Latest in my Renegade Performance Series, Went out to a secret canyon in the desert the other day to record some wailing guitars with friend/guitarist Seth Olinsky for my upcoming record Legends of These Lands Left to Live. It felt good to play loud reverberant rock and roll out into nature and listen to the rocks talk back.
Installed Pray for Rain in the beautiful Sonoran desert, you must walk there by foot. The mahogany and glass pools glow in the moonlight and the water blows in the wind. The opening ceremony and party - equal parts drumming ceremony, reflective moon pools, clay sculpting, hand drilled torches and joyous celebration.
The ceremonial aspect of the work began at dusk with drummers hidden throughout the desert. The opening drummer and I called back and forth and as one of the children in the audience noted ‘The mountain talked back’. The echo was at least a whole second delay – and great participation of the landscape. When recording with drum group AFI in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2009, Kweku and I talked about how their elders used drums to communicate distances. Inspired by this ancient communication – I was excited to compose this drum performance for drummers scattered throughout the desert. Musician Seth Olinsky co-composed and lead the drumming. The night definitely aroused the senses, evoked an earthy celebration and left everyone with an imaginative story to walk away with.
Poet Dot Devota and resident artist and musician Jeremy Thompson concluded the ceremony with me by scooping water via earthen and brass bowls and pouring onto the desert’s well known Creosote plant – so all audience members could be ignighted with the familiar Sonoran fragrance of the rain.
Photographs and Video: Jay Ritchie
Drummed in Seth’s Cy Dune performance at Heap Collective’s show on Saturday. Poets Dot Devota and Brandon Shimoda made stellar punk videos of performance. Photos shot by Laura Stokes. The night was pretty unwieldy with Architect Jesus Robles, Musicians John Melillo, Jeff Stokes, and Thom Plasse, resident masterminds Jeremy Thompson and Adeena Baer, and more loud drummers… Check it out at CY DUNE SOUNDS.
Installing the pools into the beautiful Sonoran desert was arduous and mythic. Hand building the sculptures over the course of several weeks with the help of several friends, architect Jesus Robles, Seth Olinsky, and Peter Baer, hand carrying them into the desert, sourcing water and hauling in rain to be returned to the earth.
Like the Kula Ring in the Massim Archipelago, and many other gift exchanges of primitive cultures, Pray for Rain aims to gift exchange with the earth – a return of these life giving waters for evaporation back into the cycle of water. The Monsoon storms stirring in Arizona deserts this year were strong and spectacular. The sculptural wooden and glass pools are being installed into this beautiful landscape in November.
We are happy to invite you out to Picture Rocks Saturday 24th to spend some time with friends in the beautiful desert, and see Ali’s new earth art sculpture and Ceremony Pray for Rain.
The event is being hosted on a very beautiful piece of private land in Picture Rocks, lovingly offered for the event by Micah and Montez Almond.
Meet at EXO Coffee Roasters for departure at 4:30.
Working with fire as a sculptural medium is very harmonizing and more than just artistic – there is a deep sense of relating to your own humanity and ancestry.
Sculpture #3 was an ice fire compass – which melted internally to glow in the compass directions. Beautifully the cardinal directions were mapped by shadow. The blocks of ice also were glowing with the color put off by the heat of the fire. The steam burning off the ice displayed the wind direction.
Sculpture #2 was a series of fires I floated onto a lake in Arizona – to create a sculpture which moved and floated in the wind and water. The ceremony was exquisitely beautiful.
Canyon Oases X and the dueling canyon electric guitars are for the recording of Legends– the newest of the renegade performances — Loud Rock & Roll to follow. Stay Tuned.
Sculpture #1 was actually several fire sculptures in one and is a metal table filled with desert stone and different fires built into it. I imagine some way to take this fire indoors in a more provocative and lifestyle sense.