Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Neighborhood Watch

...the second (and final) beautiful situation of the last two months, born out of the personal grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust Fund that made it possible for me to spend this time in Bhutan... time here is moving rapidly, i can't say when it will end...if it will every truly and completely end (i have a feeling it won't ever). i'm not usually easily proud but i am proud to have done what i said i would do. bends and turns in the road were a plenty (which is appropriate for this remote himalayan land). i have been opened in ways that led me to feel absolutely uncomfortable. i have been opened in ways that led me to feel absolutely invincible and courageous. i have been closed in ways that helped me understand what is necessary to survive and grow. i have been closed in ways that helped me understand the implications of comfort and perspectives. i have fallen and i have risen. all these things, i'm sure i will revisit for you all at a later date...for now, the most important thing to mention is pulled directly from the last line of the proposal i submitted to receive funding to travel to Bhutan:

"it is a bhuddist belief that 'if you are able to touch one thing with deep reverance and awareness, you have touched everything'."

that was my hope...i knew that if i was able to do that, every minute of my time in Bhutan, this journey would be everything i hoped it would be. for myself and more imporantly for the children.

and so...i will tell you all about the final project of the year i have spent in Bhutan.


On August 21, 2010 250+ youth from Changjiji hosted Thimphu’s first ever projection based international public art exhibition. The exhibition is called Neighborhood Watch. 11 cities simultaneously hosted the exhibition and showcased work from 13 different cities across the globe. Youth from Changjiji built a river of questions down the middle of the open air amphitheater and played an active and crucial role in engaging the community in the exhibition.

Children from the ASPIRE after school camp gathered at the amphitheater in Changjiji (which has only been used once for a community event since it was inaugurated three years ago) at 2:00 p.m. on August 21st. They carried two stones each from the river that flows through Changjiji, throwing them down on the ground when they reached the amphitheater. Poster board in one hand, crayons in the other, the children were ready to pose their questions. These children observed and helped with the entire set up process of Neighborhood Watch. As things usually occur in Bhutan, the tiny details are the more difficult ones to take care of. In the case of Neighborhood Watch, we were in serious need of electricity and overlooked the fact that electricity is not as easy to come by in Bhutan as it is in other places. And so, with the combined effort of many lovely lovely folks, we were able to wire some electricity together from a few different sources and the show was powered! The children watched every step and when night fell, we switched a huge light on their river of questions, lighting its course. Moments later, (after some very funny power outages and a smoking projector) eight projectors illuminated the walls of the buildings surrounding the amphitheater. As the children walked around looking at the images, their faces filled with curiosity. They were simultaneously fascinated by the projections themselves (light on walls coming from a machine) and the images that were being projected. They danced in front of the images, stood as beautiful canvas in the light of the projectors as the images streamed on them. Other visitors stopped and watched intently, waiting for something (I could never say what exactly). Dancing broke out, simultaneous song and the endless sound of CONVERSATION filled the air until 9:00 p.m.

That night (among some other close runnersup) was the closest I have ever come to TRUTH AND BEAUTY in my life.

Some Neighborhood Watch factNESS:

The method of the exhibition functions to challenge ideas of public and private space, how interaction can occur and exist in both, as well as how to address the barriers that are created by private spaces. Artists in the Neighborhood Watch Collective are called upon to create art work that is a reflection of their time and place. Essentially, the work aims to reflect life. As it is projected in public space, the artists are sharing their lives productively with others around the world.
Neighborhood Watch utilizes a unique method to carry out its mission. This is a completely community driven public art installation. Digital images of art work are projected onto the exterior walls of homes and three dimensional work (sculpture) is installed in the yards of homes. Everyone (the public, the artists and all inhabitants of the city and environment) is invited to watch and talk as they take a walk amongst the art work. The project hopes to spark conversations, questions, ideas and perspectives that can be shared through an interactive process. It is Neighborhood Watch’s hope that such an exhibition allows the community to interact with one another and share in an experience and a learning process, positively and productively.

Neighborhood Watch:A Projection Walk hoped to serve as a bridge over which societies across the world could participate in a true artistic exchange-a genuine exchange of the human soul. Participation, interaction, involvement and exchange of ideas were all made possible through participation from ASPIRE participants along with the Changjiji Community.

artists from the following cities partipated (8 of the cities held the exhibition simultaneously on August 21):

el paso, texas-USA
tampa, florida-USA
lubbock, texas-USA
austin, texas-USa
san antonio, texas-USA
victoria, texas-USA
san fransisco, california-USA
seattle, washington-USA


i am most excited to always...there is more to come

i send my warmest greetings from the EVER LOVELY Kingdom of Bhutan!
(all rights to photos are reserved by the Neighborhood Watch Collective and those artists responsible for the work. thank you for respecting this initiative's enthusiasm to share these photos with you for your viewing pleasure)

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