[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 3

Andrea Haenggi 1067pacificpeople at gmail.com
Wed Nov 22 01:46:59 AEDT 2017

Hello empyre- subscribers,

I don't know how you all feel but all the interesting thoughts and inside
about contamination by Catherine, Marisa, Renate, Ellie, Bishu, Christina
and now Rahul I sense my brain is in a good way "contaminated". In my
original german language contamination means Verunreinigung, from latin
*contaminare*, "beflecken, beschmutzen" -obviously we think about the word
as something negative that brings our health and that of the nonhumans in a
state of change.

I will enter this discussion on a personal level of experience - thinking
what does it take for us human to measure, to sense, to feel the visible
and invisible contamination such as Rahul mentioned:
*"The argument has often been that while smog is perceptible, ionizing
radiation is not. Indeed, one sees/feels the haziness of particulate matter
(PM 2.5) in New Delhi right now, but then there are imperceptible
(invisible and odorless) air polluters like carbon dioxide and nitrogen
dioxide as well."*

As a species we have our daily movement pattern. We decide what we want to
hear, see and smell and what we want to ignore.  We can make choices to
practice an embodied approach to our world …we can practice  "awareness of
our kinesthesia and senses". I practice somatic embodiment since years and
as a Somatic Movement Therapist I guide others to find their movement
patterns (awaken their senses). With that there is a bless but as well over
years a "curse" for me because I sense now all the changes in my
environment very quickly and my body gives me signals and often ask to
response and encounter this changes if they feel "unpleasant" "even feel
dangerous to my organs, brain and even to others around me -> and I started
to extend to do "embodied science" by extending the approach to "nonhumans
(plant life).

With that I do ask myself what is it about all the daily "invisible"
contamination I don't can receive as change or could we or do we?

Let me focus on the "visible" one - such as car, gasoline fumes in NYC air
and soil and how I as a white privileged person felt OK to react to ask for
change but how my neighbor Hollywood, a 70 years old car repair freelance
worker decided to live with it and takes other measures to handle the

*I citate here Catherine: Catherine:' Funny enough, when that work lead me
to work with post-industrial / urban / contaminated sites, I distanced my
somatic awareness and retreated to the safer space of cerebral, critical

When in 2013 I took on a 5 year movement based art project -> the renting
of a raw urban, former auto -repair garage with a 1900 square foot lot in
Crown Heights in Brooklyn  - where the place became the art project
itself->  I told myself *" to find LOVE** in this contaminated urban feral

I had no idea what that really meant to my health, my neighbors health and
to the health of plants. I decided  daily to expose myself to the site and
question what the site has to tell me. The first year it told me it makes
me sick - sometimes I was only able to stay for a couple of hours because
of the wind carry the contaminated soil into my nostrils (I did not had a
door to the garage yet) . I actually developed panic attacks that year. I
coughed a lot. I was feeling tired. Felt dizzy when the auto repair guys on
the block would leave their truck on running. As summer came in the first
year Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) came so dynamic I did not know what to do
with it. The pollen was so intense I decided to "landscape" the feral urban
landscape ( took some plants out)- I felt better but then the wind brought
more soil into my lungs. I saw the plants can handle this soil and as well
they seemed to take on the fumes of the car repair neighbors. how about I
would learn from the plants. Meanwhile every time a truck engine would go
on and I got dizzy I would talk with the car repair guys  and hear their
story - they all felt this fumes but got resisted to it — we came to an
agreement how long they can leave the car on so they could do their job (
car body work)  and  I could my job of body work...… Hollywood, the now 70
year old car repair men told me what he would do to clean his "lung
system": he drinks Coca Cola and eats white bread to clean out his system.
The last couple of years together with the EPA collaborators we let the
plants be - my airing out means only give space to plants that need sun
and often Artemisia overshadows them…When I observe the plants- the plants
by the gate are grey full of dust from the street cars (it is a good thing
the lot faces the street and not as often it is back of the house) . The
leaves further away from the street are nice green. I can stay now hours in
the space and I don't feel getting sick-The dynamic wild landscape teaches
me about what even means companionship- such as Lambsquarter leaves
suddenly got all patterned because it took on the virus from his neighbor
plant so that plant could grow - What does it mean if we took on our
neighbors "virus'

 I don't know quiet what point I try to make but may be where is
our personal stories of contamination. "who is really affected" and who has
more choices- class, race plays a deep role in this — attached is the
landscape of transformation of the 5 year project from 2013 to this October
this year and as well an image of the resilient men Hollywood.
And a plant dialogue  Artemisia had with me and my letter to Artemisia

Love to hear your story.

andrea (haenggi)


*Ruderal Artemisia (Artemisia vulgaris L. - common name mugwort) is
present and speaks *

I’m standing strong and upright – up to the sky - rooted down and
spreading sideways through the soil - human fleshy hands around my
stem - What am i supposed to do → pressure sensed → squeeze the life
out → vertical uprightness in danger → root canal failure → your hand
becomes a violent wind → then my vertical and horizontal existence
hangs in the air → dangling → a Coca-cola can entangled in my roots →
the can does not give me any life support → you put me on the concrete
surface -> life continues on the concrete ground -> I dry out in the

*Dear Artemisia, *

*– it stopped raining – afternoon - grey – feeling good - I’m growing
very tall and upright inside my body –stillness *

*What do I want from you? *

*Your presence – always in my memory – do you remember? – I sensed a
tug of resistance from you – I pulled on you – to come towards my hand
- you resisted even more – in the end you gave in. – I was standing
next to the corrugated metal wall *

*Do you remember? You were not alone – a Coke can gripped by your
roots – or maybe you gripped the can? – deliberate, decisive,
desiring, on purpose – you surprised me –– all the talk about
Anthropocene was right in front of my eyes – in my hand - you brought
the trash to me *

*What do I want from you? - Nothing – nothing – or, more accurately, no thing *

*I know what you want? - do I? – maybe not. *

*I know you are a plant – first & always *

*I know this was brief. *

*see you soon, my friend. *

*See you soon. Love, *

*andrea *

On Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 11:29 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks Rahul,
> I just ordered Living on a Damaged Planet and am looking forward to
> reading it myself.  Hope many of you were also inspired by Cristina and
> Ellie’s discussion last month.
> Rahul can you talk a bit more about MCSers or Multiple Chemical
> Sensitivity/environmental issues and the vishoka/katiya boundaries just to
> pick through this amazingly dense and interesting post? In doing a quick
> search it is my understanding the MCSers can be reactive to an
> environmental pathogen such as paint fumes but the reaction is attributed
> to the perception of the pathogen not actually the chemical pathogen
> itself.  In essence there may be a apparently physical response that is
> activated by the simulation of a pathogen. It’s possible to feign the
> reaction which I am hoping that Andrea will offer to comment about.
> How does the vishoka/kitiya boundaries play out in India?  Hope you don’t
> mind talking just a bit more about the details especially in relationship
> to contamination and media.
> More soon.
> Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> On 11/20/17, 6:20 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
> behalf of Rahul Mukherjee" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
> behalf of rm954 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>     ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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