chatting via skype today with
josseline black for umbigo magazine from lisbon
issue on the earth
december 2020 (print)
JB: it is important to address this strange moment that we are living with Covid. I would like to start with understanding if you are feeling isolated?
t: humans are knot meant too bee disconnected on this level socially. as sentient beings we have a innate urge too make connections; sensually, mentally, sub-consciously beyond just the visual physical plane, beyond the flatscreen zapping existence of modern living. living with honeybees here on our roof, we observe individual bees touching each other continously. feelers too feelers, legs too body, body too feelers, bzzzzzz, bzzzzzz, wings touching wings, bzzzzzzzzzzz. as a civilization honeybees touch each other about 3,000 times per day. they are communicating not just by visuals but by sounds, touch, smell, taste. communicating with all the senses as one flow. communicating by connection as one voice, back to our birth, back too the earth, back too the universal plane. when our world gets suddenly isolated and we find ourselves in yet another stay at home order, this creates a sudden change in how we communicate at the planet level. it brings up so many questions. it may make us more primal, because we are cut off from what civilisation does for us on a physical level and then we get fed all of these things on an internet level. we get fed a diet than imbalances us and it feeds too the isolation.
JB: I had a conversation with Dmitry Vilensky, part of Chto Delat, and we were talking about the nature of history. Chat Delat meditates on futures and spaces outside of chronology. This brings me to geological time. There is this quotation from Jean Baudrillard, that “desert is an ecstatic critique of culture”. What are your thoughts open landscapes, do you believe in the idea of uncorrupted nature?
t: we are entering the anthropocene age, the age of humans. where the effects of our civilization are cutting deeply into the flesh of our planet to the point of fatality. at the same time we are getting into this nebulous awakening zone, discovering time itself, sparks of love in the chaos. so its not about defining uncorrupted nature or man-made nature versus wilderness versus civilzation. instead we should bee concentrating our energy into the fundamentals of how we think, how we be, and from this root than all the other sprouts of philosophy, art, government, architecture, engineering and gardening can than grow from this seed light. a seed that births light so bright it breaks time and space, it breaks us out of our selfs. we are this tiny tiny brief spark in the flow of all there is. and in this circular flow of exisiting we are each a boat floating in geological time and than flowing even further along in terms of universe time. billions, trillions, zillions of unimaginible years. the idea that
than out of all this can we break out of this self made time bondage? in other words how alive do i choose too be on this fucking beautiful planet? so when we talk about utopias, jean baudrillard, permaculture, poop in space, we have too reach even beyond the stars, beyond the physical open landscape too a spiritual open landscape, mindscape. space without boundaries, living without thought and time, the unknown possibilities of existence!
JB: What are you working on now?
t: 👁’m working on a project that opens next spring in a public park in frankfurt, germany. the proposal is to design a home built right in the park itself for a single person or couple too live in. so people can reserve the home for a specific amount of time and actually live within the work. how doo yoo create an art that is totally invisible? and not just visually invisible but totally invisible to the audience. art that is completely undivided with life.
architect friend friedhelm dreaming of the unlimited roof. metzlerpark, frankfurt, germany.
that advanced enlightened aliens from other plants would conclude we are still a primitive civilization because we still have this thing called art. why would you depend on someone else too make sense of existence?
how doo i create art that takes my self, terence koh, out of the equation. a sentient art activated by the audience growing their own power. so that's why there are no drawing plans or concepts for the design of this home. we found a linden tree in park and marked this tree as the center of the home. from this center we defined a 16ft diameter circle that's the natural boundary of the home.
and than we doo nothing but listen too the land. we have to unlearn all we know and become children, put our ears to the ground..
take ourselves out of our comfort zone and listen with ears touching earth for 5 min, than 20min, an hour. just listening to the earth.
too the reader reading this interview now:
find a spot of earth and touch your ears as deep as yoo can into the ground and just
even if you are in an apartment in the city, find a flower pot, or just touch your ears too the apartment floor and stay there as long as you can and just listen completely without any thoughts, breathting and just listening. without any pre-judgment, pure observation.
yoo want to fall out of time as a human so you go back into the condition of love itself.
a kind of love that existed before the big bang, before time itself.
it’s like a kernel of a seed that sparks; it’s not just a seed, a flower seed or almond seed, it’s a seed that's already in each of us. our whole reason of being is too break open this seed.
