Have a Tea, Leave a Trace

Have a Tea — Leave a Trace.

For the OPEN ENGAGEMENT symposium (Regina, Canada) and the 1st Public Intervention Day of Southern Exposure (San Francisco) I provided the Mobile Tea Ceremony as an act of collective memory making.

Have a Tea, Leave a Trace PROJECT ARCHIVE:
tracesTraces of tea
photosEvent photos
event flyerEvent Flyer PDF

Visitors and passerbyers were invited to a simplified and version of the traditional tea ceremony in front of the Southern Exposure gallery. To ensure that participants would actively seize the moment I had each guest whisk their own powder tea after learning the basics about the ritual. The intimate act of preparing and enjoying tea together (along a bean paste sweet) is a way to experience the beauty in human coexistence. This prompts the fundamental question of what remains after we leave this very place, this very moment of being — in departure, in transition.

Have a Tea, Leave a Trace

[1] Southern Exposure gallery, 417 14th Street, San Francisco
[2] Waiting guests and spectators
[3] Connoisseurs and makers of whisked tea.
[4] Traces of tea on display: print-off on cotton pads from emptied bowls
[5] Host of Mobile Tea Ceremony
[6] Tatami mat (goza) and tea utensils (incl. thermos with hot water)


Have a Tea, Leave a Trace

Despite a careful introduction some participants reported a sore wrist after whisking their own powder tea... [photo courtesy of Southern Exposure]

Have a Tea, Leave a Trace was not just an invitation to whisk and sip Macha tea. It provided its guests the opportunity for a shared private moment and spirited encounter that prompts the question what manifests the here-and-now, and what remains after we leave this very place, this very moment — after we cease to be. the Mobile tea Ceremony is a vessel for absorbing those traces of beauty in human cohabitation. The more deliberate those traces are, the more significant they become.

Public space in particular is a contested sphere that challenges the articulation of one's own personal experience. That's why I asked every participant to take a print-off from the bottom of the bowl they drank from, to absorb and preserving what is left over from the tea with a cotton pad. Labeled with name, time and place those deliberate traces became evidence of the connection that is based in the now and mundane. Usually the most beautiful traces are the result of happy accidents.

Video clip generously provided by Iris Clearwater, with Alexa Kielty and Gregor Rittinger (Dec. 1, 2007, 2:30min, 9.9MB)
videosClick below to watch.

Momentarium Movie.


The 1st Public Art/Urban Interventions Day on December 1, 2007 was jointly organized by:

Southern Exposure
Located in San Francisco's Mission District, Southern Exposure is a non-profit, artist-run organization for over three decades, dedicated to presenting diverse, innovative, contemporary art, arts education, and related programs and events in an accessible environment. Southern Exposure is dedicated to giving artists — whether they are exhibiting, curating, teaching, or learning — an opportunity to realize ideas for projects that may not otherwise find support.

The Intersection for the Arts
The Intersection for the Arts is San Francisco's oldest alternative art space (est. 1965) and has a long history of presenting new and experimental work in the fields of literature, theater, music, dance, and the visual arts. Intersection provides a place where provocative ideas, diverse art forms, artists, and audiences can intersect one another.

Open Engagement
Between October 11-13, 2007, I realized Have a Tea, Leave a Trace at the conference Open Engagement: Art After Aesthetic Distance organized by Jennifer Delos Reyes. This was a hybrid project that used a conference on socially engaged art practices as its foundation and incorporated elements including workshops, exhibitions, residencies, pedagogy, curatorial practice and collaboration. The event was hosted by the University of Regina, the Dunlop Art Gallery, The Mackenzie Art Gallery and various local Regina residents from October 11-13, 2007. Over 40 national and international contributors were present.