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A Love Letter to "Awaiting"
Thank you.  You restored my faith in people. I experienced and became a part of their strength, their humility, their goodness, their trust, their heart-breaking effort, their worthiness, their uniqueness, their kindness, their brilliance!
Forever Yours,
Lisa DeFrance



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The piece was magical.  I was there for about an hour and a half on Thursday evening (evidently just when the arctic breeze kicked up) and then I returned at 6:00 the next morning.  I was amazed that the work could appear so differently to me.

When I arrived Thursday evening there was a breeze blowing, the flags whipping in the chilly evening air; a few people playing a casual soccer game on the lawn, passers-by lingering just long enough to wonder what was happening and to inquire of those of us watching from the base of the stairs.  There was a certain sense of ‘work activity’ as the figures in white ascended and descended the grand staircase.  The environment seemed to be buzzing with activity.  The following morning when I arrived to find another 20 or 30 people already (or still) there, I was greeted with what was for me an entirely different energy – calm, serene, peaceful, devoted, intentional...

As the figures collected below the steps and faced towards the capitol building, I had a sense of becoming ‘one’ with the performers.  We were all facing the same direction with a sense of community and oddly the freedom of anonymity. As the figures slowly turned to visually embrace the audience and their surroundings I was overwhelmed with a spirit of accomplishment imbued with a ‘challenge’ to continue on though the day with purpose.  It was a truly magical moment for me as the performers dispersed – some hand-in-hand with their loved ones, others in solitary calm.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 13:14

Oceanic Erosion

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I’ve been thinking about the piece for two weeks and it took the de-briefing session for my thoughts to materialize into some kind of form. On the night of the de-briefing the word “oceanic” came to mind. I felt this over the few hours I watched “Awaiting.” This oceanic sense of inexorability, imperturbability and inevitability. This sense of time being re-framed and experienced anew. This was for me one of the gifts of the piece: an alternative sense of time. Its power was that of an oasis. The temporal fabric of my life met an alternative. A gentle disturbance in the norm. Natural flow and change are not cultural constructs but time is. What your piece demonstrated was the mutability of that construct. How we engage time reveals opportunities for choice. This was a ripple in the American sense of time. I was also pleased to hear how marked the participants were by the experience. This brought out another word after “oceanic.” I began to think of “erosion.” This is what tide and time both do. I remembered the photography of your bloody finger after your journey around a piece of architecture, and I thought: this is an image of erosion. Erosion as a necessary, natural creative kind of destruction.

Erosion exposes something new as it strips away the familiar epidermis of experience. Erosion changes the appearance of things, gives things a history, marks them with a visible evidence of “something has happened here.” Erosion also polishes. This kind of time is a challenge. I’m sure it could lead to frustrations and struggles. It’s a friction against which the American sense of time chafes. But is there any doubt that those challenges are polishing element? What else gets eroded by “Awakening” besides our expectations of time, place and experience? Our sense of limitations perhaps gets eroded, revealing an unfamiliar but hopefully welcome sense of the possible. A sense of self that required the time/gift of this piece to emerge from its former understanding of itself, its roles and its capacities. Metamorphosis and chrysalis. And listening to the participants, this was an erosion that left no vacuum. Something new emerged through the practice that this piece provided. People are still digesting it. They were marked. I’m sure I’ll have more to write at some time. These rough thoughts will be the start for right now.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 15:00

Some Insights

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April 12, 2010

Some Insights From My Experience of “Awaiting”

During the first part of the performance I was conscious of performing, trying not to do it wrong, etc.  After a few hours I took a break and noticed how busy my mind was.  Peace was my goal but my mind was not quiet and peaceful.  Maybe it was trying to compensate for the quiet, the silence.  Or maybe it was its normal noisy self, noticeable because of the silence.  At any rate, I made a more conscious effort to slow it down into peaceful existence.  Soon I found it easier to feel the quiet.  My mind slowed and quieted and the walk became meditative.  During the morning hours the peace was glorious.  We were performing when there was no one to perform to or for and we became one with the nights, with the setting, with the stone, with each other, one with being.

By sunup the quiet was pervasive.  After the performance ended my mind did not wish to return to “life as usual” but remained at peace.

t;> By Sunday morning I noticed that peace was dissipating and I was having difficulty tapping back in.  Feeling the loss, I put on some of the white clothing and begin to walk slowly and deliberately–I returned to the waiting presence–and my mind immediately responded, remembering and returning to the peaceful night on Capitol Hill.  Now, in my sometimes frenetic life, my mind returns to “Awaiting” and that beautiful peace of Capitol Hill.  I feel the cool wind, feel the quiet presence.

Thank you for the gift of silence, that quiet place within, where beauty and joy reside.




Waiting is the space between events, between doings.  It is an important part of my be-ing.  When used mindfully or consciously it becomes a vital part of life.  It is the quiet time of creativity and productivity.   It can be likened to the negative space in art, or the space between.  In graphic art it is the visual space between objects or images.  In music it is the rests, the silence between notes, defining rhythm.  In all art the space between defines and impacts.  Negative space is vital in a work of art; it defines the image or positive spaces.  The shapes, the colors, the textures of the negative spaces are as important as the image.  Just as negative space can make a work of art when consciously designed, neglected and left to chance, it can break it.  Beginners often get so caught up in images that the negative space is not considered or designed.  So it is in our lives.

