Making a Table With a Physical Conversation

From Rehearsal at the Cave October 21 See more images here.

In Washington Square Park. (Below At the Middle)

Below is the unseen, underneath, history, mycellium...

StrataSpore will begin to workshop for A site specific performance in Movement Research at the Judson Church Series; November 2, 2009

The Oldest living tree in Manhattan CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Have you hugged yr tree lately?

We are working with what we have. We're alive.  Being trees but knowing we are not at all trees . What is the significance of trees? How do we affect a mycellic network below (both the trees and us) together? 

Above are spores, weather, chance, improvisation..

Above At The Middle was a performance for the Conversations at the Flea. Curated by Nina Winthrop Moderated by Tere O'Conner

Driving Thoughts

Not that everyday doesn't have the potential to be a mushroom day, but it's just that on some days there's a better chance of visibility (time has something to do with it.) I think it had rained in Beach Lake earlier in the Morning. Jaquel and I rode by car. On the way to Mildred's Lane I was looking up and in the trees I saw a mushroom (identified as a Climacodon Septentrionale or, common name: North Tooth). Jaquel smoothly backed up three trees, and up above, in the heart of a maple (sugar), a brain-like, white/ish mushroom signalled. Getting back into the car after photographing it with the camera on my computer, we proceeded to work I tend to think about mushrooms when I am in a car. I pan the trees, the ground, the sky. Attuning to elements through touch. Feeling the weather. Moving along into it. It carries affect. Moving along in the car, I was dropped off along the middle of the wooded drive. I have had a spot all summer long that I watched and continuously find Black Trumpet mushrooms. They like the Shag bark Hickory trees and there are many. This wooded area had been logged the summer before and the fallen trees in the forest now allow for bigger diffused pockets of light to touch the ground. The ground was wet, the air moist, the Black Trumpets present this morning. This particular spot is flat, with a gentle, subtly higher ground on both sides of the patch. I gathered mushrooms into the straw hat I was using for a container. I moved through the woods along this new habitual path my body seems to follow....

Orange Alerts

How do our appetites affect the way we move?
( food or poison?)
(Poisonous food?)


 biG CAAK(E*)

A Project  by  biG CAAKe

for the iLAND 2009 Collaborative Creative Residency Program

biG CAAKe is an interdisciplinary collaboration team united in re-imagining space,

material and situation for the purpose of initiating playful engagements with

and understandings of urban systems and living.

“Scientists have discovered what could be the largest and oldest living organism on earth, an individual

mightier than the blue whale, the giant sequoia tree or such past pretenders to size supremacy as the

dinosaur.…the finding will force biologists to rethink their assumptions about what constitutes an individual,

a fundamental problem in the study of the natural world and its ecosystems. Scientists normally

view a single organism as something bound by a type of skin, whether of animal flesh or plant cellulose.

But fungi grow as a network of cells and threadlike elements whose boundaries are not always clear.”

(The New York Times April 2, 1992)

“It’s a limitation to be bound by the three dimensional body. So, reconfigure the three dimensional body into a cellular body -- instead of thinking Deborah Hay, I think 384 trillion cells at once.”

- Deborah Hay

When the largest and oldest living organism known surfaces, it manifests as a delicate mushroom no

bigger than the palm of a hand. Inspired by rhizome networks as tools for bioremediation, a metaphor

for the layers of unseen infrastructure below our feet, and a collaborative niche upon which to focus

a collective narrative, we propose a multifaceted interactive research project that will culminate in

events combining dance, education, environmental remediation and architecture 

StrataSpore is a platform for collective knowledge about local NYC ecosystems and its potential for

applications in urban sustainability. The platform will cultivate “spores” of knowledge by combining

elements of task/performance-based art, experiential learning, and experimental design practice that

implements a dialogue about unseen, natural and man-made systems as sites for restorative sustainability

applications. Our focus will be directed to the mushroom, and its potential for changing the

ecology within a landscape. We invite communities and individuals to partake (with CAAKe) in a multidisciplinary

practice of visualization and re-interpretation of natural systems (mycology) as models for

community engagement. Based on the connective function and form of mushroom ecology, StrataSpore will harness local fungi

as a model for engagement and re-interpretation of living in urban spaces.

