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Sod, worms, spiders, flies, satin, steel, vintage air raid siren, sound, electricity


Technical assistance by Mark Guilbeau and Joey Pepe

This piece is simultaneously living and dying. It is essentially a vermiculture bin, housing not just worms but unexpected ‘guests’…spiders, flies, mold. The grass will grow longer but it will also begin to rot. As the sod dies it acts as a rich host for new animal life. This small environment requires constant care…..I am essentially imposing the need to nurture a living system on the institutions that exhibit this work. Life is tended, death is witnessed. Care is given.

The satin path under this ecosystem was once pristine. But not all of the life-giving substances are completely absorbed by the sod and the other organisms. Instead, they have seeped onto the satin. The satin continues to be stained by the residue of living.

Recorded sounds of worms are projected through a vintage air raid siren. The sound of the creatures’ lives emerges from an object that was once used to transmit a warning. Instead of a warning, I am sending a reminder. A reminder that life and death are inextricably and necessarily part of each other; that to fully experience living we must embrace the promise of dying.

In the title of this piece the word ‘Lauds’ refers to one of the hours in the early Christian prayer cycle. It is one of the most ancient of ‘offices’, or divine duties of the devout, recited at daybreak, in praise of God. It is a useful metaphor for renewal, for celebration, for transformation. This small, delicate ecosystem is in transition in the gallery space. The grass will die but it is not yet dead. Eventually new and different creatures will begin to inhabit the remains. This living environment, like the larger one we all inhabit, is in a perpetual state of becoming.

"Grassbasket; Prime"
© Malena Bergmann 2009