Take heart, Popolo of artists.

Even though at Damanhur we hold optimism as a spiritual value, so much so that it is mentioned in our Constitution, and usually I am the first one to wave the optimism flag in any given situation, in these weeks I’m finding it really hard to feel and believe that everything is going in a direction of growth, toward union and peace on earth. Looking at the political situation in the country where I was born (United States), sensing the rage and division that’s behind it, seeing that the movement for protecting the Native American sacred lands and waters of Standing Rock in North Dakota has a lot of support, but also a lot of economic interests in opposition, and victory is not yet certain, knowing that a fire has taken the lives of many young people who were at an event at the Ghost Ship, an artist space in Oakland, California in an area where I used to go when I was living a similar creative life there 10 years ago…

ghost-shipA fire that wouldn’t have started if only a small percentage of the money that goes to wars and oil went to artists and the spaces of beauty and freedom that we create with determination while the cost of rent rises, along with the risk of eviction. It all makes me wonder if there is a reason to feel hope for humanity, if what we are doing at Damanhur is making a difference or if it is all in vain.

With this turbulent cloud of grief and thoughts circling in my mind, I remember that I need to find the energy to go to another dance practice tonight, for a performance of music and dance of the indigenous peoples that we are holding in the Temples of Humankind. In overcoming the inertia, finding the strength to be with my brothers and sisters, to practice and sing and dance, to express ourselves, to laugh, to value the native cultures of the earth, to seek beauty and emotion, continuing to make art and create like we’ve been doing here in Damanhur non-stop for more than 40 years… I find an answer, a point of light and clarity:

Art is an antidote for the shadow that surrounds us and sometimes enters into us. Thanks to art, I’m still alive to write this thing today.

Art is a revolutionary act that is just as important as signing a petition, going to a peaceful protest, voting, taking things to court, changing the law and organizing social change movements.

artistsIf we make art and do what we do every day with a pure heart and consciously directed thoughts, it will change the direction of the events in our lives and all around us. It will change the future of the planet.

Take heart, Popolo of artists!

Quaglia Cocco
The Befana

ITALIANO

Forza, Popoli di artisti!

Anche se a Damanhur manteniamo l’ottimismo come valore spirituale, al punto di averlo inserito anche nella nostra Costituzione, e personalmente faccio sventolare in ogni situazione la bandiera dell’ottimismo, in queste settimane trovo davvero difficile sentire e credere che tutto ciò che accade nel mondo stia andando in una direzione di crescita, verso l’unione e la pace nel pianeta… Continue reading

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great compassion and great suffering

templeHere is one of my favorite sketches from China. The Buddhist temple that my great-grandmother founded. It was converted to military barracks by the communist regime for a period of time, then restored to its previous function as a sacred space of service and chanting, presence and compassion.

“breathe in the hardship and pain of others and gain liberation of the spirit”

It reminds me of my origins and mission.

The Creative Alchemy of Living as an Artist

[crossposted from Rebelle Society]

Expressing the creative potential within our beating hearts and human bodies is one of the most fundamental desires in life. You have it, I have it. I think we all have it: wanting to make things with our own hands, carve my own wooden spoon, shape materials and textures and cut things up and blend different colors into harmony and contrast. Stay up all night crafting utilitarian objects and impractical beauty. Writing poetry that oozes from the holes in the fence that keeps my soul contained in an earthly identity. Add the extra bit of energy that makes something completely unique, adding my own personal frequency and light code, my own individual manifestation of divine spark, a paintbrush stroke just so or a dance movement that says who I am in a more complete way than an autobiography in 23,000 words.

I don’t want to live like a lonely, misunderstood, self-centered and eccentric artist. Well maybe just the eccentric part. I want to make art in my community where art isn’t just an activity or hobby to do alone after work hours or on weekends or when depressed. Art is life. Art is breathing. Art is connecting with spirit and bridging our divine nature into the things we see and sing, touch and move. Everyday. All together.

Your Art is Your Existence #artandcreativity

LCiprea wins the prize!iving as an artist … it’s inspiring and intense. It’s being a magician, it’s a creative alchemy on a grand scale. It’s shaping reality to reflect the most pristine vision of sunlight and fields of tulips and blue dusk on the Seine and shadows in the woods at night.

What does it mean to be an artist living in community? Here are some thoughts on being an artist shared by Falco – late founder of our community – who inspired, amongst other revolutionary artistic acts, the underground Temples of Humankind with visionary art to awaken the divine spark in humanity. In Damanhur, I love living and co-creating a magical reality with hundreds of others citizens in a dance of interconnectedness and free will. Here are Falco’s words…

To be an artist.

Thanks to art, each one of us can dare to express to the maximum our invested personal power, discovering talents, developing some individual particularities into skills. Art is not just painting, sculpture, there’s also poetry, word, dance, directing theatre scenes, making costumes, creating thousands of different kinds of music, where everyone’s voice can be a key to opening up toward courageous seeking and discovery.