Consider the word negative.  We often think of the negative as the part of us that needs to be changed, rooted out, gotten rid of, even demolished.  We feel guilty about our weaknesses; want to hide them from the world.  Often we resist, hide, ignore and deny them and yet they are a crucial, definition of our life.   Just as shadow is as important as light in defining an image so the negative is a vital part of us.  Chaos provides the space and the building essentials and is the beginning of compassion.

How will my life change as I learn to effectively use the quiet waiting times, the spaces between my doings?  Will I consciously consider and savor them, rejoice in them, use them as opportunities for present connection, to become more aware, more conscious, more present, or will I be impatient, chomping at the bit to move forward faster, irritated at the delay, the interruption in my important efficient doing life?  Will I raise my stress, my blood pressure, anxious, tense and waiting for it to be over, resisting the moment of quiet waiting, my brain and my body tied in knots (I speak from experience as I have spent much of my life there) or will I gently relax, release the tensions that have been building in my body and mind, come into the beautiful place of being, the present moment, which is a place of beauty, love, gratitude and joy.  The choice is mine and I make it dozens of times a day in my waiting moments, consciously or unconsciously.  By being aware of waiting moments I can consciously choose peace and can define and design my Life–my most significant compelling work of art–as I wish it to be, rather than leaving it to chance.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 12:58

I walked my way home

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It has been many days since the performance and I have only been able to speak with those closest to me about my journey that night. Prior to the performance, Ernesto told me many times to "listen to my body." That one statement had a profound effect on me. At the beginning of the performance, I was walking for and as someone else, seemingly out of obligation. I was the professor, the supporter of the performance, everyone but myself. Around 11:30 at night, my back seized up and I hobbled around for a while not willing to go rest because I felt obligated to stay. I re membered Ernesto's words and for the first time in my adult life, I listened to my body and came in from the cold for a few hours to take medication and use a heating pad. Around 3:00 in the morning I returned to the performance because I wanted to, not because I was obligated to. It was then, under the shroud of darkness, with no one watching, that I understood I had been on a very long metaphorical journey out in the cold for many years and it was time to come in. It was then that I realized I just needed to invite myself in. I entered my own being and rested, finally, at my own hearth. I have been waiting for myself to return home since I was four.


Last Updated on Monday, 19 April 2010 21:32

The Paradoxical Nature of the Night

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Ernesto said that nothing would happen in this performance and at he same time everything would happen.  Like the contradiction embodied in this statement, I found the experience of "Awaiting" a roller coaster of conflicting thoughts, emotions, and physical states whose extremes continue to boggle my mind.  I don't think I have ever been as hot or as cold as I was throughout the 15 hours I performed.  Standing infront of the "State Of Utah" wall waiting for the performance to start, I felt time stand still as the rays of the slowly sinking sun penetrated my vision.  I was so hot and wondered how performers could be wearing coats.  It also seemed like we stood for hours to begin ascending the stairs, yet once I started walking time seemed to fly by.  The first three hours of the performance went by so quickly.  I had no trouble staying in the moment.  I would try to occupy my mind, concentrating on tracing a river I love and know intimately-every rock, every wave, every turn, yet I only traced the first 10 miles and it slowly faded away into nothingness as I squinted out at the twinkling lights of the city. Then suddenly, as if I entered a different body, I was cold, tired, my back and feet ached and I felt it torturous to take each step.  I could not keep my mind occupied and my mind raced from thought to thought.  I tried counting my steps, or saying," OK, once I make one more lap I am going to take a break." One hour felt like an eternity and eventually I became very hopeless.  I felt that I would be able to last longer, that I like being out in the cold usually and I am tough.  But I felt so vulnerable even surrounded by so many people.  Yet even in these times I responded more positively to the architecture than I would have guessed.  I felt that the building was radiating heat, like sandstone in the desert after the sun has gone down, and maybe it truly was.  The building seemed to breath and turn soft and warm.  The light that was under the colonnade was so warm and inviting I never wanted to leave and chose to remain on the top field, steps and colonnade rather than ever descending to the lower circle, which seemed like a cold, windy wasteland.  Eventually, I ended up taking a couple longer breaks during the night.  I had trouble exiting and then reentering the performance and ever getting back into the original empty, meditative state that I found early on in the performance.  I think I was getting there right when the performance ended, as I didn't even notice everyone was gone and was one of the last back to the wall.  I was humbled by performing, it was so much harder than I ever imagined.  I am so grateful for the experience because I do see the capital and the ecotones that surround it in a new, less hostile light.  I feel more connected than ever to the community of Salt Lake City and the Art community here specifically.  I am extremely sad to be leaving and moving away this summer.  One aspect of the piece that impacted me more than I imagined, was how formal its visual composition was in the end.  I knew the performance would be incredible intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, however, I did not realize how stunning it would be visually.  I had a sublime feeling watching the color of light change on the performers dressed in white as they slowly made their way around the circle.  The architecture can belittle the individual, however, in mass, in white, the performers created a balance that humanized and softened the architecture.  I never say this because it happens so rarely, but I honestly felt it sublime, even for an outsider who had no idea what the concept was as it was so visually stunning.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 April 2010 13:41

Waiting for me

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I did not share tonight because I would have cried too hard. I don't think I would have been able to understand myself over the tears that were welling up inside of me. Everyone echoed much of my own experience during Awaiting, but we each had an individual experience that others may never understand.

