Introduction to the Novena Project

A Novena is a nine-day performance which is "site-specific" and can even be "time specific." I borrowed the term "Novena" from the Catholic practice of honoring a saint in a nine-day festival. Many of my fellow performers and I have found that it takes a minimum of nine days to adapt and "feel at home" in a new environment. New and unusual environments are created for every Novena by altering the sights, sounds, and behaviors of every participant. Rules which help guide the interactions of the participants are designed while the interactions themselves transform the environments through the creation of group installations which range from small alterations in the environment to large earth works. The purpose of the Novena is to enhance the perceptions of every participant in ways that will last longer than those effects created by a two-hour performance or a passive gallery installation.

The locations of the Novenae are determined by three shapes intuited by Jose Arguelles (mentioned in, The Mayan Factor) stretched around the world. There are 52 sites marked by each shape, making a total of 156 Novenae to be performed around the world. The shapes have been distorted so that all the Novenae can be performed on dry land, and so that each 52 segmented shape will touch on their northern and southern extremes. The distortion causes the images to look something like headless stick figures running eastward around the world.

Each Novena gives its participants access to other perceptual worlds. Each Novena must be respectful of the land in which it is performed and, when possible, should honor and involve the indigenous people of the area. In addition, some kind of "outreach" should be made so that an exchange of ideas can occur with people who are not normally reached by the arts. However, when necessary, a Novena could be done for and by myself, yet documented and shared with others after-the-fact in another location. The people involved and the activities will be determined by my own subjective needs and by the needs of others, as I am able to perceive them through researching other cultures, from prior interactions, and by determining the logistics of each situation.

Earthwork installations, particularly land-reclamation pieces, may be constructed in conjunction with the nine-day performance. In such cases those performances will necessarily interact with their respective installations. Seismic data and contour maps may be used in determining the design of some installations, particularly in areas in which Novenae occur where I already have data. These data show the geologic history of the land.

I have incorporated a non-profit tax exempt corporation called the Present Time Dream Factory specifically in order to raise funds for this project. So far, our Board of Directors consists of: Nancy Coscione, sculptor; Marc Srere, lawyer with the ACLU; Jay Kratovil, an engineer who is presently doing solar research at Sandia Labs for the Hopi and Navaho Indians; and composer, David Dunn. Funds will be sought primarily from private corporations, particularly those interested in land reclamation.

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