The Opening Door

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I know that it has been quite a long period of time since I last wrote something here, but to tell you the truth I was frantically writing stories in real life, something that is magical but sometimes intense and exhausting. I stop here to remember the truth of the moving home and the opening door. The home that fits into boxes and suitcases and travels from city to city, to find its place. What is a home? Someone keeps asking while traveling around. Pretending to have a home another one unpacks and unfolds. Unpacking and unfolding usually become the first movements after Opening a (the?) Door. After the opening of a door an unpacking and unfolding of a story happens. A story clearly written for a person that will start reading it by inhabiting the space. Reading it and re-writing it constantly, almost like a ritual of habitual (re)readings. The Opening Door plays a key role in the life of a home. There is something about the effort that you put to push it and the times that this need to be repeated that makes it an event of homing a place. By pushing the door a home story might open for you to read, either by yourself or with another person. Its handle and its frame become the bearers of this pushing-in-a-home. The hinges become the compasses of its ratio. Its materiality differs depending period, style and context (geographical and cultural). From a curtain to a heavy piece, the door is about an opening and a closing-behind. Its presence is about the future and the past at the same time. What you leave behind and what you will find ahead. Never hesitate to turn a door. The door is all about moving, moving is always better than standing. Never be afraid of making this little step along the threshold, as there is always a challenge waiting just after the opening, a challenge of intimacy. Of getting to know people and places in a better way. And even when you leave people and things behind, just remember that they are always with you in the moving landscapes of thoughts and imagination. Never hesitate my friend. Just open the door and close it behind you. Or perhaps leave it open for another person to move with you.

A very good friend from Puerto Rico has a number of rituals of familiarising with new places. She keeps moving from city to city, visiting new cities and revisiting same places. She always unpacks and unfolds her rituals when she arrives at a destination in order to feel that she keeps walking on the same, open, path of discovering the world that becomes her own world through rituals of inhabitation.

Keep moving! No matter what happens you will never regret of hesitating.

Lighthouse Keeper

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Lighthouse (From the Greek Movie ‘Το Φως που Σβήνει’, 2000)

Late in the evening. Dark and rainy. Walking in the city again. Walking as a Lighthouse Keeper. Have you ever shared with me this attraction to Lighthouse keepers? These ascetics of littoral zones that work with the light to guide seamen? The musicians of light and the collaborators of Poseidon in the conquering of the sea? The Lighthouse keeper is another role model that gives an inspiration for creative interaction with the silence of the lonely nature. The nocturnal experience of the wet city always reminds the walker the darkness of the sea. Sailing in a city with fading lights behind the rainy curtains you feel the need of becoming a Lighthouse Keeper; move to the periphery, go up to your Lighthouse and start playing a light-concert with your mirrors. Discuss with a storm and arrange a meeting with unknown boats. I am sure that a Lighthouse keeper can even listen to the voice of the light he sheds on the sea. I am sure that light has a voice – there is an unheard sound in the reflection of light on the sea that can be only heard by the Lighthouse keeper. Walking in the rainy city as a lighthouse keeper you keep thinking of guiding through light. The recollection of the “O Joyful Light…” of the Vespers you shared previously with four or five co-parishioners makes the idea of working on a Lighthouse project even more attractive. Drawing from literature and movies you keep thinking of a Lighthouse that guides the paces of the walkers in a stormy night.  An urban lighthouse that becomes visible only in dark and rainy days to guide the people to common unknown routes. A Lighthouse that guides people to unknown meeting places. Becoming the keeper of this ‘house is just for a moment the dream of your life. What you really want is to make sure that your imagination will be able to grasp this moment of the silence in the conversation of the sea with the light.

Moving Mountains

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Moving Mountains. A Traveling Landscape Object (Mountains & Megastructures, Newcastle University – March 2016)

In June 2014 the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture organised an International Symposium and parallel (architectural & artistic) Exhibition under the title ‘Moving Mountains: Studies in Place, Society and Cultural Representation’ (Organisers/Curators: Christos Kakalis and Emily Goetsch). The cabinet has been designed as a moving archive of the Moving Mountains’ event, a ‘traveling landscape object’ that suggests a re-curating of the exhibited material. The cabinet includes works of STASUS, Maria Mitsoula, Miguel Paredes, Kostas Manolidis, Carlos Arroyo, Eugenio Fernandez, Christos Kakalis, Kim W. Wilson, Claire Breen, IC-98, Jessica Ramm, Kevin Raines, Akshaya Narsimhan.

Many thanks to Paul Diamond.

