Jill R Baker
Performances for Hands and Desert Floor
Video, photographs, and works on paper (2017-2020)
Barry Lopez, in his introduction to Desert Notes (1976), writes, “You must come with no intentions of discovery,” and, “you have to proceed almost by accident.” I began in this way, relying on chance and improvisation with the desert floor to create a series of performances.
When I first came to the desert I was arrested by the space first, especially what hung in a layer just above the desert floor. ... I developed methods of inquiry, although I appeared to be doing nothing at all. I appeared to be smelling my hands cupped full of rocks.
(Desert Notes, 8-9)
In the chapter titled,”Desert Notes”, the narrator asks us, “Will you walk…the desert with me?” We are told to “Dig Down, the earth is moist.” We are told to wait and listen. “I will give you a few things: bits of rock, a few twigs…. You should try to put the bits of rock back together to form a stone….” Performances for Hands and Desert Floor employs this text as a prompt for performing a physical and embodied relationship with the landscape. Each piece considers performance, sound, and mark-making in landscape and was created on site in the Mojave desert outside of Death Valley National Park in Rhyolite, Nevada at the Goldwell Open Air Museum and Residency Program.