THE EASTER ISLAND PROJECT
We are compelled to create—to make, write, act, and give birth. How do we manifest this deep desire? How do our creations—novels, babies, and atom bombs—affect our lives, our culture, and our planet?
The Easter Island
Project invited audiences to explore the questions through the act of
creation itself with Plazm editor and New Oregon Arts & Letters
director Tiffany Lee Brown, as she prepared for an interdisciplinary
art expedition to Easter Island in the South Pacific.
Currently, as of April 2010, the Project is heading to South America for a performative ritual on Rapa Nui, a.k.a. Easter Island. Previously, the "Easter
Island: participatory tour" welcomed live audiences at intimate
gatherings in Seattle, New York City, Portland, the San Francisco
Bay Area, and elsewhere.
Tiffany has worked continually with the "seeds of creation" that participants made, 2007-2009, making installations, videos, writings, performances, music, and even a language of pictograms based on participants' creative offerings. She is writing a book about her journey and preparing a book arts work with collaborator Clare Carpenter. With musician/composer Eric Hausmann, she is at work on a 6,480-hour-long soundtrack, intended to stream online continually for nine months.
In September, 2011, the Cooley Gallery at Reed College will host an installation and live appearance of the Easter Island Project. In the meantime, travel sponsor Viator.com will post Tiffany's stories from the road.
Inspired by Tiffany's unexpected and life-changing run-in with the biological clock, the Easter Island Project is an ongoing participatory art, writing, music, and performance work. The artist investigated biological childlessness in contemporary American culture, while haunted by questions invoked by the doubt and grief she experienced. Why do we create? For that matter, why do we exist? When should we break silences and make works; when should we edit ourselves and lie low? What does it mean to make other human beings and bring them into the world? What does it mean to not reproduce, whether by choice, circumstance, or a combination thereof?
For reasons having
to do with her life circumstances, medical health, and family
situation, she fought the deep urge to reproduce, for over four years. Some of this painful but eye-opening experience was reflected in live performances, on NPR radio, and on her blog, Nymphe. But transformation comes in different ways than we expect, and long-term, open-process artworks like The Easter Island project invite transformation. Things took an unexpected turn in December 2009, when Tiffany became pregnant. After four years of intense research into biological childlessness, childfree living, the experiences of mothers, the experiences of infertile women, and more, this represented an enormous transition for the artist and her work alike.
Participants and audience members have "seeded" the project by generously contributing their own creativity in person, online, and through the mail. Seeds take the form of found objects (the shell of a newly hatched bald eagle), original artwork (a painted egg with skeletal wings), writing (poems written on Tiffany's paper flags), personal offerings (the word "Yes" painted on a bone, wrapped in red velvet), and performance (snippets of video, performance documentation, and recorded music).
The artist continually transforms, documents, and works with these materials, which become part of her performances, rituals, and installations.
SOME PARTICIPANTS & SUPPORTERS,
especially those who are biologically childless, may feel dismayed by Tiffany's pregnancy and its relationship to the ongoing nature of the work. If you participated primarily because the artist wasn't going to become a biological mother, and that part of the project reached out to you, you may rescind your gifts and well wishes. She will accommodate you as best she can. Contact the artist at magdalen23 att gmail.com.
Tiffany Lee Brown is an interdisciplinary artist and writer from Oregon. Her work has been presented by Performance Works NW, Wordstock, and PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art), among others. Her writing appears in Utne, Bookforum, Bust, Tin House, and other periodicals, and in anthologies such as The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order (Penguin, 1999) and Literary Cash: Writings Inspired by the Legendary Johnny Cash (BenBella, 2007). Her book of poetry, A Compendium of Miniatures, is available as a book arts collector's edition from Tiger Food Press, Plazm Books, and Powell's City of Books.
A recipient of grants and residencies from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), Caldera, the City of Portland, Soapstone, and Hypatia, Tiffany holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College and a BA in Dramatic Art from the University of California at Berkeley. She is Director of New Oregon Arts & Letters and sits on the Selection Committee for the city's Visual Chronicle of Portland collection. Presently, Tiffany is an adjunct faculty in Prescott College's Master of Arts in Humanities program.
The project is now closed to ongoing creation of "seeds." From the past: Participants offer their seeds at the project's performances and gatherings, via Internet and postal mail, or personally to the artist. Seeds take many forms: snippets of video, tiny sculptures, miniature musical compositions, short poems, and found objects. The first seed offered to the project was a tattoo (currently residing on the artist's hip); another was the shell of a freshly hatched bald eagle.
At a live event, a participant might do a one-minute dance in front of the video camera as her seed, write a few words on the project's paper flags, or search for the perfect shell on a beach walk. Some people meditate on the concept of creation before a live event. They bring their tiny sculptures and ceramics, poems and textiles, dances and tiny found objects.
Each seed is an offering, a contribution to the project as a whole; how the artist will metaphorically plant each seed remains to be seen. Anything at all might happen to your creation. Offering a seed is an act of trust.
EASTER ISLAND: THE PARTICIPATION TOUR 2009
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation or to participate via mail/email.
1/18 SEATTLE, WA at Studio: Current (Capitol Hill)
2/9-12 PRESCOTT, AZ at Prescott College, MAP Humanities Colloquium
3/21-29 NEW YORK, NY at Synthetic Zero (South Bronx) and at
4/18 OAKLAND, CA at Myrtle Street Review
6/7-8 PORTLAND, OR at Performance Works NW
8/29 BLACK ROCK CITY, NV at The Playa
ON EASTER ISLAND
DELAYED UNTIL APRIL 2010
8/1-10 RAPA NUI, CHILE, a.k.a. Easter Island, a.k.a. Isla de Pascua, at various moai and ahu
SEEDING EASTER ISLAND
08/2008 PORT TOWNSEND, WA at military bunker Battery Vicar, Fort Worden
THE EASTER ISLAND PROJECT: ALTARS I & II
05/2008 OR at Oregon Cascades (invitation only)
05/2009 OR at Oregon Cascades (invitation only; documentary filming)
PORTLAND PERFORMANCES JUNE 6 & 7 2009
MAKE, PLAY, BE: THE EASTER ISLAND PROJECT
Tiffany Lee Brown & Eric Hausmann
with help from Gary Wiseman
June 6 7 pm
June 7 2 pm w/ Tastebud Bagels
Featuring live music, video installation, and the option to participate and make your own DIY writing, music, sound, or artwork, each creation a "seed" that Tiffany will take to the South Pacific isle of Easter Island next year.
BYO: Feel free to bring your drink of choice to open at the reception afterward.
Performance Works NW
4625 SE 67th at Foster Road, Portland
503 777 1907
Advance tickets recommended, at Brown Paper Tickets
If paying at the door, please bring cash
Tastebud • Plazm • Viator Travel • The Tarot Reading Fundraiser
Performance Works NW • New Oregon Arts & Letters
EMAIL LIST, PRESS-READY IMAGES, ETC.
Images and photographs are available right here: Easter Island Project images.
Participatory artwork, social practice, performance, transformation, transformational, ritual, community-engaged practice, engaged art, literature, new media, book arts, art, poetry, fiction, Internet art, web, memoir, literature, video, installation, performance art, theatre, theater, interdisciplinary art, multidisciplinary, multimedia, music, art/life, art as experience, process-based art, process over product, feminism, writing, women artists, creation, creativity, birth, childless, childfree, childlessness, pregnancy, pregnant, writer, artist, art-life movement, generative urge, meaning, baby, child, metaphor.