P U B L I C C E R E M O N Y
T H E E A R T H A R C H I V E S
THE EARTH ARCHIVES was originally commissioned by The Rhode Island School of Design Museum in the summer of 2015 and is now a touring installation that continues to evolve as it travels.
An installation composed entirely of voices, The Earth Archives brings together the recorded memories of hundreds of people creating what I call a living, aural archive of the elements. The elements—water, earth, air and fire—are often considered in their physical forms, rooted within a particular place and time. In my life-long archival project, The Earth Archives, the elements are invisible and set loose in the air as sound, but are, perhaps, no less tangible. Illuminating my interest in the art of archiving and the conductive power of language, this archive animates the elements through the acts of languaging and listening, bringing geographies and times into and out of tactility as the voices travel and accumulate.
To begin this project, I invited artists, writers, psychics, musicians, scientists, friends and families from around the world to gather their memories and experiences of the elements into a series of intimate recordings. Since its inaugural installation, I have opened the project to the public and I collect sentence-specimens from anyone interested in archiving their memories of the elements in any language.
If you would like to submit your own sentence-specimens, have me set up a memory altar and/or temporarily install this archive at your institution, please write me at:
N A R R A T I V E & N E S T
This ceramic nest-book series, originally inspired by my investigations into somatic, body-based therapies while writing my manuscript The Way a Line Hallucinates Its Own Linearity (Red Hen Press 2020), eventually gave way to the book-length project of Edges & Fray.
I began working as a ceramicist in 2005 because it is what my writing practice necessitated from me. I wanted to explore narrative in a more embodied and tactile way. As a poet particularly interested in the somatic bond between a human body and the materiality of its voice, I had questions and problems I wanted to work through that the field of linguistics couldn’t support. For over a decade, I have dedicated myself to the study and teaching of writing and poetics, while learning from my ceramic endeavors. After harvesting my first pug of red clay from the foothills of Colorado, I began looking to the muscle of clay to think through questions about language and physicality: how language, as a life form, helps us contain, transform, and transmit experience. How it allows us to build invisible structures to meet within through sense and sound. How language collects transcriptions of time, place, and memory.
Language, silt, and soil are similar mediums; all are terranean, beginning deep in the belly of the earth. We scoop them up. We mold them into shape. As a poet/ceramicist, I want to weave my viewers into a renewed engagement with the tactility of language. I want to remind them that, as human beings, we are always building space and sharing structures between our voices and bodies. This collection of hand built vessels—or nest-books—are hung upon a wall and resemble, in both size and shape, a colony of cliff-swallow nests.
I began fashioning nests because just as a book is a complex reflection of its author, a bird’s nest is a unified and symbiotic shape of a bird’s circumstance, a mending of its body language and habitat. Books and nests are places of conception, development, fragmentation, and growth. Each ceramic nest—as a symbol of these concerns—performs as a dwelling for excerpts from my manuscripts-in-progress. My nests are homage chambers, places outside my own body where a book awaits its completion, where a reader can witness my processes of thinking, writing, and revision.
o f L i g h t
Based on Danielle Vogel's original poem A Library of Light; of Light is an interdisciplinary performance in which darkness is our initiator, nightly ritual, and a womb from which we emerge. Simultaneously, of Light explores how human beings are light bearers, and how the human voice, both invisible and perceptible, creates light. Performed almost entirely in darkness, of Light is an experimental opera and an incantation of celestial rhythm.
The piece was created by Samantha Shay (Director and Performer), Vincent Richards (Scenic Designer), KARYYN (Composer and Vocalist), and Nini Julia Bang (Vocalist), and was created under the mentorship of Marina Abramović.
Having been performed only once, the piece made waves through the interdisciplinary creative scene, with an endorsement of the piece by Björk in The Guardian after attending the premier, and Moving Masses, the only music released from the piece, being named Best New Track by Pitchfork in 2017.
Director: Samantha Shay
Original Music by KÁRYYN
Scenic Design: Vincent Richards
Lighting Design: Alexander Freer
Sound Engineering: Paul Evans
Traditional song transmission: Nini Julia Bang
Assistant Director: Suzanne Sterling
Production Manager: Chelsea DuVall
Producer: Dagny Berglind Gisladottir
Assistant Producer: Gerri Ravyn Stanfield
Filmed and edited by Victoria Sendra
Performed by Samantha Shay, KÁRYYN, Emily Jackson, Jodie Landau, Suzanne Sterling, and Nini Julia Bang.
To read more about Source Material and the incredible humans who make up this collective, please visit their website here.