michael j. morris


Blue Wedding: Venice

I apologize for my recent absence from my blog. For those of you who do not know, my computer crashed two weeks ago. It was under warranty and so the repairs will be covered, but going through the proper channels always takes time. For now I am borrowing friends’ computers wherever I can. Today I finally feel as if I have time to update my blog.

Last weekend was the Love Art Laboratory (Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens) Blue Wedding in Venice. I so desperately wanted to be in attendence, but financially that was impossible at this time. Today I finally came across images from the wedding, and I wanted to share those images with you. They are my joy today, and I hope they are joy for you as well.

I feel as if there is so much I can say about my perception of this work, and my evolving perspectives on the work of Love Art Lab. As I have written before, I think that their work represents something about inegrated living/loving/making, a conflation of creative practice, politics, ecology, sexology, sex and personal partnership, individual and communal identity, ritual and performance, and so many other elements of what it means to be human. As I experience this wedding vicariously, all of these things come to mind. But more than ever before, either because of the specific perspective of this documentation or because of my own artistic/scholarly concerns at present, I am aware of the politics of body morphologyand performanceand the unique subculture of body identities that I see represented in the documentation.

The images include a series of photos of Natalie Loveless doing a performance piece as part of the celebration that involves microfilament, dye, etc. I find it stunning, and so I have dedicated quite a few photos to it. This specific piece is might be central to the subculture of body morphology that I read through these images. The piece literally uses the body as the site for transformation, literally reshapes and recolors the body of the artist. I find that fascinating.

I think there is also an interesting question of costume . . . and suddenly I feel as if I am touching a new idea (for me). I have a perspective surrounding the body, that of the tension between the “social body” (the body as we present it and as it is perceived interpersonally in society) and the “actual body” (the unique morphology of the individual body). This is only one potential taxonomy for ways of looking at the body, and I think identity is situated somewhere in the midst of these. I am wondering as I look at these images where the concept of “costume” or even “role playing” might enter into this taxonomy. I am thinking of costume or role playing as a chosen social body that deviates from our regular social body, wearing clothes that are different than our regular clothes, make-up or paint that we do not usually don. How might costume enter the discussion of the politics of bodily identity? And what  significance/implications (for the individual and the community) might there be in the space created by the Love Art Lab wedding celebrations for diverse body expressions, including costumes and role-playing?

These are scattered speculations that are sparked by these images.

I want to post a bit from the “Artists’ Statement” for this event:

“For our seventh wedding, and in our Blue Year, we will marry the Sea. We are passionately in love with her and desire to take care of her in order to help save her. We are eco-sexuals, meaning that we find nature incredibly romantic, extraordinarily sensual, and an exquisite lover. Additionally, we are “sexecologists,” who combine sexology and ecology, and we intend to make the environmental movement a little sexier.

 

Why marry the sea in Venice? During the Renaissance, the Doge (chief magistrate) de-

creed that, “Venice must marry the sea as a man marries a women and thus become her Lord.” So each year the Doge would go out on a boat and drop a ring into the water. But can people really Lord over the Sea? What is perfectly clear is that people do have the power to destroy her, and are rapidly doing so. We will follow the tradition of marrying the Sea in Venice — as two women who have moved beyond the dominant-male and submissive-female dynamic, as seductive eco-sexual artists, and as global citizens who care deeply about the welfare of our planet.”

All images are by Mark Snyder via facebook.

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Imagining a Collaboration with the Love Art Lab

The Love Art Lab (Elizabeth M. Stephens and Annie M. Sprinkle) just announced the details of their 28 August Blue Wedding in Venice. I immediately checked flights, and everything is out of my price range. This couple has become so iconic and important to my work/ideas/life this year, I dream of being a part of one of their weddings. The focus of this wedding is eco-sexuality (or sexecology) and communication, the Throat Chakra. It is a Blue Wedding in which the couple will marry the sea. I want to share an excerpt from their invitation:

“For our seventh wedding, and in our Blue Year, we will marry the Sea. We are passionately in love with her and desire to take care of her in order to help save her. We are eco-sexuals, meaning that we find nature incredibly romantic, extraordinarily sensual, and an exquisite lover. Additionally, we are “sexecologists,” who combine sexology and ecology, and we intend to make the environmental movement a little sexier.

 

Why marry the sea in Venice? During the Renaissance, the Doge (chief magistrate) de-

creed that, “Venice must marry the sea as a man marries a women and thus become her Lord.” So each year the Doge would go out on a boat and drop a ring into the water. But can people really Lord over the Sea? What is perfectly clear is that people do have the power to destroy her, and are rapidly doing so. We will follow the tradition of marrying the Sea in Venice — as two women who have moved beyond the dominant-male and submissive-female dynamic, as seductive eco-sexual artists, and as global citizens who care deeply about the welfare of our planet.”

With the invitation also came a call for collaborators, to be a part of the wedding, either the ceremony, the reception, the production team, etc. etc. etc. The weddings are always an amazing collection of eclectic presentations and performances. I would love to contribute creatively to the Blue Wedding. That’s when I came across this paragraph on the “call for collaborators” sheet:

“You don’t have to be in attendance to collaborate. For example, Geoffrey Hendricks does a ritual headstand each year, Angela Ellsworth makes our bridal bouquet sculptures, Veronica Vera takes a special vow of her own. Participate in your own way and send us the documentation to add to ours.”

