21 Fragments – Life in the time of Covid-19 (coming soon)

( Below are some thoughts I originally wrote and posted back in December 2014

Today I took the time to go through the 14 (now 15) presented fragments of 53 Fragments. I started with the most recent and worked my way backwards to the first one (first presented on September 9 this year / 2014).

I looked at the picture first – taking it in as a stand-alone thing and also as a response to the theme of part 1 (Creation / Birth).

Then I read the poem – as a stand-alone thing and as a part of the broader fabric relating to creation and birth (and the picture).

Then I listened to the piece of music – sometimes with my eyes closed and sometimes looking at the picture for that fragment.

When the music finished I returned to the picture and the poem – letting my eyes run across each – with the music still playing in my mind.

More than an hour later I felt a warmth and satisfaction – happy that I had embarked on the project months earlier and grateful to all those artists who have been contributing to 53 Fragments.

Each and every picture, poem and piece of music had spoken to me – given me something nourishing and stimulating. Each piece, each fragment had caught me in its expressiveness, its relationship with the theme of creation and birth.

When I conceived the project (towards the the end of last year / 2013) I was very much interested in reaching a variety of voices – bringing together a group of artists who would explore the themes with a broad scope, with depth and conviction – escaping monotony and formula. I was hoping for authenticity – and what is authenticity for me?

It’s when artists reach inside themselves – exploring, going on an adventure, which might involve leaving the comfort zone; it might mean confronting pain, but also celebrating that which makes us feel good too. Authenticity for me means non-posturing, leaving as much of the ego at the ‘door-step’ as possible.

When I approached the artists (I hoped would agree to contribute to this project), I had in mind all of the above. All of the artists I approached had, for me, a strong and beautiful sense of expression in the works of theirs I had experienced.

I never saw this expressiveness in terms of good or bad – in a definitive, objective sense – I liked their work and hoped they would feel a connection with the project I presented to them – enough of a connection to commit. I did feel a quality in their work that was consistent and developed through work, passion and a sense of aesthetics that imbibed the expression with a certain cohesiveness, an organic quality too which I always feel good about when I experience it in art.

One of the challenges for me was making sure I had as many of the ingredients for part 1’s fragments as possible – so I could make decisions regarding combinations of picture, poem and music. It’s been instinctive, intuitive and subjective – I was looking for overlaps, for organic relationships, for resonance, dissonance here – harmony there, contrast here – congruity there, soothing here – unsettling there. I promised myself that if I felt any doubt about a contribution I would trust my relationship with the artist to communicate with them and discuss this and if necessary make changes. So far this hasn’t been necessary.

There have been no last minute solutions, no hurried decisions, no combinations that I have not taken with a sufficient degree of reflection. Today’s review left me feeling very comfortable with each and every fragment. It was a pleasure to discover I don’t have a favourite – they are all precious to me and as a whole represent a wonderfully rich and multi-faceted expression of creation / birth.

Originally I had hoped for a couple of fragments that would include music – as the preparations unfolded it became clear I could be more ambitious on that front and in fact every fragment has become a triptych of picture, poem and music / sound.

I can relate to every single fragment – both individually and collectively.

Each of us who loves and values art might well bring to the table their own individual scales, judgement, measurements of quality – assigning this piece to the good box, this to the excellent and this to the really not good.

My own estimation of all the fragments so far is extremely positive. It has amazed me to see how each artist responded to the challenge of contributing – responding either to the theme directly or to another contributing artists contribution.

My estimation is purely subjective and I resist underpinning it with undue aesthetic, analytical justification / elaboration.

Going into each poem, each picture, each piece of music I can see, feel and hear the sincerity, the effort, the skill, the compassion, the spirit, the agility, the intelligence and passion that each and every contributor nurtures and cultivates.

No one participating is doing this for money, no one is doing it for prestige – and I am so grateful for the good fortune to have connected with such a group of artists, musicians and poets – who have been so generous with their art, music and poetry.

