Exercise in Self Location
Shana Robbins + Neda Abghari
"Exercise in Self-Location"
Transylvania County, North Carolina, Blue Ridge Mountains
video duration 10:40
actual duration 10:00 hours
One chilly October weekend myself and artist Shana Robbins (seen in the images above) created a collaborative work entitled: "Exercise in Self- Location" the first in an ongoing series. Our original concept was to share an extended meditation within the heart of a natural environment. With Robbins as performer and myself as photographer, we would each engage this experience to mark a new path for ourselves spiritually and creatively leading to personal exploration within the environment.
The meditative experience quickly transformed into and exercise of endurance and will as we each experienced obstacles of our own once immersed in the environment exposed to its elements.
"My original intention for this piece was to open and sensitize myself to the vulnerability, transmissions, and patterns within this particular natural location, and allow the space, sounds and elements to "move" me in whatever way possible. As time passed and the temperature lowered, the experience became increasingly endurance-related." - Shana
"A consistent meditative state became increasingly difficult to maintain as I found myself very focused on the external; well-being within the harsh cold of the mountains and my role as time keeper for the piece. Attention to technical aspects of the project became distractions to my personal intentions for the experience as I would connect only intermittently so "self". The meditation transformed into an "exercise"; one that I look forward to practicing with Shana again." -Neda
Although, often overlooked and undervalued Atlanta's southwest communities are full of deep, beautiful, and sometimes difficult (her)stories chronicled through the lives of strong spirited women. They are our mothers, our guides, our shepherds, our souls.
Since 2000, I have called Capitol View my home. In 2012 I met a dear friend and local neighbor Gussie Shell Croom (pictured) shortly before her mother's home and a piece of our community's history went up in flames.
The landmark home built in 1903 at 1474 Metropolitan Ave by Charles Deckner, was purchased by Grace W. Davis, Gussie's mother, in 1990. Known for her feisty spirit and extreme dedication to her community, Grace served the 48thDistrict of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1987 until 1996. Ms. Davis lived in the home until she fell ill and passed in 2011. In February 2013, the bank took possession of the home, listed it for sale and a mysterious fire swept through the property. The damage to the home was extensive and the following month it was acquired by the City Atlanta for the expansion of Emma McMillan Park. The historic home was demolished soon thereafter.
Gussie's house, the original Deckner home built in the late 1800's and adjacent to where her mother's home once stood, was spared by the fire. As the oldest house in our neighborhood and one of the oldest in the city, Ms. Croom and her son are its proud residents. However, tied to this quaint piece of heaven and right outside her door is the memory of her mother, the fire, and the stories of the land.
As the landscape of our city continues to change, let us celebrate, honor, and protect the memories of our past and the matriarchs of our future.