mindful encounters is a time-exchange project. I offer people 8 hours of my time to do whatever they want, need, or would like to see more of in the world. In return I ask for 8 hours of your time to engage with me in mindful activity. These 16 hours spent combine to create the social sculpture of the relationships built in the process.
See exhibitions and publications based on the project here. The above tab ‘People’ will take you to a gallery of images and the ‘Contracts’ page will show you what the terms of engagement for each collaborator have been.
My 8 hours always start from the same list of performances, simple things in everyday life, and a starting point for discussion with each new collaborator. Your 8 hours can be spent in whatever break up you want, preferably but not limited to a two week period.
My 8 hours begins with this:
1. Listen to each other’s heartbeats.
2. Meet me in a busy place, walk with me for 10 minutes at half pace, turn and retrace our steps, turn and retrace our steps again.
3. Share a meal in silence
4. Decide on something you are good at doing and teach me how to do it.
5. I will decide on something I am good at doing, and teach you how to do it.
6. Meet me in a quiet place, walk with me silently and without destination. Every 5 minutes we will take it in turns to say what is on our mind, uninterrupted.
8. Sit opposite each other, holding glass vessels. Pour water from one vessel to the other.
Many discussions have occurred around what people would ‘like to see more of in the world’ apart from the four realised. Logistics, time, space, resources and even personal preference have not allowed for all of them to be activated, however I see the discussions as a living part of the work. The moment when people articulate their wildest dreams in a way that approaches them as possible might be the same moment of transformation that allows them to become a reality. And that is a fully realised artwork in itself. This work is a platform for that articulation, and a provocation of the thought process that leads us there. A democratic manifestation that entrusts our future to the ideas of the individual and suggests that saying those ideas out loud is the starting point for their actualisation.
Making things into art places them outside of the requirements of defined outcomes, and so art can be an arena that allows for open ended experimentation where ideas are made real through actions that give us embodied memories to contribute to collective memory, allowing us to experiment with ways of living.
In this creative arena we can not only experiment with the new, we can also activate those existing parts of society or ideas that we would like to see prosper. If every action is a vote for that thing to exist, what do you support with your presence and participation? That’s why this project uses as it’s premise the alternative economic model of time-exchange. In a world recovering from a crisis of economics, where and how we spend our time can be revolutionary in itself. Here the individual as consumer can be empowered by refusing to participate. As inherently social beings however, we will continue to negotiate with the other in an increasingly global market and our involvement in a capitalist system is more complex than simply disengaging. Perhaps though, we can have a marketplace that is fair, and it can be when we truly connect with ourselves that we naturally do what is right for the other, dismantling greed and acknowledging an interconnectedness of human organisms. To do this we may come back to mindful practice which helps us connect to ourselves, and therefore support the other as equal.
Mindful is here defined only as to be ‘aware’ but is employed in these actions because of it’s relationship to peace propagation. Time-Exchange breaks down hierarchical roles by acknowledging an hour of one person’s life to be equal to an hour of another’s. The 8 hour structure of ‘mindful encounters’ references the working day, the same amount of time we fought for as a workers right, the amount of time that is often simply not enough to get it all done in, and indeed the amount of time many wish away daily in jobs they do not like. What can we can we do in 8 hours? ‘mindful encounters’ playfully throws that idea into action in the world placing the mindful techniques directly in the social, in the space between people to tease the philosophical edge of society and see what these chance based methodologies might bring up.
There have been many traces of these encounters through the people and places touched by the exchanges, and all participants can document the process in their own way. It has already led to numerous offshoot projects including environmental activism, alternative education development, endurance performances and of course, I have made three great new friends. Ultimately, for me the project comes together as a social performance series that looks at human relationships as artworks, sculpted by our time and presence in a way that we can consciously sculpt the whole (society) through the part (you/me). Each collaborator can also do whatever what they like with the project, as long as we both agree to discretionary material.
Thanks for reading! honi.