For me there is stillness in movement and in movement there is stillness. When my body is still and I inhale all of the oxygen my lungs can handle, my mind zooms far from rest and jumps from one thought to the next like a rabid couch potato surfs the web from one hyperlink to the next. That’s why I was never good at yoga. No oms for me because they don’t work. But when my body moves, when I dance or hula hoop around the house, everything goes silent — even the silence — and my thoughts of what was and what will be vanish into a closed interior space.
It was Sunday. What was I thinking? But I had promised Priscilla Marrero and Carlota Pradera the night before that I would attend their Stillness & Movement workshop at the Miami Art Museum. I just wanted to be still on my sofa and not bother with the external world, but Priscilla called and I couldn’t say no. “It’s inspired by ‘Kimsooja: A Needle Woman,’” she said. I had no idea what Marrero was talking about.
“Kimsooja: A Needle Woman,” which is on exhibition at the Miami Art Museum through Sunday, August 26th, is a fantastic video installation set in densely populated cities such as New York, Shanghai, Lagos, Delhi and Mexico City. Basically, Kimsooja sets up her video camera, turns her back on it and stands absolutely still as a torrent of people rush by her. Some stop and stare. Point and giggle. Some try to engage her while others walk by unaware of her existence. Whatever happens, Kimsooja is a statue wearing grey surrounded by a tornado of constant human motion.
Following a curated tour of “A Needle Woman,” the Stillness & Movement workshop began in a separate room on the main floor of the museum. Gustavo Matamoros provided the lush, ethereal soundscape as 20 or more participants, none of whom were professional dancers, made a circle. Marrero and Pradera then led us on a journey through stillness and movement that explored the duality of Kimsooja’s exhibition.
We moved and stood still as individuals and as a collective. We danced for and with ourselves and with each other. Created improvised choreographies of chance and chaos. We leapt like kangaroos and crawled around the floor like sloths. We even spent about 15 minutes moving around the space —backwards — with our eyes closed.
This act of disempowerment, of closing our eyes, allowed me to see the silence in me as a thing in being, like a floating orb — or maybe I was just hungry. Either way, when we surrender to the light and let the senses take over, we connect to the vibrations given off by the people around us. We absorb their information into our sensory system just like Kimsooja must have absorbed the information of a city into her bones.
If you have a chance, see “Kimsooja: A Needle Woman.” (Read Knight Arts’ review of the show here.) Even though there are no more Stillness & Movement workshops scheduled, you can still do it at home with friends or alone. And with your eyes closed.
“Kimsooja: A Needle Woman” runs through August, 26th at the Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-300; www.miamiartmuseum.org.