JB: when you talk about balance it brings an idea from a book, Black Elk Speaks, written by a Sioux holy man: “Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round . . . The sky is round and I have heard the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind in its greatest power whirls, birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.” In one of your works nothingtoodoo (2011) you circle a “perfect mountain of salt”, which raises this idea of the cyclical. How does this move as a theme in your work?
t: 👁 used too have this favorite symbol of two circles touching.
where two circles touch
when two infinities touch
we often forget that we live as a circle. we’ve been conditioned to think that we live on a flat plane, that our existence is planar, linear. we look at flat screens, we live in flat walls, countries defined by straight angles, screens as grids, instagram likes of artificial light, zombie bright, a constant need too feed.
a straight line when the universe is a wiggle.
we forget that the wind is round. we forget that the breath you are breathing right now even though yoo are in lisbon and 👁 am in california,
our breaths are eventually going too reach each other because the earth is round.
when we next talk too someone on the phone, remind our friend that even though we think we are seperated by this screen, our breaths will eventually touch becuase the earth is round, the earth is round, the earth is round.
a circle it can go on forever and ever
it’s a metaphor of ourselves as humans. that we make our own pains and sufferings and we keep going in circles and we never seem to break from birth and death, our eternal internal conflicts, dramas, elections, violences. life is a continuous circle from birth to death to birth. life and death go hand in hand.
JB: Your exhibition Sleeping in a beam of Sunlight (2017), at Morán Morán, included the works Bee Chapel (2017), St. Francis (2017), The Whole Earth (2017) which are ways of looking at nature. The title of St. Francis is specific because he is the patron of the natural world and animal kingdom…
aa bronson visiting the bee chapel in matching beeswax suit. morán morán gallery, lost angels, 2017.
t: saint francis was the guardian of humans and nature. bee chapel is man and nature itself, bees and humans. what makes me giggly happy during the show was when 👁 sense that a visitor is about to go into the room. quickly 👁 start fogging the room with incense...
and there's a skylight where we have broken a hole in the roof so that a beam of sunlight burst true. in this beam of light 👁 place a little rainbow generator so that when someone opens the curtains and 👁 disappear they enter into a room of cloud and sparkling light and moving rainbows and salt crystals evaporating into the translucent fog.
👁 guess it makes me happy because it’s not me, it’s about gifting for some one else on this planet. we are a vessel circling round and round like a boat in a circular river. our planet is a circular river too and whatever happens it’s always going to be alright because our planet will always be circling.
if a meteorite hits it’s ok because "Bang!", instantly we return into timeless time. but it doesn’t mean we don’t fight for what we love, fight for the insane beauty of living on this planet.
JB: This brings me to the reality of extinction of bees themselves, the endangerment of bees. You have been working with bees, and in many of your works you've included wax, honeycomb, honey. At what point did you start working with bees and learning from bees and thinking
that you are describing now? The fate of our civilisation is dependent on that civilisation…
t: 👁 lived in new york city for two decades, and then it made me a bit woo woo. so 👁 was like fuck humanity and bought a mountain naively thinking 👁could start utopia. in the end though its about listening. beeing by yourself can force yoo too really start listening. yoo start noticing all these creatures that are around us, butterflies and bees. 👁 was also listening to things and 👁 was reading digitally about bees as well. these two things clicked together: bees dying and seeing all these bees around.
how can 👁 as a human being be responsible on this planet?
how we can make our minds quiet at any moment?
from this breathing it came to my mind that 👁 want to build this bee chapel, a space where humans and bees can unite themselves and where we can learn from bees and not fear bees.
the first bee chapel in the catskill mountains, 2014?
when you are in the bee chapel itself you realise that this fear is slowly disappearing. yoo start breathing, you start smelling the warmness of beeswax, and pollen melting, baby bees getting born, and larvae of bees in cocoons.
it’s a magical feeling of transmuting the energy of fear into this undescrible energy. it could bee anyone. yoo dont have too be an artist or yogi or anyting anytime too enter into this state. quietly observing the bees, yoo realize that's a whole different civilization right there and this civilization has managed too exist without harming the other living interconnected systems of our planet. how can we learn from the bees? how can we set our minds too always bee open too learn? albert einstein said if bees were to suddenly disappear from this planet our civilization wood disappear. but if humans wood too suddenly disappear from our planet, the whole planet wood start healing itself.