Exquisite Gestures: Meditation / Labor

In the last decade, I have become attached to the landscape that surrounds me in a way that has defined both my life and my art/work. Gradually, over time, life and art have become synthesized into a seemingly inseparable flow—seasonal, local, of the landscape—defined by the nature of place, weather, community, and farming cycles. It is partly conscious and partly circumstantial, though by choice I have evolved the circumstances of life into a conscious practice. Meditation/Labor (drag/carry/pull) is a project that foregrounds simple, practical exertion and the act of laboring. It is a part of a body of work that frames “found performances” in the everyday gestures of tending to a landscape, a garden or other space, and being mindful and present in the performance of those quotidian tasks and accompanying gestures. While the initial act is “found,” it is re-presented as a meditation on labor in a poetic, aestheticized frame. The repetition and physicality of a task, lifted from its point of origin, re-sited and repeated in the presence of the camera, becomes a kind of exquisite gesture, a meditation on landscape and the transitory nature of labor. The viewer is then invited to experience this work in a state of kinesthetic empathy: to feel the exertion of the gesture and to join in the suspension of time, even if only for the duration of a single loop of the three-channel installation. The installation, in situ, takes place in a darkened space on three large screens, thus creating an immersive environment. Seen here are the three channels of video that make up the installation.

[We urge you to watch this video in full-screen mode. – Eds.]

Featured Image: Still from Meditation/Labor (drag/carry/pull), by Douglas Rosenberg.

Douglas Rosenberg is an artist whose work reflects the lived experience of labor, landscape, community and the metaphors of such interactions. He also writes about art (his most recent book is Screendance: Inscribing the Ephemeral Image, Oxford University Press) and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is a professor of Art. Rosenberg’s films, often focusing on dance and quotidian performance, have been screened internationally for over 25 years, and his most recent film, Here Now With Sally Gross, was an official selection for the Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center, NY in 2015. Website. Contact.

Leave a Reply