. Finally, the true shape of the artists emerge as they shed layer after layer. The dancers emerging like butterflies from Lycra cocoons ... yuck, I'll stop. But you get the picture.

Things feel better today. We are waiting for the camera battery to charge so that we can begin filming Madillah -- the wild man-- running through an empty, ruined house. All of the group has offerred to come and help wih the filming, which is a great help as it is a little frightening to go out to shoot a video without knowing more than how to order five beers in the language. It is difficult to imagine trying to talk to the police.

Tonight, we have meetings and then we will be making shadow monuments of the walls of the church. Also, we have to shoot some photos of us standing on monuments or making pictures or some memorabilia of monument. Finally, I feel inspired by the notion of monument and I feel less challenged by this collaborative process. Besides we have a million projects and very little time left.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

August 18

We travelled as a groupto Kunta Hora and Praha. Later in Praha, we broke away from the group, and suddenly I felt so small. I had a real low point where I just wanted to be home. Praha was too much. I sat in the largest of the large town squares, confronted by Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque, and just all this architecture closing in on me. At some point I found the only bad view in Praha, so I sat there and stared at this ugly parking lot for a good 10 minutes.

All the time I was alone, I wanted to be back with the group, but the old group problems presented themselves as soon as we were back together. The group is working together better but there came a point a few nights ago where I had to confess that I was unhappy and feeling excluded.

Have you ever noticed that when you tell people that you are unhappy, the first thing they do (and I am the first to confess doing this) is they try and talk you out of feeling that way. I realize it is an attempt to make you feel better which is nice.

Today we had a good meeting. We are close to titling our project Spirit Monuments, or at any rate this is essentially the theme and the approach of our project. It will consist of an inner room and gallery space along with a wall space and a yard area. We will have an installed section and a performance section. We will photograph all of us standing on a pedestall and later will have a shadow theatre outside on the wall where people can go and create shadow monuments. At the end of the performance we will have a character bury the objects we created. We will have a few short videos installed in two rooms. One of us making shadow monuments at the church and another of Golem characters. It seems a little scattered now but it made sense earlier today.

So far, I have been struggling with how to bring what I know to do to the group project which is writing and text mapping, and another member of the group has decided that she is going do some of those things, so what do you do? ˝I want to make the map, and you can work on it if you like.˝ I asked the group ˝... well, what do I do if I want to write text and make a text map because this is what I do? I am not a installation artist but am I supposed to make installations? or wait for stray things to do? help others?˝ So what is collaboration?

I have tried to take down the tension, because I have been feeling really challenged. For a while I tried withdrawing but that only increased tension and the show went on without me, so I am back but fumbling feeling good at times and pissed off at others. So is this collaboration?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

August 17

poufcollaboration is difficalt and even more if you are thinking of other people feelingsand we all know that.!collaboration is to be inspired from other peoples ideas . collaboration is also the iniciative to propose something even if it will fall into the hole.collaboration is to make different representacion of one subject.i like this,its a kind of freedomi was asking you today if you have started a text or a map different than the blog,i didnt undertand your answeri think its a nice thing to sare ideasif you write a text or a map i would like to see it and maybe say my opinion,feel free to be exposed not like in the blog wich is like a memoria but like a creator,i need to hear more of your thoughts on the subgect becouse i found the pice of work that you gave as really intersting and i dont want to lose the chanse of working together.m

Monday, August 15, 2005

August 15

Yesterday there was no email to be found in Tabor. We decided to go to visit the caves in nearby Chrynov. The caves are pretty amazing. They are water carved limestone formations. The tour was somewhat cheesy with the Bach Fugues in the "Cathedral" section and a little quartz campfire vignette.

When we came back to Cesta there was a Koto performance in the theatre. It was pretty amazing to be sitting in the theatre in the Czech Republic watching 2 Japanese musicians playing and improvising on these ancient instruments. It made me realize how incredible this place is and how touched I am that Hillary and Chris and all the staff have created this cultural exchange station in Tabor.

Today we are all going to Kunta Hora and then staying over night to meet the rest of the crew in Prague. It seems everybody is exhausted with everybody else so like good tourists we are all traveling together. To get away from each other.

In Prague we will visit the alternative biennial.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

August 13

It is late and everybody here is in the dining hall watching Paris Texas on DVD. I have been trying to book a hostel for all of us to go to Prague and Kunta Hora. It is funny that for all of the struggling and infighting and other group disfunctions, we all want to travel together. Perhaps we just want to keep an eye on each other.

Sometimes Cesta feels like a cross between Fame and Survivor. Pardon my TV reference but it comes closest to describing collaboration at CESTA.

Some of our group, and a innocent bystander, had a discussion of what spirit means to them (the Cesta theme is Spirit Matters). It was incredibly interesting to hear people talking about spirits and to hear us trying to take in each other's language and way of being in the world. For one, spirit is life, for another spirit is meaningless (actually for quite a few). I said that I didn't need to define it.

