It’s a pity that the pandemic has kept so many people away from seeing great exhibitions in museums and galleries, among other things. At the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, street artist Swoon’s “Seven Contemplations” ran its course without nearly as many visitors as you would expect.
So we decided to show you the exhibition in a mini-tour. Who else could be your host today but the artist herself, Swoon.
I feel incredibly grateful to have gotten to continue creating large scale immersive experiences for people in a year when so many things were impossible, but when spaces of solace and wonder and creation are needed more than ever.
This exhibition contained a hidden layer, in the form of a series of meditation and contemplation prompts. Small seats were placed within the exhibition, and fixed-gaze meditation instructions given, alongside a set of contemplations for visitors who wanted to settle deeper than usual into the experience of the artwork.” – Swoon
Contemplation – The miracle, grace, forgiveness,
that which is given without reason, that which arises spontaneously:
New life is given to us freely with each breath we take. Our cuts heal, our hearts pump blood without being ever asked, and every spring new flowers push up from under the snow. Are there ways that we can appreciate, or even mirror this spontaneously giving aspect of life? Think of a time when you became able to understand someone you had been angry with and so found yourself able to forgive them, or they you. Think of a bit of luck that changed your life, or a gift you were given whose generosity still surprises you. Sit and feel into the tinge of the miraculous that hangs around something as simple as a single breath or as wondrous as a second chance.
Contemplation – Medea, Fear and Suffering:
Sometimes terrifying events can scare us out of our skin. We become dislocated from ourselves and may seem to float outside of our bodies, or feel cut off from our lives. Suffering can make us reach for destructive behaviors or substances in an attempt to release ourselves from pain and anxiety. Can we use small instances of discomfort or anxiety to help ourselves learn to face big emotions when they arise? For just a few moments, recall something small in your day to day life that usually makes you uncomfortable or a bit anxious. How do these feelings show up in your body? Do you feel them in your chest or hands? Or in the quality of focus you are able to give to things that need your attention? Practice staying with an uncomfortable emotion, observing it, and allowing it to pass on its own. When we can sit with and experience the things that scare us, or the things we would like to escape from, we gain a great deal of strength and power. We become more able to chose how we want to react to the world around us.
Contemplation – Thalassa, Primordial self:
Who were you before you were born? Who were you before the earth was born? Sometimes our personal selves get stuck. The mind’s tendency is to fasten onto things it perceives as problems, or threats to self, and to ruminate there. Is it possible to step outside of our individual ‘I’ for a moment and give our consciousness more room to breathe? Sometimes a seemingly nonsensical question can shift our focus and connect us to a more spacious awareness. If you were to arise right now from the primordial sea, what form might you take?
Team: Curator Aaron Ott. Special thanks to Zack Boehler, Eric Jones, Kristine Virsis, Caroline Caldwell, Frances Segismundo, Andrea Tults, Marshall LaCount, Greg Henderson, Ryan McDaniel, Karl Mattson, Zach Prichard, Eileen Saracino, Carolyn Padwa and, the rest of the incredible Albright Knox installation team. All photos by Tod Seelie.
To learn more about Swoon’s “Seven Contemplations” click HERE
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