Above the Table , At the Middle , Below the Table/Not Yr. Typical PE CLASS

The University of Trash: Free Skool 
On Saturday, May 23, 4 of us visited your center. While there, we encountered 3 vibrant,  friendly, fun-loving young adults making pasta.  Although we still don't know the connection between that and your "trash" exhibit, my friend joined them in their project, and subsequent lesson in dance movements relating to the bodily movements of making fresh pasta.
Following are some pictures.  If these people are still coming to your museum, please pass these photos on to them.  I'm sure they would enjoy seeing them.     Thank you.           Anita King

This is not your typical physical education class. Competition will be set aside along with ugly gym uniforms, and getting picked last.  We will consider our bodies to be building materials for imagination and reinterpretation. Through a series of  collaborative and invigorating exercises,  we will meditate our own physical  structure within a shared physical landscape. We will consider the space we occupy, and imagine our bodies to be support structures or building blocks that work collectively rather than opposing. Classes will run from May 21- 25 at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City in part Of Nils Norman and Michael Cataladi's project, University of Trash 2:30-4:30 pm 


Physical Education Plan in progress  
(Some points for discussion in random order)


                                  (Chopsticks as appendages) Beans

  • The body is filled with bones below gravity . ( Exhibiting a test of body positions that stretch out tired bones.) Re-orientation of table legs so they become a surface 

  • Working with others to find connecting points

  • Head to Head connecting
  • Birth marks as starting points for dialogs
  • Kneading and rolling. (Pasta making) How does one use their body in the making of a meal?
  • The voice, the conversation, and the stomach

    How to pick a live body up? 


Lumbar Spine
  • Make dough

  • Play dough

  • The body bending into sections. Bending from the hips.
  • Accessing or feeling the ground 

United Rites Of The Table (In Parts)

In Collaboration with Giada Alazraki, Preston Burger, Paula Chaves, Dora Koimtzi, Ely Levin, Yuko Mitsuishi & Andrew Weeks

Part I Newspaper Event ( A. Knowles 1965)

Part II Eating

Part III Digestion and Emancipating

Part IV The Table Turning and Serving Soup

The piece began with my desire to understand current events in the world. I started to stack newspapers I'd read in the corner of a room, and as the stack aged and got taller they reminded me of a spine. At the time, I was working with an elderly woman who could not walk very much and didn't like to eat. And when she did eat, she couldn't balance the food very well on her fork. One of the articles I had read was about a food crisis in Haiti. There, people were storming the palace gates, and someone was quoted as saying, "When people are hungry, that's when we get angry." I think of these events when I think of how this piece began to evolve. These specific narratives are lost because their meanings are still in progress. In my collaboration with dancers and musicians, we have begun to combine our stories and test our differences for finding a new common language for rituals of exchanging that take place at and around the table. We have no set dialogue as yet.

Left: Ely Levin Right: Andrew Weeks
Stretching Bones

This video shows part of the making of the broth that was served in "United Rites of the Table". 
In it: a part of the vertabrae, scapulas, and sacrum of the pig from New Year's, The breastbone of the Christmas turkey,  legs of a chicken, a carrot, a parsnip, citrus,  and salt.

Pressure Points (2008)

Pressure Points was a collaboration with Andrew Weeks and Natalie Heller. We were extracting sounds from an creaky flight of steps in an old tenement building in the Lower East Side (specifically, ABC NO RIO for their Ides of March Biennial). A series of dances were performed on the steps. The sounds rather than the visuals of our movements were recorded. We presented to the public a sound piece played from 3 boom boxes that suspended from the ceiling above the stair case. Visitors were invited to sit on the steps and listen to a looped, non-linear narrative of action.

