View Slideshow Mercer Union, 37 Lisgar Street, Toronto June 6 - July 12 2008, Tue-Sat, 11AM-6PM
Recent Activity Reports

005-4 Body part: mouth LICENSE TO SAY “NO” TO HALF THE THINGS PEOPLE WANT YOU TO DO

First posting…

August 25th, 2008

While this first posting comes rather late, it is not for lack of use of this license. The effect of carrying around this card has been tremendous. I just recently read “The 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” which actually recommends carrying around a card with one important personal goal on it as a way of implementing that change. As art has paralleled psychology in the past, it is exciting that this work implements recent progress in self-awareness, personal development and self-hypnosis. Of course many of these lessons derive from ancient teachings and have been in the collective awareness for quite some time in the form of religious texts, practical application of the lessons in terms of self-knowledge and change have only recently begun to reach a wider audience. I look forward to seeing more works of such social and personal relevance.

As far as my implementation of “saying no”. Coming from a cultural background where expectations abounded and conflict was something to be avoided at all cost, I have witnessed the damage caused by a lack of direct communication from misunderstood intentions to passive aggresiveness to health problems. I grew up with a strong tradition of never saying no, but trying to say yes in a way that offended least and still left room for my own interests. After years of using this strategy I have found that it leads, if anything, to more hurt, pain, suffering. Part of saying yes compulsively is the fear of rejection or the fear of what you think other people will think. William Ury (author of “The Power of A Positive No”) has said that in order to get to “yes” we must first know how to say “no”. By stating no positively as opposed to reactively, we affirm our own mission in life, compromising nothing. As far as the fear of offending others, I have found that saying “no” from this state of self-awareness has little or no impact. It is as if others sense your state and are less likely to react (no matter reactive they might have been in the past).

I am posting this now because I hope that others will have had similar experiences with their licenses. I wish that all art works would continue to expand peoples’ awareness in such a personally relevant way.

035-2 Body part: head LICENSE TO HAVE BIG AND UNTAMED HAIR

some people like it

August 17th, 2008

Here’s a bit of an update…

The other week I was in Toronto, and got caught in an impressive downpour.  My hair was especially big and untamed, somewhat unusually so.  I ended up biking and walking around with a mega frizz-ball for a head, and tried to avoid reflective surfaces so as not to be too frequently reminded of this fact.  I was walking along Niagara St. when someone stopped their car, shouted, “I love your hair!” and drove away.

Hmm…

The moral of this story:  some people like the big and untamed look.   Maybe you should try it.

Possible moral number 2:  maybe big, unruly hair isn’t something that we need to be so vigilant or self-conscious about.

041-2 Body part: feet LICENSE TO SLOW DOWN FOR A DAY

beach walk in preparation for the big day

July 22nd, 2008

I walk the waters edge

in rhythm with the every other wave that laps the shore

041-2 Body part: feet LICENSE TO SLOW DOWN FOR A DAY

little steps along the beach

July 22nd, 2008

My license to slow down for a day has an extension on it so that I can take it back to the farm where I live and work and work and work. I am on a working holiday now in the city and have been feeling the rush and speed of this place in my veins.

I have been using my license to slow down in moments and really take things in around me.

Its practice for the big event a day where I will let the children and their father fend for themselves. Where i will let the weeds in the garden grow. The berries go to the birds and back to the soil. All the projects that “need” to be done will rest and I will slowly breath and let my inspiration lead me.

So for now I use my license in moments.

On the beach in georgian bay.

walking the waters edge

I slow my steps

in rhythm with the waves

I can see from the corners of my eyes people looking at me in wonder

as I stop from time to time

to bend down

and take a closer look at some rock that has caught my eye

035-2 Body part: head LICENSE TO HAVE BIG AND UNTAMED HAIR

poofy hair

July 17th, 2008

Here is the hair brushing video…

why I don’t usually brush my hair

For the record, people eventually did say something about my hair.  I ran into some friends downtown.  Mostly they seemed to be impressed by the amount of space my hair was capable of occupying.  They laughed, but in a friendly and bemused way.

Also for the record, I did go home and have a bath.  And let my hair dry all poofy.  A thorough washing didn’t help get rid of the grimy feeling.  So, I have deduced that the feeling of being kind of dirty when I have big and untamed hair has to do with all those little strands being around my face.  I find that it helps to tie a scarf around my head, headband style.  Even still, I don’t really recognize myself in the mirror, and feel generally strange.

Yesterday I went back to the average degree of (un)tameness, but I will experiment some more before this month is up.

