Monthly Archives: January 2008

camp camp

Once upon a time, at a farm in Dunoon, NSW, a whole buncha kids gathered together at the loving, list-making request of a certain farmgrrl to celebrate the existence of life and one another. Or maybe they were just trying to stay away from the Lismore showgrounds. Either way, they were there, they were quare (past participle of ‘queer’, dontcha know), and I got to watch.

I am challenged by the task of saying ‘what Camp Camp was’ for those who haven’t already heard me prattle on about it. Seems to me that it was a sometimes loosely, sometimes intimately assembled group of folks who started hanging round Matiatia sometime after Christmas and stopped…well, they haven’t really stopped so far as I can tell. Seems like quite a few of them are practically living there in their heads (myself included), and that some may even make that materialise to living there for reals. But since this post is more personal and more for those who did hear me prattle or who experienced it for themselves, I won’t muck about with definitions.

Instead, as a way of debriefing myself from Camp Camp and also giving it the recognition it deserves in virtual print, I am going to use the words of Camp Camp Monstress Vee Bee as points of departure for my own thoughts about what it was and what it did and how I experienced it from my little corner of the room/farm/lens.

connect with the Difference that is living outside of the cultural centres, embrace the landscape, be here now and other platitudes which seem to fit

4a.jpg

Over the last six or so months since I started going to the farm for various reasons, it has come to embody all that is vastness and expansion and seeing over the tops of things. It has started this big internal push for me towards geographical remoteness – it made me consider the possibility that there was life for me beyond urbanity. Many of the Camp Campers were urban folk, and I sensed this collective curiosity and relief at being out of that infrastructure. The farm is very much about what is happening right now. As a citydweller I am not terribly used to what is happening right now as I am constantly going somewhere else, planning how to strategically use each moment of rush rush rush, and so there is a challenge in that Difference. One that I gladly accept every time I get into that outdoor bath or eat something I have just picked out of the garden (I constructed many small salads of cherry tomatoes and rocket whilst standing next to the chook dome looking out over the tops of things).

I’m glad it rained.
I’m sure you all feel the same, even if you wished for sun.
I’m so pleased that you were all so intrepid, that the rain became something which created a lockdown, but such a nice one, for that period of time.

4b.jpg

4c.jpg

It rained. It blanketed rain for days and days and more days and we all had to be mermaids and mermen and this required a certain cooperation and collectivity. I live alone. My life is very individual. I have a Job in a Company and I do these Certain Things and someone else does their Certain Things. At Camp Camp, you do what needs doing, and everyone has a stake in that and in meeting needs and feeding the troupes and making cocktails in large quantities and mopping the grime off the floor. Of course this would have been required without the rain, but the rain made it more immediate and urgent and close. It also made me stay longer than I was planning to. I loved this. The closing of roads out, the lack of control I had over the situation, the fact that everyone else was in the same boat, all of these were presents from the rain and I was grateful.

Bee Ess, for behind camera duties above and beyond and the creation of such beauty through the eye

4d.jpg

4e.jpg

At Camp Camp I experienced myself as a voyeur and a documentarian. Being that the Monstress was my only pre-existing connection to this gathering, I was a bit of an outsider to the whole thing, and my main function became to sit back and watch (with a camera at the ready when it was needed). The camera has become an extension of my already well-developed voyeurism because it allows me to frame things as I observe them – with edges and borders in place where they are apparent to me as an outsider. It also lets me capture things I may not have noticed in the flurry of happening so that I can look more intensely later on. It’s become a processing tool and an apparatus of desire. Documenting things photographically feels like a piece of service to me as well – I like being the one with the camera and the wherewithal to use it. It’s a skill I have to share, and it felt good to have one of those in a situation where all of the bakers and dishwashers and table-scrapers had already been found.

I know that this is all a bit disjointed, and the more I write the less it’s for anyone but Camp Campers. Meh. There are a few more small pieces I’d like to add.

Camp Camp was Camp for a reason. Pink bodysuits and fake eyelashes, dogs in cages, bound dishponies, and Hot Apron Sluts abound. I don’t have much of a queer sphere in my current life configuration, so I was grateful for so much Big Gay Energy around me. It reminded me of this part of my life that needs more engagement and community. You know you’re in queer country when you hear the word ‘facilitation’ used to refer to the promotion of possible sexual liasons, and that makes me glow.

Also: while there was of course some intimate collectivity going on, I also felt like folks were able to use the space of Camp Camp individually as well. I think we all took something different home with us, and despite the close quarters there was room for individual experience and contemplation. I think this has much to do with the farm itself and the way things are configured and that aftorementioned Difference. Each of us inhabited that space in a different way and I think it would be an amazing project to have us all report back on that – you can bet that a thousand different thoughts were happening in these contemplative and creative minds over the course of Camp Camp and I think it meant something different but of great significance to everyone.

Thanks to the Great Facilitating Listmaking Monstress and to the Camp Camp organism as it existed then and exists now. I’m carrying it all around with me as a reminder of what is possible.

xo
bs

birthday bloggery

It’s been my birthday. Oh, yes, it’s been my birthday.

