“We are in the habit of seeing untended nature as a sort of blankness, awaiting human work to fill it. It’s right there in the name: vacant lot. A place where spontaneous life is invisible, or at best considered so many weeds, the term used to lump together and dismiss what thrives in spite of our preferences.”
About a traffic island turned dump turned Buddhist shrine….
“Dan Stevenson has lived in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood for 40 years. He says crime has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but he isn’t one to call the police on drug dealers or sex workers. He’s a pretty “live and let live” kind of guy. Or he was. Before he finally got fed up and took matters into his own hands.”
“This symposium brings together scholars engaging in innovative research on the origins, meanings and repercussions of waste landscapes in conversation with artists and architects conducting design research and interventions in spaces designated as waste or wasted.”
Patricia Dominguez and her husband Benjamin came on a tour today. Pati is doing her own shrine-like experiment/performance with a tree, so the act of shrine building came naturally to them; They added interesting found objects to each shrine as offerings. We walked all the way to the end and finally confirmed that the fourth shrine is alive and well. We even built our own shrine — a large one which we made out of metal debris and an amazing set of strings of beads for a doorway. Pati found a book called “Strange Stories, Amazing Facts” with some pretty eccentric stories and images.
She spoke about what she saw as “looking at our civilization from the future. As closest as Robert Smithson’s tour as one can get…pray[ing] to the elements of the industrial landscape.” She also compared the graffiti to cave paintings and indigenous art. Some do in fact look to be influenced from aboriginal art.
She suggested I push the participatory elements of the tour, and I have experience doing this from my Elastic City walk… I can just imagine shrines accumulating along the length of the cut.
Snow and sub-freezing temperatures kept me away from the shrines for over a month. I thought about them during that time, wondering if they’d been flooded out or vandalized or met some other end. At 45 degrees, today was warm enough for me to check on them. I saw three of the four. They are totally fine! A little damp, but hardly a scratch. I didn’t see the fourth because I spied a tent under one of the bridges and didn’t want to disturb any possible occupants.
I’ll most likely post photos this week of the shrines, but in this post I want to focus on something interesting I saw, and something I didn’t notice until now, looking at the photos, that I can’t quite make sense of. I’m sure people come across my shrines and don’t know what to make of them. So, touche. I guess we’re even now.
Water dripping under bridges forms mounds of ice in the winter. I’ve seen them before. For some reason, this time there were some that were yellow. I guess with sediment or dirt or chemicals…
Under the first bridge there were three. This one:
And these two:
Interesting shapes, right?
Wait, what’s that… under the point…. a lady?
A doll undergoing water torture? What is the meaning of this?
Basically, Mike and I went back the next day, retrieved the two shrines hidden in the bushes and the two that were left under a bridge. We found sites for each of them and installed them. It took some time, but went pretty smoothly.
This one, the one with the TV, blends in really seamlessly with the background. Camouflaged. At least now, in the winter.
It does look really different here than when it’s green. You can see much further.
Even though it was in the fifties that day, the ground was still mostly covered in ice, and there were huge (melting) stalagtite-icicles.
This one is anchored: I tied a string to an inside structural element of the shrine, and then tied the other end to a large rock. I wedged the rock in this pipe. The string is taut.