The works the Shillim Foundation promotes are experimental interactions between people, media, and landscapes. These projects will feed into a discussion about the future of conservation. The first pilot works will take place at Shillim Retreat - the physical Shillim, in the Western Ghats.
Future works will take their cues from these pilot works, and will occur at different places around the world, wherever they can develop organically. They will either be ephemeral works, or they will plant the seeds for the development of structures to conserve the landscapes that they tap into. They may bring to light landscapes that have no known stewards, or they may just re-present treasured landscapes that are so familiar people can't see them anymore.
WILD BY DESIGN I: THE ELEMENTS
The initial pilot projects will be conducted by the painter, Vicky Colombet, the dancers Constantin Baecher and Kaitlyn Gilliland, and the composer Erin Gee, working with sound engineer, Joel Gordon, and the architect/landscape designer photographer Linda Pollak.
Each artist will explore the landscape by crafting a new relationship between natural forces—earth, sound, climate, water—and artistic forms:
Constantine Baecher and Kaitlyn Gilliland:
The Body as a Sanctuary
Dance may be viewed as a practice of identity—a discipline to form or regain a sense of self. Physical practice and repetition turn off the explaining-linguistic aspects of cognition and allow the body to be wholly present, to reach a state of ‘pure’ movement.
Dancer/choreographers Constantine Baecher and Kaitlyn Gilliland will explore physical and spiritual practices—ritual, meditation, and repetitive movement— used to access the body as a sanctuary.
They will investigate ways that energy and emotion take human form, the potential to create dance ‘steps’ from a place of energy/emotion rather than technique/anatomy, and how movement grows, changes and erode through time and repetition. These studies will respond to the landscape and ethic of Shillim.
Vicky Colombet: Immersion in Landscape
Vicky Colombet’s work is both abstract and suggestive of landscapes, of topographies, of the erosion of the earth and its ephemeral elements. While Colombet questions what can be read as landscape, her surfaces capture a fleeting moment in the life of nature and suggest contemplation.
Colombet will immerse herself in the Shillim landscape, walking, looking and sketching, but also studying the earth and geology of the site and using the natural resources of the site in making her paints. She will also experiment with the impact that resonances of traditional music will have on the process of creating her works on canvas and paper.
Erin Gee: Listening to the Environment
Erin Gee will draw on the environmental sounds of Shillim, both for inspiration and as sources for the actual sonic structures of the piece. Working with the sound engineer/designer, Joel Gordon, she will listen to the environment in new ways and produce onsite bioacoustic recordings.
She will prepare a new work for voice and string quartet while in residence, as well as studying the vocal techniques and music of local musicians, collaborating in workshops on deep listening techniques and listening immersion walks, and considering the relationship between extended vocal techniques, as practiced in contemporary concert music, and traditional singing techniques, as practiced in the village of Shillim.
Linda Pollak: Photographs
Linda Pollak photographs processes and phenomena that physically ground human existence.
Each photograph creates a space of observing and perceiving. Each photograph is a field of possibilities, in which there is no part of the visible field more or less important than another. There are no hierarchies in reality, whether urban or"natural" - possibilities and conditions are constantly forming a new ecological balance with one another.The current work embraces the language of every day artifacts and experience, through the complex processes that occur in the urban natural world.
In any one photograph, all the visual elements work together to reveal complex structures: affiliations, between and across species and established categories.
Linda Pollak will over the course of several visits to Shillim bring her sensitivity to associations and juxtapositions to reveal a world - the wild landscape of Shillim and the cultural landscape of the pilot programs - that may think we know, but may not have seen or experienced in just this way.
Conservation: A Roadmap for The Future
A small group of conservationists, private developers, scientists, and representatives from various NGOs will meet for five days to review current trends in conservation and begin to develop a roadmap for conservation in the future. Topics will include public/private partnerships, conservation and private development, income generation, community organization, and improving information sharing. The participants will begin to develop a manual for landholders – how to analyze a site in an efficient and economical way; how to engage the appropriate professionals; how to phase conservation work; how to produce a conservation master plan document. The participants will also interact with the artists engaged in creative work that responds to the site – this interaction may be developed into an intensive collaboration, for instance the biologist working with the sound artist. The two facets of the Shillim Foundation, arts and conservation, will be mutually informed by conservationists, scientists, developers and artists sharing each others’ methods and work.