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Rachel Wolfe Posts

Praksis residency overview

This week marks the completion of my first artistic residency after graduate school. As an overview, I have planned to write a post about each specific site during the residency to perform as both an archive, diary, and site for future reference. There were quite a plenty experience with the residents and participated individually I would like to cover. Some of the images at the end of this entry offer hints about the writing to come.

The month-long residency with PRAKSIS Oslo, in Oslo Norway, involved balancing working (for wages) and the deeply laborious effort of artistic practice. As a group, we visited several sites to encounter specific bodily experiences such as an anechoic chamber in Moss, Norway.  The delightfully accommodating SEAS had our group to experience their chamber. At once I felt myself atop a snowy mountain and deep within a sort of Platonic cave without any shadows. Several of the artists experienced the sensory deprivation experience where I had been working at Bare Flyt in the Sagene area of Oslo. We visited the Vigeland Mausoleum with an echoic resonance making of the voice, a sense of a holy experience. Most days of the week, several of the artists would gather at NOTAM, and we would discuss our individual projects and where they intersect. We met with Stephanie von Spreter, the director of Fotogalleriet, as she graciously joined our meetings to review our work. The organisers of PRAKSIS, Nicholas Jones and Charlotte Teyler, hosted several delightful dinners in which members from art, educational and political actions in Oslo joined us for some memories I feel honoured to raise a glass towards.

The sort of things we discussed were plenty, but some themes that contininually surfaced:

synchonicities, esp, perception, embodied sensations, the real, imagined, virtuality, personal biography, the other, whether or not free will or choice really exists and the implications, what constitutes collaboration and through careful consideration by the lead artist of the residency, Lindsay Seers, we landed upon corroboration.

The theme during March – April 2017 was A Global State of Pareidolia was joined by eight with experience encompassing art, music and neuroscience: Gunnlaug Bina Kuløy (NO), Anne Haaning (DK), Milenasong (DE/NO), Jeremy Olson (US), Lindsay Seers (GB), Nina Torp (NO), Rachel Wolfe (US), Monika Żak (PL). More information about each resident can be found in the PRAKSIS registry. The residency was also visited by Nina Rodin.

This residency offered a stark contrast to many of the institutional experience I encountered during graduate school. I was surprised and encouraged by the supreme openness, warmth, curiosity, and supportive nature of this group of genuine artists. Quite often, I will find closures or endings terribly tragic, that all promises to remain in contact result to be words in vain. This time there really was not a sense of goodbye, but the real sense of vi ses, or we see, next time.

And so I am reminded of a poem I wrote in Chicago and performed at the Green Mill many years ago. At this juncture of writing and saying aloud these words, I was in a a cognitive space where I found the division between work and leisure to be a construct of value only to the markets which asked me to pay my wage to their products or objects. I sought a life where there would be no division of work and leisure. That even this word leisure seemed in 2007 (or was it 2006, or 2008?) an ideal about an attitude. What if the ridged way of marking time with days, hours, activities could be dissolved? Of course these kind of descriptors of time remain in play today, and quite often I may appear as a totally absent minded person, but more importantly, this seeking I had set out for became fully realized throughout the duration of the residency. I brought with me to the residency a vague notion we may create a work together or share an accumulation of many small works together one day (as Lindsay has already been creating several videos for each of the residents), and gained something more immediately of value-the dissolving of concepts, beliefs, allusions. A more cohesive experience of living and creating. Yes, I experience this quite as sensationally as it may sound. To be a more complete and whole practitioner of embodied reality, not forced or coerced by preset standards. And again, as in science, quite often the proof has been created by whatever set our minds towards. Here is the poem, at last:

rendezvous daydreams
sit atop a twiddle my thumbs tuesday
aching for the ever acclaimed weekend
i bide my time with silly banter until
we can be near
my dear
i’m singin’ a tune you had better listen to
but no good at games
i’m claiming innocence and honesty
will someday gather me a man
who can handle my moves
not try to tame my heart
but hold my hand
no room for tears
for we never say goodbye
only see you next time





Ceiling of anechoic chamber at NRK
Vigeland Masoleum image courtesy of their website
Heavy Water from Rjukan
Metronome in the SEAS anechoic chamber
foggy walk on chainlink fenced off terrain
interior of the anechoic chamber at SEAS in Moss
completed full body participating knitted work of errors
the egg at the floating center in sagene
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Contextual shores

The image and installation liberated from the white walls.

