Many Lives and the In-Between

Living is a process,

artistic inquiry is a process, and

for me, everything in-between can be said to exist within the scope of

productive grief and dying,[i]

the common denominator of our shared fragility.

Making space for contemplation drives my artistic life and what I produce extends the contemplative space  My art confronts the human fear of disappearing, bringing me into a meditative space each time I visit the work.  In other words, I create works and worlds that can be re-entered, again and again.  In this way, I am no longer one static life; I am many lives.  My work is a process of grief, reflection, and dialogue, for myself and my kin.  Those who are drawn to the work know loss and are taking a leap, with me, into the In-Between, the place where language often collapses.

So, what about this productive grief?  Many of us are living in a state of spiritual trauma, stripped of rituals and ceremony to meditate, celebrate life and speak of sorrow.  Contemplation is essentially being-with, all that is.  The contemplative state creates a condition for slow-doing, slow-living and slow-dying, a form of grieving that is avoided in sanitized, death-denying cultures. Slow cycles exist all around us, and in us, as we are not separate from Nature.  The life cycle of a mushroom, a cat or dog, your ancestors, YOU, all hold the magic of the In-Between.  Rather than attempting to define the In-Between, I continue to immerse myself in open-ended artistic processes and practices that gather glimpses of what we know and sense but cannot touch or prove. 

Our current civilization develops social constructs that push us further and further away from knowing the beauty of cyclical existences, making us increasingly intolerant of what comes after ecstasy.  There is no time for appreciating loss to appreciate life, no time for productive grief.  Our society values a world where humans work to consume the products and ideas that serve the demands of Power.   Ecstasy-seeking, via consumption, is by design and has the potential to numb us out from the magic of LIFE.  Within a death-denying culture, we can no longer sit with the discomfort and wonder of life cycles and embrace what it means to be alive and dying all at the same time. 

 

Anything I make, write, produce is essentially a grief object, a reminder to live with that which dies, a reminder to take full, all-embracing breaths, in this moment.  Art becomes an experiential, sensory placeholder for the ambiguity of the In-Between.  By engaging with the spirit of art, one might grow to love the entirety of life cycles, the awe, the beauty, and the wonder, 'for if a thing loves it is infinite.'[ii]

— April Marten

 

 

[i] gradually ceasing to exist or function; in decline and about to disappear. [Oxford]

 

[ii] may be attributed to William Blakes marginalia in Swedenborg’s Divine Love and Divine Wisdom.