About 'The Land Foundation'

'The Land' was initiated in 1998 by two Thai artists Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Rirkrit Tiravanija They bought a piece of land which is a 20 minute drive outside of Chaing Mai. Artist friends were asked to contribute by building structures on the site, inspired by buddhist meditation retreat sites. The Land is made up of 3/4's of water and 1/4 of land like that of the human body, there are 2 large rice field's, chickens and a vegetable garden with attempts to aim at sustainable living.' www.thelandfoundation.org
'The Land' has evolved after its first one year project and last year became 'The Land Foundation'. The Land Foundation is a platform of and for social engagement, experimental alternative education at the intersection of debate, and holistic learning. It is aiming to promote and support art and culture, natural farming and self-knowledge through Vipassana meditation. Its activities emphasise education, discussion of ideas, and knowledge-sharing." (www.thelandfoundation.org)

I am taking part as a part-time participant in One Year Project 2 with 'The Land Foundation'.

Monday, June 4, 2012

TRESPASS interview with Jason Dunne


Jason Dunne Interviewing Seoidín O'Sullivan & Aoife Desmond @ The Lab, Dublin -  4pm, Tuesday 16th December, 2008.

J.D    -  According to your reports from the time you spent at The Land Foundation every participant is required to do a ten day Vipassana Meditation course, can you talk about this aspect of The Land, and perhaps it's implications in a wider sense?

S.O'S - Yes, well what is interesting for me is that I've done a lot of meditation practice and I've done a lot of Buddhist meditation courses, I do Yoga and I've done Aikido, which has a form of Zen meditation within it. So in going to ‘The Land’ it was the aspect of ‘The Land’ which most interested me. And I thought: Wow! This is great. You know, art bringing meditation together with it and seeing the value of it, because in my own life I see meditation as being massively valuable, just within my everyday way of being and working with people, because meditation works on ideas of compassion which I think are fundamental for societies to work in better ways. So I thought; Yeah, Great, Let's go to the meditation course! And I was really looking forward to it! But then when I was actually on the meditation course, I left on the fifth day. So, it's a ten day course, and a very tough course! I think it was especially tough for people who haven't done meditation before, it's a real jump in the deep end.

J.D    - Quite a shock?

S.O'S - Yes, so it involves ten days of silence and ten days of sitting meditation with twelve hours of practice every day.

J.D  - Complete silence for the entire ten days?

S.O'S - Yes complete silence.

S.O'S - Aoife has just entered the room, who was also at ‘The Land’ participating!  . .so, do you want to fill her in on the question?

J.D    - Ok,  well we were just talking about the aspect of meditation as a pre-requisite in ‘The Land’, and I asked Seoidín to talk about her own views on this aspect of the land and it's implications in a wider sense.

A.D -  Ok.

S.O'S - I was talking about the Goenka Meditation course. I think that it's important that it's not a pre-requisite that participants should have to do that course before participating in ‘The Land’.

J.D - But it remains to be that way?

S.O'S - Yes, but they might change it for the next one year participation.

J.D - Do you think it's important that there's a choice? That you can choose not to do it?

 S.O'S - Yeah, or I think that Kamin ( Lerdchaiprasert ) should think about a softer meditation approach.

J.D - More like a half an hour a day?

S.O'S ..  A half an hour a day that people can work with and then if they want to do the ten day course they can. It should be open enough…I mean it is open enough in that I can choose to leave, but with the Goenka course what they say is that you're not allowed to go back and do the course once you've left.

J.D  - I think that a half an hour a day would be a better education for Europeans for when they come back from ‘The Land’ to be able to sustain a meditation practice.

A.D -  Well you’re not expected after the Goenka course to do 12 hours a day, you are asked to do two hours a day, an hour in the morning and an hour at night.

J.D  - Throughout your participation?

A.D - Yes, well that's the Goenka courses' advise they don't enforce it on ‘The Land’. While I think it's a great idea I don't think it quite functioned in the end, I mean Alex hated it, he's one of the other full time participants.

