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Medlock Soul Revival

Having walked most of the Medlock river in sections, I’m now thinking about the sorry state of the river. What has happened to the soul of the River? The relationship between it and the surrounding environment is pretty neglected. How many people appreciate the river in the city? – and it is the main river running through Manchester city centre (the Irwell is a Salford river). The amount of rubbish and fly-tipping I have witnessed is dreadful. I would argue that the quantity of rubbish dumped on a river bank is in inverse proportion to the degree of appreciation of the value of the river.

So I’m wondering about how to revive/retrieve the soul of the Medlock. Perhaps we need something more hands on…..

Hi vis jacket for Medlock Soul Retrieval project.

Hi vis jacket for Medlock Soul Revival project

Maybe a River Medlock rubbish ritual?

Art critic Suzi Gablik writes in an article in New Renaissance Magazine: 

Writing The Reenchantment of Art represented my own philosophical “break” with the paradigm of vision and the disembodied eye as the axiomatic basis for artistic practice.

For instance, I wrote at some length about an art project initiated by a friend of mine in Santa Fe, Dominique Mazeaud, which she calls “The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande River”. For several years, armed with garbage bags donated by the city, Mazeaud and a few friends who sometimes accompanied her, would meet once a month and ritually clean garbage out of the river. Part of the work involves keeping a diary, entitled Riveries, in which she writes about her experiences. Briefly, here are some extracts:

November 19 My friend Margret drops me off at Delgado promptly at 9:00 am. Because of the snow I was not sure of the conditions I would find but did not doubt a second that I would put in my day. I find a stone warmed by the morning sun which makes a perfect site for my beginning prayer. Yes, I see what I am doing as a way of praying: Picking up a can/From the river/And then another/on and on/It’s like a devotee/Doing countless rosaries.

December 2 Why in all religions is water such a sacred symbol? How much longer is it going to take us to see the trouble of our waters? How many more dead fish floating on the Rhine River? How many kinds of toxic waste dumpings? When are we going to turn our malady of separateness around?

March 19 1 can’t get away from you river/In the middle of the night/I feel you on my back/In my throat, in my heart.

July 20 Two more huge bags I could hardly carry to the cans. I don’t count any more. I don’t announce my “art for the earth” in the papers either. All alone in the river, I pray and pick up, pick up and pray. Who can I really talk to about what I see?… I have also noticed that I stopped collecting the so-called treasures of the river. It was OK at the beginning, but today I feel it was buying into the present system of art that’s so much object-oriented. Is it because I am saying that what I am doing is art that I need to produce something?

Eventually, as the artist’s connection with the river deepens into that of friend and confidante, and even that of teacher, she reaches a point where her relationship with the river becomes even more important than her original ecological incentive to clean it. “For the first time last month,” she comments, my meditation directed me to go and be with the river and not do anything. The instructions were clear: “Don’t even take one garbage bag.” Her activity had subtly shifted, until it was no longer a systematic retrieving of everything in sight, but has become her own personal dialogue with the river. The river as a living being has something to say. “I have landed in a new landscape,” Mazeaud states, “where I discover the river is as true an artist as I am.”

Note: Ritual purification in world religions.

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