I began my walk for Awaiting where I first started my journey here in SLC. I was about 2 years old when I moved here. My mother moved to Salt Lake with me because she thought it would be a great place to raise me on her own. We lived in a house just two blocks from the Capitol Building. I have driven by it many times over the last 30 years and just smiled. This time I walked by my old house with intention, silence and an open heart. I stood in front of the house, gazed and cried. I remember thinking to my self "My mother and I have come such a long way." When I arrived at the Capitol around 6:00pm, my mother was sitting on a ledge waiting for me. She was smiling and waiving. I began to cry again. There she was, the woman who brought me into this world and who brought me to SLC.

When the performance was over and I made my final turn towards the city I moved towards the crosswalk in front of the Capitol Building. Half way across the crosswalk I hear a voice call my name, I lifted my head and there she was. My mother was in her car stopped at the crosswalk waiting for us to cross at the exact moment that I was making my exit from Awaiting. I cried so hard that I couldn't even look at her. I was always waiting for my mother, but right then I realized that she has always been there.

I have been waiting for my place in the world and in Salt Lake, I have been waiting for my community, I have been waiting for my people. What I now realize it that these things have been here all along, they have been waiting for me, I have been waiting for me.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 April 2010 13:41

Last bit of journal writing on this event

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I think I am slipping into a sadness.  It is now finals week and I feel so inadequate.  I am having to reflect on how much I put into learning versus how much tuition I paid.  I have never mastered the perfect student model.  It is also coming up, the anniversary of my brother's death.  Certain deaths have happy endings...in a way.  My brother's was not...as he chose to end his life I can't help but feel sadness at this time.  Ernesto Pujol is leaving next week, even though I only know him in the public...I don't know him personally, he gave us a gift.  So, with him leaving what do we do with the gift he gave us?

The Awaiting performance gave me a chance to perform with other people, not feeling expected to do anything except to walk, to gesture what is like to wait.  And also it asked me to pay attention to my body, my mind in the theme of awaiting, or whatever else that come to mind.  Having to do this openned up a lot of thoughts, some were unusual, some were a revelation, some were pure spectulation, some were fantasies.  I still continue to think about this event.  All these thoughts are so cerebral.  I didn't have to anything but just be.  My body had a lot to tell me in the way of walking, standing, pausing, being in pain, taking a break, listening to sounds and vibrations (I decided to try walking with my hearing aids on and without my hearing aids), seeing, feeling warm or cold, or fatique.  I also had a car key in my pocket the whole time (I had nowhere else to put it).  I thought it might distract me, cause me to think of things like escaping the whole thing, and it did at certain times.  To me to keep a key in the pocket is representative of freedom, escape, get away, safety.  Interestingly, I did not think of the key as the "answer."  But these thoughts are just an energy.

A few people in this performance attempted to make connection with me, either by standing next to me, eye contact, a sweet hug while making tea, sitting next to me, or letting me know there was more warmth in the tent, or handing me a bag of ice (in this cold) for my aches,  and I am grateful for those contacts.  At one point, I almost came to tears, or at least didn't let a tear drop roll down my check.  I thought to myself...damn it, I am not alone, I am part of a community.  I am not made to be a separate entity.

Performance art in the way that Ernesto did it is real, something tangible to experience physically and mentally, and to learn something about your community.  I could not get the same experience watching a movie, a play, or just watching anything.

I want to leave this posting with a happy ending:  my first sound was a sigh after a yawn.  The woman at the cashier said, "I hear you"  I went on to tell her that I just walk almost 12 hours at the Capitol this past night.  She wasn't sure how to respond to that, but gave me a nod.  :)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 23:32

unspoken gestures

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We entered Awaiting individually and waded into a river full of gestures. I wrote earlier that I was fully committed to immersing myself in this deep well of silence, and that I expected to unburden and empty myself in anticipation of this new self. Instead, I ended up gathering and collecting your gestures. I left the performance full and richer than when I began.

Your small gestures spoke so clearly and profoundly to me throughout the night. When the elements had worn away at me, and time had loosened my body’s grounding in space, I drew hope and strength from your gestures. I borrowed from you without asking. Forgive me. Thank you for what you gave so freely without even knowing it. Thank you for your generosity of spirit.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:20

Not waiting

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I entered "Awaiting" with no desire to wait. In fact, I avoid waiting whenever possible.  I wanted this opportunity to have 12 hours of silence and thought, I was excited to have time alone in my head. 12 hours to just be, but not to wait.

I entered the performance with a smile on my face, open to accept "Awaiting" and whatever came with it.  I surprised myself with the ease of being in the performance. My head did not fill with the thoughts and ideas as I had hoped, it did not fill at all. My mind was empty, beautifully silent and empty. The smile stayed on my face until late into the night, my cheeks began to ache. The wind rather than being a bitter, cold nuisance propelled me forward. There was an intriguing power being out in the cold windy night, dressed appropriately and not feeling its bitter bite. I was not waiting, but simply being in the moment.

I am grateful to the windy, dark night for driving away the audience. When no one but the performers were on the hill I walked to the bottom, looked up at the most surreal moment I have ever witnessed; silent white figures slowly moving in the dark, seemingly emanating their own lite on a deserted hill guarded by a gigantic, comforting stone sentinel. It was unnatural, weird, awesome, beautiful, intriguing, and smile-inducing. I re-entered the performance, my smile returned to my tired face.  For this moment I was both audience and performer. Thank you for this sight.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 April 2010 09:38

Want more performance opportunities?