Part 1 is drawing to its final fragment – 3 to go now. Part 2 (Childhood and Youth) looks forward to beginning in mid January (2015).

Today is a rainy, cold Saturday. A few years have passed since beginning and ending the 53 Fragments project. Much has happened in my life and no doubt a thousand tales have unfolded for everyone who contributed to 53 Fragments. I’m preparing the next project – another online collaboration called 21 Fragments – Life in the time of Covid-19.  Many of the those people who took part in 53 Fragments have agreed to also take part in this new project – and for that I am deeply grateful.  There are some new contributors and the task of bringing together the ‘team’ is not yet complete, but there is enough of a team for me to feel optimistic about embarking on this new journey. There is one person who can neither accept nor decline my invitation to take part. A wonderful lady and poet called Jane Blue moved on some time back. I would have loved her to be a part of this new project, but I am certain that in spirit she is with me on this. My own efforts with 21 fragments are dedicated to the loving memory of Jane Blue.  

Collaboration / Facebook and More Reflections on 53 Fragments RELOADED

Today is Friday and the weekend is upon us. These days (the ones of COVID-19), there is barely a difference between the week and weekend. Days and time have shifted into a new, unusual place / space / zone. Our eyes, habits, rituals and routines have, in many different ways, become unstuck; dare I say ‘fragmented’. No, that would be too close to opportunism, given the title of this project.

There is a profound ‘shaking up’ underway. Layer after layer is being stripped away from what was – before COVID-19 invaded every country, every person, all the time. We are all trying to get through this strange and challenging time in ways that are reflective of change, of a sense of solidarity, in a way that tunes into the unknown and for the moment the unknowable.

This blog post isn’t about the current situation though. I am working my way through the archives of my blog posts from 2014 – and ‘reloading’ them in this new 53 Fragments RELOADED.

This one dates back to 11 November 2014:

A short exchange (on Facebook) with one of the contributors (Chris Madoch) to 53 Fragments –  Chris wrote:

‘This is a part of the Dean Pasch project which I have admired so much because as if by magic he brought to ripe fruition a COLLABORATION on such a scale that I would have thought it impossible of FB. I tried such a thing many times and every time the project failed. Of course the common factor was always me so I must take a large portion of the blame. BUT congratulations to Dean for proving to be, maybe more patient and certainly far better at logistics and juggling personalities [my word for them is singularities] than me.’ CM (Chris Madoch)

My response:

Dear Chris – It’s good to read your positive appraisal of the project 53 Fragments. It’s important for me to say this isn’t a Facebook (based) project – it lives somewhere else (in terms of platform) – I chose wordpress for that task and this was important. Secondly it is a project that has been gestating for some considerable time and the participation in one or two other projects crystalized my wishes and served as fruitful catalysts – to get myself going.

It is an undertaking that required a belief I could ‘pull it off’ with the support and participation of a collection of poets, visual artists and musicians who I approached and who embraced the concept and committed themselves to it and its 1 year reach. Not everyone answered my approach and not everyone agreed to take part who did answer.

I am therefore especially grateful to those who did and who have sent me the ingredients for Part 1, well in advance. This has allowed me to have a better opportunity of bringing together the combination of words, picture and music that I feel express themselves individually but especially so as a multi-media experience.

The expression in terms of theme and content has been (and remains) paramount. I have been amazed and dazzled, moved and rewarded by the superb scope and scale, variety and individuality of the contributions to Part 1 – and equally stimulated by the overlaps, the echoes and how they make me feel there is a rich and powerful closeness within the differences.

I’m looking forward to presenting your contribution in 2 weeks times (with a picture and piece of music) and applaud it here – thanks for the preview here and for your supportive and encouraging words.

