A quick update before the end of July.
I've been working diligently on the hundredancers project and released a new set of photographs and a video to go alongside with Alfonso Cervera's piece called, "Rebozo." You can see the photographs and video here.
I've also been working with Crystal Sepúlveda on new work called "WATER/DOWN." The work is taking place on the Santa Ana River in Riverside, CA, which runs from the San Bernardino mountains and leads down to the coast, exiting out between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. It's been an enlightening experience - working and collaborating with talented artists in the midst of the river inspires and transpires a set of work that can only be created in a natural setting where the sun burns - the sand burns - the river cools - and the river soothes.
Our rehearsal period has come to a close and something special will be coming in September. Below are my collected thoughts from week four of the project:
In the weekly trek into the river, I’ve observed and experienced beauty, uncertainty, and moments of bliss. Being in a river surrounded by the mountainside of Mt. Rubidoux, indigenous plants, and wildlife is intrinsically beautiful; it’s something that needs to be seen to be felt.
While engulfed in beauty, I can’t seem to get this lingering feeling off of me every time I visit the river; it’s a feeling of uncertainty, despair, yet in the midst of doubt, I still find hope. This feeling stems from the debris and trash found in and around the river. It also stems from the living conditions of the people living on the border of the river. My hope at the end of this project is to shed some light on the environmental pollution experienced by the river and to the bigger systemic problem of homelessness.
In regard to the pollution, I’ve found that there may be moments where the water is transparent only to be disrupted by large pieces of waste floating freely down the river. For example, I had to move a full sized gallon of milk (with some milk in it!) out of the way as Gwen and Betty were rehearsing their pieces. Other times I’ve found plastic bags, glass mason jars, and some unidentifiable pieces of trash. It all adds up very quickly. It has negative effects on the wildlife, but also negative effects on the water running down to the coast.
With respect to the people living on the River, I can only hope for better living conditions for them. I admire Crystal and Betty offering small pieces of food to Jim - it’s a selfless and compassionate thing to do. But I only wonder how he got there - how they all got there. There’s a story behind every person living on the river. I also wonder whether Riverside city officials know about the living situation of the people on the river or whether they have done something to address these issues in the past. It’s possible that some people may have taken a deliberate step to live on the river, but I think most people had an adverse situation happen in their lives that forced them to live there. I’m concerned for their health, but for now, I can only hope for their well-being.
That's it for now, but I will be providing in-depth updates concerning WATER/DOWN in the coming weeks. Until then, below is a glimpse of what we've produced. My gratitude goes out to Crystal Sepúlveda, Rebekah Johnson, Gwendolyn Benitez, Kylie Kruger, Shay Brown, Yessenia Barron, Gina Gonzales, Fortino Morales, David, Jason, and Öyku Potuoglu-Cook, Ph.D.