From April to May 2022, Mica spent one month in NES Art Residency, Skagaströnd, Iceland.
Amazed by the landscape, she reflected on the four/five elements and how they relates to everything.
She also questioned how her own body relates to the nature as a space.
There are two fundamentally important things throughout my stay here.
One is that I’m told that you can drink the water from the river. One day when I was in Reykjavik I spent a whole day walking next to a river, following it to a lake. When I was tired I sat down and drank from the river, and take a nap; when I woke up I continue walking. Drinking the water from the river and sensing the water passing through my body and coming out as urine back into the land… I felt a weird, fresh, strong, and continuous sense of connection with the land. Watching it run so freely and happily, I understood how people would settle next to a river in old times and perceive it as rich and nourishing.
Second is that I realized after I arrived here in skagastrond, somehow here it is the nature that frames the human society, in a very direct way, we are simply just surrounded. While cities where I was from in china, and Amsterdam, it is the opposite case. So the parks or nature preserves are framed by the city.
I graduated last summer and I’m still trying to figure out what art means to me, and my motivations and connections with creating. Being in nature, surrounded by forces you cannot really control - yet is so powerfully beautiful and overwhelming made me question why would I need art if that makes sense, or at least I somehow lost the intention to do any artworks like I did before I came here. The presence of nature is so strong here, I feel like I need to take them into consideration as participators, collaborators, teachers, friends, families, and audiences…. and they are artists as well, they create astonishing things.
When I was in Amsterdam if I need time with nature I would need to travel for hours to find a little piece of silence deep in the woods or dunes, although it is not allowed, not legal to go on an unmarked path which I respect very much. But here it’s different, the moment I woke up I can just open my doors and welcome the ocean in front of me, or walk for two minutes arriving at the hills, looking around and only seeing stone, grass, sky, and ocean. I can stare at the horizon where the ocean meets the sky like I’m at some edge of the world.
It’s just vast and pure. Another really shocking thing, for me, is how pure these elements all are. As if I can see the clear distinction between these fundamental building blocks of elements. In a physical sense yes, mostly in a metaphorical sense. Here I can see mountain as mountain, river as river, water as water, ocean as ocean, soil as soil, grass as grass, air as air, wind as wind. And from here step by step I tried to understand how they combined with each other and form different things.
So a big part of my practice here is to meditate on and with those elements and materials and experiment visualizing how they relate, act, or react to each other.
For me, meditation is a focused drift or drifting focus, that required openness and honesty from someone to both themselves, the inner space and the surroundings, the outer space. It can take many forms. I would stand still, walk, lay down, breathe, or do repetitive actions, chant a certain word, or combine some of them together. Sometimes my train of thoughts came out of my mouth forming a flow of phrases and associations, so apart from interacting with the materials such as stones and grass and snow, I also had the urge to make sounds. I whisper, I talk, I shout, I scream, I laugh, I make sounds, I mimic bird callings, I sing, and sometimes I have tears in my eyes crawling out and my first thoughts are, they are a smaller river flowing on the land of my face and my nose being the mountain, my eyes the lake, my hair the grass. Drooling is the same. I drank from the river and open my mouth to ask them out, they flow slowly downward, making sparkly spider webs on the grass by the wind. They entered the ground.
Water meets soil and mud is made. Water meets fire and water is boiled. Fire meets water and it hisses.
The moving lava I imagine, possesses all the qualities of fire, earth, and water. And air bubbles that are released while it is cooling down make the stone porous.
Then I was in the water. I breathe in and out to control the air in my body so that I float or sink, I lay on the bottom of the swimming pool and release air bubbles from my mouth and see how they float and make crispy sounds underwater. when I was in cold water I tried to feel the warmth of my body and how they meet on the surface of my skin.
When the ocean was raving I stand on the shore next to it and sing or scream enthusiastically.
The property of echoing of a space is something that I play with a lot in the past works, and I love Echoes. But being here in the mountains or oceans shouting words, feeling no echoes, for some reason triggered another very interesting sensation: you feel the air is containing you, swallowing you, digesting you, and it’s accepting you. All you need to do is deep breathing, and feel the space inside you is connecting to the space outside of you. It’s taking whatever it is inside your body and making it disappear. It is carried away. There is no echo. You can hear yourself, you know your voice travels but there’s no traveling back, and you wonder where it goes.
All these practices I filmed but I don’t feel like they are the work. The moment when I was experiencing and what’s left in my memory is the basis of my later creative activities, and I seek to translate this firsthand experiences again into a live situation. I have no idea yet what I will create in the future with these experiences with me, and I’ve learned from nature to take time and allow things to digest and interact with each other, so I thought to share my thoughts with you on my last stay.
Extra: 5th May Final Presentation Draft