The project lives and breathes from those who have contributed and continue to contribute – and lives and breathes even more so through the visitors to ‪www.53fragments.com

Having said this is not a Facebook (based) project – I should still make mention of how many of the contributors to the project have become a part of my creative life as a direct result of Facebook – it’s a place with obvious flaws and warts – but what places don’t have their fair share of them? I am grateful to all the people I have contact with on Facebook who show an interest and share and encourage. It’s a treasure – and as I have always said – it’s free (even if Facebook does profit from our presence and activities here).

I hope this project will continue to proposer as it unfolds and look forward to the other parts and to the next 10 months of presenting more poetry, pictures and music. Thanks again. Warm wishes – Dean

The weekend begins here in 2020 with the trees bursting with new green leaves and blossom. Flowers are everywhere and the world is experiencing something remarkable. I am always cautious about expressing positivity in these troubled times – with all the death and sickness that is taking place. Nonetheless I close this blog post on a note of optimism. COVID-19 is killing people. It is making millions of people around the world sick. Economies are being punched and kicked by the pandemic. People are suffering. Yet at the same time there are waves of hope and narratives of an opportunity to reinvent life. A necessity to redefine society. Revolutionary movements may have been on the wane over the last decades – but the COVID-19 impact has the ‘grammar’ of revolution. Let’s see where this takes us. Let’s reflect on where we want it to take us. Let’s decide what we want to be different and make a difference.

Parts, Categories and Language

For as long as I remember I’ve been drawn to things like parts and categories.

The earliest recollection dates back to me being around 8 and getting a boxed children’s encyclopedia.

I don’t remember how it was structured – alphabetically or using some methodology such as art, science, geography etc. I do emotionally recall there was a system at play and that this felt acceptable and right.

Over 40 years later I am aware that such systems and structuring of information is often arbitrary and sometimes / often even agenda-filled – period of time’s use of structure to feed in this or that view / ideology – which is what we become aware of when certain words / phrases become ‘outlawed’ – and this is not only about political correctness but also simply about the foibles of taste and fashion in terms of ‘in’ and ‘out’.

Part of me has always instinctively rebelled against categorization, against drawers (and being put into them). Yet another part of me has embraced this – manifesting itself in stuff like titles (for pictures and poems), in making lists, in collecting .

My interplay with a belief that time does not exist and a grudging recognition of its presence is still underway. In my 20s fragments were very important to me and this, in a sense, was a reflection of a problematic relationship with order / structure, chronology / the linear – even an intuitive distrust of anything that sought to bring neatness and order to chaos.

Now I embark on a project that seeks to categorize phases of life. A project that breaks itself into parts / sections. A project that Insinuates a presence on a spinning piece of matter in a universe that mocks both science and religion can be given structure in the sense of beginnings and ends – lacks a phrase to mirror ‘re-birth’. Perhaps I should have included ‘pre-birth’ but I forgot to and it doesn’t feel the same anyway. However – it belongs to creation in the sense of presence is as much defined by absence – now is defined by not now … and fragments – defined by a puzzle completed.

Someone I once knew and who termed himself a ‘materialist’ took understandable exception to the terminology of Parts in this project. They could not understand how I / the project could present itself so. I actually feel they have a valid point and it made me re-reflect on this.

I am in the process of this and perhaps – in truth – that is also what this project is about as well. To reflect on fragments and what this means for us.

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”

Carl Gustav Jung

Fragment (noun ) – a part broken off or detached / an isolated,

unfinished or incomplete part

The preparation for 53 Fragments is well underway. Many excellent poems have been received and pictures too.

Seeing what have arrived as independent stand-alone entities – and how some speak to one another in ways that encourage me to pair them is exciting.

I did have certain subtle hopes, for this development and so much of my hope has been exceeded. How poets and visual artists have risen to the task in hand – exploring ‘creation / birth’ as a starting-off point, is a privilege to behold. With a few weeks to go before launching the project, with the first installment / fragment – I feel optimistic the start will be a good one. I have also had to acquaint myself with technical issues regarding the platform and this also feeds into the notion of creation / birth.

Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.

Teilhard de Chardin

A look back to the beginnings of 53 Fragments / 17 August 2014

Planning stages – 53 Fragments

Around this time (March / April) , 6 years ago, I was in the planning stages of 53 Fragments.

I had a solid idea of the structure:

3 mediums / picture, poem, music

53 fragments (why this number and are there really exactly 53 fragments?)

Around 20 artists, poets and musicians from around the world – filling up 53 Fragments with content

A ‘weblishing’ time-frame of around 17-18 weeks / approximately 4 months.

The theme was clear: Existence – from the womb to the tomb, as well as before and after – broken into 5 parts:

creation-birth / childhood-youth / early adulthood & middle-age / old-age / death-rebirth

The contributors would know the themes and overview in advance, and contribute to specific ‘fragments’ as the weeks and months unfolded. Sometimes a contributor would be responding to the theme as well as to another contributor’s contribution. Some fragments were finalised last-minute, others were gathered, put together and waited for their moment to go public.

I had little to no experience creating the site for the project. I threw myself into that part blindly, yet with enthusiasm. Somehow it worked enough to carry the flow, throughout the months from the launch of fragment 1 to the final fragment.

6 years later I am reloading the project. 53 Fragments has plenty of life left in it as a project. It has its own organic dynamic and set of textures. my work with the reload is to tune into this, to put right the technical mistakes (in the back-end) that I was a master at! I have more knowledge and experience now. 53 Fragments will not only be reloaded but seek expansion. I still have contact with almost all of the contributors. Sadly, one dear friend, passed away. Jane Blue remains very much a part of this project however. I will miss her responses and further contributions.

As the world struggles and grapples with COVID-19, 53 Fragments mingles with a world filled with life and death and all in between. May you all remain well, safe and healthy – and those who are suffering, may you find strength and maintain the hope to continue and heal. We are all in this together.

53 Fragments RELOADED

53 Fragments – Origins

The origin of 53 Fragments goes back to the early part of 2014 (it was launched in September 2014).

The idea of a ‘serial’ creation has a tradition stretching back a long way.  How we – as artists – use this is only as restricted as our needs and imagination. I prefer projects with a long-term scope. Pre-2014, I was increasingly drawn to setting up a project that brought together a range of writers, musicians and visual artists reaching across continents, genders, sexual identities, races and generations. With 53 Fragments I found the basis to reach out with something I felt comfortable with, and optimistic about – the response was (I confess) surprisingly positive. The project was conceived to take place ‘online’ – allowing different artists, working in different mediums, living in different places around the world, to collaborate and present their work together, and in a place accessible to anyone in the world with access to the world wide web.

Over the years I had experienced ekphrastic writing (in workshops etc). I had experienced illustration work and filmmaking. I had witnessed poet after poet coupling their poems with a picture of some kind and visual artists exploring the relationship between their picture and some words. The tradition of poetry in film also has a long-tradition – especially in terms of filmmaking freed from narrative / telling a ‘story’.

That was the backdrop and roots to the aesthetic of 53 Fragments. The content is specifically about life – the arc of life from the womb to the tomb. Everything begins with life and ends with death and what comes before life and after death? That is the ‘plot’ of 53 Fragments.

I launched ‘53 Fragments (in 5 parts)’ in September 2014. It ran for the next several months – a new fragment was presented each week – combining a poem, a picture and a piece of music. Visual artists, poets and musicians from around the world (almost 30 in total) sent me their interpretations of the themes I had identified for the project – and I put out a weekly fragment on a website I had created to be online home to this journey. The journey really was the destination but also vice versa.

I had been thinking about ‘revisiting’ the project for a good while – and, like many plans we have, the procrastination effect was attendant. However, the time has come and this time I will free myself of any specific time-structure and have also decided to play the 5 parts in reverse, beginning with the ‘end’, so to speak: ‘death- rebirth’ – and working my way back to ‘birth-creation’