The Burial

Performed by Gail Accardi, Jorge Colombo, Sally Im, Lucca Leopardo-Brunt, and myself. The Burial was was presented at an eco-festival at Socrates Sculpture Park in September of 2007. The Burial was a reaction to being involved in a war over natural resources. The Kinks' song Well-Respected Man plays while Gap Models act bored. they listen, dance, and pose for the photographer.  In one part, a drumming solider plays along with the boy on the violin, to the song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" Honey Cakes travel to the platform by Gap Models, are placed on the record player, lowered down on the record player, replaced back in the basket, and then are shared with the audience. Honey cakes in the Myth of Trophonious were gifts given to the two snakes which guarded the entrance of Trophonious' cave. Once the snakes were appeased. Trophonious would offer his cures and prophetic visions for the future.
The Burial was inspired by "The Death of Hip",  a Diggers performance from 1969

Other photos by Jorge Colombo here:


Spreads & Dips

The Drawing Table

"The Drawing Table" took place in May 2007. In this event, drawing students from Columbia were invited to share in an end of the year party at the Ramphouse. The afternoon involved them purchasing food en route. On arriving, their contribution was arranged into an edible still life. The still life changed as they consumed it. 

Nudes and Foods

(video link)

January 24, 2006 : 24 More at the GWB Ramphouse

24 More was a close collaboration with Kate Shearman, Amanda Matles, Ely Levin, Emilie Stark-Menning, Beatrice Barbeleschi,  Mike Cataldi, and Chuck Miller. 24 More was a 5 course meal presented on my 25th birthday.  Goethe's story, The Sorrows of Young Werther was incorporated into the piece.  5 courses were served throughout the evening,  A 24 layer cake followed. 
The kitchen and hallway was projected into the dining room 
Dancing and serving here: Kate, Emilie, and Bici 
Looking in the kitchen from dining room  (Photo by J. Colombo)
A new apron for each course. 

Kitchen as a lab: Mike flipping pancakes, Ely playing cast iron, Amanda on keyboard. 

Mildred's Lane

Lovin the Land: Getting to Mildred's Lane
This is a series of photographs made from 2004- 2005. I was living and working as an artist in residence at Mildred's Lane. During this time, I found inspiration in photography work that was "staged". These photographs are "staged" moments from tasks performed in the landscape. The tasks were interpreted in part to help maintain the land. I was allowing the work to help determine or "stage" the photo.  These photographs document the earlier states  of interiors and exteriors at Mildred's Lane. See or to see some of the latest architectural progress there.

Free Pesto: The garden peaked, and the 10 basil plants needed to be utilized. I grounded the plants into pesto for two afternoons.

Cutting Back: Briefly after moving to Mildred's Lane, I came down with a fever, and sore throat. I vowed to give up cigarettes,  at least cut back.

Pumpkin Cushion: I placed straw under the unripe pumpkin to prevent it from turning mushy laying on the dirt.

Making Ways: I was living in a house, (the Mildred House). There was no running water or plumbing. Therefore the outhouse was used often. When the leaves began to fall, I would rake the  trail that led from the house to the outhouse. 
Rain Collecting: An afternoon shower, Teacups collect water.

Mildred Debris: This is the back of the Mildred House.  I took an afternoon to clean up some old debris which felt as if it had been there for ages.

Garden Rescue: The weather report called for the first frost of the season. Outdoor plants were brought indoors.Some Re-potting: Plants/herbs brought indoors were taken outdoors to be transplanted into pots for a life indoors for the winter.

Room Clean: Grey Rabbit's bedroom getting organized.

Closing Garden: The black cover was pulled over the garden bed for the winter.

Insulating Mildred House: A layer of plastic was tacked to the screens to block out the cold drafts.

Music in the Mildred House: I was making a mix tape.

Reading: In the Mildred House, there was no television.

Chopping Wood: Here, wood is split for kindling. 

Burning Trash: old scrap pieces of wood were burned here.

Dish System: Water would be hauled to the Mildred House, and dishes would be washed within a basin, and rinsed over a dry sink.

Laying Traction: Straw was spread over the ground where cars would park. This was to give the wheels some traction when the snow came.

Grocery Transport: When the snow came so heavily, that cars could not make it through the trail, I resorted to walking and using a sled to transport groceries and such.

Garden Security: The following spring, I made a canopy of netting to prevent varmints from eating the young veggies.

Green Tomatoes: To counter the infestation of juice sucking stinkbugs, I harvested the tomatoes prematurely, and made pickles out of them.