 S.O'S - He's from America…

 A.D - A lot of people who participated haven't had to go through that process and there was no way they were going to integrate meditation into their daily routine…

J.D   - All participants are aware that they have to meditate before they begin, so is it that some come to ‘The Land’ anyway, regardless of not wanting to do this?

S.O'S -  No, no . . no-one knows what it's going to be like and I think people come with really open minds and are willing to try.

 A.D -  It's a very extreme form of meditation course. Meditation is really pleasant when you are doing an hour a day. I did think the course was very effective but I just think it's extremely tough.

J.D   -  Ok, so I'll ask a second question, In your (Seoidín) artists statement for ‘The Land’ foundations website you say that " Art that is driven by a positive force of compassion is something that today's world needs".  Could you explain why this is, how you implement this approach and whether you would encourage other artists to adopt a similar modus operandi?

 S.O'S-  Well I do believe that compassion is important in my everyday way of being and I would attempt to bring it into my art practice in ways of working with people and in the forming of relationships. I suppose the Community Garden project in Dublin would be an example of trying to put that in practice and put it in place. The Community Garden is open for anyone to come and join, and it is non-hierarchical. It's very much about trust, the actual space, so there is no rules around what needs to be done in the space, but there is discussions had communally with participants. It's really interesting because when you start working that way initially you're like…a new person will come and there'll be this thought of …ooh they're trying to take over! And you watch your thought processes actually as a person, and I just learned so much from that experience of who I am and how I react and the judgements that I make. I realised this when I was working on the community garden before, when it was on the canal and I thought it would be a really positive experience to try and open it up and continue it, so I suppose that's one way of attempting it.

J.D - Without that focus on compassion would another person act on those fears of someone else trying to take over? Presumably causing arguments and debilitating the process….

 S.O'S - Well it debilitates the processes… I mean within collaboration there's always going to be difficulty, ideas are going to differ, but if you work from a position of compassion it means that you can meet at a point of sameness and open things up, whereas if you don't have that point of compassion all you see is difference and for me that means that you build a wall or you stop things from continuing, you break the flow, which would happen if that point of compassion wasn't used.

J.D -  Aoife, do you share this emphasis on compassion in your work?

A.D -   It isn't something I would put forward in a statement but I do agree with what Seoidín is saying. I'm working collaboratively in this project ( "Trespass" with Seoidín) but I don't often tend to work collaboratively in my own work, so looking at compassion for me would be a more objective way to develop a relationship with nature and the world, more through observation

J.D  - So is compassion the objective or goal of the work, to spread compassionate views?

 S.O'S - Well for me compassion is the objective of life, of my being in the world, yes.

J.D  - Okay,  and do you think it's important to…

 S.O'S - I think it's essential!

J.D  - But that's for you, other people may not agree so is it important to try to convince other people?

S.O'S - No, I don't think compassion is about getting other people to agree or not. Joy is contagious, you know? It's like it's just something that people are attracted to, so it moves that way. It's not about trying to make people believe in something.

J.D   - If ‘The Land’ were to expand and multiply as it is and retain it's absence of the concept of ownership and its focus on meditation and dialogue, could it potentially rival consumerism for a better, more people and environmentally oriented society ? Or did you experience any problems such as arguments or breakdown of living facilities, that would presumably increase in proportion to the expansion of ‘The Land’ and give us a society just as problematic as the one that exists?

A.D -   Well, as it's existing at the moment it's not really sustainable. It's a really nice concept and it makes you want to participate and be a part of it but it's not really functioning, basically its not functioning because it's being under-utilised, so in that theory if there was more people using it, it might function better. There is still some fundamental problems with how its being organized. There is a lack of leadership and a sense that no one owns it so even though you have the freedom to participate in any way you want, there still has to be, because of this, a bit more guidance. There is a feeling of community there but it is slightly divorced from ‘The Land’ itself. It remains a kind of abstract concept more than an actual tangible thing even though there's a tangible place, but what they are trying to put into practice isn't quite tangible yet.