First installation of the “Troubleweed” towel:

These black rocks could be anywhere there are black rocks. But these black rocks photographed are on Bygdøy, a small peninsula reaching into the Oslofjord. In the first context of the story, we encounter the element of trust. Trust in the author. Does the specificity of the details within the image instill within my mind the reality of the scene? Let me think about this a little bit more. What am I seeing here?

A blanket, on black rocks. Things look staged. Did a body lie upon the blanket? Are those Birkenstocks? What is in the bag? Do I care or have time to care about what I am seeing? How I am seeing?

The image of a tumbleweed, composed with a shallow depth of field presents a romantic image of a prickly object. There are secrets I cannot see that only the maker of the image must know. Did the image come from the internet? And if I do not care where the image came from, is it that much easier to decanter my sense of truth and what is real or virtual in the world? Does the actual geographical location referenced in the image have any relevance in a time when places of travel are the escape from the sensations from my actual body, my actual lived life?

If I stop too long to register these kind of questions and thoughts, will all my friends and colleagues have rushed off without me? Will they think I have spaced out? I am still sitting here. Reading. Looking. I am still alive as far as I know. The inverse has now happened, I must move my body to encounter another scene. The click of a finger, and this moment can be swept away.



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Trauma. A word people often associate with a far away place. The horrors of daily life are not serviced compassionately by comparison to what could be worse happening far away. The reality of our lives is the life is happening right here and now within and around your body-not only in a far off land. Traumas happen everyday. The rise in acceptance of wellness based practices of meditation and yoga, underscore the idea detailed in this article on Brain Pickings.

And this one which includes “love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills.”

With each passing year I have lived, watching events transpire in the media, and the lived daily experiences and events within the realm of the body I inhabit-the most valuable tasks I can partake are those which develop and evolve abilities to increase subtle sensory awareness and love in life, communication and education.


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Ideal reality conflict

The energy requirements to come up with something not already made, not already existing far surpass the energy requirements to enjoy what already is.

The use of energy to create the world we think as so necessary has more to do with a certain ideal than any kind of truth.

The (depth and breadth) chasm between the ideal and the real create conflicts. These conflicts play out on a world scale. These ideals are not always root in values, witness able in the views of media. Each image casting its spell of projection and desire upon the world.

What do I wish to see in the world? This questions guides every choice. Slowing down has been useful in providing greater consideration.

Fastness, busy ness, has little time for consideration.

These experiences of time are ours. Mine our current time. For the depth and breadth between the ideals and the reals are vast-tied not only to the geographical expanse, but also the laws by which the people abide.

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Paying attention

As an artist, I pay attention to the thoughts many people might ignore. The thoughts some may consider unworthy. I work to increase awarenesses and make something of these awarenesseses-the make these quickly discarded ideas or fears present and worthy of paying attention to.


For example, the utterance: paying attention.

What value is ascribed to the act of witnessing. That which we put our attention on, receives some kind of exchange with our bodies. For the things which we are not paying attention to, may or may not be noticed by someone else. This act of witnessing as described as paying attention, what is the currency? Our time. What is the value of our time?

More of the time we live we are tasked with the ideal of freedom from the palm held devices. These devices enable a different use of time.

What a hard question. What is the value of our time?


The questions which seem unanswerable are most fruitful. A friend whispered this to me over and over-Stephanie is her name. She knew secrets of life which I failed to grasp and instead decided to clamor a route which produced all kinds of suffering and exhaustion. I do not wish to overly romanticise her existence for she lives with her own distinct set of suffering. But as those I have found with difficult physical conditions quite often know secrets about life I have wanted to share with the public at large.

