I first performed my journey meditation walk in 2011. I was deeply enmeshed in the Jordan’s Journey project at the time and the meditation walk video was a one-off creative experiment that I did while I was working on the Jordan’s Journey videos. In fact, the meditation walk video clip ended up being part of that trailer. I sat aside the footage and in 2012 first created the standalone journey video both as documentation of the original performance and as original video art.
The fact that journey was first created on the farm where I grew up establishes some of the themes of the work. I chose to perform the piece barefoot to reflect upon not only my direct connection to land—my family has lived on that farm for several generations—but also the broader spiritual associations of approaching something potentially physically uncomfortable with a meditative mind. The work is an expression of being grounded in and exploring my connection to the Earth.
The meditative aspect of journey refers to both my creative practice at large—my art is the process of emptying my mind—but also the more explicitly spiritual act as well. I have practiced various forms of walking meditation over the years, both in a formal environment such as Buddhist walking meditation at the Village Zendo in New York to more impromptu forms like when Geraldine Bryan taught me how to draw a labyrinth in the sand and practice a chakra meditation walk. With journey I tap into these spiritual practices and render the very act as a work of art performatively, conceptually, and visually.
I didn’t perform journey again until October 2013 during my travels in Iceland. Like the initial work in 2011, the Iceland journey video also ended up being part of another project in the form of the music video for Michael Harren’s “Invocation.” The piece even appeared as part of my concert-length video art performance created specifically for Harren’s concert in October 2014. The Iceland performance is very similar in style and form to the original version but also incorporates the new element of water—a very important symbol for me—in addition to the earth.
I performed the piece again in Italy in November 2014, this time among the ancient ruins of Rome’s Palatine Hill. The ancient setting introduces an element of history into the work beyond the ancestry/genealogy of the original version. This is also the first time the work was performed with a constant flow of passersby. As the artist, this definitely created a different feeling to the performance as I could hear people within earshot whispering and wondering about what I was doing.
While in Italy, I also developed a new site-specific variation on the piece at the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. labyrinth takes the basic structure of journey but varies both the action, camera position, and visual form to structure a meditation walk using San Vitale’s labyrinth. It was really special to perform the work among the Byzantine mosaics of the basilica and brought a whole new meaning to the meditative aspect of the work and further extended the historical dialogue as well.
My most recent performance of journey was in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in January 2015. For the video portion of this performance I returned to the original visual form and performance structure of the piece, and re-introduced the element of water that was first present in the Icelandic version.
Looking to the future, I am planning several new journey performances and videos. I’ll be sharing more information about those as they happen. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project. It’s always in my head as I consider where to take it next and what form it might ultimately take. For the latest updates, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.