Silence is part of our human nature, which can no longer be heard by most people.  Close your eyes and listen for only a few seconds to the world you live in, and you will hear this lack of true quiet, of silence.  Refrigerators, air conditioning systems, and airplanes are a few of the things that have become part of the ambient sound and prevent us from listening to the natural sounds of our environment.  It is our birthright to listen, quietly and undisturbed, to the natural environment and take whatever meanings we may from it.  By listening to natural silence, we feel connected to the land, to our evolutionary past, and to ourselves.    One Square Inch of Silence, Gordon Hempton

Silence, in collaboration with Anke Schüttler and Jennifer Starkey, was an experiment in listening that punctuated an active day of cultural art production at Assembly 2017.   In an effort to turn our attention toward the ecology around us and to practice silence in an unexpected performance space, the Columbia River Slough, we took a 45 minute "performative" paddle down the river together.  In silence. No other directives or prompts.  Simply to listen and breathe.   

This project has prompted an upcoming work of art for Assembly 2018 in which the audience will walk with a stranger in silence from one designated location in Portland, OR to another.  The performative prompt is to walk In Step.  The practice is a meditation of silence, of noticing, of breathing, touch and motion. 


 Canoe on the Slough, Assembly 2017, Portland, OR

Canoe on the Slough, Assembly 2017, Portland, OR

Mystic beauty
endless pleasure
filled with eternity
cascade like a fall
pour its waters
into a valley of calmness
\when listening to the silence of silence 

Fasika Ayalew