THE LOVE TRUST was a collaborative endurance performance with pianist, Jim Kent. Photo credit: Dan Hawkins
THE LOVE TRUST
I am fond of collecting bee corpses because they are relics of possibility. Bees are fervent workers for their colonies. Each bee has a purpose and follows through with that purpose for the sake of their colony. They do so with clarity, devotion and, if need be, defense. Thinking about these highly regimented and diligent creatures, I thought about my own life. How could I see such similar purpose within my own community, within my own lived experiences. Each of the dead bees that I collected became a tiny memento mori of a personal experience that I had lived at one moment in time, each having now since passed. This is what life is! Life is a series of events that have their own lifespan. With each passing experience in my life, a new one is born. Meditating on the natural qualities of bees continues to enlighten my life with clarity and devotion, and it has given me an appreciation of the defense of what has true heart and meaning to me. These bees have given me great purpose; they have inspired within me the freedom of possibility—the possibility of renewal through the passage of time.
Collecting dead bees teaches me tangible lessons. Thus, The Love Trust was born through my interactions with bees, whether living or dead. It is through my work with live bees that I have created a performative ecosystem wherein calmness and faith in the unknown are powerful and mysterious tools. I will force hibernation onto the bees, a suspended animation of life, by refrigerating them immediately before the bees and I enter the box. Over time in our confined ecosystem the bees will re-awaken. In their re-animation, they will animate my relationship to them during this two-hour process of endurance and trust.
Do we collectively recognize that everyday we all perform endurance and trust? To me, the bees index the range of human experiences. Like the bees, we endure hardships, and so too we trust that we will persevere.
The most beautiful lesson imparted to me during the process of creating The Love Trust is that the decisions that I make as an artist and as a human being can either have a lasting negative or positive effects on my environment. In the initial stages of this project, I worked with a bee colony remover, Jerry the Bee Guy (a.k.a. Marvin) to procure twenty bumble bees from a colony that he recently relocated. The idea, I thought, was seemingly easy. I would pick the bees up in a mesh box, take them to the gallery, and simply release the furry, hibernating creatures in a large plexiglass box, entrapping myself with them. What escaped my cognition was that my performance piece would kill these bees because of their removal away from their colony. Displacing them would alter their internal navigational system, and, in doing so, I would also weaken, or worse, slay the entire colony.
Bees have a GPS unit wired within their busy bodies that naturally allow them to pollinate within a two-mile radius of their homes. If they wonder outside of this two-mile radius, they are subject to confusion and loss of direction. To solve the problem of being a bee (and possibly colony) murderer, I began working with Janice Murphy, Seattle University’s Ethnobotanist. She graciously gave me a tour of where many bees love to eat on SU’s campus and showed me a very gentle way I could capture a few bees. The bees that will be in my performance will be close enough to their colonies to get back home.
I liken this lesson to how we, as humans, make decisions. It is important that we realize that the decisions we make and the actions we take have consequences. As teacher of mine once said, the choices that we make today will impact the next seven generations to come.
May we choose wisely.