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stop thinking of it and just do it

In a sprinter van (Mugo driving) and listening to African music. Quite early in the morning. The scenery is nice; driving by the sea in a foggy morning. Small houses, rocky fields with some greenery. Moving a piece to Newcastle with Stevenson’s Treasure Island in the big pocket of your jacket. It is one more moment that cannot happen again. After long hours, and days and weeks of hard work, in the dizziness of knowing and not knowing of what will happen next you pass the border to England listening to African music and having a wonderful conversation on moving populations. It is the beginning of the Lent and your moving mind keeps returning to previous beginnings of the Lent. Your mind moves away from the van and goes back to Greece, Edinburgh, Canada. You keep discussing about moving bodies. “My daughter was born in Zimbabwe”. “Edinburgh feels like home now”. “I have my family back but do not go very often”. Your body is there, but your mind keeps moving. It is also that you do not use cars in Edinburgh but just walk. Moving faster than walking makes you think differently. Why is the landscape running outside of the car’s window? What is the reason for the rhythm of the turning wheels to make me think of recurrent time? Why do I keep thinking of previous moments and why do I still hope of future dreams? You know that the piece is huge to go up to the first floor and you know that you do not know how you are going to take it up there. But you are still in the van, listening to African music and discussing with Mugo about movement. You are here and there at the same time. Where? Everywhere and nowhere. The moving mind is immersed in the moving landscape and the thoughts and daily concerns are all lost in a moving moment. It is definitely moving to think of uncertainty as a way of living. And it is definitely moving to think of instability as the only way to MOVE; something obvious etymologically that we always forget in the stability of a routine that is totally different of the stillness of a life waiting for unpredictable moments to change it or even confirm its openness to absorb them. And while you keep moving towards a destination you lose the sense of direction and in this losing of direction and certainty you realise that life is just a matter of losing its control. You smile and keep thinking of a dark evening in Canada when Lent was starting in the fullness of uncertainty and the stillness of a stasis that taught you how to keep moving. In the darkness of a brokenness that allows movement to happen. “What if I hadn’t moved forwards?” There is not such a question. There is always a gratitude to movement’s brokenness. To move forwards requires a moment of brokenness of a previous state of stability. And this brokenness (either sudden, or intentional) is a gift. A gift to be lived as a blessing of reality. And suddenly a new voice of your life visits your mind: “stop thinking of it and just do it”, reminding you the reason of your driving to England with a wooden piece in a van. A voice that fired the conditions for this reason to exist. “Stop thinking of it and just do it” or even “stop thinking of it and just move forwards”. You smile again and your lips cannot stop:

“Fifteen men on The Dead Man’s Chest/Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! / Drink and the devil had done for the rest/ Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum.”

 

The 50 kg piece was lifted up to the first floor by one person and was there when it had to be there and it worked as it had to work, as a moving trace of a previous static event.

‘on an old piano stool’

It is just an image of the life. An event that has already become a memory. Along the platform No2 of the station of Berwick-Upon-Tweed (a very small city along the border between England and Scotland) after long hours of teaching and dis-connecting yourself from the rest of your life. Sitting on a 19th century piano stool bought from a small antique shop, waiting for the train, drinking filter coffee from a metal flask and web-chatting with friends from all over the world. It is not the digital or the concrete, it is not the setting sun and the pink clouds. Not even the surprising delay and the laughs that you had just shared with your colleagues while shaking them Goodbye to the London direction. It is the whole of the experience as such. A moment that cannot happen daily, and it is difficult to happen again. A moment of deeply breathing in the air of its energy to be carried back to your daily life and be gradually given back to the atmosphere.

You take your stool, move it 4 metres further away to have a better wifi signal.

Corazon con patas.

…doing is just walking and making friendships…

I will be waiting for you with my stool.

…very useful if the pub is full…I can bring a table…

Αυτά περιμένοντας το τραινο σε μια αδεια πλατφόρμα πάνω σε ένα σκαμνί πιάνου.

..another immigrant girl who likes vodka with orange juice
The train arrives an hour after the announced one. You take the stool in and find your seat. Coach C, Seat 43. Back to Edinburgh to find friends at a pub carrying a 19th century piano stool bought with a colleague at Berwick. You sit on it while drinking and eating and chatting (physically this time) and then while getting tired and deciding to go back home. You carry your stool on the way back and keep chatting and sometimes laughing. At some point you remember the beginning of the day, and the previous day, and the day before. For a moment you realise that they can be read both as really difficult but also funny. And you just decide to carry your stool walking back home (even laughing sometimes  alone) and spend the rest of your night thinking of how the pianist owning the stool might have looked like.

