susan wolf projects

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clockwise or counterclockwise?

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Walking my dog the other morning there was the slightest drizzle. Enough moisture to activate the garden smells of sages and the earth and fresh enough to get the birds singing in an excited way. I chatted with a woman I did not recognize who looked a bit worse for wear. She was not ‘fit’ like many women I see in my neighborhood. Her clothes hung loosely. Her steps shuffled. It was clear to me that she would not be leaning into a high-powered tech job later in the day. She walked in a quiet, enduring worried sort of way that was familiar to me. Walking slowly on her way into the building where doctors have offices for who knows what kind of consultation or maybe just a blood draw.

As we crossed paths on the sidewalk we exchanged pleasantries and a mutual appreciation for the evidence of rain. It has been a particularly dry year. Just recently, our region was officially declared to be in a drought. Even the illuminated signs on the highway announce this new status and implores drivers to conserve when there are not more practical messages about traffic congestion to convey. Together we wondered about the smells that the bit of moisture had activated and she told me she intended to join some friends later in a rain dance. Did I know that if you want rain, you spin clockwise and if you did not want rain you should move counterclockwise?

I have been thinking about this winding of weather, of the power of community dance and deeply rooted heritages for the past week. Today, I finally googled rain dance, searching for some how to’s and deeper details about the practice and habits of the dance. I discovered that turquoise and feathers are good to wear and that you should spin with arms raised in a clockwise direction. Winding instead of unwinding. While turning, you should chant, in any language your wishes and desires for rain.

More than this I cannot tell you. I really don’t have the expertise to say ‘This is how you rain dance.’ However, I am curious and I have been haunted by thoughts of clockwise vs. counterclockwise movements after this casual chat and thought that I would claim it as an inspiration for my own dance on March 28, 2014 – the date for dance anywhere.

sibley regional park

Each year, for 6 years now I have joined in this quixotic moment of global dance. Some years dancing solo, other times with a group of children at a school or with random self-selected set of dancers at Art Museum sites. What I do where, is informed by my emotional countenance and how it fits my enthusiasm for private vs. public gestures. It seems to alternate years. Last year I hosted a dance of hand gestures at a local Art Center. This year I have decided to dance my rain dance privately, outdoors at a regional park in the hills above my home. Sibley is known for its volcanic evidence and several labyrinths.  One of my frequent walking destinations, it is very dry in the summer and magical at times when the fog is blanketing the gullies and sweeping across the peaks.

This year, while dancing privately, I am interested in the idea of dancing with anyone else who thinks that dancing for rain is an idea whose time has come. I long for rain and for connection with a mutual conscientiousness for our beautiful and fragile earth. I invite any others dancing anywhere who may have weather worries and feel like spinning… to spin accordingly and spin with purpose.

I invite you to be my partner in a collaborative rain dance.  

Dancing here and elsewhere for dance anywhere

Costume: I will begin my dance wearing turquoise

Motion: taking a clockwise spin and repeating the clockwise spin with arms raised

Voice: declaring my personal, heartfelt intentions for rain.

Duration: Undetermined

Preparations: Between now and then I will be stitching up a costume to meet the requirement of turquoise.

Immediately afterwards: I will post on instagram, tumblr and twitter

@objectplace @danceanywhere #raindance #clockwise #danceanywhere2014

A week or so later: Early April I will group all of the #raindance entries in a storify post and if we do get more rain I will be very very grateful.

http://www.danceanywhere.org/participant/swolfprojects

 

 

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make hack play

book making projects

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I am taking an online course called Make/Hack/Play Together. The first assignment is to make something and to share it with the group once you have made it. The parameters for the assignment are wide open – you can make anything! Considering time as a variable in making I selected to make a simple book structure with some nice paper in a big size. A making project I was familiar with.

make hack book make hack book from above make hack book flattened make hack book backside detail make hack book flat folded make hack book make hack book inside make hack book inside make hack book cover

I have 2 short instagram moving images that show what it looks like here:

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91 feet left

drawings

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I have been constructing a long and narrow artwork.  It is so long that I can only work on 3ft. sections at a time with some image overlap between sections. The results are a perfect random wallpaper or a super textile – the work tells the story of graphic pattern and image repeat. Very much a memoir charting the graphic attention span of a ‘creative’. The work is intermittent – not a focus of daily practice although in so many ways this project is suited to a regiment of daily practice it is beyond me.

