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Totems

In residence in Montreal, I started really paying attention to totems I was seeing, which I also remembered seeing in Africa. Totems are the oldest cross cultural phenomena. This and other reflections led me to install the video work of Slaves and Indians into a totem pole of TVs.  Lisa found a old colonial costume and we went to different landmarks in Montreal filming her perform the song.  We also set up a workshop in which we asked participants to sing the first song they remember being sung to or sang themselves.  And to respond to a number of sounds from gregorian chants to cuban bembe rituals layered together.  Footage of the participants was mixed with Lisa’s performances and clips of rituals from around the world that use music as a means of connecting to the spirit.  In this we used sound in a physical style of the totem as a “healing” from the institutional constraints of Art in America…

For it’s next presentation, I am designing a bottle tree (believed to be originally a tradition in Congo area of Africa in the 9th Century A.D. and that the practice was brought over by slaves who hung blue bottles from trees and huts as talismans to ward off evil spirits)  The tree will be made of bottles from commercial products and iPhones and iPods to screen Lisa in performance around the area.   This is a variant of the TV totem created in Montreal.