Spirit just strikes me as one of those words that means everything and nothing and that words would only serve to diminish and make the subject boring. I know it sounds odd coming from a writer but I think that science can define things of the material world but I have no interest in naming those things of the spirit, Anyway, we all sat around in a circle in the centre of the attic, trying to understand what each of us was talking about. It was kind of funny with the difficulties of language, of concept, of approach and, ultimately, understanding.

Friday, August 12, 2005

August 12

Every morning I get up and drink my coffee and´then I head on up the four or five flights of stone stairs that separates Cesta from the main town. I think it wakes me more than the coffee. The days move on and I begin to wonder about what we are going to do by way of collaboration. Like many of the groups, our group is struggling -- or some of our group is struggling -- with the collaborative process. Strong personalities emerge to pull in one direction and the quieter ones resist. Yesterday, some of our group assembled a structure in the attic.

I am beginning to receive emails from what is now, I suppose, my audience. It becomes more difficult to write honestly -- as witnessed above. I have been writing this blog since June, and I noticed a complete lack of audience. Not even my fellow artist have been reading the blog. I think this is odd because I would like to know what is being said about me.

I had begun to wonder about all the hype about blogging and the virtual universe, but now that people have found me and are reading this, well then it becomes a different matter altogether. Now it becomes more difficult to be honest. So, shall I say that I am feeling left out of the process. That I feel outside of the group. Well yes, I feel all these things. I keep telling myself that this is part of the collaborative process. That I have an opportunity to confront those feelings. They are old feelings too.

The centre of Tabor is the old town, and below in the surrounding valley, is the new town. The buildings in the new section sort of expand outwards in an array of progressively newer buildings. Yesterday, I was walking towards the new town. While walking through this stretch of alley, I came across a group of children. There were four of them grouped together and a little further away from them, was a little boy. They were yelling something at him and he was crying. I think I learned the Czech phrase for cry baby.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

August 11

Nine days. Over fifty people have arrived. The mill is getting more crowded with each passing day. Our group has been fairly fortunate so far as far as sleeping arrangements go. We have been assigned a section of the attic for the six of us. There are two (I think) long sections of the mill, which used to have three sections standing. Now there are only two. One is the main building which is attached to a barn which Cesta has converted into a theatre space.

There are two main stretches of attic over-top of a two-story building. Our section is bisected by a stairwell and there are 3 groups all sleeping on that side. It is quite noisy over there morning and night. What is it one of the organizers said? "There is always one loud one." Something like that. And that ONE woke me this morning.

But still, we are well situated and our group quite quiet. Little tip-toes in the night and the rattling of plastic bags. The attic looks like a tent city now, as we all have draped sheets over rope to create an illusion of privacy.

Along with the crowds it is getting more difficult to access an internet location to write as well as upload photos to the blog. I hope to get that organized for tonight, as it seems that the blog may be part of our presentation.

On the ninth our group met - except for me - and created a little installation in the wood room. I think it was a good project and it seemed to pull the group together. Later I felt like I had missed an opportunity to collaborate. We will be meeting again today. Yesterday I went back to visit Czeske Krumlov.

I wanted to get away from the crowds at Cesta. I have been told that the early arrivals withdraw from the crowds as they begin arriving, and I can see myself doing that. I try to resist the urge to sneak out at breakfast and pretend not to see somebody coming out of a corridor, making a run for the exit. I am not alwazs so successful.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 9

It's amazing to realize that I have been here for one week already. Things are starting to feel like home -- the weather feels like October in Vancouver. Last night, I woke-up freezing and I had to put on my sweater and pants over my pajamas. Yesterday I bought an army surplus jacket and today I think I may buy a tooque (and mittens).

More artists and guests are arriving, and Cesta is getting pretty full. In the morning now, there are about 20 people milling around the 5 great long tables in the dining hall. I kind of miss the quiet mornings where I would drink my coffee alone and stare out at the neighbour's chickens. It is such a fantastic view. From this window, you look out over the barn and the long row house that intersects the mill. I think I find this is my favourite aspect of Tabor. The way building are bisected or divided into suites. Pieces of fencing are pulled together from chicken wire, bed springs, iron works. The is not much in the way of wood fencing.

Anyway, from the window you can look out at the garden where the old couple grow gladiolus and watch the chickens scratch around. There is an old German Shepard who guards the chickens. In the morning the old man comes out and puts his coffee in the windowsill and smokes. After, he feeds the chickens and then rests on his bench watching the glads. When I sit at this window I think that I could continue to sit at this window for the rest of my life.