And in the paying attention to these thoughts and secrets, brining them into life in artwork and to view in the public. I feel as a medium, enacting my will to exercise the act of creating to share the secret stories that are whispered to me through witnessing the life of my dear loves, family and friends.

For I find, the very act of being alive, I am taking in so much beauty and life. Able to see this melody playing through their expression and soul. And when it is absorbed into my senses, it turns into thoughts, and these thoughts I ask questions, I pay deliberate attention, and make things from this. And so this process, over and over and over. For as long as my body will work.

Work, or perhaps a word more apt-labor, are from love. I cannot imagine anything else truly animating my body besides my heart and my breath. There is food, yes, but these basic essences of blood and air are so truly full in their processes. Over and over these labors creating life. The more attended to these subtleties I grow, the closer to these wisdoms from witnessing life I become. And I share these things…because I am compelled. I embrace the full spectrum of doubt-whether someone finds these labors of value or interest at all. I can only seem to explain why, because if I keep them to myself I suffer-feel quite stuffed. So I turn these things into words, to artworks, to words to speak or share. That is what feels the most in tune with nature to do.


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Not mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a busy ness, another activity with which people put on an agenda to do. This approach has taken a concept and run away with it, as the wind can catch a seed and run with it to another location.

The state has often been described as Awakening or Enlightenment. And again we can describe an entire busy ness and culture created around an idea of living. This has created a picture on a way to be, which exercises itself as a form of internalized control. The self then feels at odds with itself and must maintain a certain likeness to the Lifestyle portrayed in the image of Awakening or Enlightenment.

The spectacularlization of a way of using the mind has been created by a multitude of choices.

When people look upon the world, and see brokenness, when people look upon themselves and see brokenness a tendency for reactivity can be described and often experienced. A quick to fix. And it is easy to forget these principles but many have tried to share the message.

There are words such as






These ideas and ideals have been applied to technology. And so I subjectively find the state of the world in quite a funny situation. In that technology has been taking over the roles many people have been working and subscribed identity with.

A tendency for apathy can arise when the concepts described by such words are turned inside themselves or from ONLY the subjective point of view. The usefulness of the concept becomes realised or born when the concept these terms describe is turned toward integrating the Other, or taking on the view from the self and the Other, reaching toward and Objectivity.

Perhaps a phrase can be of use: When mind ends healing begins.

When imbalance is encountered in life, personally, socially, in health, environment, the idea to “fix” has a way of jumping right to a conclusion. To apply force, action, extertion. This can seen to service the furthering of imbalance. Part of the ways in which the practices of Mindfulness remain functional is that the busy ness slows or comes to rest for a temporary time. Consideration and care can be exercised choices then.

Is not that thought has no practical application -world history portrays sufficient evidence to see the narratives in which mind constructs. Present reality always offers itself as available, and within reality choice.

This concept has often been difficult for some to understand and perhaps due to the nature in which the language used to describe this concept has built in the telos of selling.

This essay sells nothing. How can these words claim to be selling nothing? Simply by the are describing a concept in a circular fashion which produces a way of though that can be described as non-linear, non-logical. And in this moment of internalization of these words, the confusion can result in rejection, anger, apathy or sink right into the feeling sensation of being alive. These are choices I have encountered both myself and other excessing and practicing. But these practice always offers the choice of tuning in, looking around, seeing, I am alive, all present and well.

Practice of tuning in (sometimes appear as spacing out) offers a valuable exercise to those curious to find out what’s in front of their own nose and eyes and within their own body and heart.

