Habit Dwells In Place
Habit Dwells in Place, is an installation of two immersive artworks "A Place For Us" (Ceramic WaveForm Sculptures, Field recordings, MP3 devices, and Speakers) and "On The Edge a Kind of Bridge" (Video projection on vertical blinds). Both works are about the experience of edge spaces—ecotone areas, where water, land, sea, sky, and light come together—through the senses and the various scales of interaction that occure. They grew out of a wish to dwell better through cultivated habits that would help me be more actively present and to find my place.
I live within the lands of the Lenape and their relatives between the Pine Barrens (a vast forest in the southern part of New Jersey) and the Atlantic Ocean. Present-day New Jersey is a complex mixture of habitats: coasts, estuaries, river basins, geological striations, and the edge of swamps abutting high population towns. My experience of New Jersey’s habitats has impacted my belief that contradictions, contrasts, and the sharing of stories, leads to a better, more interesting existence.
In his essay “Building, Dwelling, Thinking,”Heidegger, writes that to dwell is to be fully present by uniting the act of caring (for place/beings/things) with the act of constructing, while being mindful of the nature of the place, beings, and things with which one is co-habiting. He states that dwelling is the work of the everyday or the habitual act of “being on the earth."
A Place For Us (select WaveForm sculptures), 2020
A Place For Us
A Place For Us features ceramic WaveForms, sheltering objects (imperfectly) reminiscent of the shells I encounter in various landscapes of New Jersey. These forms hold my imprint. They are a dream, my effort to harbor unseen beings that can be heard emanating from the WaveForm sculptures. These environmental sounds include: seagulls over Ocean City, artesian wells, wind through oak trees, car and boat traffic. All are publicly accessible diverse ecosystems, where the deep cuts of industry, pollution, development, and deforestation have been imposed upon the landscape and left scars. Yet, the sounds compose a subtle aliveness of beings interacting. An altered, weathered, and imposed upon landscape becomes the edge space for new life and possibility.
WaveForm #16 at Corson's Inlet, 2020
On The Edge, A Kind of Bridge
On The Edge, A Kind of Bridge is a video projection on vertical blinds capturing a performance in which I lay down on the edge of sand and sea in a zone called the “swash,” and explore how my body experiences the difference in being near, on, and beyond the “edge” of the Atlantic. Visitors to the gallery were invited to step in front of the projector beam and run their hands along the curtain, breaking-up the image and disrupting the footage’s visibility. If the viewer chooses to step in front of the beam, the projectors light envelops them and adds their shadow to the scene playing out on the blinds.
The filmed performance is an echo of a previous spontaneous gesture I performed in October 2018 with a different blue dress on a stormy day and with a need to break expected behavior. The repetition is an effort to ritualize this act of presencing, a formalizing that reinforces and proclaims the pull and fascination I feel towards bodies of water.
The looped footage installed in the gallery is the third iteration of this gesture and is the most public version despite the previous two iterations having taken place on a public beach.
Habit Dwells In Place was presented as part of Confluence: The NomadMFA Thesis Exhibition in September, 2020.
Press for Confluence:
On Water as Polluted Body, Place of Solace, and Life Force by Susan Hoffman Fishman