Behind me the rising hysteria of the CNN commentator fills the house: I keep CNN international on now during the day so I am never far away from the international news, the spilling over of the flood of economic decline. Being an American, a New Yorker in a different part of the world right now is a disturbing experience. New York's Wall Street is often seen here as the epicenter of all that went wrong: Bush's White House was a joke but now the whole world seems to be falling into the sink hole of American greed. Many I speak with here shake their heads in disbelieve that so many would even think of voting for McCain and Palin--I just left the computer to see a screaming mass of Republican Americans calling on McCain to go "nuclear" on Obama. The language of mass destruction is now the language of our Democracy. Our country is divided by this election to a dangerous extent. American Fascism is the blue shirted trooper warming up the Palin-McCain crowds, inciting hatred of the Afro-American candidate whose middle name is Hussain. All the makings of a massive national failure of democratic vision are here--and like at other times, alliances are formed for the worst of reasons, like the Republican Jewish Coalition, throwing all senses of history to the wind, and aligning themselves with the largest haters of difference in the country--just as long as they say nice things about Israel. I think as a Jew, every time Wall Street becomes the code word for all that is wrong, Jews are not far away. How can we be making alliances with those who have so profited from national arrogance. Again, I am pulled into the lounge--the reporter says that the racial hatred that is pouring out of the McCain crowds, has gone too far--voices calling out "kill him! kill him!"
I am on the other side of the world now, but all I have cared deepest about in my lifetime is up for grabs now--a madness of fear and anger, a country so used to being the most powerful, to having the largest armies, the largest houses, dropping the most bombs--may not be able to find its humane self in such a moment of profound national and international failure. No matter how far away I am, I am there on New York's streets with all of you, a 68 year old fem queer woman who knows a crack in the earth's surface of shared human dignity when she sees one.
I have a dear friend, a young artist, Jeanine Olsen, who will take to the streets of New York to breath another kind of air down the city's canyons: The Greater New York Smudge Cleanse. Another air to breath, the gift of artists, our moments of hope. Join her if you can--if not take pleasure in her act of creation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanine Oleson
THE GREATER NEW YORK SMUDGE CLEANSE
September 31, 2008 New York, NY The Greater New York Smudge Cleanse, a public
art project by Jeanine Oleson, will waft through the streets of New York City. Witness the
world’s largest sage smudge stick ritualistically cleansing evil from New York City at four
different sites in October and November. This traveling public art project applies the ancient
practice of smoking out dormant bad energies to contemporary challenges including
environmental pollution in Greenpoint and Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn; gentrification driving queer
communities out of Manhattan’s West Village; and pre-election anxiety/U.S. economic
imperialism on the steps of Federal Hall. Each event will include a procession followed by a
gathering with food and community organizations, activists, researchers and performers including
the Gowanus Dredger's Canoe Club, Newtown Creek Alliance, and a tea party at the Stonewall
Inn. Each event will last about three hours.
Sat., Oct. 11 Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 1 pm
Meet at the corner of Norman Ave. and Apollo St.
Sat., Oct. 18 Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, 1 pm
Meet at 2nd St. and Bond St.
Sat., Oct. 25 West Village, Manhattan, 1pm
Meet at Pier 45, east picnic benches
Mon., Nov. 3 Federal Hall, Manhattan, 1 pm
Meet on the front steps, 26 Wall St.
Maps and up-to-date information including rain dates will be available at the website:
Smudging is an ancient practice of cleansing space with smoke from bundled sage Oleson’s
project seeks to cleanse New York and it's residents of eco-destruction, election anxiety,
gentrification, heterosexism, U.S. imperialism, classism, racism and greed. The world's largest sage
smudge stick was built in New Mexico, where sage grows plentifully. It is 10 feet long -
"Supersized" to combat negativity in contemporary times. Before this momentous series of
events, the smudge stick was exhibited in shows at John Connelly Presents (NY) and L.A.C.E.
Jeanine Oleson is an artist whose practice incorporates interdisciplinary uses of performance,
film/video, installation, and photographic work, often collaboratively. She attended the School of
the Art institute of Chicago, Rutgers University, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Oleson has exhibited at venues including: Lump Gallery, Raleigh, NC; Monya Rowe Gallery, NY;
Samson Projects, Boston; John Connelly Presents, NY; Bates College Museum of Art, ME;
Pumphouse Gallery, London; and Art in General, NY. Her work has been recently published in
Performa: New Visual Art Performance, DAP 2007, Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale,
2007, and LTTR V: Positively Nasty, 2006.
For more information, contact Jeanine Oleson at 917-453-0235 or nycsmudge@gmail.