J.D  - Why is that? What are the main problems in making it happen?

A.D - I guess people don't want to, the only people that live there are people like us who experiment with living there, the local people don't really live there except for the very organised parts of the one year programme.

 J.D    - Local artists?

 A.D -  Yes, the other artists who participated, they only really stay there if there is an event, or in the early part of the project when there was organised farming activities and meditation activities and a Thai masseur course so they would be there when there was something very structured happening.

J.D - I have read that ‘The Land’ is not completely self sustained, and that it does rely on the community surrounding it to a certain extent, and therefore it's success becomes a barometer of public will rather than the will of the artists. In that it is sustained by support from the local community.

 A.D -   I think that maybe that's an important aspect of it, that its not a complete bubble. The caretakers are local and there is an ongoing relationship with the community so I'd see that as a positive that it's not completely divorced, and I think that's one of the interesting things about the whole approach of trying to mesh it with traditional culture and that's one of the reasons why meditation is brought in, so that foreigners brought in from the outside can understand the Buddhist consciousness .

J.D    - Is it true that 80 per cent of the Goenka course are local people? So was that the basis of forming any relationships?

S.O'S - We didn't talk to anyone! (laughs)

J.D   - Is there a major language barrier?

S.O'S - Yes, there would be a language barrier in living in Thailand

A.D -  The local people don't speak any English, but some of the younger participants had quite good English.

S.O'S - Actually the two participants that were there for a year had pretty good Thai by the time we arrived

A.D -   And they had to really, because to be there for a year you really have to speak Thai, because you could just find it really debilitating to have be asking people to help you all the time.

 J.D     -  Do you think that an improvement that could be made to ‘The Land’ is that it would interact with the community more? I mean I read about the Mobile Seed Sharing project and that seemed like a really good way to interact with local farmers.

S.O'S - Yes, that was our idea of the project, it was developed as a way of trying to make ‘The Land’ work or function and break the barriers between the farmers and the artists on ‘The Land’, but it hasn't  been built yet so maybe it would be in One Year Project Three, and as Aoife was saying, something that needs to be figured out is how to make it more sustainable and have more people to participate so maybe that would be one project example that could help to bring in more participants.

J.D - I've read that one of the main criticisms of Tiravanija's earlier work involving serving Thai curry meals is that it really only caters for one specific social group and provides a sort of micro-topia for that group, the New York Chelsea District art scene of dealers and artists, so it completely excludes other social groups, whereas other artists like Santiago Sierra would sustain that conflict between social groups within the work. I think that one of the strengths of ‘The Land Foundation’ seems to be that these criticisms of it can be involved in it potentially.

 S.O'S - In the learning process….

 J.D - It is an ongoing project so the point of it is to overcome these obstacles.

S.O'S - Yes, and I think that's a really important point for artists going there to realise, that each of us are responsible for it in a sense, in making it.

A.D -  I very much thought that when I was there, that there was no point in criticising it in terms of what it didn't offer, but more look at it in terms of… they actually are being  very generous and offering a lot, but it's up to you to work out your position within that and what you can offer to the project as well. And if you have criticisms of it, you can make a rule to act on that.

 S.O'S - Because the actual ‘Land Foundation’, the group of participants are an amazing bunch of  people, they are all volunteers, there is only one person who is paid with very little money so it really is a kind of act of generosity, good will and energy. So there is a sense of…I mean we certainly never had anything but encouragement when we wanted to do something. We had criticism as well but in a supportive way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sign off

Interesting times with an unsustainable world wide economic system crashing, I am currently reading about the fall out in the art market which has been so much part of that Capitalist System, Read this interesting piece in the Financial Times : Artful practitioners of a confidence trick By Luke Johnson.

Does this mean a chance for a new thinking to emerge that is based on a different set of values? More in tune to compassion and nature and others? We'll have to wait and see I guess.