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For those of you interested in other public performance opportunities for non-dancers and dancers alike, I want to inform this group about The New Pedestrians.

Founded by Corinne Cappelletti in 2008, New Pedestrians performs in downtown SLC every gallery stroll.

View this video: http://gogovertigoat.org/new_ped.mov

Contact me if you would like more information and to become a performer.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 23:38

A Personal Ritual

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My participation in Awaiting was a great opportunity for me to make my mind silent. I have struggled to work full time and go to school full time all the while being a mother and a painter. My life is non-stop appointments, schedules and classes. My blackberry tells me where to go immediately when the previous appointment is over. I needed a space. I needed a break. I work as a social media consultant and it seems I work around the clock; jotting down notes and updating pages or responding to questions. This all  on top of the constant papers and deadlines of a college student.  I crave silence and I long for reflection. Painting often fills the thirst for silence but it is only temporary.

I hesitated momentarily when I heard there were 9 hours of workshops that were mandatory to attend. I panicked at the thought of finding the time. I decided to just go for it and worry about the consequences later. I didn’t dare pass on the chance to be part of a huge performance piece. I thought how many times I had been a part of a demonstration for a purpose. This has a more subdued and humble purpose. I wondered if I could find meaning for myself. I enjoyed workshopping with Ernesto Pujol immensely. His lectures are enchanting and he is a generous and gentle spirit.  I have great respect for him as an artist. The workshops became a small break from my over-scheduled life.

Although I am a year away from graduation I find that I am entering a new phase in my life and I chose to use the performance as a personal ceremony.  It would have the symbolism I imbued upon it. It would mark the end of a period of my life and step in to a  begining. I have awaited the end of many trials and tragedies. Sometimes all one can do is occupy time and the mind until a storm blows over. I was making a commitment to myself. As a woman it seems that we so rarely have the opportunity to nurture ourselves, yet we nurture everyone around us. The clothing became a ceremonial robe for me and my motions and footsteps a preset ritual. How symbolic walking is I thought. Sometimes waiting is filled with distractions. Waiting and walking are such ordinary acts. I had never paused long enough to contemplate this before.

As an activist I had walked in solidarity many times with others for a cause but never really contemplated the act itself. I love the passage by Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust. "We bore a kind of bodily witness to our convictions.... The form our demonstrations took was walking: what was on the public-land side of the fence a ceremonious procession became, on the off-limits side, an act of trespass resulting in arrest. We were engaging, on an unprecedentedly grand scale, in civil disobedience...”

I thought of the many times I had approached the Capitol with banners and singing in chorus with the other demonstrators. I thought of the times I had participated in civil disobedience. I contemplated the content of protest itself. Perhaps I had underestimated the value of the march. I had not seen it before.

It was difficult to maintain my silence while walking to the hill. I began at my home in the avenues. It is a place of safety and of comfort for me. I dressed quietly and stood on my porch watching cars go by. I gathered myself and set off. It was warm outside and I wore a white simple t-shirt and white slacks. I went descended into City Creek Park down the 4th Avenue steps and followed the creek North.

It was very difficult maintaining my composure as concerned people stopped me almost every ten feet to ask “why are there so many people wearing white and where are you going?” They were nearly hysterical by the time they reached me after seeing person after person in white, refusing to speak. I felt obligated to politely but quietly answer yet I was amused by their intense interest. They were captivated enough to stop a perfect stranger and demand answers. I quietly explained it was for an art performance on the hill, invited them to join us in several minutes and politely excused myself telling them I had been instructed to be silent.

It made me think that so many times people are experiencing something inward, a crisis, a heartache, a splendid happiness and unless we see an obvious outward sign we are unable to congratulate or commiserate. We are so disconnected and impersonal in many ways in contemporary life.

I reached the hill and I saw the other performers facing the placard wall.  I joined them. We were together in silence. I found myself among many friends in the creative community. I felt humbled to stand with them. We stood for a long time. People screeched on brakes, cameras pointed constantly and surprised passers by stopped in their tracks to see what was going on. A thousand cameras seemed to point in our direction. Eventually the silence became contagious and the crowd joined us in quiet observation. Once the crowd had calmed I found myself able to focus on what was in front of me.We began our ascent. People seemingly disappeared and I was a part of an organic machine of people in white. We moved rhythmically, unpredictably, but in concert as a whole body. It was comforting.The lake burned a brilliant orange and seemingly stained our clothing in it’s reflection. Ernesto had spoken about the feelings of people contemplating mortality and how we may take on the silence of monks at a monastery. I felt as if I related to the silence of religious pilgrims as the sun went down in it’s brilliant display of color.

When the crowds faded and the sky took on a deep black-blue my mind emptied completely and I occupied myself with the sound of my breath. The valley lay before us. It was a quilt of lights contained by snow capped mountains almost surrounding us. In my mind as we walked I imagined we were unwinding tenuous threads of time and of tragedy. We were reclaiming the past. I was reclaiming my past.

