Our culture is obsessed with the concept of ‘rising”, or to have “risen”, whether it be the risen Christ (allegedly), the risen zombie, the risen bread, the risen sun and moon, or the rising of the phoenix from its ashes. But what at its core does it mean? Literally it’s just about something going upwards, but if we’re all on a sphere floating through space with no top or bottom, saying to rise is to go upwards is an almost meaningless statement. However, the conceptual component to that word is more interesting, if we are to imagine a mountain side, with the living gods of mount Olympus at the top, and the depths of Hades at the bottom, then to rise takes on a spiritual and deeply symbolic importance, the act of rebirth, regeneration, new life. To rise becomes a symbol for hope that life does not have to be hell unending, that you can lift yourself out of the pit of despair and rise to the top of the world.
But we all know that life is not a mountain, or a valley, it is a journey across highs and lows unending, so at no point on a high should you ever try to make it last forever, and in the same way at a low it is a comfort to know that this too shall pass. A paraphrased Alan Watts might say “We should not blame the valleys for being low, or praise the mountains for being high. Mountains could not exist without valleys and valleys could not exist without mountains.” In this way to rise becomes like a blindfolded person engaged in the spiritual ascent, to the emotional mountains which follow our emotional valleys. And as long as you don’t stop walking life is always a series of rises and falls, the key is to keep allowing them to change, and to find comfort in that fact, true stagnation is impossible. Life can always get better or worse, regardless of where you are you should always take time to stop, appreciate the view, look for and smell the flowers, then to see to it that each step forward is marked with mindfulness, appreciation and sincerity.
In this artwork I have taken the theme of this festival and wrapped my personal philosophy around it with the assistance of my good friend Thomaseana who is a professional dancer, I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her immeasurable contribution to this art piece. This will be a progressive artwork, each night during the festival Thomaseana and myself will be collaborating together to create a series of painted shadows with appropriate psychological and physical language to hopefully speak for itself at the works completion. It is my intention to combine the art of painting with other artistic mediums, in this instance dance and performative art. By working across mediums and collaborating with other artists irrespective of how they choose to make art, I can find the artistic core that connects these things together. By painting the silhouette of a real person, the power of the human presence feels amplified; the energy of the dance is transferred into the painting through the medium of light. The presence of light allows the viewing of dance and painting together and connects one to the other as a light and a shadow. Also by painting live throughout the festival it . In this way it is only through Thomaseana and I’s artistic collaborative conversation that the final shape of the artwork be revealed as The Higher Ground we reach for when the floods come.