Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Liminal Time and Space


Liminal - unmoored, in transition between one place, one time, and another, beyond even that, a fog of not knowing, whether there was a past place, whether there will be a future place; adrift in the present, without goal. 

Perhaps anxious. Perhaps joyous. Perhaps the present moment is crystal clear and vibrant with life. Perhaps the present moment is a dream, madness and symbolist, luminous. 

Sensing the deep currents of life. The tides that circle the earth, pulled by the moon The grand scale that our daily lives are placed within, blown by the wind, taking root in freshly plowed ground. New moments unfold.

A Walk Across a Bridge with Levi

Levi Shand is a Dadaist displaced a century forward in time. He uses a camera to explore concepts and emotions. He asks questions which have no answer and yet have a compelling need to be addressed. 

In October 2019, Levi led a small group of us with our cameras on a wander across Chicago neighborhoods, most showing the wear and tear of an ever changing city - some torn apart by interstate highways and urban renewal fifty years ago, some pulsing with life, all intermingled.

Each hub of activity has a history, waves of immigration and colonialism, of ethnic identity and globalization, of hegemonic design and grassroots disruption, of systemic inequity and liberation, of personal growth and dissolution. Each wave leaving an imprint that shapes and is erased by the emerging present. 

Crossing a literal bridge, spanning railroads and river, Levi described it as liminal, a transition. This was a place where the scale shifted and the humans seemed to have disappeared. Vast. Open. Unprotected. A multidimensional corridor connecting near and far, conduits of power and transit that separate the terrain they cross as they reach across distance.

And yes, when we are on the bridge, we might not see the bridge.

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Larry Wolf, Chicago (2019)

Levi, along with Shawn Rowe, co-founded Chicago Active Transit Arts 
To unite communities in examining and demonstrating the efficacy of walking, bicycling, and mass transit in art-making and appreciation in Chicago. 

Join them for a class or an event. Follow them on Instagram @active_transit_arts

Stuck Between Old and New - Video from Sean Tucker

Sean Tucker is a modern minister to the heathen of photography, us scruffy souls who are foolish enough to seek enlightenment and salvation in photography. I watch his YouTube videos and follow him on Instagram. He is a master image maker and a compassionate human. He pours his life into his work and offers it to the world, in visuals and in words. (So too does David duChemin, a story for another time).

Sean recently moved to York as one of many changes in his life. He is living in a liminal world. This video opens with amazing images, framed like photographs, beginning in stillness, coming to life. Mysterious. Magical. Embracing the liminal. 

He welcomes us with these quotes.

"Honour the space between no longer and not yet." Nancy Levin

"Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves." Henry David Thoreau

"New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings." Lau Tzu

"When we are betwixt and between, we are in that graced time where something genuinely new can happen." Richard Rohr

Every moment in our lives holds the seeds of new beginnings. Every moment is also the falling apart of what was. How I cling to the known, shy away from the unknown. Except. Except when I am as fully in the present moment as I can be, when time stops, when mind shifts into a mode of curiosity and wonder. The personal matter less. The heart breaks open to a tenderness of emotion, beyond the specific drama - being human - alive, breathing, seeing, feeling. A place where art happens.

Sean tells us of his pain as he moves away from his past and into a new present, of the plans which keep getting derailed, of the need to move beyond this time of transition, and yet, to honor this transition, to live fully in this moment. He is a master storyteller. Take a few minutes to soak in his presence. Explore other videos. Join him in his journey of discovery. Follow him @seantuck on Instagram to see the daily flow.

My Drift

The story I'm telling about myself now, as an artist, began in January of 2016 when I left the company I'd been part of for 29 years (and by some stretch of connections, going back to 1976, a full 40 years). There was a time with my own  LLC continuing the health policy work I had done for over a decade and some time employed by a software company. That all ended in January of 2020, when I fully turned to nurturing whatever was coming next. Little did I know what 2020 would bring!

There are forty posts to this blog in 2020, as I worked with my archive of photos going back to my childhood, as I took walks in my neighborhood, as I helped my husband through an extended health crisis, as I took on-line classes. COVID-19 was ever-present and yet is not the main topic. 

I've been considering the larger social issues of how outsiders shape and are shaped by the dominant society, of how I, as a gay white cis-gendered male, have been both activist and assimilationist, priveleged and discounted; of how systemic issues of racism, of colonialism, of heteronormativity, of polarization, are my history, my life, my world to engage. I've been reading, writing, drawing, painting, photographing. Spending time in my home bubble with Eric and his mother. Spending time online with friends, relatives and in classes, with videos, podcasts, blogs and music.

Some themes running through this

The long shadow of the holocaust on my life as a gay man, as a Jew, and the roots which go back into the depths of history and well beyond the actions of any one country or regime. There are many genocides and collective trauma.

Coming out into the joys of gay liberation and then the war which was the first fifteen years of AIDS (and continues today). There are many celebrations and collective brilliance

Livelihood, not only as a source of income, but as an engagement with the world, an offering to others; living as a professional, an advocate, a teacher, as a husband, a son, brother, and uncle, keeping body and home whole, working with the interdependence of being.

Learning the basics of drawing and watercolor, and yes, also photography, exploring being an artist.

Having hope and perseverance even though the institutions I believed in turned out to be deeply flawed and undermine the ideals they proclaim, finding ways to be reborn from the ashes.

Simply being, without words. Here. Now. Alive.

Journey of Lost and Found

Back in the mid-late 1990s, in the early days of the Internet, my email signature was "Am I lost enough to find my way?" That seems to be what still drives me. Being lost. Becoming Found. Losing it. Beginning again. And there is the relative stability of my daily life, safety, shelter, food, companions. My own generally good health and those around me. 

There are daily reminders that it is all falling apart. Family and friends become sick, die, as do organizations. The illusion of a uniformly generous government is blown away with police killings, riots, insurrections, walls at the borders. 

And there are daily reminders of generativity, of the spring which is happening despite climate change, of the multiple rovers on Mars (US and China), of the magic of this keyboard and screen putting words and images out into the world.

In this fluid space, exploring through teaching, inviting others into a container to learn together, to surprise ourselves, to join our inner experience with the outer world, making artifacts which mark our journey. (Currently in the middle of the first run for Contemplative Photography.)

Larry Wolf, Pen and Paper (2021)

The Context That's Danced Within

Larry Wolf,
Blooms (2021)
It's spring. The world is waking up from the long chill of a pandemic (well, some parts of the privileged world).  There are COVID-19 vaccines. A change in the Federal administration. Some signs that Black Lives Matter has finally shifted the conversation beyond a single crisis and has sustained a conversation on structural racism and structural inequities. There are hot and cold wars across the globe. A helicopter flew on Mars. Confrontational, polarizing forces are still pulling us apart. Day to day, I keep seeking to make sense of it all, finding continuity while acknowledging change. 

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