A Culmination of Elements, Medicine Wheel, World Aids Day, The Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, 7-8am, December 1, 2013

Remembrance / elements / containment / strength / cycle / personal / public / offering

This was the invitation I received:
“Over the years, everyone receiving this email has contributed ritual, sound, movement, words and/or other gifts that have enriched the vigil experience. This year is the 22nd vigil held in the Cyclorama space, and it is likely to be the last MW vigil we hold there. In commemoration, we are amassing items from as many past vigils as possible, to be suspended mid-air in the Cyclorama space. Similarly, we are hoping each of you will consider revisiting the vigil this year, no matter how many times/ no matter how much time has passed since your last experience with us. We sincerely want to celebrate the living retrospective, and embrace the rich heritage this vigil has accumulated in the 20+ years, and the continuing lives of those who have enriched the vigil experience for so many others who have witnessed your past offerings.”
I feel honored to be apart of this vigil every year. It has changed the work that I do in someway each year, redirecting my actions, reminding me of why I am a performance artist. I enter the space around 6:45am. It is dark; people are still asleep around the installation that has been created of all the items that have been left each of the previous years at the altars. I have a large white bowl wrapped in a black cloth containing: 10 plastic bags, 10 pieces of white string, scissors, a pipette, a large spoon, 10 small white rubber bands, a bowl with soil, a bag of hibiscus leaves, a bowl of orange pills and my breath. Also I have a white container filled with water. I have one thing to represent each of the four elements that have been the focus of each Medicine Wheel vigil for the past 21 years. Earth, water, air and fire. I lay a out the black cloth and begin to fill each bag with one of the elements, mixing some of them, not separating them, I tie a sting to the end of each of the bags. Once I have filled all 10, I wrap one around each of my fingers. I hold my arms out and walk around the center of the space, around all the other items that have been left. I continue walking until I am done. I hang the bags on 10 of the alters, my last offerings in the space.

*Much thanks and gratitude to Michael Dowling and Matt Samolis.

Photos by Vela Phelan