028-2 Body part: mouth LICENSE TO BEFRIEND THOSE LESS FORTUNATE WITHOUT FEELING JUDGED

Happy Day

July 16th, 2008

LICENSE TO BEFRIEND THOSE LESS FORTUNATE WITHOUT FEELING JUDGED

I did not notice at the time of choosing that when I would show my license to someone it would tell them that I saw them as less fortunate than myself.

Fortunately I managed to navigate this distraction. I had had in mind a particular person whom I encounter on the street in my neighbourhood. I have refused the impulse to make contact countless times, on account of my own discomfort. When the first opportunity that I recognized came less than a block away from Mercer Union, I let go of my insistence on a narrow point of view (like NOT pressing on a sore tooth to make sure it still hurts).

A massive guy stood outside the restaurant at the corner making barbeque. Another fellow rolled out of the door, arms outstretched towards me, proclaiming loudly, “I LOVE you ; let me buy you some barbeque!” I watched him visibly restrain himself from throwing his arms around me. I think maybe I remind him of his mother. For a moment I wished I’d chosen the “license to become disinhibitited without the influence of alcohol,” but realize it is he who needs that one. I’d like to throw my arms around him for all the mothers and sons that are separated by thousands of miles but I am afraid, he’s too drunk. Although I had no appetite to accept his offer of food, we stayed there in close eye contact until we were both sure we have shared the generosity of the moment. I still wish I could have hugged him.

042-3 Body part: hands LICENSE TO INVENT BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS WHICH ARE CLEARLY ABSURD

license to invent biographical facts which are clearly aburd

July 16th, 2008

I went to a cocktail party last night. when asked what I do for a living, I told the host that I am an advisor to the queen of england on all matters of toiletry. it seems that the queen wants to become more independent in the art of toiletry, including knowing how wipe her own bottom, rather than having servants do it for her. it’s dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. after I told the story, I felt bad about not having taken advantage of my license. man, I should have made something up instead of telling the truth! anyway, when the party was over, I got out my magic wand and converted myself into a swan so that I could fly home in style. I was clearly aburd. ( that’s what my license says: “clearly aburd” thanks b.o.l.m. for giving me the permission and magical power to fly home instead of taking the subway!

036-2 Body part: mouth LICENSE TO PHONE YOUR GRANDPARENTS EVERY NIGHT

got a round ‘to-it’

July 16th, 2008

Finally sent an e-mail to my grandmother at the old-folks home in Argentina. Hope she enjoys it. I’m sure she will. (She is legally blind, so she won’t be able to read it herself, but one of the staff there will read it to her.)

035-2 Body part: head LICENSE TO HAVE BIG AND UNTAMED HAIR

the full enchilada

July 14th, 2008

So, after waking up without too many more noticeably poofly locks, I decided to just dive on into the world of maximum frizz this morning.

I brushed my hair.

You can watch the slightly painful process, if you’d like. My hair made a horrible sound as I tried to pull the brush through it.

(I will have to upload the video later…I’m having a few problems at the moment…)

The interesting thing is that I’ve gone about my day and nobody has said anything about my hair. I’ve even been wearing the badge in full view thinking that it might help in any explanations that may come up. But no one has said a word. Is everyone just too polite? Or is it maybe not so noticeable?

Hmm…

So no one has asked any questions, and no one has offered any judgements (positive or negative).

I mostly have just been noticing how strange my hair is whenever I pass by a mirror, or when the wind blows through it (that feels super weird).  Although, I did spent a good part of the day walking around feeling hyper-conscious.  When I start to think about it too hard, I also feel a bit grimy. Like I’d really like to jump in the shower this very instant and wash my hair have things go back to their usual level of (un)tameness.

I just might do that later on.

035-2 Body part: head LICENSE TO HAVE BIG AND UNTAMED HAIR

chip chip, peck peck

July 14th, 2008

So it’s quite cliched, but I believe there is something that maxim of “baby steps” when trying something new. Or, as my grandmother puts it “chip chip, peck peck…when you’re faced with a mountain, the only think you can do is chip chip, peck peck.”

I like just “chip chip, peck peck” for short.

Anyhow, I decided my chips and pecks would take the form of exposing myself and my hair to as many as possible of the natural phenomena that usually conspire to undo any efforts at tameness. These include, but are not limited to: wind, rain, sleeping, exercise, and hats.

So, I strategically put me and my hair through:

-two rain storms

-a 40 minute drive on the 401, windows down

-two sleeps

-a bicycle helmet (worn approximately 2 hours)

-a day of cleaning

-an hour and a half of yoga

-a long(ish) bus ride

I actually took pictures over the two day time period of this experiment, but there weren’t really too many differences that were easily observable incrementally. However, when taken cumulatively, these events did result in some pretty decent poofiness.  Or maybe just a little poofiness, but hey.

Chip chip, peck peck, right?

(this one\'s black and white because the colour was just too darn strange).