Walking through the streets of Clarksdale, Mississippi is walking through history’s belly button. It’s all there, neatly packed in a small, tangled, half abandoned yet utterly alive and kicking town. A center, a core, a backbone, a womb, a birth place, a crossroads, a place that draws you in, that stays with you when you leave, that marks and defines and changes, like the mighty river nearby. We came here to have a cup of coffee with a stranger and ended up staying four days. We created two murals, canoed up and down and across the muddy waters, met people who are a force of nature, all the while accompanied by a soundtrack of the 24/7 no-ads Blues local radio station. We moved on, but shall return.
For a week in late September, in mostly sympathetic weather, we created this large mural right at the city square of Decatur, GA. Our hosts -an exceptional dance group and powerful Amazonian tribe called CORE. Here is a poem and text we wrote to accompany it:
You develop a sense of self,
you define your borders,
you defend the land.
But it’s only when you let others in and let yourself out,
when you embrace the fear that is inherent in connection,
it is only then that you can truly be”.
Human connection is at the core of our being. The word ‘being’ itself encapsulates a life cycle – You come into this world (be). You define your own self (be I). But it’s only through connection, through becoming a part of something bigger than yourself (be in), that you can truly be (being). The Black Birds encompass a duality: a tension between the pulling force of the ground and the endless promise of the open sky. Our history, our past, our roots can all be sources of great strength or chains that hold us back. But the birds and their ‘chains’ are made of the same, soft material. That which can unravel them, also grants them wings. If they choose to fly high enough for long enough, they will unravel the tangle and get all the thread they need. If they so choose, they’ll be free. Lastly, the building or breaking down of a word (adding or subtracting the next letter) is a conceptual act that aims to strengthen or weaken an idea, to bring something into or out of existence.
A few years back we saw a small, enchanting indie film called “Liberal Arts.
(A 35 years old Jesse returns to his college for his favorite professor’s retirement party. On the way out, he takes a trip down memory lane and stumbles upon a fairy-student, Zibby, in a dorm party. Zibby studies acting and decides to take on the first rule of her improv course – say yes – to the next level.)
The story line is simple and familiar in a way, but there its inner beauty lies. It shines of little truths, of precious moments, of naive passion to live life to the fullest, of optimism and joy. Not because it is childish or unaware of harsh realities, but because it chooses to say yes in the face of worry, criticism, darkness, loneliness, cynicism and doubt. It chooses to say yes in spite of the fears, as a remedy to the soul, as an act of trust and gratefulness.
That little yes was among the first seeds of this phase of this project.
Homing pigeons were sent and awaited for, all over the globe, for many a year. Pretty much the same pigeons that we see everyday.
They share our cities, they dot our skies, they peck at our pavements, they are everywhere, high or low, literally. And we – two legged creatures – have been fascinated with them since forever. Their ability to fly away yet always find the way home, over extremely long distances, is a true gift.
We place our yarn birds in various locations for various reasons – some are there to go on and migrate, some to stay and nest, some to soar and take the sky to an unexpected place. They come in flocks or by themselves, pair of a feather or one winged soul. But that basic idea and old fascination remains the same – they represent freedom and hope, a longing for adventure. They reflect a common earthly struggle: the tension between where we are and where we wish to be, what holds us back and what makes us fly.
The Bushwick sky was full of circulating flocks, flying back and forth from a specific building. On its rooftop we spotted a man waving a flag. Another pigeon keeper in a long line that dates back 3,000 years of history.
Some days you just got to go out and do it.
Off the recommendation of a girl from Boston whom we met at the edge of a peninsula in NH
and with a mistaken assumption that we could get breakfast here,
we arrived at this cool fermentation joint in Portland ME serving a plethora of tasty fermented liquid concoctions.
A few Saturday morning beverages later, but unconnected to that fact, we offered the guy at the bar to create a wall-piece for them.
be longing. belonging.
This is what we felt here. At that moment we felt this was just about the place, the vibe, the communal sense of it.
But looking back and writing this, I wonder if it’s not also about the two of us,
flying far from home, always staying connected to our source but always carrying on, putting faith in letting go,
belonging to the longing for the interactions and creations, always new but all connected to the one great source
from which all is drawn.
Saturday afternoon in the port of Haifa.
(Translated from Hebrew)
As I tether my fate to your rope
As a shepherdess, a Messiah, a noose
Blanket myself in your breath, in your skin
Stumble through the haze of the dream
The embers of past ignite in the dark
And my heart misses a beat
A walk in the back-alleys of Florentin, Tel Aviv.
Out & about in Haifa
Done on Hamered (translation: Rebellion) Street, separating the old, ground-bound
and picturesque Neve Zedek quarter from office buildings that loom over it.
We did this mural on the wall of abandoned shop at Haifa’s Turkish Market.
In Ottoman days, the market was the city’s commercial center.
Several phases later, and as city-cycles go, it degenerated into neglect
but is nowadays experiencing an attempted resuscitation that is only somewhat successful,
hence the abandoned shop(s).
Here’s hoping this place, its alleys imbued with history and magic,
rises again to be all that it can.
It does usually take more than one electric-shock to revive the patient.
This photo and the featured one at the very top, by: Naftali Shoshani