A curation to connect Ponderosa to its surroundings.
Part 1 = Mapping place and needs.
by Carolina Vasilikou and Laura Doehler at Ponderosa Tanzland in October 2021
Personal borders - collective thresholds - hard lines, soft cushions, warm smells, work and fun, awareness and inward investigations. What are the deeper-rooted meanings coming out from mappings of people with different root lengths in the place?
To shed light on connections between land and people we invited those who live, stay and visit Ponderosa to draw maps individually, in conversation and during performances.
Ponderosa is a place for living and creation. Residents and participants cultivate the becoming of a society via creative practices that foster acceptance and inclusion by exploring liminality. The longer one stays the stronger the embodiment of proposals. Innovative and regenerative approaches to rebuild society as functioning collective become the tools to shape one's home.
It is a generous openness of shared ownership that makes Ponderosa a constantly evolving site-scape where sensibilities of space and people continue to evolve as people create with one another. The personal and collective ownership of place and actions resonates deeply and, like water seeping through the cracks, change our nature unconditionally.
It trickles softly into body and land, self aware and probing. The direction of flow is outwards.
Collective, fluid and permeable bodies empathetically engaged replace commonly drawn boundaries and affirm an openness that is no longer a vision but a physical state. Collaborative creative processes, the art of generous listening and unafraid responses, form a sparkly magic spell that weaves our central nervous system with rhizomes under and above ground. This coexistence is not about concessions but healing.
It serves the wider community as people come and go, changed or ready to change. Yet, affirming this calling and reflecting on the worldwide need to nurture collective regeneration - how does what Ponderosa offers, sit beyond its own borders to allow people and land beyond its doors to thrive upon such connectivity?
Workshop participants or event visitors from Berlin walk and swim to find entertaining leisure outside the creative arts hub hustle. When new to the land, they quickly return to seek comfort in Ponderosa's established home base and like minded otherness. Their drawings of Ponderosa are filled with special experiences and dances but reflect little of its surroundings.
Those who stay, gradually spread their wings outside the Gut. Space to expand, natural habitat, privacy and a culture older than projects is attractive matter; with time the wider context becomes important and roots entangle with other even older roots. Those who stay and then stay a little longer look outside the Gut to settle.
The sister project 'Betonnest', a village further down, in Stolpe is a landscape of concrete. We stand on stacked up concrete tubes overlooking the canal and woods, becoming witness to a time and place of crossroads. Impressive landscapes stand in stark contrast yet together. People of a new kind, dreamers with a backbone born from and shaped through a collective consciousness that Ponderosa has brought forth, now enter Stolpe. They are stepping into and onto German soil and history. They meet a culture not far from concrete; strong, dense, with a spirit of defiance and impenetrability. In Stolpe, roots of new depths may entwine.
Fresh shoots meet old knarly roots with stories to tell.
Where do our bodies end? What lies beyond perceived boundaries, boundaries that may ultimately connect us to a wider body? We grow from a place of belonging and with healing and wellbeing we can let it radiate outwards. We find new homes that emerge momentarily, casually or with investment and even risk.
How can the trickle become a free flowing?
Affirming existing relationships
What if visitors and visiting practices took to disseminating the spirit and work via walks and talks outside of Ponderosa's borders? What if we shared new findings not by inviting in but making it available outside? On the camping site, next to the river or deep in the secret woods? There, on common land we can meet as equals, casually encountering together the enjoyment of nature as a home without walls and delineations.
While nature may not offer the comfort and ease we associate with home, the challenges we experience such as walking through a swamp as the trail gets lost, prompts us to reflect on the inherent community we meet with every step as we discover tracks and listen to the sounds in the canopy or under the bark. It prompts us to reflect on the community we want to see meeting and coming together, dreaming of how a curation of nature and people may remind us how fundamental nature truly is and the power it holds.
What if villagers could encounter events or talks in someone else's home?
'Outside' homes of those who work at Ponderosa or Taubenblau which is the the village residency, because outside yet indoor places may foster a homeliness and trust that can lessen a threshold to enter. The familiarity of an event, like a birthday party for example, can provide an effortless togetherness where exotic beings or unusual looks aren't questioned like they would be outside. Here, they can become part of the family.
Ponderosa's singing and cooking, fires and talks also stem from the desire to connect to roots, traditions or rituals that can be found in the countryside too. What would happen if we brought them together?
The direction of the flow is outwards as is the trust we nurture. It radiates three-dimensionally.
It matters to protect and affirm Ponderosa as a place of experimentation and avoid the downfall of becoming what many escape from by focussing solely on inviting the outside in. Yes, its doors are open but taking events and actions beyond Ponderosa's borders or simply encouraging an outward looking perspective may inspire those who are on the outside to unravel old fashioned protocols, reconsider values and definitions and eventually swim, against the main stream, into the Gut. Giving time for change to grow, let us not expect those who visit Ponderosa as haven of otherness to go out when they need support themselves. Yet to install a freedom to be as you are out in the open, those who feel free to wander shall wander. To meet without expectations, become confident and skilled in meeting differences and the unknown may be an art we need to nurture if the larger society we live in cultivates safety and comfort behind closed doors so as to find courage to be different but together.
Written by Laura Doehler
Photographs by Ludger Storcks www.ludgerstorcks.com
"The Living Map experience, in the autumn of 2021, revealed that at the centre of Ponderosa’s visioning is people-centred storytelling with future-framed lenses on. Ponderosa’s people, processes and spaces form an active, empathetic community of practice. Keeping in mind natural timelines, radical inclusion visioning orients the community of practice around narratives that build the stepping stones for new conversations starting, debates that become more meaningful and focused, guided shortterm decisions, personal practice development and bringing diverse participation in the making and regeneration of place." Carolina Vasilikou