Its a complete hole. I’ve finished. Its done, finalised. We’ve come to the end. I’ve taken the last photos and video, packed up the car and am ready to drive home. My job is done… I seem to be trying to convince myself of something.
This was a strange, short stretch of time in which I travelled up to Bingara to complete the hole, which I had left unfinished after running out of time on the previous residency. As I left the unfinished hole, I measured my progress and concluded it needed another 60cm to reach the 3 metre depth I had committed to and so I thought I could kick that out easily in 3 days. I had given myself four days to include an excursion to Armidale to present at the grounding story conference on the Artist Farmer Scientist project, along with some of the KSCA gang. This, and a particularly full plate of real world problems worried me as I travelled up to Bingara and settled in for the work. A hundred pressing urgencies, worldly obligations and commitments swirled around me in an incessant stream of anxiety and demand, as I tried to insulate this little patch of time to make art. I know its only digging a hole to many people, but to me it is making art and for that the world needs to recede - which it didn’t seem to want to do.
Needless to say, this residency has had a pressurized feeling. This was only compounded by the fact that I soon discovered that I had farther to dig than I had thought, making my goal of three days uncertain. This, in turn, affected my process, which is usually not end oriented but proceeds by the slow, unrelenting rhythm of my body as I dig, setting pace to the index of physical exhaustion and the variable nature of the soil as it resists and yields to the work I apply.
I now had a deadline and I had to push myself to meet it. Luckily, the soil loosened up somewhat and I was digging faster than I had before. I still had to work overtime a couple days and it definitely affected my thinking, with far more obsessing over the instrumental concern for meeting my goal in time and far less of the dreaming that occurs when the body is set into its automatic motion and the mind drifts in the atmosphere of physical exertion to places it often cannot reach while sedentary. In this there was another tension in the sense that this was therefor a reduction of the work, a diminution of the experience into something merely pragmatic.
Now that I am out of the hole, in the burning glare of the sun, with smoke from the bush fire in the air (three days ago it was a dust storm), the rivers drying up, the politicians ignoring the calamity and the entire swarm of concerns I had eluded three days ago returned in their more furious form - It is only now that I realize that the work had been not been diminished. Perhaps I just need to dig a little deeper.