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I Choose to Remember Us Whole
In partnership with the Henry Art Gallery, Meany Center’s season ended on May 20 with a joyful processional led by a chorus of UW dance students, faculty and community members dressed in “the colors of the sun.” These “activators” led upwards of 80 participants on a 2.5-mile route through the UW campus, stopping at five temporary altars along the way, each posing a specific question for participants to consider.
The processional was a liminal journey shared by artists and by the participants who showed up on that Saturday; by the following day, the altars were gone, the experience a memory.
And perhaps it’s fitting that memories are the only “product” of a project called I Choose to Remember Us Whole, the brainchild of Daniel Alexander Jones, an artist who has always been far more interested in the journey than the destination — in life and in his artistic process.
Still, in 2020 when he was considering what his next project would be, out of habit, he “tended to make work with the idea that I would make a show.” Then the pandemic shut down all possibilities of live performance and Daniel, like many artists in that time, began to move more fully into filmed and mediated experiences.
"And here I had the blissful invitation to say: You can work differently, you can work more slowly and you can work in a much more cohesive way, imagining nodes of a large project that wasn't about one show, but rather about, if you will, a solar system of events, locations, people that began to create its own meaning through the associations and the transits that would occur.” The result was the digital Altar 1: Aten.
Altar No. 3: I Choose to Remember Us Whole is the third altar in Daniel’s series of digital and physical installations.
“There is a long history of altar building,” Daniel says. “Some of them are as seemingly mundane as a set of objects up in on a ledge in a home. Some of them have profound significance and have very strict rules attached to them, connected to religious practices.”
“But all of them share one element, which is that they are intentionally ephemeral in nature, even those that may have a longer shelf life, so to speak.”
As part of his “solar system” of events, locations and people, Daniel imagined a collaborative project involving artists chosen from both the University of Washington and from the broader Seattle community. Because it is important to him to work with people he doesn’t know as well as those he does, Daniel surveyed the many Seattle artists he’d met during his time at the UW as a Mellon Creative Fellow for their suggestions, which lead him, eventually, to invite five artists from different generations to join him.
“Each has their own practice, their own reasons for making. And they’re bringing not only their artistry, but they're bringing their philosophy and their questions. And those questions are absolutely the engine of their making.” (Read artist descriptions about each of the altars)
All but one of the altars is gone now (Daniel’s remains on display at the Henry Gallery through July 9) but for those of you who were unable to attend the event, enjoy the photos and video of the May 20 Processional of the day’s fleeting delights.