I have been back in Dublin now for 2 weeks and am settling back into my life here with a busy schedule ahead. I have a residency starting in airfield trust in November http://www.airfield.ie/arts_page.htm.
My collaborative project with South African artist Ralph Borland 'Tac tic" (www.tacticproject.blogspot.com) has an incubation period in Dublin's The Lab' art space and I have an exhibition with "Trespass" (www.trespass-trespass.blogspot.com) here in Dublin in February 2009.
Laters. Seoidin x

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bangkok
















"จากที่นาสู่สยามสแควร์ " โดย ส่วนหนึ่งของศิลปินที่ร่วมใช้ชี
วิตร่วมกันในโครงการหนึ่งปีรุ่นที่ 2 ณ มูลนิธิที่นา, เชียงใหม่
เปิดวัน ศุกร์ 17 ตุลาคม 2551, 19 น. - 22 น. ที่ไวท์สเปซ แกลเลอรี่ สยามสแควร์
การแสดงงานกลุ่มศิลปินไทยและศิลปินต่างชาติที่เคยร่วมโครงการหนึ่งปี รุ่นที่ 2 พำนักอาศัยร่วมกันอยู่ในพื้นที่ของมูลนิธิที่นา งานแสดง "จากที่นาสู่สยามสแควร์" เป็นการนำเสนอและเปิดมุมมองที่แตกต่างของกลุ่ม 11 ศิลปิน ซึ่งได้รับแรงบันดาลใจจากผืนที่นา ศิลปินแต่ละท่านได้ค้นหาความสัมพันธ์กันระหว่างผืนที่นากับสิ่งที่สะท้อนให้เห็นชุมชมเมืองอย่าง "สยามแสควร์"
นิทรรศการครั้งนี้เป็นการนำเสนอมุมมองที่แตกต่างกันของแต่ละศิลปินที่ได้รับแรงบัลดาลใจจากการเข้าร่วมโครงการ การตั้งคำถามเกี่ยวกับที่นาและความเชื่อมโยงกับสยาม แสควร์ผลงานของศิลปิน ถูกสะท้อนและถ่ายทอดออกมาเป็นผลงานที่หลากหลาย ตั้งแต่ งานภาพถ่าย งานวิดีโอ และงานจัดวาง ไปจนถึง งานที่ถ่ายทอดออกมาทางความคิด หนังสือ และเสียงเพลง

"FROM THE LAND TO SIAM SQAURE"by part of One Year Project Residency Program The Land Foundation's Artists One Year Project 2 at the Land Foundation
Opening Friday 17th October 2008, 7-10 pm at Whitespace gallery Siam Square

An exhibition of both Thai and International artists participating in the One-Year Project 2 residency program at the land foundation. From
the land to Siam Square explores the varied perspectives of 11 visual artists inspired by the land. Each artist investigates how the
ethos of the land relates to the urbanization of Siam Square. This common thread weaves throughout this multidisciplinary exhibition
comprised of a variety of works from photographs, videos, and installations to conceptual works, books and sound.

1.Alexander F.Wang (U.S.A.)
2.Rashanna Rashied Walker (U.S.A)
3.Panomporn Choosak (Thailand)
4.Ulrika Jansson (Sweden)
5.Seoidin O'Sullivan (Ireland)
6.Komol Kongcharoen (Thailand)
7.Pitt Martliam (Thailand)
8.Aoife Desmond (Ireland)
9.Sorasak Seangow (Thailand)
10.Marius Notvik (Norway)
11.David Doyle (Australia)

WHITESPACE GALLERY
Room #260, 2nd Floor, Lido Bldg.
Siam Square Soi 3, Rama 1 Rd.
Pathumwan, Bkk 10330. Thailand

Gallery Hours
tu we th fr 13:00-19:00
sa su 11:30-20:00
or by appointment

for more info pls contact
T +66(0) 2252 2900 EXT 315
E gallery@whitesp-ce.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Tools of The Trade" at Minimal Gallery, Chaing Mai










We, the
One Year Project 2 Participants at The Land Foundation are all busy preparing for a show opening on Tuesday evening at Minimal Gallery in Chaing Mai. Irish artist Aoife Desmond and myself are going to be presenting new work from our collaborative project 'Trespass'. Trespass investigates the different issues around land use and ownership in Urban environments through lens based documentation and performative actions. Together we map and intervene in disused urban space that through neglect has become wilderness. Through 'Trespass' we research and reveal the delicate balance between nature and the the built environments of cities.