It seemed an evening chill had set in. I had not noticed. I went to the back of the Capitol for a break and to add a layer of clothing. As a public policy and community advocate I have been to the Capitol many times. The disappointment and discrimination I have witnessed on the hill can be crushing at times.  Just three months prior to Awaiting I painted a picture of the Capitol. I painted the building’s North face and the deteriorating landscape surrounding it. The great copper pits are a color drenched backdrop to the Capitol building on the hill. Monotonous suburbs stretch for miles to the point of the mountain. I named it “Capital Disconnect”. I want the viewer to ask at what price would a legislative body sell an entire mountain? The once tree and brush covered Oquirrih Mountains to the West of the valley have been pulled inside out and piled unceremoniously as dead heaps of useless minerals and rock. Nothing grows there now.  Prior to the performance I contemplated how I might feel walking in that place. I was concerned political disappointments would overwhelm my experience.

I was surprised that the Capitol became a beautiful setting not only visually but mentally. I was enchanted as the granite pillars and walls changed colors with the night. It glowed algae green at sunset, it was grey while the snow was still visible on the mountains and when the mountains disappeared it became a stark white against a limitless sky. The soundtrack effortlessly blended with the experience and allowed me to set aside pieces of time for one movement, one mantra or one place to stand still and breathe. Many people stood next to me or walked next to me during the night and I walked with and stood next to them. I thought how beautiful friends enter and leave my life but their walking with me at times is a great gift. There is family in solidarity, there is love in mutual experience. I thanked the universe for the many friends that have come into my life.

All night my feet each foot followed the other. I met the faces of many friends as I walked and many others I have never known. What had been called a performance was no longer a performance for me. It was an act of a creative community, a show of artistic solidarity and of human solidarity. It was became a ritual. We all seemed so small but as a body we commanded the vast space in front of the Capitol. I was deeply moved. When the moon came up I no longer focused my breath and my mind on reclaiming the past but what my future might hold. I walked slowly and methodically open to the future. I prepared myself to accept the unpredictable gifts life brings and committed to keep moving forward. I thought about my need to simplify, my longing to be able to pause. I knew I needed to find a way to slow down.

The act of continuously walking became a symbol of my ability to persevere despite great odds. The worst will now be behind me, I will nurture myself. I will be an advocate for myself. I have worked so hard to get where I am. I committed to move forward in my life by putting one foot in front of the other to cover great distances. The body occupied itself with breathing and moving alone. My mind was calm and clear. I could smell the morning before well before the sun rose and contended songbirds called the sun to come over the mountains. The sunset had been warm but the daylight came as a cool, even blue. The color was other-worldly. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude but for nothing in particular. When the sun came up I half expected a groove to be worn in the granite steps and plaza. All night it was almost as if the electricity of our presence had designed a groove for our bodies. I followed the paths and choose the alternates organically, without premeditation. More performers woke and seemed to materialize from nowhere. The steps were full again. Friends and family came up the hill hurriedly and respectfully observed as we descended the steps for the last time and stood together. The act of walking had created a sacred space for a few short hours. Participating in Awaiting was a cleansing experience. I walked away satiated. My mind and body were calm and in the present. I knew my thoughts would turn to this experience for a long time to come.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:16

A cup of tea

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It was a pleasure to experience and support the performers of “Awaiting”.  It was a cold brisk night. The crisp air was clean; it helped to focus our thoughts.  We need to take time for inner reflection in this crazy, hurried, instant, drive-thru window world.

I would like to share my favorite Zen story.

A student once asked his Zen master about the path to enlightenment.  The Zen master took his ink brush and painted a circle on a piece of paper. While doing so, he said “Have another cup of tea”.

My heart was filled with warmth and kindness for others as I was able to help provide a warm cup of tea or a blanket for our performers.

Best wishes for a bright future to all who participated, supported, and came to experience “Awaiting”.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:21

Journal Entry for 4/15

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I remember...

I remember trying to arrive early, feeling the responsibility of being the first performer at the wall, initiating our silent awaiting, generating and beginning to hold the-space-within-the-space for others. But when I arrived Alex was already there, still as a pillar. He was so inspiring. And he did the entire night. I later saw him adding layers during its coldest parts. He was so brave.

I remember closing my eyes alone, later opening them to a few more performers around me, and finally opening them to the entire group standing in formation. I was overcome with emotion. I did not see them arrive alone, in pairs, trailing followers up the hill, but I could imagine their compelling arrival. And under the sun we looked like torches, like beams of light, resplendent. I was almost blinded when I turned around to face them.

I remember seeing performers I suddenly didn't recognize. I had never seen them in their whites and they looked transformed. Nick surprised me. I did not expect him to perform, so I was quite moved. Patrick was noteworthy in his robe. He looked Islamic with his beard and cap. He was one of the strongest performers during the night, walking his weight around like a mountain, with a remarkable strong step, seemingly impermeable to the cold, though I’m sure he suffered like the rest of us. He took over the circle and walked it as his territory most of the night, sometimes with one or two women, often alone. It was a sight to see.

I tried walking with different people throughout the night. Being tall, the taller were easier to walk with because of our width of step. I did one and two rounds with many, up and down the corridors and stairs. It was great to walk with another body, a wonderful nonverbal conversation. I received energy from them; I gave them energy. And I understood them better afterwards, having been inside their step.