Back to the work part. Well. It is hard going. We have finished the rounds of what you want to do? what do you expect? and I don't see any cohesive plan or any coming together of ideas. One member wants to run around in a costume and get filmed, another wants to cast objects in plastic and tape, another wants to create a procession, another wants to help everybody do their work and another wants to not participate in the project at all. And me? I am leaning towards the latter. I find the meetings exhausting, and I would rather be in Berlin.

Monday, August 08, 2005

August 8

Well the group has began meeting and I must say we have more differences than commonalities. I think it is the Vancouver team that has the most conflicts, due in part to the conceptual differences of our work and the fact that we just don't seem to want to collaborate. We spend more time trying to figure out ways to work together without actually working together.

This morning, over breakfast, I discovered that we are not alone and that some of the other groups are struggling with ways to make individual projects work together. About 20 artists all sat in the great dining hall, glumly eating the same rye bread with the same Edam cheese, wondering how we are going to work together.

Yesterday, as part of a day off, 3 of our group and another Vancouverite went to visit Ceske Kumlov an amazing medieval castle fortress town. At first I was a little hohum "not another medieval castle fortress town. Aren't we living in one now?" But I decided to go anyway. After a rather gruesome 2 hour busride, which I determined was south, we ended up in this fairytale town. It was amazing and I am glad I went. I turned into an unashamed tourist - as opposed to the ashamed one I usually am.

The town was just gorgeous and touristy but Czech touristy not American touristy. Their were no McDonalds or other awful things. Even at highly overpriced rates a steak dinner (thank goodness) with all the works: soup, steak , potato and honey cake and beer - it only cost about 10 dollars. I feel not rich here but certainly well off. This is the only time in my entire life that I have felt like this.

We decided to take the train back to our slightly drabber medieval town. It was supposed to cost more than the bus but we had a group rate and so then it cost less. The best part was sitting in a little bar waiting for the train to come.

Czeske Kumlov is in the heart of the Bohemian forest and both the bus or train ride is pretty amazing. You ride through birch, hemlock, linden and other familiar trees. There is not much in the way of wild life except for the captive bears in the castle or the taxidermied animals in the windows of restaurants and stores. Everywhere you look you see land that has been cultivated for centuries.

Oh yes, about the project. I don't really know what is going to happen. I think this collaboration is about building an idea together. It's funny but on the visit yesterday, I think we could have come up with our group collaborative project. It would have been both collaborative and fun. It started when Lesley began taking pictures of Kevin in his green hoody. All of us started taking pictures of him and we really enjoyed just riffing on photos of Kevin.

So I get an idea of what collaboration is and how you have to just let go of your self and just allow the moment or the idea to seize you. Now to try and tell this to the other half of the group....

Friday, August 05, 2005

August 5

The rest of our team arrived last night and to celebrate we took them to the bar next to the catacombs. Half of the team is still in bed, mostly due to the good beer and Fernet - a horrible, evil drink.

We meet tonight in order to begin planning our performance. We have to decide on where to perform. CESTA has many performance spaces or we can also perform in town with the proper permission. We also need to come up with a team name and title. Personally I dislike the idea of a team name. It bores me trying to think one up. And it is not really important. We need to start deciding what spaces to book and what times and days.

It is being to seem real.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August 4

Ahoy. I am in Tabour. Still recovering from serious case of jetlag. Worried I will acquire a Valarium root addiction but my sleep is getting a little normalized. The worst part is waking up starving all the time. Cesta is pretty cool. It is located on the edge of an old fortress town, nestled in a valley between the old Roman walls and a fast flowing river. It is very rural. In the mroning we are awakend by the crowing of a very loud rooster. Quite a difference from the usual downtown eastside noises except for the crowing part.

We are sleeping in a attic ontop of an 16 century mill. Over the years Cesta has been refinishing various parts of the building. They feed us in the morning and at night and the food is very good. They treat us really well. It may be hard to come home. The whole place is volunteer driven.

We are waiting for the rest of our team to arrive. Andrea is here and now so is Maria. We are waiting for CArly and Kevin who will be getting in around 9 pm tonight. We'll have to take them out for a lovely Czech beer.

Last night we were having beers next to the catacombs which had been left unlocked all night. We scurried in after last call and poked around only a little. I chickened out first. We were then accidentaly locked into the courtyard behind the bar but were soon released. Before leaving we picked up the tab for 18 beers. It cost around 11 dollars. So it's a pretty good place to saty.

Monday, August 01, 2005

August 1

Eek! Finished cleaning, finished packing, finished instructions to plant waterers, finished organizing finished finished.....!

Getting ready to go. Waiting for our ride and I hope he isn't later and I hope the plane isn't late. Perhaps I should have packed before the last minute. I have no idea what I have thrown into my backpack. Perhaps I only have pants and I will have to make my current tshirt last for 6 weeks. I think I only have 2 pairs of socks but I am afraid to check. What are socks anyway?

