Photo by Austen Mikulka
What do you get when an organic farming advocate and an artist famous for photographing thousands of nude bodies in public host a weekend performance of a Japanese psychedelic rock band in the artist’s upstate barn, bracketed by an elaborate farmers market meal and a morning yoga class?
At the top of the barn stairs, we shed layers of rain-soaked clothing and dripping boots to settle into the warmth of a room carpeted with enormous pillows. Full from an amazing meal of organic food bought at the Union Square greenmarket and driven, like the rest of us, upstate through the thunderstorm to Spencer Tunick’s barn, we waited for the music to begin. In the group of about 40 people – artists, writers, yogis, musicians, designers, parents, kids - there were unexpected connections linking the New York art world to the Osaka music scene and the international Anusara Yoga community, people who hadn’t seen each other in years or who knew of each other but who had never actually met. The connections went deeper than the differences, as they often do, offering unanticipated creative links and affinities.
Photo by Austen MikulkaAnd then...Bubble letters spelling out WATER FAI and PIKACHU MOON MAMA covering the photo paper roll serving as a backdrop. Pikachu Moon Mama exploding with energy, penetrating voice and grinding guitar. Discarding her guitar, feedback streaming from the amplifier, Pikachu methodically removing her clothing, fixing all of us with her gaze while crawling through the pillows, drawing on her body with a vibrant red lipstick, inviting others to do the same. Returning to the mike, pulling the energy back to a focused center, slipping her dress back on, settling back down into the pillows. Then Water Fai first sitting then standing on the floor, guitars-drums-keyboards, waves of notes and rhythms moving toward each other, slowly building an ocean of sound. A watery immersive energy in contrast to Pikachu’s fiery and coy persona. The intensity of the rain, the lightening, the humidity, the wet warmth concentrated in musical form.
Morning in the kitchen. Over a bagel I ask our hosts Kristen and Spencer what kind of a story they want me to tell for the yoga class. Spencer says – one in which the women always desire the men – and then we all start laughing. Back in the barn, cushions stacked, mats out, I tell the room about the Gopis’ love for Krishna…they follow him into the forest, seduced by his song…they fall into meditation, and awake, missing him, jealous of each other, angry, they move through all of the rasas, the flavors or tones of experience, until he reappears, saying to them – You are never without me. I am never without you. I am your very nature. And your very nature is desire…
The weekend ends for most of us with a glimpse over Spencer’s shoulder as he photographs some of the musicians posing nude in his kitchen. Bags and equipment packed up, we disperse into trains, buses, and cars: Pikachu Moon Mama and Water Fai off to Providence for a performance, the rest of us back to NYC. We pass miles of sheared-off branches and uprooted trees resting heavily in deep side-of-the-road puddles left by the storm. We sit in traffic in the quiet comfortable hum of the car, enjoying each other’s company.
Spencer Tunick – www.spencertunick.com
Daniel Bowman Simon – www.TheWhoFarm.org
The Gothamist's write-up of the event:
Master of Ceremonies Spencer Tunick