B. Solomon: THE SCREEN AND THE WIND OUTSIDE

I am an artist,
a storyteller.

I am a proud member
of the community who creates live art
live spaces
live gatherings.

We’ve not been able to gather for months—
everything we know as people comes from gathering:
science, technology, culture
teachings, music, dances, and stories
that help our minds and hearts understand
who we are and where we’ve come from—

how we can be
how we make sense
of this wild existence

the continued resistance to oppressive
colonial forces: past
present.

Every movement that has ever been
has come from people coming together:

pro-peace movements
civil rights movements

civil rights
amplifying voices that must be heard.

Amplifying voices of those
that don’t speak people:
the animals, waters, lands.

Everything we are
comes from gathering together.

It might do us some good
to reflect on all those times we’re not permitted to gather.

Who has not been permitted to gather
in our various histories
and our various present realities?

Maybe now a more privileged person
can feel a fraction
of what others who have been shut down and shut up feel—
people who’ve been able to walk in any direction.

So the loss of the power of gathering frightens me.
I think we can all feel that most people in the world
have not been hugged enough over the past months.

Our sense of touch
and feelings and
connection
have not been fed.

I wonder what hurt this has caused
what scar will this leave?

I’m proud of the work I’ve made
at times, though I wonder:
was that just part of the great distraction? That’s led
to so much ignoring of our mother’s biggest problems
Turtle Island’s biggest issues?

I hear much talk of artists feeling
as though their work is not a priority at this time,
their work and art is diminished. Irrelevant.

We understand who we are through art and culture.
If you’re diving into it, now it will be revelatory.

How to know what is what, when all there is, is media in all its forms.

My fatigue from the screen
doesn’t outweigh
my need for understanding of who I am and what’s happening
and how I fit into place and being

so I continue to speak screen language

which is not good or bad.

It just is.

I don’t think it’s alive though
I don’t think it’s dead.
It’s neutral.
Like a story that keeps moving about
in different directions in your mind.

It’s not a live space for me though.
Not alive
like a body of water or a cup of water
not really moving
like a great fire or a candle.

I was a media form
before this.
I am a media.

Art is birthed from community
the village, the tribe, the family.
Art feeds the community, feeds your family in whatever form that takes
in all of our histories, that’s how it works.

It exists because it’s intergenerational,
you want to learn those songs or stories,
you go start hanging around the keepers
of those things.

At a certain point, it feels unnatural to me
to always be presented
and collaborating with other
so-called professionals.

It feels unnatural to me what art has become:
many others are not included in that circle.
Where are the young ones? Old ones?
Where is the natural world we come from

we come from

we come from homes with families, maybe,

maybe our family is just a little patch of earth
where we’re growing something.
People come from nature. That’s our family.
Maybe we’d be better off
if we relearned to be in communication with that family again.

If you’re locked in, I think that truth is there with you.

How do I art with my grandmother?

How do I art with the birds flying past my window
the ants crawling across the floor.

How do I art with my past?
How do I art with my ancestors?
How do I art with my body?

My greatest privilege is my body.
My ancient body
that’s been reinventing itself over and over since time immemorial.

If I rest with those things
then take what I am back to the screen
maybe the screen will change.

For me, the art world lost its spirit.
It hasn’t been there for a long time.

There’s too much high art.
There’s too much
high art.

Art is of the people.
Art is of the village. As we begin to reintegrate
I hear the old systems talk about art and culture as economy.

Art and culture as economy is completely missing the point.
As we move through this, trying to get back to normal

is a missed opportunity.

 


THE SCREEN AND THE WIND OUTSIDE is featured in Issue 3.43 (Winter 2021), guest-edited by Aisha Sasha John and Alexa Solveig Mardon. It was originally commissioned as a video work for FOLDA (Festival of Live Digital Art) in the spring of 2020.

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