UNDER MASS, A PERFORMANCE PIECE BY CIARRA K. WALTERS
On a cloudy day I was driving by LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) when it hit me: I needed to take self-portraits under Michael Heizer's, Levitated Mass. I saw it in my head and about a week later my vision came to life.
It wasn't until I saw the documentary, Levitated Mass, The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture, where I began to appreciate the large rock - a boulder - living in LACMA's courtyard. It was a rock I had seen many times and never thought much of. After watching the documentary I fell in love with it.... all of it. I feel in love with the process, the plans, and the people's excitement seeing the 340 ton boulder travel from Riverside, California to Los Angeles. I finally felt the magic of the piece, starting from Heizer's vision for Levitated Mass in 1969 to the four-decade process it took before this piece of art came to life at LACMA in 2012.
I felt isolated moving near, under, and away from the boulder. It felt like it was only me and the boulder. I felt its energy flow through and around me. I felt free running back and forth, jumping into pose after pose ( you can see below in the videos below). I loved how nerves ran through my stomach, worried that someone would walk down and interrupt the performance. Even those nerves couldn't stop the flow. It was exciting to not really think, but to do -do and move quickly.
What I love the most about Heizer's piece was simple. I loved how tiny I felt. I felt small and safe. This year I've felt urgency to be around Mother Earth's oceans, mountains, trees, boulders, anything that could remind me how big this world actually was and how tiny I really was. I needed to feel small because those feelings of smallness reminded me that these troubled moments shall pass.
My performances are built off of energy, feeling and intuition. They are never preplanned or rehearsed.
With Levitated Mass, I felt energetically charged as if I was in nature. For a second I felt small and big at the same time like I do when I'm in the mountains or around huge boulders like this one.
I think the part worth noting is I didn't have to look far for these feelings.
I was able to get a piece of that right here in LA and that is what Heizer wanted - the feeling of nature in a city.
Like many other works by Heizer, he took a piece of Mother Earth and created a space to see this natural object as a form of art. This piece of art inspired me to continue to create other forms of art. Isn't that what art is about?