[-empyre-] Residual Contamination

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Tue Nov 7 15:48:12 AEDT 2017

Catherine wrote: 
" By way of the dominant western culture, many of us build and enforce these mental boundaries where places are labelled and confined as distant / separate from us.
…As part of my art practice, I have spent many years (and a long way to go) exploring ways of unlearning my western (mis)education - and rooting that
practice in re-weaving the deeper connections or belonging to an inter-dependent, living, breathing world.That path for me has been to work
through the body and reclaiming somatic ways of knowing…Marisa and I would like to start off this discussion by honing in on the concept of *residual contamination* - as a place of linking back to our bodies and a way of disruption the narrative of static and confined notions of place.”

Dear Catherine,
How exciting to hear about how you are  thinking about contamination  related to somatic awareness.  I am looking forward to hearing more from both you and Marisa but I thought I would share one of my connections to contamination as it relates to water.  Those of you who know Tim Murray and I know
that we live in the middle of upstate New York in a small hamlet.  We live on a fifteen acre lot, almost adjacent to the forest reserves of New York State. The delicate balance of our bodies and our environment are apparent to us everyday as we drink water from the deep wells within the earth’s  aquifers below the rock strata via our well. 

All of the underground water in our surrounding Ithaca flows into the Finger Lakes. The five lakes appear like the five digits or fingers of the hand, but the lakes were formed by glacial slow freezes and thaws that gorged deep lakes. Ithaca NY sits at the base of one of the middle lakes called Cayuga, the same name as the American Indian tribe, part of the Iroquois Confederacy.  The history is as deep as is the 435 feet of deep green lake water.

Just this past summer the entire lake was put on lock down literally.  State Parks  and private swimming and boating areas were deemed unsafe for humans because of blue-green algae bloom contamination that caused skin irritation and sickness upon contact.  Environmentalists have been studying the effects of high phosphorous leaches into the water that have been known to cause the algae blooms.  High lake temperatures also have been proven to also cause the blooms.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t intentionally think about this bio/environmental network that is so directly relational to all of our health and safety. From our the health and environment of our bio-networks to language, communication, and relationships contamination slowly seeps without boundaries. Perhaps the starter dough may be a great place to talk about the interrelationship of those factors.  Looking forward to your sharing more experiences and resources. But perhaps I also might ask for both of you to talk a bit more about “residual contamination.” 


Renate Ferro
Visiting Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Art
Tjaden Hall 306
rferro at cornell.edu

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