So better get back to art making now . . tick tock tick tock.


Here are some images of Trespass work at Minimal:
http://picasaweb.google.com/seoidin/TrespassAtMinimalGalleryChaingMa




Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mobile Rice Seed Bank Project

http://uponthepath.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/ge-rice-threatens-biodiversity.gif





Mobile Rice Seed Bank Project Proposal

Artists: Seoidin O'Sullivan and Suwan Laimanee

Proposal: We propose to build 'A Mobile Rice Seed Bank' that will be parked at 'The Land'. This Mobile Seed Bank will be able to be cycled to nearby farms and villages in and around 'The Land.' It will act as a point of information on the necessity of 'seed saving'. It will provide information on the different seed varieties and also act as a distribution point for genetic rice seed varieties initially (This can later include other varities of food and vegetable seed).
It is also a point at which people can seed swap, it will
be an interactive community installation to encourage the sharing of local rice seed varieties. It is about returning variety conservation to communities to strengthen the work of seed saving and protection and to help to return seed banks to their original purpose. 'being that of a back up for existing in situ conservation by farmers' (www.greennet.or)

Rice is the staple food for a large part of the world's population. The Thai government lead the way in Asia with its decision to stop field trials of GM crops in 2001. The agriculture ministry was ordered to withdraw approval for the trials to protect farmers, biodiversity and the environment from genetic pollution.'(the guardian, wednesday april 18, 2001) This year (2008) has seen an increase in the price of Rice due the current fuel crisis. Rice prices are expected to continue to increase. This project offers a small solution for future direction for local farmers. Rice demand recently outstripped supply. With the increase in urbanisation has come an increase in the demand for meat production, rice fields are being converted into places for live stock. There is a large knock on effect ocurring. Severe weather across Asia has also damaged production.With this project we wish to offer an alternative. This project encourages the sharing of resources and information, it is also about localisation . The economic and social impacts of this food crisis are having an impact on the livelihoods of poor farmers and communities.




References:

a. Temescal Seed Swap















b. Nils Norman, 1999. "The Gerard Winstanley Radical Gardening Space Reclamation Mobile Field Center and Weather Station Prototype (NYC Chapter)












c. Mobile service vehicles in Chaing Mai, September 2008.















Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Artist Statement on Climate Change

Artist Statement on Climate Change for The Land Foundation: Seoidin O'Sullivan

Climate Change

Climate Change is the human race finally comprehending the impact our modern livelihoods and lifestyles are having on our natural environment. It is an opportunity for a large, collective realisation that some of our modern life choices and ways of living have a destructive effect on ourselves, our communities, other countries(usually poorer nations suffer the worst health consequences) and our planet. This knowing is not new. Many wise people have warned us about this over the last 100 years or more(see Silent Spring, Rachel Carson and The One Straw Revolution,Masanobu Fukuoka), but unfortunately we did not listen. Climate change is the environmental crisis reaching such a logger-head that the evidence can no longer be hidden or the truth denied. Averting or even slowing down Climate Change may seem like a daunting task, but many inspiring small-scale local projects all over the world give evidence that other ways of living and being are indeed possible. In order to address Climate Change we need to make lasting connections between the political, environmental, socio-economic and cultural facets of our lives. We need to comprehend that we all have a shared responsibility to bring about the necessary changes so that together we can set a new direction towards a more sustainable planet that works with and has a deep respect for nature.

Climate Change is a cultural as well as an environmental challenge. The Arts community globally (like so many other professional and business industries) has been very slow to even acknowledge climate change. Through cross disciplinary dialogues and the sharing of information and knowledge, we have the opportunity to creatively address and discover how this challenge can be met with solutions that will make a better world possible now and for the future.