Walking with the Ancients: Waters of the Past

Updated on Sat, 08/15/2020 - 22:47
Tracey Benson with DNA music by Josiah Jordan
System of Knowledge
Norway, DNA Music
Experiencing ancestral places, stories of genealogy

In 2017, I returned to the village of my great great grandfather in Norway, to visit the church where I had traced my family from the parish book. The church had been standing on the site in Klokkastrua from 1150. The church was closed. I searched the graveyard, looking for a trace of my kin, finding no evidence. I felt dejected, not finding any connection to my ancestors. Then I noticed a big old Oak, standing proudly at the gate of the church. 

I realised that this Oak had witnessed my family, that it knew my ancestors. It had stood watching quietly the marking of significant events - baptisms, marriages, funerals. Overcome with emotion, I sat down under this ancient Elder, huddling close the the trunk of the tree, resting in the calm truth of time for what seemed an eternity.

Opposite the church there was a building, which looked like a small school but it happened that it was studios and a gallery, the Kulturhuset Hovtun. I met the manager, Maria, herself an artist. I mentioned that I was also an artist on a residency undertaking a project on ancestry in Drammen. She showed me around the studios and I told her about a recent video work that had a layered sound piece with music made with my DNA. I described my work as 'a meditative piece', which the curator found interesting, inviting me to present the work as a meditation in an evening of presentations and discussions around art, science and spirituality.

To sit in an ancestral place to share a work dedicated to my ancestors felt incredibly profound and 'meant to be.' 


59.6, 10.5
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