Even in our capacity to criticize, we must, on the one hand, keep in mind the truth of the aesthetic result, and on the other hand, offer encouragement to the artist for having taken a risk.

I want to see art in its minute forms, that is, objects for everyday use, ones that come about from imitation of ritual objects, or a playful game, or motivated by a legend or a joke.

Art can stimulate in others trains of thought that were unthinkable before. #artcreativity #makeart

Art as a method to think of new things, to stimulate in people capacities and sensations, amazement, fun, scandal, putting what you are made of to the test.

singing and smilesThere is something fundamental that seeking and artistic courage can do for all of us: it can help us to open and share of ourselves. You need to have the courage to discover yourselves, to write and share poetry, to really show something of yourselves to others.

So, art is presenting who you are to other people, discovering who you really are, trusting in yourselves and in each other, truly giving of yourselves, not just showing but really giving

– Falco Tarassaco

 

Living in community is a constant theatrical practice of living this kind of generosity as an art form.

Not just offering an object, but the soul, your life’s mission ignited and on fire, burning with a thousand different flames, all blazing and sparking together in more than a lifetime of sleepless nights and saturated days.

So, don’t wait. Don’t wait to buy all the supplies you need, rent an art studio, book a gallery show and order catering for opening night, before you decide to make a mark and express your creative spark. Start today. Do something, anything that makes you feel you are creative, connected and alive.

Pick up that ukulele you brought back from Hawaii and only strummed three times. Make dinner tonight, although this time, make it with awareness lighting up your palms and knives, turning the beets and polenta into an alchemical symphony of taste and color.

The next email you write comes out as stream of consciousness with experimental use of punctuation. Let laundry folding become a sock puppet theater.

Pull out the poetry you wrote years ago and keep it in your back pocket, so casual conversation with your roommate becomes spoken word in the hallway for an audience of one.

Your soul has something to say. Let it come out and play.
 

~ Quaglia Cocco

expression of emotion and memory

Damanhur with InterPlay in Oakland, CA

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Damanhur with InterPlay in Oakland, CA

How delightful to find another community of inspired souls who love to meld art, social change and playfulness! InterPlay. We are collaborating to share an evening about Damanhur, tapping into the movement and magic.

radically inclusive video montage

I clicked the option in iMovie that makes thumbnails of all the video clips in my library. As I was watching them, I was moved to see how many events fade from memory over time.

I was thinking if in the end, I were to edit together a video montage of highlights from my life, I would have a hard time selecting and cutting footage. How do I decide? The everyday moments, sweeping the floor, hammering, preparing tea in the morning, are they less significant than the ceremonial ones and oaths? Is there less action in the silence and harmonization than in the shows and Popolo celebrations? I would leave it all in.

nailsI think I would just increase the saturation a little during the rituals, the elaborate and spontaneous ones, and turn up the red hue for the dances too. Let’s see how many times different scenes in costume and makeup reappear—they are rituals too, of beauty, transformation, joy.

I would slow motion the most firepressing moments to dilute them, transform even those into a dance. The unstoppable tears and fears, those of stage fright, when in the wings, courage negotiates to compensate for preparation, and I feel the hand of the first Questio pushing me from behind.

I closely observe the order of operations after the alarm clock: putting on the personal self again, then prayer, bracelet on the head and a sip of prana charged water, pausing on the card of the day. I take note of how many times the slippers placed in a ‘T’ before sleeping really brought fortune the next day.

Let’s fast forward through the depressive phases, flat grey differentiating itself with contrast adjustment, and add a filter to soften the most furious and manic peaks.

Go in for a close-up on the most beautiful exchanges, emotions and gazes, whispering of poetry in other languages, heartfelt stories that trigger a fade out into flashback, obliterating every geographic and temporal distance.

Turn up the volume for the songs and the birds, and activate the subtitles at the misunderstandings.

Where is the temperature control? Can’t I heat up that first winter under the snow in Perugia, or turn down the humidity for the sweaty summer adventures?

With videocameras from different angles, I see things that I have never seen before: unobserved shooting stars, things that were lost, princessthings that escaped, things that were thrown away but anyhow continuing a trace of existence in the trash heap. All the invisible help received—if I could see it now, I would never feel abandoned or alone.

I add a golden filter to every gift created and exchanged. The moments of totality in the creation, writing and dreaming, painting and traveling, depicted in Miyazaki style animation.

As director of this work of art, the most important step is tying the last scene to the beginning, because every resolution of the plot brings us to a sequel, another episode.
breakfastHo cliccato un’opzione nel programma iMovie sul computer e si sono messi in fila tutti i videoclip che c’erano nella mia biblioteca. Mentre li guardavo, mi emozionava vedere quanti eventi svaniscono dalla memoria…

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