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THE SAILING STONES ACT
Curatorial Essay by Susan Main
Interviewed by Iona Nave Griesmann
Through a seemingly magical phenomenon, sailing stones transcend their weight and slide across smooth expanses of dirt, inscribing paths over time. A stone moves only when the conditions and qualities of wind, water, ice, dirt, mineral, and site combine in a specific way. Movement depends on a collaboration of forces. Under the right circumstances, bodies of rock, from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds, defy their parameters as fixed and immutable and resonate with the power of change.
In Mia Eve's exhibition, The Sailing Stones Act, individual and community bodies move across physical, psychic, political, and social terrain powered by poetic acts of resistance and transformation. Featuring selections from a body of work produced by Mia through EDELO, a nomadic, globally engaged collective of artistic practice, the exhibition is the first major solo of this under-recognized artist whose creative work has been centered outside of a gallery construct and within the communities where she lives and works. Arranged as a multi-media installation, the exhibition includes large scale projected videos of collaborative performances from over a decade of the artist’s community-based, site specific work in Mexico, India, and Palestine.
Women inch along ridges of bare ground on their backs, their feet tied at the ankles. Released from one another, they slide down hills of dirt to stillness, their bodies in constant contact with the land. Villagers emerge from the fog. A small breeze rattles dried corn plants. The sound of a shovel breaking hard ground. A man cartwheels across a grassy pasture. The tinkling of bells, a rooster crowing, quiet voices, and soft laughter. Children navigate village paths working together to keep a swath of cloth afloat above their heads to catch rain. A limbless man becomes a Mayan god holding the center of a transforming symbol shaped from cast legs and arms. The artist drags herself across the sand and disappears with others into a hole in the sand.
Sound and images combine in a surreal, synchronic dream from multi-channel video projections. A single large-scale drawing shimmers in the reflected projection light. Meant to be explored with a personal handheld light, it reveals an iconography derived from dreams, plant medicine ceremonies, and meditations that served as source material for some of the performances. Stories, processions, and protest from places thousands of miles apart come together in an irrepressible spirit of autonomy and visibility. Walking through the gallery, viewers encounter seventeen stories, co-authored by artists and non-artists with Mia, of collective actions across time and space that address mobility, land rights, displacement, trauma, child labor, femicide, and self-determination. Body, land, and dream are inextricably entwined. The ephemeral magic of the original ceremonial performances is re-embodied in the video documents and gathering of works in the exhibition.
-Excerpt from Body, Land, Dream: The Contested Sights. Curatorial Essay from Susan Main
Solo exhibition of Mia Eve EDELO Performance Collaboration Works, Decade-long retrospective,
VisArts, Rockville, MD
July 7, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Kaplan Gallery, VisArts