Pati & Ben – Shrine Tour

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.

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Unsolved Mysteries

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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:

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And these two:

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Interesting shapes, right?

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Wait, what’s that… under the point…. a lady?

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A doll undergoing water torture? What is the meaning of this?

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Shrine Installation: Part II

See Part I here. And now the exciting conclusion!

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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.

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It does look really different here than when it’s green. You can see much further.

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Even though it was in the fifties that day, the ground was still mostly covered in ice, and there were huge (melting) stalagtite-icicles.

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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.

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Mike took this cool photo:

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And then we found this guy: looks like he’s traded bamboo for cordgrass reeds.

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Roadside Attractions

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“It’s perfectly simple,” said Wednesday. “In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

“There are churches all across the States, though,” said Shadow.

“In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists’ offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they’ve never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog, and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

Into the Wild

On Saturday, Chris helped me bring my shrines, previously living a sheltered life in my former studio, to the great wilderness of the Erie Cut in Jersey City.

(1) Studio to van. (2) Van to the side of Tonnele Avenue. (3) Tonnele to the bottom of the weedy hill. (4) Bottom of the hill into the Erie Cut.

4 shrines / 2 people = 2 trips each.

Running out of time, we placed two in the cut and disguised the two remaining shrines with brush.

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New Collage

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This is a collage that I made for my Uncle Andy for Christmas.

In other news, yesterday and today I installed the shrines in the Erie Cut, with the help of Mike and Chris. Very exciting! It went 75% smoothly. More details as soon as I edit the photos.