In The Present Moment

15 November 2013

Last week, I was up to my artistic little eyeballs sorting out a Five Year Plan and thinking hard about the future, and now here I am with my head firmly in the present moment - a somewhat circuitous route sparked off by two previously unknown to me artists (I am suitably chastened), a death, and a beverage.

the past is gone and done, and the future will pretty much take care of itself

Artist Numero Uno is Edmund de Waal, an extraordinary potter, author and some would say installation artist, who I first saw featured on the BBC's excellent What Do Artists Do All Day series. We share the same taste in the music of Steve Reich and I was intrigued by Edmund's focus on the emotion of the moment and the necessity of spaces. This kicked off my brain cells and so I was delighted that the BBC decided to show an entire documentary on him later that week which I consumed hungrily and made my brain cells whirr even faster (aided by coffee, I have to confess). I started looking at the spaces in my work - the piece I'm doing for 100 Artists for World AIDS Day in particular - and tried to keep myself in the moment as much as I possibly could, not an easy task when you have To Do lists in your head and a deadline. I needed further instruction. Ask the Universe, and the Universe duly provides, so I was not surprised to see a video pop up in my Facebook timeline with Artist Numero Due, the performance artist Marina Abramovic, featuring lost love and the importance of being in the moment. I wanted more. I did a Google search.

  • I found a short video clip of Marina detailing an exercise that she shows to her students, wherein you drink a glass of water over the course of half an hour, but with your whole being and focus on the glass of water and the act of holding it and consuming it.
  • This really got me thinking and I tried it out on a cup of coffee a couple of days later. It was halfway through this that I happened to spot an obituary piece on the cover of The Guardian - the sad news that minimalist composer John Tavener had passed away. (Along with Steve Reich and others he's on my working playlist in the studio.) Are all of these random events connected? I like to think so. I like to think that the Universe gives us what we need, as long as we are open to its generosity and to the possibilities.

This week has been all about keeping myself in the moment, seizing all the opportunities that came my way and relishing the juice of life in all its forms. I even managed to finished the 100 Artists piece and not second guess myself about it. I completely concur that we all live simultaneously in the past and future and tend to ignore the present moment, but with a little concentration and a little thought we can bring ourselves fully into it and experience what it means to be here, to be now, to be present, to be alive. The past is gone and done, and the future will pretty much take care of itself. The present is where all the juicy stuff lives. It's quite a head rush being here.

And another thing

The wonderful Edmund de Waal's
extensive website

Currently on my studio playlist
Steve Reich

The Marina video that started it all
prepare to cry