Please click link here to view the new art piece: Nephila https://youtu.be/bb-1jUUUGwU
In the summer of 2012, when I first visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I was fortunate to have corresponded with and met Professor Markus Buehler, Department Head, McAfee Professor of Engineering at MIT, whose principal interest lies in Material science and the study and investigation of molecular dynamics and protein based material. Our main discussion was centered around how the natural structure of spider silk was being modified to in order to increase its potential uses. Spider silk is made almost completely from liquid proteins that the spiders form into fibers. Researchers at his lab then collaborated with music theorists and composers then started to write music based on the different silk sequences. From recalling the mortal weaver Arachne in Ovid’s “Metamorphosis”-its tales, images and renderings and orb webs and funnel webs to thinking about real spider webs entangling hapless things cleverly into their design to Emily Dickenson’s spider that” sewed at night, without a light, upon a arc of white” I was not just thinking of materials old and new but of abstract, tumbling outspread shapes and yarns of transformative memories.
(According to Professor Buehler, scientists would increasingly examine the music of Bach or Chopin to find insight into the design and structure of new synthetic materials.)
I was focused on the synesthetic magic that this research spun on my senses and so profoundly feeling connected to the Lab’s analytic spirit, that my need to inhabit that space on a visceral and theatrical level grew stronger each day. I started working on a tune that was prosodically yoked to the silent and unyielding tensions between the specific geometric configurations of the structural proteins that hold spider silk together and my own memories that had the same tensile strength as the webs. My grandmother would say that weaving did not merely pertain to textiles, but it was the intertwining of the material with the immaterial, the threads with emotions and cultures and the past with the present and the future-finally one that made weaving a primary resonant rhythm in the act of storytelling. Ever since textiles have been an integral part of my own feminine articulation-where dyes, colors and patterns have had a voice of their own.
Years later, as I have looked at my own body, I have found layers of memories, sounds, fish-fin tales, laughter and tears-all embedded deep inside the skin and flesh and clothes that the world now sees me in. I have been deeply influenced by the works of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and how wonderfully she fused nature, feminine eroticism-where the body becomes a piece of art rather than a visually consumable object. This piece- Nephila is a whimsical commingled artwork where the body, the stories in the song, the sounds and its connection with nature is totally inspired by Dr. Buehler’s scientific research as well as Louise Bourgeoise’ Spider sculpture titled Maman. Personal memories of my slight figured aunt who raised me in the absence of my own mother drifted in as I wrote the song-one who was frail and strong at the same time and provided me the inner prowess to find my own in a male dominated society in eastern India. I found a symbolic and transitional space from the weaving spider to my material female body that is looking for an identity beyond physical conquest. A body with a mind that wants to tell truths and question female victimization and deconstruct the art of seduction-to rise above complying with male attention and surveillance. Bourgeoise’ rather foreboding installation space of Maman, her reminiscences of her own mother where she transforms her to a spider in her imagination-“clever, patient, reasonable, dainty, indispensable, neat and as useful as a spider”)-also triggered my creative and cognitive values whilst creating Nephila.
In order to tangibly depict the feeling of being “caught” “manipulated” and captured and to project as well the tug of war between the viewer and Maman, the sculpture, between man and woman and between the frailties of a woman’s existence and her strength to be able to procreate-I reached out to my dear friend Vassiliki to add the wispy airy poetic elements (via her mythical Greek imagination) in the narrative.
Thus, the live art piece Nephila-is a tapestry of beliefs, concepts, languages, memories, colors, threads, mythology presented through performance, sound art and lyrical narrative. The Cello plays a vital role in bringing the textures together and adding the pathos and the honesty that all art carries along with it.
Many factors were taken into consideration in the making of this video, in terms of formal properties, qualities and principles in a recognized series of discrete objects so to speak, in order to shape the subject matter.
The most important objective has been to meld poetry-storytelling with sounds, colors, textures, movement, balance, harmony, dissonance, rhythms, languages, light and shadows and cultures where the artistic mind is the needle that weaves it all in through the abstraction of the digital media, where interpretations are left open for visual interaction.
My fibers full of volts- I run from tree to tree, I resonate inside-You instigate me.
Don't claw at my heart, I've not learned defeat,
From the silence of my silk,
I spring again from me.
Νεφίλα, πώς μ’ άφησες τον χορευτή μονάχο;
Δε γέμισες με φρέσκο αέρα κι όνειρο το σήμερα.
Συ που γύρευες στα βότσαλα
Τη νοσταλγία του παρελθόντος.
Συ που μύριζες
Τον αιώνιο νάρκισσο στα ουρανογιάλια.
Συ που έδραξες
Τα πρώτα γιούλια του Μάη.
Συ που χάζευες τα βότσαλα
Της κλεμμένης ομορφιάς.
Πώς δε γύρισες, Νεφίλα του Γιαλού;
Συ που συνέδραμες
Τον ωραίο κύκλο των κοριτσιών
Των αγοριών που έμπαιναν στην πλάνη
Στην άκρη της πλανεμένης νεότητας;
Πώς μ’άφησες τον χορευτή μονάχο, πες μου!
έλα, Νεφίλα κρύψε με στα σύννεφα
Νεφίλα νεφεληγερέτη, συ!
(Translation from Greek: Nephila, how come you left me alone, me the dancer? You didn't fill with fresh air and dream the "today"
You who were scenting the eternal narcissus in the heavenly glass.
You who picked up the first wild flowers of May.
You who were idling the pebbles
Of stolen beauty.
How come you never came back Nephila Nefeligereti?
You who assisted the cycle of girls,
Of boys who were joining illusion
At the edge of their illusory youth?
How come you left me alone, me the dancer on the shore, tell me!
Come now Nephila, hide my tears within your clouds
You Nephila stirrer of the clouds!)
I will dance to your tears
Your crying’s music to my ears…
Get away from me
Come closer here.
I am miracle
I am wonder
I am the author of your grieving heart,
I steal your joys from the dark
I weave my threads from the past
I am your golden silk orb weaver.
Ναι, Νεφίλα, ναι
χόρεψε μαζί μου στο ρυθμό των δακρύων
πλέξε χορδές με τις ακτίνες αυτών των δακρύων
για μουσική μια νεκρική σιγή στα νέφη
Νεφίλα, φίλα με, στα φύλλα της καρδιάς μου.
(Translation from Greek: Yes, Nephila, yes, dance with me in the rhythm of the tears and weave strings out of the rays-of these tears as a deadly silence reigns -Nephila, kiss me, in my heart’s leaves.)