I remember so many individuals, heartbreaking to watch in their intense concentration. One of the Michaels seemed in pain. Stefanie's face was a landscape, an essay. I huddled next to her once under a doorway seeking warmth. Colin suddenly offered a massive back. He seemed to grow in size. Heidi often took a position of stillness, in spite of the wind. I admired her for it. Lucia was incredibly stylish and had great performative form. Amie was regal in her walk, aristocratic but incredibly humble, her hair like a waterfall, her demeanor like a well of sadness. Trent was like a tower. He transformed himself from a skinny youth to a tall hero.

Brian came and went with heartfelt intensity, as did Ruth, who would appear and disappear from my sight. Jan James was pure endurance and poetry, particularly around her descent of steps. She practically sang them in silence, one at a time, with the utmost individual consideration. Janine joined us at 10 and renewed my energy. Lisa was like a walking prayer, hands folded over her face. Dan was pure stillness. Ben seemed lost, looking right and left, adding to the drama. Cori was made of steal. Alexandra's eyes were knowledgeable, wise. Satu’s body read like a teacher. Beth communicated devotion.

Connie seemed to be looking for something or someone. Joey was tough. Peter was indomitable. He did not wear a hat nor a coat. He was a constant source of energy for me; an anchor. Liz showed great concentration, struggling to integrate after performing elsewhere earlier that night. Christan balanced her walk, between heavy and delicate. Dawn did so well, in spite of all her concerns. Destiny seemed so fearless against the elements. Jenevieve kept her beauty, and even when her partner joined her she maintained her individuality. Juan Manuel and Melissa were a lovely choreography-within-the-choreography. Jo and Juan Carlos, two of our dancers, walked with grace. Their backs suffered but they were so generous.

Mariko was strong. Meggie was so incredibly vertical, like a line in the architecture. Megan's family walked with her briefly. I grabbed her hand in solidarity as we passed each other to and from the green room. Suzanne savored the journey. Sam was great. CJ stood erect like a soldier. Adelaide and Matt were lovely in their matching reds. Rachel was cold but kept going. Rosi and Jim, who joined us late, walked with immediate concentration. There so many others I glanced at, as I dove in and out of my own abyss. One touched the doors of the building with both hands repeatedly throughout the night, demanding more from it. I imitated her. Some of the younger smaller thinner women, wearing flowing skirts, were wrapped in scarves against the cold, shrouded beyond recognition. I am not good at remembering everyone's names, it is a humbling limitation of my aging mind, but I will never forget their gestures.


Last Updated on Friday, 23 April 2010 13:43

Journal Entry for 4/13

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I look forward to On the Other Side of Silence, a public conversation among the performers at the University Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday, April 21, at 6:00 PM, as part of their Lecture Series. I hope that the entire Awaiting community can attend. It will be the first time we reunite after the performance. Many met for the first time that day, but in silence. So this will be our opportunity to meet on the other side of silence.

In addition, the Salt Lake Art Center is hosting a smaller conversation, Rethinking the Beehive in the Age of Globalism, on Friday, April 23, at 8:00 PM, as part of their Working Artist Series. This will also be a conversation, but focused on my collaboration with Utah sound and video artist Rosi Hayes. Though I also hope to include artist Ed Bateman and sculptor Beth Krensky in the mix, both collaborators too. I will also show new collaborative work that I co-created during the residency, in the shadow of, and in addition to, Awaiting.

Otherwise, while I am relieved that the project is almost over, I also miss the amazing process leading up to it. But gathering and editing all its documentation, in terms of photographs and video footage, to archive and selectively upload into this website, is exciting, in terms of appropriately harvesting a public achievement.

I only have two more weeks left in Salt Lake City, which will entail many goodbyes. I will miss its encircling cloister wall of mountains. They felt strangely safe against the world; protective. But fear is our only true enemy. The mountains should be a high point from which to converse with the world.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 April 2010 19:34

I will see you tomorrow

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I will see many of you tomorrow. I'm kind of nervous. Will we say hi? Are we friends? Will we continue walking in silence?

The color change through the evening into the night and in the morning was fascinating. Warm yellow to dark purple to bright blue. I have never seen that before. Has it always been that way or was this a special day? Did I gain a new set of eyes that night? Was it a dream?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:20

Forever Bonded

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I feel like time was truly undone with this performance.  Retrospectively now it seems that it lasted a brief moment but we all know the efforts that went into it.  It was really an honor for me to be a part of this in a small way and witness the journey you all took.  It was very striking to me to witness the correlation of the layers went onto your bodies, the deeper into the performance, and yourselves, you all went.  The clothing became a protective shell not only from the elements but from the observers as you all truly began having poignant experiences with yourselves and sometimes with your fellow performers.

You became a community and I witnessed how you all took care of each other in your silence; trying to keep one another warm while at the same time trying your best to stay strong and take as few breaks as possible.  Now, a few days later, I still feel emotionally raw from this experience.  Watching you all and sitting in silence with you as the winds whipped us will forever be ingrained in my being as will the intense welling of emotion that I had as you began your final walk down the steps at sunrise.