“walking in my thought”

Recently I have been working with a team of people coming from different places around the world (Puerto Rico, Belgium, Greece, United Kingdom, Norway) on the role of silence and intimacy in our understanding of the urban landscape. Silent walks, bodily exercises, presentations, writing of short essays, walking discussions and indoor (more static) ones, sound-walks, interaction with digital media that create narratives of sounds, expression of ideas such as: emotional and loving landscapes, silence-scapes (full of sounds and existential questions), getting lost as the beginning of knowing a place were only some of the things that we have been exploring during an intense week of workshops. I have always been feeling as a locked body, and I have always believed in the significance of the body in the reading of the landscape and the architecture. But what kind of bodily experience? Not the one petrified in studies on environmental design, acoustics and sun paths. Definitely not. I have been looking to learn and teach about another more primordial opening of our bodies to the landscape, the one that is difficult to be represented and designed for and therefore challenging to explore. One of the participants, the artist Stefaan van Biesen told in one of the common discussions “I have felt that while walking on foot, I have also been walking in my thought”. “Walking in my thought” became the phrase that followed me during the whole of the week until me and another participant and artist and friend, Geert Vermeire (also from Brussels) when having a nocturnal walking discussion on “space & intimacy” (as participants of one of the workshops) reflected to my intimate place-stories of Edinburgh by telling me “you start by getting lost and then gradually an inner map is created through your own special point of references. The city becomes your inner map and the inner map becomes your city”. The discussions (even drawing discussions) were all connected eventually to inner maps being created during the week in the participation in the various workshops. I was happy to collect a number of sketchbooks narrating experiences of Edinburgh and I was more than happy to collect me in myself and start also narrating my Edinburgh. It has been one of the moments that something “academic” was contributing mainly to my personal knowledge and through this was extending to sharing this new understandings on body and the city with the members of the team and hopefully other people…Let’s hope for the best my reader friend.

I consistently followed three different workshops and tried to interconnect them. It was an amazing and tiring experience. I could walk the same city I have been living in since 2009 in a different way, through the lenses of the leaders. Leaders that were open to break the idea of ‘hierarchy’ by becoming both participants and leaders, only participants, educating and being educated at the same time. I could not understand the reason but my body was actually reading the city through walking in silence or in a dialogue. It was a nice coincidence that the morning silent walks were sometimes followed by night walking discussions. Silence and work with your bodily awareness also influenced your participation in a common discourse. Allowing space of silence to the other? Listening more attentively to yourself and the other? I do not actually know, but have definitely found working this combination of morning silent walks and night walking discussions on the city experience. In some of the cases this was also narrated in the different ways of documenting the experience. Hopefully I will post some more images on the event later in the week. That’s all for now, my friend. I just wanted to share part of this rich experience and move on.

Allow me a short piece of advice: walk in body and mind – or – pay attention to the walking conversation of your body and mind/soul.

Life through Life (dead end?)

Life has always been the common ground between me and you my reader friend and today I just want to share my view of a life full of dead ends – I am pretty sure that you have been having your own dead end episodes in your life and you keep trying to harmonically incorporate them in its narrative… Have you ever felt slaved in a sudden dead end? The moments that you feel absolutely lost and in front of you there is a wall while a number of thoughts are bubbling in your mind like “What am I supposed to do now?”, “Should I go back?”, “Should I stay here?”, “Why should I have this experience”….Dead ends are spaces that are seemingly  only open on our way back. Is this always the case? Have you ever felt that you might have created the dead end in your life? Have you ever thought of you as a great architect of dead ends? Of situations that do not make any sense, that you cannot handle,  questions that cannot be answered, tasks that cannot be done. A space of uncertainty that seems fearful. Have you ever thought of transforming these horrible spaces into places of listening to yourself? Have you ever thought of living these places as events of waiting for yourself to talk to you in the grace of God? Places where you just have to pause and wait for yourself to start talking, honestly and clearly. Stop and wait for Him to answer through Love. Stop and wait for the shared love between you and your friends, family and unknown people to dictate the way you are going to lose the sense of a dead end and not go back but pass through the wall in front of you. Have you ever thought of a dead end as a gift? It is just one of these days that I want to kindly ask you to stop and revisit your painful dead ends and try to listen yourself that is still whispering in them. Perhaps he or she is also whispering with your friends in the grace of God.

This post is dedicated to all the people that helped me to realise that a dead end is a given gift to ourselves to speak about their weakness and realise the strength of being-together in His Love.

Life through Life – alive end(lessly).