Jennifer Bewerse, Krissy Bergmark, Da Xu, and Jamie Webber tie together memories, moments, and listless passages of time in their piece, Moment/Memory/Tumbling/Passage. Built from stories of each artist’s experiences of time in the last year and a half, the piece evokes a misshapen sense of time and memory. The artists sought to account for the myriad of experiences and expressions of time brought on by the pandemic, from life’s relentless forward movement, to the loss of its perception. Vivid memories mark time’s progress, or seemingly backward movement, as the piece develops through these detailed and intimate stories of relationships, life and death, and consciousness.
The artists invite you to read each of the full transcribed stories below.
Last Spring, I visited my friend in the hospital. She was dying, and we had known that for awhile, but now things were happening quickly. And she was in the hospital, and we thought it was the end. And so I visited with her, and was very lucky, actually, to have made it in time, because things were going so badly so quickly. And when I got there, I got to speak with her, and spend time with her, but a lot of the time she was out - she was unconscious, and kind of moving in and out of lucidity. So there was this strange thing where, every time we spoke, I wasn’t sure if it would be the last thing we ever said to each other. That was too much to hold, in those moments. I didn’t know what to do with myself in the silences between when she was awake. Because, how do you hold, knowing something may have been the last thing you said to someone. So, I just started writing everything we said down in a journal, as a kind of place to keep it, until I could hold it later.
March of 2020, right as lockdown was happening, also happened to be the time I had become painfully aware that my partner of eleven year was no longer going to be my partner anymore. Along with the shift of the world being locked down, I also felt a deep internal shift that I knew I could not reverse. It felt like a knowing. When I felt this, I started running every day to the lake near my house. It was half a mile to reach it, and another eighth of a mile until the lagoon opened up to the lake. In March, it was overcast. The clouds reflected the lake reflected the clouds. Each day I ran to the same spot and back, all the while, churning in this knowing, and not really knowing what to do. April was warming up, and the break up started happening how break ups do. I kept running. I noticed tiny bits of green starting to make their way past the brown decaying foliage. The lake lightened, and reflected the sky that reflected the lake that reflected the sky. In May, I started going to my sister’s unused apartment in a little college town not too far from where I lived, to be alone. I ran in the woods. I explored and found small, winding trails, and I felt my feet pound against the dirt. I ran to the river. I watched the greenery emerge from the earth: tiny, nearly imperceptible, and rising towards the sky. I felt my knowing, and I thought about who I am and who I was becoming. In June, I ran and ran. I felt the heat and rage of summer, of all the injustice in the world, and of my own conditioning. My runs were humid and heavy. The flowers were obstinately vivid, and the river current lunged through the banks, reflecting the sun reflecting the river reflecting the sun. By July, my knowing had become realized, and I moved out. I remember the first night on my own, and feeling like I could finally be still for the first time in a very long time. I laid on my bed that night, just a sheet and a pillow in the light summer air, and listened to the crickets. My feet ached down to my bones. I felt the warm, soft rolling of my cat’s purr, and I listened to my breath, reflecting.
When I first moved out to LA, I had to commute from Alhambra, which is east of Downtown LA, to Marina del Rey, all the way west by the Pacific Ocean, for work. That's an hour and half to travel 30 miles on the best days. Sitting in traffic, driving a stick shift, crawling along, bored out of my mind. I would get so bored, I would get these unbelievable sleep spells. I tried everything, smacking myself, drinking lots of energy drinks, singing made-up songs at max volume completely out of tune. Nothing worked. I would still doze off.
Time showed up in chunks, as visions. I would step on the clutch, shift into first gear, gas, clutch, quickly second, gas, clutch, then third, clutch and stop.
I saw the sign that told me I am by La Cienega Blvd. I looked into my rearview mirror, windshields peeking through windshields. The almost-noon sun filling into my car from all directions.
Then I would suddenly wake up, I was at La Brea, 2 exits before La Cienega. So, not La Cienega. Shaking my head, smacking myself, I could swore I was at La Cienega. I remember my eyes following the usual gray walls lining the sides of the 10, around the bend, to the green sign that said "La Cienega Blvd." I could trace the memory with a finger. Then I woke up. I was at Crenshaw, one exit before La Brea.
I would wake up again and again. My journey is made up of memories in dreams, time overlapped with itself. Without a before and a now, what is time? When before and now overlaps and trip over themselves, what time is it?
I was diagnosed a few years ago with Asperger’s - which explained a lot, and is a big part of the reason why everything’s been shifting the last little while - getting a diagnosis is a really big thing. And I was hoping to lead some peer discussion questions, and like an online forum and stuff, during the festival*, and that was me really putting myself out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t always entirely confident about being in a group, being in a leadership position like that. And, what ended up happening was, halfway through the second week, I got a couple of responses, and I guess I was talking about some fairly personal things, and I guess I just dissociated. It was, I pieced together after the fact, what it was I was doing during that time. I just reverted to a bunch of old habits from childhood. And, yeah, I guess I kind of blanked out on like the 14th or so, and came to again, and it was like the 23rd of the month. And there was stuff that I was supposed to have led that I just completely dissociated, that I just wasn’t there, and I couldn’t even remember what I had been doing during that time when I came back to reality. And there was food in my fridge that I couldn’t remember having made, and that’s a really strange thing, and especially when I’m autistic. I’m not used to not remembering things. And having those memory blanks, and just having a stretch of time in which it was just, “What happened?” Like, where was I? What was going on? And, I mean, that was three weeks ago now, and yeah, the last week has been great and very different again, and now I’m here now, and oh my gosh, it’s just wild to be in this position right now.
*Montreal Contemporary Music Lab