Down there, up there, just a moment in time with light…


About “Sacred Sky Sacred Earth: Pacific meditation” on August 18, 2012

Inta Balode

Huge and tiny, earth and air, fire and water, inspiration by spirit, by creative spirit, by spirit of the free wind, spirit of clean waters, spirit of air and spirit of warming, protecting and cleaning fire. Dance in its improvised and structured form, light and sound installation, music improvisations. Context of tiny but sophisticated native plants surviving in extreme desert conditions; and elevators on the cliffs bringing down rich people to the ocean (probably once a year). International dance exchange and collaboration without barriers; and the uniqueness of every corner of the world and things that will never be fully understood by others.

A week of Cal-Laboratory Kitchen 2012 taking place in the studios and theaters of UCSD was led to and found its conclusion at Black’s Beach right below the Scripps Coastal Reserve where the journey started just six days ago. On August 18, 2012 the site-specific art/performance/music improvisations event “Sacred Sky Sacred Earth: Pacific Meditation” took place. The theme, layout, inspiration and guidance was proposed and realized by Peter Terezakis ( who has been creating similar light installations for almost 20 (!) years. Dance, movement, live presence of dancing bodies in the events were organized by Peter’s wife and best collaborator choreographer Allyson Green ( who is also the initiator and organizer of the whole Cal-Laboratory Kitchen project. “You can move your bodies through my space”; this is what Peter said to Allyson many years ago during their first collaboration. The phrase says so much – the dance community understands it more than anybody else, because it’s still very often that dance is seen as supportive-entertaining art not as an independent form of artistic language. Though this is not the case, the creation, finding, discovering and reminding about spaces and animation of the spaces through the presence of human bodies is as beautiful a balance as the natural locations chosen for the work.

Site-specific light installations by Peter Terezakis are always (I have seen and been part of 5 of them) about remembering, and at the same time they are always about absolute presence in the reality of the location and time. I know it sounds an impossible combination and that’s why there is something so powerful about those events. Powerful and large, close and human, vast as the Pacific Ocean and tiny as the pale light glimpse lasting just for a short while: as short as the heartbeat, as powerful as the miracle of life.

While writing I’m thinking why this text tends to become so poetic? Why I’m consciously pulling myself back to the earth in order to also tell something, not only to talk high? I didn’t plan to be so lyrical, besides everything written before during the Kitchen was much more playful, ironic and just trying out of different things. But to speak about Peter Terezakis’ work, his lights, bells, people brought together I start to use big words and because of the phrasal language I start to feel like: better don’t write if you cannot find decent contemporary form of expression for the contemporary art work! May be that’s the reason why very little is written after Sacred Earth Sacred Sky events? There is photo and video documentation, people go and see, and experience events but we don’t hear them speaking out. Sounding poetic is old-fashioned so better keep the silence? The experience is hard to put into words, so we stay silent? Religious services, community events, gatherings of friends, hiking in the desert – those are not the events which get reviewed and as Peter’s work has something from all of that there is one more reason to make writing almost impossible. But what if we try to look at all the small, funny and unexpected details, maybe that’s the way to talk, that’s the way to be there without becoming ridiculous, that’s the way to get two in one – spiritual dimension and fun of details of experience based arts. God is in the small things. Sacred means many things. Sacred also means a lot of fun.

There is so much of sacred fun in how everything is built and put together: how thirty dancers all dressed in white gather at the rocks to rehearse their dance in a surprise to Black’s Beach surfers; how Peter, Alan, Adam, George and others carry down the bamboo, tall light bulbs; how not easy at all it is to drag stuff in the sand; how pink Alan’s shoulders have got in the sun; how Peter gives away his phone not to be disturbed but then needs it to be reached; how responsible Wendy looks while holding the measuring strap to set distances between the lights; and how hell hot it is, and how sticky the black sand is. There is so much sacred fun in the event: I couldn’t believe it’s so hard to run in sand, I am so proud that our beach volleyball guys got bronze in Olympics 2012; I had never before traveled down on other people hands, never watched the sunset while up in the sky; no matter how many times I see it, I cannot understand how simple fluorescent light can matter so much, can tell so much, can make feel so much, can be turned into most precious and most fading moment, as the sunset; how the pieces of metal hanged down from the bamboo constructions turn into bells sending voice over the ocean; and the musicians, and audience, and dancers, and passers by and I’m sure people up on the Scripps Coastal Reserve – everybody belongs to the picture and at the same time nobody intrudes upon the landscape which was self-sufficient and remains like that.

So what it all is about? For me there is no doubt in the fact that everything that happens before, after and during the event is service in it’s pure, clean and essential form: service in religious, artistic and prehistoric sense; service in a sense that it looks useless, useless particularly because it happens in the natural environments. Though the locations are never random, there is something lost in the balance or the place needs or deserves attention so the useless artistic act tries to tell about that, to attract attention, to restore a bit of the lost and also just to enjoy the amazing locations. The event is service in sense that the chosen circumstances are not easy ones: from over than 45-50 degrees Celsius to freezing in Cesis castle in Latvia. Service in sense of – it is never the same; it’s always very personal and always completely dependent on the group (no matter how big or small it is) energy. Service in sense of shared, not spoken out, even not named values. Service in some unpredictable and intense reunion with my own memories, with nature, with nature touched and changed by humans or just time, reunion with my sensitive self as opposed to more often utilized cynical one. No matter who I was when I entered the gates of the site-specific event, when standing at the lights, looking through them into the ocean, feeling the sand under my feet, hearing the wind, remembering the last ray of the sunset and seeing Allyson’s eyes, I cry. Going into the water soothes the electricity in the body.

When it gets dark, the lights go off one by another, people dressed in white gather them and there is a line of chatting, laughing, smiling, thoughtful, practical and poetical voices climbing up the steep hill. The coast, the ocean remains untouched, like nothing happened. That’s the advantage – we carry away so much, but nothing gets reduced from what was already there before.

Take look at photos by Peter Terezakis and Jim Carmody – both galleries are beautiful, detailed, funny and thoughtful journeys to Sacred Sky Sacred Earth: Pacific Meditation as well as Cal-Laboratory Kitchen’s workshops and sharings.

To get to know more about Peter Terezakis, his light installations and other work visit