I’m big on the birthdays. I can’t describe what that’s about exactly, given my anti-celebratory stance on most things and my general unexcitability. But birthdays are exciting. Over the years I have come to see them as ritual and renewal. Like New Year’s for the actual self. A chance for me to look at myself on my timeline of me and be impressed that I am the furthest along I have ever been – never mind that this is necessarily the case. While of course I love the part where I share it with others, my favourite part of my birthday is the part I spend alone. For years now I have been purposeful about taking myself out of contact for awhile on mon anniversaire and just sort of getting a sense of what it feels like to be in my body and in my head, and each year I am more convinced that it feels good. And that’s not just the birthday high talking.

My birthday also invokes thoughts about origins and new locations. Expansion has been a theme for me over the last year – wanting to get bigger and be able to see over the tops of more things, rather than getting smaller and huddled as I sometimes tend to do. I have this definite origin (the song ‘Love is Like a Rock’ by Donnie Iris was my birthday theme song this year), and I have these long extensions stretching over the earth and grasping all of my other locales and geographies. So expansion is happening. This was nice to see because when I look at the last year of my life I see so much huddling around a heart and so much drawing inward.

I’d love to know how other folks think about and experience birthdays. Sure, it’s an arbitrary day just like any other, but it’s your arbitrary day just like any other. I’m hanging out for a birthday blog from Ali – and for any comments about what your birthday is all about.

Coming soon: hookers and American junk food – more birthday bloggery!

birthday

An excerpt from my birthday dance, in my new birthday scarf – thanks again to Donnie Iris.

mort (part 1 of 2)

The Age weather report says this about right now*:

Fine. A hot, oppressive night with strengthening northerly winds.

This is the sort of heat that stings your eyes and throat when you cycle through the city streets. That burns what feel like holes into your skin when you stand in the sun. That melts the bar of Lindt ‘MINT INTENSE’ chocolate on your desk, which is fine because as careful research has shown, a Lindt bar is most delicious after it has melted once (and only once) and re-solidified.

It’s fucken hot. This has little effect on the topic of this post, but is a required remark – I spoke with no one today who did not speak about the weather.

Now that we’ve gotten that obligation out of the way, I can discuss what I’ve come to discuss: the glaring reality of life and of death, in my garden. A garden, in Australia, is a space around a domicile that’s got plants, concrete, woodchips, or indoor furniture placed outside. In America this might be referred to as a ‘yard’. I think this has something to do with the imperial system of weights and measures.

The universal truths of life and growth and death are manifesting themselves in the garden in what seem to me to be dramatic ways. From the time I began nesting here I had the sense that something was going on back there, which was confirmed when I’d find a torso here, a pile of entrails there, a coating of feathers and fur on the grass. (I have not determined to whom the torso belonged, but I can verify that it did not belong to a raccoon.) While of course this is slightly 0ff-putting to a city-dweller such as myself, I also sort of enjoyed the rather macabre goings-on in what is otherwise a sort of ‘Australian dream’ (Hills Hoist and all). I have a white picket fence. I have a few of them mod cons. I live a rather civilised urban-edge lifestyle, I drink peppermint tea in the bath, and there is a great murder mystery playing itself out in my backyard.

For a little while I poked my toes carefully around the garden for fear I would step on something killed. It was already rather Amazonian back there, with grass and creepers and weeds that hadn’t been tended to in quite some time and me with no scythe. But then I found this guy (well, this portion of this guy) laying on the path in the lovely morning sun, and it changed things.

2a.jpg

He looks like he put up a fight.

And so began my obsession with photographing the dead and rotting things in my garden. I walked away from this one feeling a bit squeamish and a bit guilty – was I exploiting the pain and suffering of these poor creatures? What would my vegan friends think? What Would Jesus Do?

But there was something about the act of photographing, and of looking at the resulting images, that created some degree of distance from the visceral object itself. When we’re concerning ourselves with the technical business of obtaining the image, of capturing the rather gruesome detail of a severed head/jaw in the perfect light of a sunny spring morning, we make a shift to that task and to presenting some sort of ‘reality’ via image. I lost contact with my very human feelings about death (read: brutal murder) and sympathy during that time, and saw that this was simply what was, this was the reality of what is happening in my garden and what happened before I was poking my toes round it and will happen when I’ve moved back to San Francisco to be a juggling sexologist. There is some beauty in that – in capturing ‘what happens’, in looking at that image and simply accepting it. Curiously, I don’t get that same feeling when I look at the object itself, which is still back there, though now pared down from the state depicted above. For some reason the photograph, the mediated, interfaced image of the thing, presents something more ‘real’ to me than the origin, the thing itself.

2b.jpg

Coming soon in part two…life!

xo
bs

*When I say ‘right now’, really I mean two days ago, since this post was interrupted and delayed by a midnight underwear swim/bike ride and a birthday.