The paper I am using is re-purposed. A Texas Instruments product: a scroll of graph paper to chart heartbeat or maybe cheating if used in a lie detector. Several times in the past year I have watched my Mother’s irregular and halting heartbeat scroll across the ER monitors. It simultaneously supports a knowing and an unraveling that hypnotizes the loved one on call.

The title of this piece, a roll 11″ wide is taken from the margins of the paper which reports  at the end which is my beginning: 91 feet left

91ft7 91ft11

 

91ft2 91ft6 91ft9 91ft10 91ft4

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Gesture

site specific performance

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Questions that I frequently grapple with are ones that look at the moments where performance and privacy intersect. While I believe in sharing widely and absolutely love the potential of larger digital conversations and virtual worlds I repeatedly get stuck with habits of over-sharing and prompts imploring  me to click & share.

Although I love dance and do dance, I hesitate before agreeing to go public and hesitate while considering comforts and privacy prior to facilitating a larger dance to be shared online that includes others. Concealment becomes a necessary and essential consideration when respecting privacy.  In this dance, I edit exposure to include hands only. This narrowing of persona allows me to be in control of what feels like none of your darn business.

For dance anywhere, March 22 at noon Gesture narrows the motions of dance to hands alone captured in still and moving images. Participation is welcome. Bring your hands! Location: Berkeley Art Center.

handsdoing handsdoing2

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details

drawings, printmaking

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Fragments from a print or mixed media drawing are as interesting to me as the larger composition. Completed works are always in danger of being cut and torn into bits to reassemble in a new way, that at the time I find to be more interesting.

 

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Language of Shadows

site specific performance

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I am most comfortable when I can be public in a very private, controlled yet somewhat random way. While visiting my local art museum I appropriated the spaces between a film presentation to document some of my own doing. The exhibition SILENCE at Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) honors the body of work by John Cage. I have benefited from the respectful knowing that values silence and reflective moments while taking careful notice of the every day. These images are a composite of gestures plucked from my series Within Your Piece.  The poetic shadow is a perfect vehicle to represent my personal comforts and fears. The gestural hands speak the words, tell the story, do the doing.

This creative work is entirely for my own entertainment and I acknowledge in my choice of location that I am an interloper.

 

 

 

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Pantograph drawings

drawings

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A pantograph is an old school, archaic device that allows you to trace an image and enlarge it. It looks like 4 wooden rulers attached in a janky sort of way that creates a square or rectangle. One of the 4 points is anchored while another point traces relaying the dimensions to a 3rd point with a 2.0 lead that transfers the original larger or smaller depending upon how you have it set up. A fourth point is set to float at the correct height to steady the device without making a mark. I sometimes rig it so the tracing point is also making a mark. The drawings in progress look like this:

 

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Artifact of Invoices

paper installation, site specific performance

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In this project I have developed a strategy of graphic representation that archives my history of accounts payable. Each invoice is charted on a roll of cash register tape. Each circle represents the passing of a day. Every 7 days the diamater of the circle is altered.  When the invoice is paid the tape is removed from its tether and the # of weeks and # of days is notated at the top of the tape. The circles created the void in the register tapes have been stitched onto lengths of wax paper in rows each a collection of days over 90, days over 60 and days over 30. Draped over an iron towel racks they are left out to dry which is a reference to being marginalized by the reality of waiting patiently.

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Readymade with Movement

site specific performance

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I first saw bags of this sort being used at a construction site. Several dozen lined up street side were filled with a variety of landscaping materials. One day they started to be moved. Their handles were caught and carried by the arms of a forklift in an impressive industrial dance. Once emptied they were thrown into debris bins. I enlisted a friend to reclaim them for me to further experiment with. I utilized some in my garden for temporary screening and documented them in various ways which only increased my interest in them as compelling objects. I have since located the manufacturer and distributor of them – conveniently located in Sacramento. They are called bulk bags. They are also frequently used to transport legumes, grains and other bulk foodstuffs. In 2011 I purchased a dozen of them to be used multiple times in various site specific performances.

Dimensions: 36”x36”x60”. Portal diameter 26”. Material is loaded through a top gusseted portal and later emptied from the bottom. The top portal is large enough for an average sized adult to step into and pull up overhead while extending feet out through the bottom opening. Used on a rainy day they become a convenient temporary shelter. Similar to a burka they shroud the wearer and obscure their identity. I find the internal experience freeing and… mystical in ways I am still grappling with. Documenting the wearing from the exterior exposes a perfect paradox which I am entirely suited to: being seen without being known.


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