This weekend has been earmarked of some serious couch time for a while as I have been full tilt since I started college six weeks ago. It has been busy, tiring but good. One of our more interesting modules is the Live Art(or Performance Art) module which I am enjoying much more than I thought I would. The module is initially in two strands: one is to explore ourselves through photography and the second involves being led through some physical explorations of our body in space.
One exercise I liked was one given to a class last year by Irish performance artist Amanda Coogan who trained with international renowned performer Marina Abramovic. The exercise involves walking in a space with a full glass of water without spilling any. When you do spill some you retire to the side of the area until another person who has spilled water retires and fills your glass up again from theirs and so you continue. Simples.
At first ones attention is rigid, everything is fixed on the glass but as time moves on attention begins to soften and vision widens. Things come into sharper focus:the cracks in the concrete yard, the weeds pushing up to the sun, the slight breeze on your cheek. As you walk you become more aware of your body, your feet on the ground, the aches in your shoulders and back, the energy that always flows through the limbs. As with a meditation everything that comes into awareness without judgement is easier to let go of.
The change of lifestyle college had wrought came after a long stressful summer with no real down time and it had put all of my resources to the test. I had had no time to relax let alone meditate but half an hour walking around an enclosed concrete courtyard on a dull October day went quite a way to releasing a lot of stored up tension and restoring my equilibrium. For the rest of the day my body was abuzz with pain and tiredness but the following day I felt better than I had in weeks.
The second time we did this exercise it was in full view of the college. It was a brisk, chilly day as we glided about underneath the Horse Chestnut trees on the apron of grass that separates the campus from the main road. As with many thing heightened expectations made the second time feel more disjointed and even rushed but still came the sharpening of attention.
The sound of traffic rumbled and creaked and the smell of petrol and metal tickled the nostrils. The orange and yellow leaves at my feet were electric while grey mushrooms, soft and velvety as baby mice, pushed up through the damp grass and everywhere there were conkers winking and leering from their splitting, mine-like carapaces or deeply gleaming and whole, burst free from their spiky, binding cells that now lay curled in shrivelling pieces around them as they shone from the bright grass, all their rich glory finally open to the sky.