I began dreaming up a long-distance collaboration/participation in the Blue Wedding. Here are ideas that immediately occurred to me:

A Blue Throat Dance
A Blue Party celebrating Communication
A Communication Ritual for opening/energizing the Throat Chakra
A ritual yoga class emphasizing matsyasana (the fish pose), which embodies a creature of the sea and is a powerful throat opening. This could segue into backbends for continuing to open the throat and more powerfully opening the heart.
Some sort of ritual at the Mirror Lake on OSU campus, our local “sea”; or maybe the “lake” in Goodale Park
Chanting of some kind. Maybe “ham” (the sound associated with the throat chakra, pronounced “haumng“). Or maybe something like have each person write a chant of something that they have been afraid to say, afraid to express, and chant all of them together, opening the Throat Chakra by unblocking what we will let ourselves say.

So is something synthesizing here? Maybe a kind of workshop/yoga class/ritual . . . in which we come in and begin by reflecting on our communication, our throat chakras, and what it is we might be afraid to express. We could then write our chants, and set them aside. Begin our yoga class by chanting “ham,” then move through surya namaskar, into a series of gentle back bends, matsyasana, and deeper backbends, directing our energy and attention to opening and energizing our throat and heart chakras, opening our communication and our ability to take action with love. At the end of class, after savasana, we return to the chants we wrote that express what it is we are afraid to say, approaching them with the energy we have cultivated in our practice, and (optionally) chant those things we are afraid to say in unison. Maybe followed by a Blue Party back at my apartment. August 28 is a Friday. Maybe an afternoon workshop/yoga class/ritual  followed by an evening Blue Party.

Even if this just lives here on this blog as a fantasy, I am already in love with it. Thought I think I’ll begin to explore its viability . . .



More Inspiration

Yesterday was the last day of my Labanotation Teacher Certification Course. As soon as I turn in my final project, I will be certified through the Dance Notation Bureau to teach Elementary Labanotation. My head is swimming with symbols and theory and integrated class/course designs. My final project is a course that I developing entitled “Choreographic Knowledge: Integrated Repertory, Composition and Movement Notation.” I am fairly excited about it, but also just exhausted.

Today starts my summer quarter, which will be mainly a mix of ballet and yoga in varying degrees. Ballet three days a week with Karen Eliot. Then a larger research investigation of yoga history, theory, philosophy, and practice that will involve a survey of literature (reading list below) that either describes the history/theory/philosophy of yoga or was/is an important philosophical/sacred text that was responsible for an evolution in the system. This study will then be integrated into my own yoga practice (five day a week asana practice, meditation, pranayama, etc.). This research is intended to deepen my own understanding of this system/practice, both for my own personal development and growth, but also as a preparation for teaching yoga in the fall. I am also finding some of the readings relevant to my larger research interests of the integration of life/art, the relationship of the bodily experience to identity, and the choreography of identity.

Here is the reading list, if you’re interested:

Shantananda, Swami. Splendor of Recognition: An Exploration of the ‘Pratyabhijna-hrdayam’, A Text on the Ancient Science of the Soul.

Feuerstein, Georg. The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice.

Iyengar, BKS. Light on Yoga.

Iyengar, BKS. Light on Pranayama.

Muler-Ortega, Paul Eduardo. The Triadic Heart of Siva: Kaula Tantricism of Abhinavagupta in the Non-Dual Shaivism of Kashmir.

Singh, Jaideva. Spanda-Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation.

Kirk, Martin. Hatha Yoga Illustrated.

Friend, John. Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual.

Only a little daunting . . . I have until the end of August to read/synthesize that information into my practice.

I also wanted to share some scattered inspirations right now. I am contemplating my making, what comes next, what to create (too many ideas in too many directions), whether to continue work on “Red Monster” or leave it for a while. My creative activity might take on the form of notating my piece About. I am interested in that, and also how preservation is a creative activity. But other than those interests, here are things that are “sticking” with me, for various reasons. Mostly they are fun, but all have deeper points of interest as well:

Photographs by SARAH AINSLIE of Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Blue Wedding:

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Columbus Pride 2009 (photos various from Flickr):

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http://ethandancesinpublic.blogspot.com/

Ethan is an artist working out of Cincinnati. I think his projects are sort of amazing for lots of reasons, not the least of which being that they take dance into public, into uncontrolled spaces, inserting a trangressive body into society/culture/architecture/etc. The dancing body is one which moves outside the boundaries of the social strictures for bodies. It is safe and sanitized when it is removed or remote on a stage space, or on dance floors (which can function as in-between spaces, where rules are subverted, and bodies explore alternative roles/identities), but on sidewalks and parking lots and city streets, it is in violation. That is exciting to me.

Ethan did this amazing project exploring perception of the gendered body. The video is above. The post describing it can be viewed here. Ethan wrote in a January post on his blog, “The thrill of transgressing normal in public space is like a drug. It’s much clearer to me now how oppressive normal can be sometimes.” I feel that way when I am viewing the work. I hope you do too.

So, carrying with me Lady Gaga, Love Art Lab, Columbus Pride 2009, and Ethan Philbrick, I am off to ballet, yoga, reading reading reading, then likely going out tonight. Boys night at Wallstreet.