Fern Bowl Piece

Outdoor piece performed during an artist residency on Örö Linnake Finland, 11/2018


This huge cast iron object is a historic mortar from around 1910. It was used only a couple times in military experiments and then discarded. It fell off its wooden stand that was placed on a small hill in the middle of Örö, and rolled down until it came to a halt. Over the years, the forest grew around the bowl. The mortar is now surrounded by trees and filled with dirt and natural compost. Beautiful, large ferns grow in it. I found myself immediately attracted to the object: an ancient discarded mortar that now serves as a flower pot. And, interestingly, it still sounds like an iron bell! I tried out several positions on the outside and different modes to extract sounds from it. From these experiments, I developed a performance and a text to go with it.

 

Text

No bowl is an island
Even deep in the forest
Behold my hammer
I have found you and come to wake you up
From hundred years of sleep

Cast iron roughness cast away powerless violator

Wake up
Ferns
Shake up
Fronds
Let your spores rain all over
Spread ferns instead of death and war

Heavy iron hand holds good compost
And precious life
Lovely green fernbrake
Safe from destruction

I got a hammer
I got a bell
Full of ferns
In the middle of an island

I got a hammer
And a stone
I hammer out ferns
I ring the bracken bell
All night long
All over this island

Bowl, compost, roots, ferns and all, vibrate!

I strike the bowl bell
Twelf times
And more

Composting equality
Composting freedom
Composting respect
Composting tenderness
Composting the noise of crazy women
All over this island
All into the intestines of these rocks
Deep into dark tunnels of narrow minds
I ring out my warning

A bell meant to bring death
A bell used to practise killing
So what

First you served soldiers ringing out death
Then you served nature ringing out compost
Now you serve my whims ringing out songs of dusk
And tenderness

Ringing all over
Ringing for art
Ringing for compost
Ringing for composers
Ringing for nature
Ringing for trees, for swans, for ferns
For mushrooms, for cows,
For countless bushels of sea kale on the shore now freezing into a cold sleep
And hungry caterpillars, too
So vulnerable!

Birds in the sky
White swans
Wake up
Answer my call
From above
join and sound your trumpets

Don’t ask
For whom
What for
Why
Is it art? Is it music? Is it foolish?

The fern bell
Tolls
For thee