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Truth has been called in for questioning. Political landscapes appear as reflections of times made mad by the dissolution of religion. For the sanctions once found within the walls of belief break down. Lest people be betrayed by their beliefs, reality awaits those seeking to create that which they value. Creating in and of itself, a truth or rather fact of life. Observing creation happening in nature, instead of picking it apart with some kind of pious intention, may service the survival of human beings existence on earth.
      Watch closely for those engrossed in policed debates for the plentitude of pious claims they lay upon actions.
      For example: making or constituting a hypocritical display of virtue.
      “his pious platitudes” sanctimonioushypocriticalinsincereself-righteousholier-than-thou, pietistic, churchy
       archaic: dutiful or loyal, especially towards one’s parents.
       (of a hope) sincere but unlikely to be fulfilled.sincereforlornvaindesperatedespairingdoomedhopelesslost
Today we find not a separation of any kind of state of politic and forms of religion. The reasons for which people state they do certain things may or may not accurately reflect the truth. But in finding the incongrencies of word and action, of claimed words and actual recorded words, these discrepancies will reveal truth.
For what actually happened, one could once claim to have happened another way. But now, we can record. Records can be distorted yes. But there also remains the ability to record matter of factly separate entities such as: reality (is one thing), ideology (as another thing).
Some ideas don’t play out well in reality, and some realities ask of us to work with different ideologies. How is something working? To what ends are such ideologies servicing?
Instead of drawing conclusions, we can ask questions of ourselves, of each other, of our labor and our loves…not for the sake of piety but for the sake of humanity. As one of my college professors would exclaim: what is at stake? If nothing-then it has no value. And to this, we can find ambiguity present in the tyranny of the ideal of equality. I have yet to find any kinds of equity within equality-but rather an ideal that can be bend to form pious positions. We have ourselves to monitor, unless we would rather leave that job up to someone else.
Those who don’t make up their minds, may find others quick to make up their mind for them.
Now seems a great time for revisiting Hannah Arendt’s works. 
And I have been grieving for some years, as I have been going traveling around the world…and while I mainly encounter people which incredible stories, warm hearts and good work ethic and intentions, I have encountered people  who mistrust people who are caring, loving or sincere. It is as if being a woman of her word, having actual genuine care, standing for the truth, for enjoying life and offering service however one can-that these kinds of qualities are treated with skepticism. As if piety had them encounter some kind of guilt within themselves and then a kind person will then pay a price for their nice. I find this a deluded way of perceiving the world. I’ll dig solidly into my small-town midwestern roots, thank you so much for those dear family, and pine for a time where we can actually all be loving neighbours to each other. I don’t find this to be too idealistic as cynics and those jaded by things not going their way may find. I don’t have to go around making other people feel bad for their privileges to enjoy my life? A friend used to say to me, comparison is the root of evil…I never understood what she meant. But I found the concept curious, so much so it endured in my mind…and I find if I am comparing anything to prove a point, then there are often some singular intentions worthy of questioning…but if I am comparing things to observe their differences, and do so without judgement-employ a sort of buddhist objectivism, then I can enjoy the qualities of difference and not get tangled up in the messiness of someones control-drama (a concept described by a book I read in high school-The Celestine Prophecy).
What do you think about piety?
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On Timeliness

Being on time, particularly all the time, requires a tremendous amount of energy planning.

Embedded in the planning is the reason for meeting or the person you are meeting remains a part of your conscious thoughts long before the actual time of arriving to the agreed upon meeting. This form of social politeness shows a value in which another life has value enough to consider before that life that’s taking place right now within your immediate surroundings. The meaning embedded, the dedicating of thought energy toward another life or shared goal…other than a singular or self-oriented interest or goal.

This supposition also implies an independent body. Independent bodies seem to be a total myth today. The idealism of self-sufficiency appears based on a lie entirely…for not a single life came into being through sheer independence, but rather through a complex series of relationships. From the advent of life, relationship and networks are already deeply established.

In cultures where this matter-of-face is deemed as a fact of reality, the bodies are invested in activities which are not singular in function, but rather of the group entirely. People in independent cultures live in sort of perpetual exiles when looked upon through a lens of people in community cultures.  Several alternatives exist, as also a solitary existence does not imply and greater or less value than a life embracing interdependence and relationship. The cultures produced are quite different indeed.

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