Ars Longa 008

Title: Thought and Memory 004; Size: 4×6; Media: Paper, acrylic paint, india ink, silk organza, acetate

This piece, made as a requested donation for the Richmond Art Gallery (“Spring into Art” silent auction fundraiser event on 24th May 2014), acquired its title, Thought and Memory 004, from the Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods. I wrote about the Thought and Memory Bookmark, the first of the Thought and Memory series, in the previous post, Ars Longa 007, but I did not add that the bookmark was to have been inspired by a favourite book, and was to have included a quote from that book on the back face of the work. The quote I used was “’My ravens are Huginn and Muninn: Thought and Memory…’ Two ghostly-gray ravens landed on Wednesday’s shoulders, pushed their beaks into the side of Wednesday’s head as if tasting his mind, and flapped out into the world once more.” I shall inscribe this same quote on the back face of this Thought and Memory postcard before I send it flapping out into the postal system, and thence into the world.

Thought and Memory 004 was made while I listened to the four-or-so-hour-long recording of the Amanda Palmer ninja TED 2014 gig that happened 19th March 2014 at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver (link below). The ninja TED 2014 gig was a bit like the revue in one of those wartime movies with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney playing “Babes”, teens who want to put on a revue; one of their friends has a barn, another can make costumes and curtains, another can rig up some benches, and Judy and Mickey can sing and dance. These films were, and the ninja TED 2014 gig was, a testament to the power of optimism and enthusiasm – to sending the work flapping out into the world.

The gig came together in a few days: on Sunday night Amanda Palmer announced via twitter that she wanted to put together a ninja gig while she was in Vancouver attending TED. Most performers and speakers at the event performed or spoke at the TED conference that was happening in Vancouver during the days that week, but most everything else, the volunteers, the venue, the charity (Vancouver Food Bank), the audience members and additional performers came through social media. The title of Amanda Palmer’s original TED (2013) talk was “The Art of Asking”, and surely pulling a ninja gig together on such short notice during the week you’re giving a TED talk is a testament to Amanda Palmer’s skills in the art of asking.

The TED talks gathers big minds and big talents – some with big hearts, all with big and noteworthy messages pointing towards big and noteworthy change – together in one place where they can mingle and fertilize one another. The bigness present at the ninja TED gig, even though it was probably less than 10% of the TED total, was inspiring enough, fertilizing the audience members in ways that I can only guess at. I assume that the event was life-changing for more than just me; I felt inspired enough to start cleaning and organizing my apartment. For about a year previous I had been sleeping in the big chair in the living room, and only sleeping a few hours some mornings. Within a few days I was able to move back into my bedroom, back into my comfy bed, and I started sleeping at night again, several hours at a time. Sleeping regularly and deeply is a big enough, a noteworthy enough change for me, for now.

The whole ninja TED event was a moving experience: Amanda Palmer bringing friends and colleagues and strangers together to put on a revue for us. It started with Orkestar Slivovica, a brass band that played Balkan tunes, moved to Ms Palmer herself, thence to Neil Gaiman (Mr Amanda himself), and ended more than three hours later with Ms. Palmer singing “Ukelele Anthem”. In between lay the following from TED: Jason Webley, a musician who sang a song about wanting a giraffe; Chris Kluwe, retired NFL punter (“I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot.”), who talked about empathy; Del Harvey from twitter, whose job is to protect us from ourselves; Amy Cuddy, the power posing psychotherapist; Imogen Heap, UK musician; a group of TED Fellows; Sarah Kay, spoken word poet; and Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut who during his recent mission on the International Space Station communicated with the earthbound through social media.

Non TED performers included: Balkan Brass band; Geoff Berner, who sang a song called “Daloy Polizei!” (Fuck the Police!) leading the audience in a rousing chorus of “Fuck the Police!”; Sam Parton (Be Good Tanyas); Jack ?; woman who organized production assistance; woman from food bank; Michael from BIL (“…let’s just start our own event across the street at the same time, let’s just call it Bil, we’ll have an excellent adventure”);

My personal highlights were musical moments, starting with Imogen Heap, British musician. I sing with a group – the Woodward’s Community Singers, but I haven’t been attending much lately, and I miss singing with my community, so I enjoy all opportunities to sing with whichever group of people I am with. Imogen Heap led us, 1200 people in her song “Just For Now”, in three part harmony a capella. During the performance I felt like part of an angelic choir making heavenly sounds to soothe all the savage breasts everywhere. Listening back, I thought we sounded like all three choirs of angels, singing “Just For Now”, singing out danger, singing out a warning, singing out the love between my brothers and sisters…Like all group singing, it was soul nourishment, a gorgeous, moving moment.

Additional soul nourishment came through Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, who sang Space Oddity (he became famous for this and his social media communications during his last mission on the space shuttle). I am Canadian; to me, being Canadian means that I don’t have to think about it all the time, that I don’t have to prove my patriotism very often, so my moments of patriotism, though rare, are particularly heartfelt. When Chris Hadfield came on stage I had one of those rare moments; my throat ached, the tears came up and ran over. I felt proud of My Canada’s past identity as agent of peace and neutrality (of our current identity as side taker and lap dog of the big boys I am not so proud). At heart I am an old school Canadian, at least as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances, and I am sometimes proud of the people and art that we send flapping out into the world. Yes, I am.

~ by thiscassandra on Tuesday 15 April 2014.

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