Thank you all for letting me experience this with you.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:19

eternal connection

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walking the sacred ground where upon sits  Utah State Capitol has expanded conscious contribution and confidence to speak truth. As I continue to bask in the thrills and sweetness of April 8, 2010, I feel and envision other powerful and meaningful ceremonies that have taken place in the very spot we honored and acknowledged, time has come for all people to rise up and thank Creator for the tumultuous times and opportunities in which we live.


eternal melody

everywhere present


obvious yet obscure

simple yet complex

eternal melody

fills immensity of space

light, its temporal representative,

feeds on darkness

eternal melody

puts silence at ease

when sung, life's foibles expand

sense of humor

eternal melody

its sweetness plucks every heart string

eternal melody

truth is its title

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 April 2010 13:09


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When the sun came up I had a thought that was irrational and also felt profoundly true- the pace and work of our footsteps had turned the earth and brought the sun back to us. The experience was exhilarating, quiet, focused and unfocused, lonely and also amazingly connected to a community. It was painful and meaningful in its absence of pain, full of simultaneously contradictory things. I felt the difference between waiting and eagerly awaiting.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:19

Journal Entry for 4/10

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I am back in New York for a few days, already preparing my next public art project. May in Kansas. But my legs still hurt (a lot). I want to remain in silence but everyone wants to hear about Awaiting in Salt Lake City. It was beautiful. It was hard. I had a medical (dental) emergency that morning so I walked the 12+ hours swollen, sore, and on antibiotics. I was weak. But the strength of my fellow performers kept me going. I left the performance several times for medicine, heat, and to check on everyone. And every time I returned to it I was more amazed. They (all of you) kept it going: walking, ascending, descending, pausing, gesturing. The performance belonged to everyone. Everyone was equally important. No matter the bitter cold winds, the walkers walked on, piling on layers, covering their heads and faces. There was a point when I could not tell men from women; women from men. I was close to tears several times. We had public all night, in waves, from artist peers and supportive friends and family, to surprised bikers and skaters; sometimes a single young person sitting in a corner, like a church mouse. My favorite times were between 2:00 and 4:00 AM, when the performance was at its most pure, like a deep well. The public had finally left and the piece belonged to us. We were its only witnesses. Early dawn over the mountains re-energized me. It was a dark purple violet. I suddenly forgot my exhaustion. I ignored the biting cold for once and walked back to the green room to announced (yes, momentarily breaking our silence for the sake of gathering us for the last time) that there was light. Those who had been taking tea and napping rejoined us. The group swelled again. As others have posted, it was an amazing sunrise. The awaiting made it the most beautiful sunrise in the world. And then we walked down the hill for one last time, and we left quietly. It was over, forever.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 April 2010 23:26

Real eyes

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Waited to find forgiveness…it wasn’t the time.

Waited for inspiration…and felt cold.

Waited to see the sunset, then for the stars then for the next half hour marker and the next and the next then for the sunrise.

Waited to feel different…felt tired and sore.

Waited to understand…looked inside for change.

I found the shadows of figures, solitary and small groups seated on stairs beneath and beside as I passed, closer and more intimate than any stranger I’d experienced - trusting me as I brushed by - sharing instinctively, gently respecting the quietude, awed for one, two, three hours, neither documenting or commenting - only experiencing this with us in the cold and wind.

And the walkers, walking for hours, bracing against the wind, catching naps under flannel blankets, staring wildly int o the distance, sipping coffee, staying awake, nodding grumpily as I passed, excitedly announcing dawn, walking home - windblown cheeks, feeling wired, tired, amazed, relieved.

After - recalling my lifelong habits of raging and story making and explaining and justifying and verbal storm-making.

Seeing outside the beautiful spectacle of the work to grasp the intent. Real vision amidst an old reality pockmarked with undulations of distraction: noise and ego and absurd explanations.

Finding my real eyes in silence.

“If you rip out the logos song can come out, it flows from the cemetery pours out of decay.”

Alice Notley

“Silence is a human right.”

Ernesto Pujol


Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:40

waiting membrane

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Several hours after coming home, I noticed as never before, that I actually reside inside a self-accepted shell of belief, tradition, and habit, some inherited, some self imposed, all self-accepted. Perhaps like an egg yolk, inside a filmy membrane whose elemental construction is made up of waiting, as if there was something missing, something outside, beyond myself that, when it arrived inside my shell, would satisfy the anticipation waiting engenders.

Often staring out, not just looking but actually feeling, even experiencing my view of the world. Simultaneously I found myself wondering if my vision was adequate...... Do I see clearly? Or do I have blind spots...... Sometimes I realize that I only see a small percentage of the horizon. Wondering that maybe a small percentage was actually 100% of my limited ability to see.

After hours of walking on sacred Capitol Hill grouind,  conscious presence of myself began to pierce the waiting membrane. I found meaning in the architecture that I had not noticed before....like becoming conscious that the granite columns and steps had been patched in many places using cement to fill holes. The life of square granite foundations became real as I wondered at the size of the boulder the giant pieces must have been blasted from. Even the cold, stark concrete was forgiven for smothering mother earth as I walk up and down, brimming with new perspective. Golden sunset, green grass, people noticably gravitating to a space of wonder and curiosity, warm becoming very cold as day faded into night; sences speaking and being heard on new and informative levels of welcome sensitivity.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 April 2010 20:05

heartbeat and Buddha's hand...

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my heartbeat discernibly slowed down...I found the still point...

patterns became very important, both the patterns of nature

and the geometry of the building

the granite had molecules moving in it

even though bitter cold and of rock

the railings became humorous to me...

they were always beginning and ending

which is always the same

the mountains at sunrise seemed very heavy


our collective thought was heavy

I saw you all as ghosts seeing your reflections

in the wood door and windows

and most incredible of all, to me

was the sunrise and those ever so whispy

clouds that looked like twenty Buddha's

hands welcoming us...

