Garden as Studio is a series of events which offer a platform for explorations of the Ponderosa garden, land, and ecologies as a space for artistic practices, facilitated by Shelley Etkin.
Its aim is to be a multiple and ever-morphing occurrence, providing a space for learning and experimentation by continually opening up questions.
In 2018, Garden as Studio occurred in rough alignment with the spring and autumn equinoxes (March and September). It has previously occurred over the course of a weekend, but future editions may extend longer.
Garden as Studio: DIG
A short introduction to some of the motivating thoughts and ideas behind Garden as Studio: DIG, (30. March – 1. April, 2018), by facilitator Shelley Etkin.
A studio with porous borders
A studio without walls nor windows
A studio that belongs to no-one
A studio where the weather sets the working conditions
A studio with ongoing harvests but no product
A studio where lawnmowers, shovels, and bodies alter the space
A studio with a living soundscape of voices and birds
A studio of negotiations and impacts but impossible control
A studio of many odors
An edible studio
A studio where rotting food transforms into rich matter
A studio co-created by many entities
Garden as Studio in 2018
Spring equinox — Easter or Ostara. A time of rebirth, emergence, beginnings of a new growing season.
Cracking open the vaults of winter dreamtime, we may find bulbs laying dormant, restless to bud. Turning the soil: an audacious probing, a disturbance — or making space for possibility?
We will use shovels as divination rods. Digging will anchor our embodied practices. Psychic portals, visualizations, open questions, and plant meditations will guide our time. We will get low, quiet, and close to the soil. What seeds want to grow and what has decomposed? We intend to co-create with the Ponderosa land, to listen and dig deep.
Some forecasts, fragments, and scores moving towards the 2018 iteration of Garden as Studio: DIG:
Garden as Studio in 2017
The 2017 iteration of Garden as Studio invited collaborators Jared Gradinger, Laura Burns, Anniina Ala-Ruona, and ‘Magpie’ — the current cohort of students in the M.A. class in Ecology and Contemporary Performance at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Several weekend workshops were offered to the public, including Human Gardening, Land Listening, and Garden of Others.
Tea was hand-harvested, grapes were pressed, meditations were experienced, discussions emerged, walks were had, intuitive medicines were found, bodies touched, shook, and ran, cards were drawn, plants made paintings, sounds were heard, and dawn was greeted…
During this time, various strands of research explored the garden through the lenses of choreography, dramaturgy, pedagogy, ceremony and relationships to place. Our intention was to tune into intuitive, embodied, sensed information. When we train these capacities, perhaps the transmission of communicative exchanges becomes more possible and in turn cultivates a felt or sensed knowing, beyond our human rationality.
Many questions were part of that mix, including:
A short introduction to the 2017 weekend event Garden as Studio: Land Listening, with Shelley Etkin, Laura Burns, and Jared Gradinger. Shot by Chani Bockwinkel in Summer 2017.
Anarch and anchor
A reflection of personal impressions, by Shelley Etkin, February 2018
Over the last several years of developing a relationship with the Ponderosa garden, I experience it through many lenses. It is sanctuary and graveyard, lover and teacher, anarch and anchor, studio and stage.
I work with an expanded notion of a ‘garden’ as any realm in which intentional exchange between humans and land takes place. This may take the form of an earthly garden with plants, trees, animals, minerals, etc but it may also take shape in another way.
The garden is a sphere which holds a multiplicity; an ensemble of entities. It is a porous container with soft and blurry borders, a field of shifting forces within which to work. Influenced by the matrix of its environment, the garden appears as a material manifestation of the immaterial forces present. Based on the intentions with which the garden is treated, certain activities and experiences are possible; much like a studio, stage, ceremony or session.