E|MERGE Presents: The Home Project

Kentaro Kumanomido, volunteer staff at Earthdance, reflects on his experience of the E|MERGE Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residency.

What does it mean to feel at home in one’s body? At home with others? At home on the Earth? Is 'home' a place, space, or a practice In what ways is Earthdance a container for the experience of 'home'?

These questions, among others, guided the inquiry of The Home Project, one of the five multimedia projects developed at Earthdance during this year's E|MERGE Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residency. The E|MERGE Residency offers space for artistic risk-taking and explorations into the art of collaboration. And for me, it provided an ideal vehicle for my own investigations into creative community living.

As an improvisational movement artist now living and working at Earthdance as a volunteer staff member, I was excited to join The Home Project during this year's E|MERGE. My collaborators included New York-based architect Alex Scott Porter, Cambodian-American visual artist Amy Lee Sanford, fellow Earthdance resident and improviser Jake Wise, Brooklyn-based writer Ben Korta, Dallas-based writer and actor Susan Myhr Fritz, and Glasgow-based visual artist Dana MacPherson.

In our early conversations, our group decided the concept of 'home' becomes more meaningful in relation to our embodied experiences of belonging and togetherness, rather than than in reference to discrete physical structures and locations. To explore this expanded notion of 'home' during the residency, we participated in a variety of group scores both structured and spontaneous that allowed us to examine our relationships with our bodies, each other, and the land. Some of our explorations included walking the trails of Earthdance at dawn, cooking dinner and baking challah together, sharing childhood memories, offering and receiving bodywork, ritual mandala making, among other collective events. Throughout the residency, we made close visual and text documentation of our processes in order to generate a map of the emotional and physical terrain we experienced together over the two-weeks.

Nearing the end of our time together, and feeling the pressure to produce a summation of our inquiry, our group kicked things into overdrive as we began to sort through and organize our collective materials for public display. This final process resulted in an immersive installation throughout the Earthdance Farmhouse that included a visual and text based timeline of our process, a video and sound installation, and an intimate space for conversations about home. Additionally, our installation included several participatory scores that invited viewers to experience our investigations first-hand. These scores included an outdoor walk along a fire-lit path from the farmhouse into the surrounding woods, a collection of somatic exercises installed in the Earthdance pantry, and a dinner score that brought awareness to the transformative potential of the everyday collective rituals we already perform.

While we were unable to produce a definitive set of answers to our initial questions, The Home Project nevertheless opened up meaningful and generative dialogues around embodied understandings of 'home.' These conversations are becoming increasingly relevant as both chosen migrations and unchosen displacements occur more frequently across the globe. Although my E|MERGE collaborators have returned to their respective 'homes,' I am continuing to explore collective 'home-making' here at Earthdance with my body, the community, and the still snow-covered land.

Click E|MERGE to learn more about the history of the E|MERGE Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residency and visit the 2014 E|MERGE Bloghub to learn more about the projects produced this year.