322: “Chores As Art Compositions” (Alberto Aguilar)

                “Consider household chores as art compositions or performance.” -Alberto Aguilar, quoted by Jorge Lucero in “Instructional Resources as Permission”

                I’ve been wondering about what parts of my life I consider not artistic. Sitting on my couch watching TV, for instance. Shopping for groceries, walking to and from campus, or sweeping the floor. When I was in India, a friend commented on how paying attention to an activity could fill it with presence, with connection. He used the example of brushing your teeth: do it distracted, and it’s another chore. Do it while giving it space, while focusing on it, and it can become something like meditation. Years before, in practicing Aikido, we swept the dojo’s mats before and after every class. This sweeping, this cleaning of the space, was presented as an intentional act—a way of being inside the moment, of preparing for our practice, of building the space for each other. I wonder if these are kinds of art. I wonder what other kinds of art I could do at the gas station, while scrubbing a cook pot, while cleaning out the fridge. I wonder: what is the connection between attention, presence in a moment, and art?
                I think there is a difference between using something as art and considering something as art. In cleaning out the fridge, I could arrange old stray kale leaves and the molding onion to make an abstract picture. That would be using what I found to make art. But can the cleaning itself be the art? Can art be cleaning?
                In the next week, I want to pay attention to the “least art” parts of my life. I want to be inside those moments. To trust them, as though their activities might be in themselves art. This morning I started with the patterned music of the shower all around me. Later I got busy, lost in trying to do too much. Now I’m coming back. Unless I didn’t go away: what about the hectic-ness, the trying and feeling stuck—what composition waits in that?

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