I have begun to forget things...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

July 26

Good news! I received a travel grant through the Writing and Publishing Section of Canada Council. This means that I will not be completely broke when I get home from the residency. Thank you. Thank you.

I am getting nervous about the trip. I have accomplished much but I still have to get my materia stogether. This is the most difficult part -- trying to decide what to bring, what to present, what supplies will be available when I get there.

To Take:
swimming suit
cds of materials for documentation: ten jpegs and cv
copies of books
copies of magazine
story and story section for presentation
sewing supplies
sun screen
travel books
there is probably more

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

July 5

Recent email from Andrea. Talking about the woods which are behind the mill where we will be staying. I am enticed by the possibility of our final presentation being situated in the woods.

The woods are a narrative goldmine. All the best legends and fairy tales are set in the woods. Mysterious animals, strange rituals, misfits and more lurk there. "If you go out to the woods tonight..." I am drawn to the possibilities.

In Toronto a performance troop is preparing a series of plays for performing on the subway. I was thinking about that this morning. I guess in the subway you have the advantage of people -- people as unwilling (or unwitting) audience. Audience by default. It would be interesting to see people watching the performance, so much about public transit is about being forced to witness or attempting to avoid witnessing drama in transit (or at least not being seen bearing witness).

The forest will be different. How do you draw people into the woods? Bits of crumbs, warnings not to enter the woods, enticing calls, a stray rabbit or other sport leading you to the woods... Traditional sources for drawing the townsfolk into the woods.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

June 22

Just past the longest day of the year. Plans continue onward for trip to Czech. Starting to get concerned about all the details that I haven't figured out. I was down with a cold for about a week and I couldn't get much done during that time. I am hoping that I have had my annual cold so I won't have to worry about coming down with one during the performance festival.

I still have to communicate with the rest of the team and let them know how to find this Blog, but so far I am enjoying this virtual anonymity. It is this quiet lonely space that only I inhabit. It is like dressing in front of a window without curtains; one has a similar exhibitionist sense while sitting at the keyboard entering a new blog post: maybe somebody is watching.

Half of our Vancouver team leaves on August 1 to arrive on the 2nd and the other half arrives on the 4th. As far as we can tell, we are sleeping in a dorm like environment and there was all sorts of talk about how to create privacy: curtains, tents, hoardings....

Mostly I am concerned about quiet spaces. Places where I can think about things. I find I get quite cranky when I am continually with people - I think this is a result of living in an almost empty country.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

June 15- leannej

There was a meeting of the East Vanc Rec Lab and we got a lot of good work done. Started planning on our performance strategies. Worked on a plan for collaboration. And discussed tent making preparations. We are ready to get online with our other collaborators and the first order of the day is to create a new name for our group as we expand and leave the East van Rec Lab behind.


Well, we dsicussed several models of collaborating and decided that for the time being, the most easily achievable model is the 'barn raising' type. We all work on our individual prjects but are ready willing and able to assist with our team members and their projects. We will try and sync up these projects for one long prossession or tour as part of our presentation at the end of the residency. Of course, all of this may change once we start working togeter and opening up the channels of communication.

This Blog:

I will send all the participants the link to this Blog and they will be able to post their own articles or comments. This will essentially become a discussion forum for all members as well as accepting comments from any virtual readers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

June 14

Well, we have finally arranged a meeting of the East Van Rec Lab for this evening at 9 pm. The agenda will be trying to figure out what form our collaboration will take, and an offer from our fellow Vancouver based team to join in on a fundraising salon to raise awareness and money for Czech bound performance artists and associated artists. (Well, usually I would pay money to not attend a salon but when in Czech.)

I have been agonizing over whether to bring my laptop along on this trip or try and find a used palm pilot and keyboard. I just hate the idea of dragging my labtop all over Europe.
Does anybody either know if the palm pilot thing works and/or have one they are not using?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

June 9

Just under two months to go before the performance art festival and the East Van Rec Lab is having difficulty meeting to start planning their performance in August. There are lots of ideas floating around but no collaboration happening. Perhaps this is part of the collaborative procee - an absence of collaborting - but it is starting to make this member a little nervous. Besides which I like my ideas better than anybody else's, which makes me a problem: Doesn't play well with others.


It was quite a conundrum, being a writer chosen to work in a performance art festival. There is nothing very public about the act of writing - unless you count those people who hang out with laptops in coffee shops - which I don't. Writing usually occurs in private and publication occurs after intensive mediation. Of course, performance art also involves the private creation but its execution occurs in a public space with the body of the mediator present where as in book form the writer is absent.

I like the idea of turning writing into a performance piece. And the simplest way of turning it into performance is to use a public areana to write in. This is why I chose to the blog. I assume that the blog exists in a virtual space which is neither public nor private. My guess is that the volume of users creates a privacy within these public spaces. Like being alone in a crowd.