Thank you Ernesto!!!



Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:19

happy :)

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"On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors.  One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it."  Wanderlust - A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Many thanks to all of you for making this happen.  And many thanks to Ernesto Pujol for allowing me to participate in this.  Walking has taking on a whole new meaning for me - it is about being (forget the word spirituality...too many connotations).  And performance art is truly an art form.  This performance will forever be embedded in my memory.

My body does ache and I think I would have gone comatose if it weren't for my cats keeping me posted of their dietary needs.  May I make a suggestion for the ones that are physically aching...go to a spa and take a japanese bath...I highly recommend it.

That wasp beehive...I am glad I didn't see it I would have stayed clear away from that.  Aesthetically, I think the manmade bee hive situated in front of the capital is more comforting the strange looking wasp beehive.  But that's just me.

Did anyone have the strangest sensation when walking the small circle at the lower part of the lawn by the wall?  I always do when I walk that circle.

I wish I picked something up as souvenior... oh well.

I don't know how some of them stayed warm...I am in wonder everytime one passes by me.

When it ended I felt like laughing.

Thanks and I love reading these postings.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:19

Thank you all

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When the cameras were no more and the American flag stubbornly caved to the tides of our silence and fell asleep, I finally found us. We were beaten, broken and abused but did not sink. Instead, we sailed together and brought each other all home.

Thank you ALL for the extraordinary night!




Last Updated on Saturday, 10 April 2010 10:19

Emotional experience

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Coming together at the beginning of the performance was overwhelming but not nearly as enduring as coming together at the end.  The cold and fatigue I felt had also been felt by every other performer.   You en powered me to keep going during the night.   I have lived in Salt Lake my whole life, but have never seen a more beautiful sunset over the city.   I think it was the vantage point and view of the whole valley, the presence of you and the stillness.    It gave me a lot to think about during the night, how our view effects us, how taking more time for simple things can effect us.   As the lights of the city illuminated the darkness I reflected on this community that I have lived in all my life, but maybe, for the first time was seeing it differently, literally.

I wasn't expecting to cry as we walked away but I just let the tears flow.....

Many thanks to all the support people and especially to Ernesto Pujol for bringing us "AWAITING"

P.S.   There was a cough drop wrapper on the right top step by the railing, where you can turn and go around the circle path.  Walked by it countless times.... Litter or familiar comfort?   Kept it as a souvenir

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:18

Still processing, still waiting

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I am still processing all of this. I am so proud of everyone. I was blessed to have shared that space and time with you all.................................I'm still waiting..................When I went to school today after the performance I still felt like I was performing. I felt as if everyone around me was unknowingly performing "Awaiting". I would like to take pictures of people waiting. There was a fabulous woman at the bus stop today waiting. She wore a beautiful black dress, a black jacket a red necklace and a floppy red had. She was waiting beautifully with her hands clasped in front of her gazing down the road, waiting for the bus.



physical residual

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Achy quads and hip flexors.  Overworked footpads.  Sore shoulders, yes, from walking.  I thought that my shoulders were subsidiary participants in walking.  I realized over time that the most relaxed position for my shoulders was to let my arms hang down with gravity and move with walking motion.  What to do with an impending cough?  For the most part, I held coughs and sniffles until I got to the pillars and went behind a pillar away from people to muffle coughs with my coat.  My neck got stiff.  Watching the sidewalk cracks stretched my neck muscles.  It also put in a deeper one on one engagement with the pavement.  And those wasp nests!  Did anyone else see them?  On the exterior ceiling between pillars on the west side of the capitol are a number of wasp or hornet nests built on top of one another.  I saw them when I stretched my achy neck the first time.  It was hard not to verbally share my discovery with anyone willing to listen.  I'm going back up soon to shoot (photograph) them.  Overall fatigue has set in now.  Gonna take a nap or chill.


through the eyes of an observer

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The palpable excitement of everyone I met before the performance was invigorating. As 6:00 approached, the overall mood at the Capitol seemed to calm. As the performers entered the main area, you could tell something was "starting." The pacing of the performers was serene and unhurried. There was no hair-raising act that is so prevalent in entertainment today. We simply felt the tranquility of so many performers, lost in their own minds and peacefully walking in a counter-clockwise pattern. It seems that the performers get as much, if not more, out of the performance than the audience. The public walks by to pause for a minute or two trying to "figure it out." Then they proceed on with their lives. The more attentive audience members sit in various places on the stage to contemplate the performance around them. Some even walk with the performers. Yet, unless they observed the entire performance, did they truly understand the performance? Can a twelve-hour performance be understood in an hour? Just as the performers are aware of their minds during the performance, what is in the mind of the audience? Surely after twelve consecutive hours of active contemplative meditation, one's life is altered in some way. Does an onlooker benefit from this - or are they simply there to observe this work of art in progress, leaving the scene with little more than awe and a sense of peacefulness? Though I was not present at the end of the performance, I imagine it to be similar to the beginning - only with the intent of separating, versus coming together; walking calmly away and down their own paths, ready to live another day.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:18

(even when moving)

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I have never before been so still.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:18

ah yes...the fallibility

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that is...........if I do not want to smell the roses..........I had better stay out of the briar patch...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:35
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