Last night was Nuit Blanche, as yesterday’s entry noted. Roaming solo at first, then with a coworker and later my dear friend Joe, I drank in the exhibits and contemplated the curatorial themes of each Zone. I was particularly impressed with Zone B overall and its theme of Nightsense, which I’ll allow the curators to explain:
NIGHTSENSE features visual and extra-visual artworks within the shadowy world of the financial district after dark. Addressing the spectre of market destablization, the invisible transmission of broadcast signals, as well as hauntings from a locale where early Toronto history has been all but erased, these projects will engage the audience in critical and ludic participation. NIGHTSENSE invites a reconsideration of the sensory economy by intensifying the subtle but powerful links between bodies, aesthetic perception and shifts in capital.
— Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, DisplayCult
One of the exhibits for the zone was the Witches’ Cradle installation, offering a limited number among the public to slip inside a Witches’ Cradle for 15 minutes in search of a powerful altered state. Originally devised as a means of torturing and punishing suspected witches, they later reclaimed it and made it into a tool for seeking answers and new spiritual experiences.
For the Nuit Blanche cradles, provided by the Center for Tactical Magic in California, participants were blindfolded and given ear plugs, then placed in pentgram-shaped sacs, if you will, that hang suspended like strange tears falling from the ceiling of an office tower in the Financial District. The swaying motion of the cradle, coupled with the reduced sensory information, is meant to allow for the mind to wander into new territory. Joe and I were both game, and suffered a long line-up and several hoops including a breathaylzer test to participate.
As a long-practicing Wiccan, it felt instinctive and natural to want to try this. I struggle frequently with meditation and altered states, and with my life in its current state, it’s something I at once have wanted to resume and yet cannot find the strength of mind to focus upon and achieve. For me, it seemed a chance to take a huge step forward.
I was led blindfolded and ear plugged to the appropriate place and sat upon the centre of the unfolded cradle. The flaps folded up, I was then lifted into the air, seated legs crossed, clutching the red flag provided to signal for early release in duress and my other hand adorned with a fingertip pulse monitor. My eyes closed beneath the blindfold, I began my deep breathing, asking for guidance, ordering my body to relax and let everything go.
Voices drifted in and out from my surroundings (at an event with a million people wandering the city, no ear plug is strong enough) as I swayed. I found that the more I swayed, the faster I circled, the more I lost myself inside the trance that took over. It was incredible. My mind suddenly reached a moment of utter clarity as it pleaded to figure out the secret to all of my troubles, the key to battling my demons, and I was stunned by how obvious it seemed.
Just as witches had taken a tool of pain and imprisonment and used that prison for something positive, something that grew them stronger than before, I had to reclaim my own prisons and convert them into sources for higher understanding, thereby not escaping them, but embracing them and growing in spite of them.
Relieved, I allowed my mind to continue to wander. Many state that within twenty minutes, sensory hallucinations and visions often take over. In my fifteen minutes, I spent the last three or four seeing beautiful images of leaves and vines in brilliant Autumn colours, winding around me like a wall. I’m very much in love with this season, so it was such a comforting vision to linger in. When I was lowered, I actually pouted that my turn was over.
“How was that?” my cradle-enabler asked.
“Amazing. I want one of these for my home.”
“Who doesn’t?” he replied with a grin.
Clarity at a free arts festival. And our Prime Minister, asshole that he is, keeps cutting away at arts funding. The arts restored a vital part of me last night; they often play that role.
Day Twenty-Five: Time – Pink Floyd
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine
And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Every year is getting shorter
Home, home again