The First Yearlong Cycle of Doing Nothing Comes to an End

Watching the Apple Trees Lose Their Blossoms, May 2016, Photo by: Csenge Kolozsvári

The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred Presents:
Watching the Apple Trees Blossom (le début est la fin d’un cycle continu)
A project (for life) by Victoria Stanton

Sunday May 14, 2017

2pm to 3:30pm: collective non-action under the apple trees
***UPDATE*** due to rainy conditions, the collective non-action will NOT be taking place under the apple trees in Parc Atwater-St-Charles but instead be happening at the DARE-DARE trailer (Intersection Atwater, Greene & Doré in front of the Atwater Market)

4pm to 5:30pm: finissage at the DARE-DARE trailer (see address above)

As part of DARE-DARE’s 2016-2017 cycle of programming, “La Société des Rendez-vous,” The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred proposed a yearlong residence in which I instigated publicly held “non-events”: collectively enacted moments of downtime in a variety of public locations, mainly around the South West of Montreal. Non-active (and largely invisible) actions were carried out alongside a program of curated dialogues (Talking About Nothing With…) in which artists, researchers, thinkers and practitioners of various disciplines – both within and outside of the arts – were invited to present their reflections in an open format around the idea of Doing Nothing. The ensemble of gatherings generated extensive discussions around the complexity of this quest: What does it even mean to “Do Nothing?” Is it a state of “pure being?” Or does it simply mean “not working?” (As in, “if I’m not working I’m doing nothing.”) Is it a form of resistance? Is it an assertion of Freedom? Is it necessary for our wellbeing? Doing Nothing is clearly paradoxical, and perhaps quite impossible to do. At the same time a general consensus repeatedly rose to the surface: that there is a need to carve out such spaces (and times) for deep pause within our personal lives and within our professional sectors – albeit that this is a very difficult thing to actually (or consistently) do. Sitting with the intricacies of these questions it has become clear that the affirmation of such (non)activity is an inherently political act; it challenges notions of productivity, what constitutes “failure” (and success) and reconsiders “non-productive” uses of time.

…And what about bringing this quest into an art context? The opportunity to embark on this slippery, if not contradictory task (that of Doing Nothing) within the frame of DARE-DARE’s mandate became an instance of prolonged embodied research into the more imperceptible areas of art-making and artistic process. Exploring the invisible, liminal spaces in art has been a long-standing preoccupation of mine, and The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred became an invaluable container, and occasion, within which to delve even more deeply into this fertile area of performative practice.

…And so…How to wrap up a project that I know needs to keep going? I feel like I’m left with as many questions as when I started. But this is encouraging; I think my questions got more interesting. And as all good things must come to an end, this finissage marks what I think of as one end – the completion of a first cycle. The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred began exactly a year ago, under the blossoming apple trees just as their bloom was in descent. We come back to the same spot, this time at the commencement of the blossom season, to mark new beginnings, and to celebrate a full year of… Nothing.

I will continue to enthusiastically insert this Nothing into my everyday, however; to see/accept/appreciate Nothing as Something and hold the space of Nothing in the company of others who wish to continue to accompany me in this quiet, open, sacred, and decidedly un-productive, lifelong project.

« Nous terminerons là où nous avons commencé; nous recommencerons là où nous allons terminer. »

Author: Victoria Stanton

Montreal-based performance artist, writer, and educator Victoria Stanton explores live action, human interaction, video, film, photography, and drawing.

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