Hope Ginsburg and Joshua Quarles

Land Dive Team: Tarpon Springs is the fourteenth event in the Land Dive Team body of work proposing practicing present moment awareness as a strategy for navigating the overwhelming reality of climate change. Sited in the historic Sponge Exchange at the heart of the sponge diving community of Tarpon Springs, the performance drew a connection between the movement of breath and sound through the meditating body and the flow of ocean water through the pores of a sea sponge. Composer Joshua Quarles wrote and performed a wind instrument score in three movements. The audience was invited to participate in the guided meditation.

Land Dive Team: Tarpon Springs was part of Sponge Exchange, curated by Sarah Howard at USFCAM and supported by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Listen to abridged audio of the live piece

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Land Dive Composer: Joshua Quarles

Land Dive Team: Sandra Blaker, Susan Bucciero, Will Douglas, Leslie Elsasser, Hope Ginsburg, Sarah Howard, Eric Jonas, Natalia Kraviec, Ash Lester, Carol Mickett, Luke Myers, Erin Oliver, Maxwell Parker, Robert Stackhouse, Ann-Eliza Taylor

Land Dive Support Team: Marty De La Cruz, Don Fuller, Ashley Jablonski, Vincent Kral, Jennifer Panagiotis, Yannis Panagiotis

Acknowledgments and Introduction:

Land Dive Team: Tarpon Springs

February 23, 2020

Hope Ginsburg

Welcome. Thank you all for being here. This work comes as a culmination of the Sponge Exchange exhibition at USFCAM and the Sponge Exchange class at USF School of Art and Art History, taking the sponge as a model of exchange, knowledge exchange in this case, so I want to start with gratitude to Curator Sarah Howard, the USF Contemporary Art Museum, the Institute for Research in Art at USF, Co-teacher John Byrd, TA Maxwell Parker, and all of the students of the Sponge Exchange class.

The exhibition is open until March 7th, and we all so hope you will have the chance to see it.

I also wish to acknowledge the funders, partners and event supporters that have made today’s piece, Land Dive Team: Tarpon Springs possible. 

We’ve received generous funding from:

The National Endowment for the Arts

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

And the USFCAM Art for Community Engagement (ACE) Fund

This evening’s event would not have been possible without the generous partnership of:

Louis Pappas and The Sponge Exchange

Jennifer and Yannis Panagiotis from Tarpon Strings Music Center

Athena Tsardoulias at Tarpon Sponge Inc.

Brooke Hanson and Jeff Larson of The Turn the Tide for Tarpon organization

Tracy Tippin and Blue Green Connections

Tina Bucuvalas

Debbi Dellenberger of Spongeorama

and sponge diver Captain Taso Karistinos

The event has been supported by the:

CAM Club student organization

And the fearless, die hard team at the CAM

Without further ado, I wish to introduce my collaborator, musician and composer Joshua Quarles who composed this new work for both saxophone and clarinet in response to the Sponge Exchange site – a wind score that joins his breath with ours.

And the volunteer Land Dive Team, a chorus, whose attention to breath is assisted and amplified by their scuba regulators.

This is the fourteenth Land Dive in a series of works that proposes meditation, or practicing concentration, mindfulness, and compassion as a tool for facing the avoidance, difficult emotions, and isolation (both as individuals and as a species) that arise as we face our radically changing climate. Each land dive is deeply tied to place and we’re gathered in an extraordinary one, the historic and present-day Sponge Exchange of Tarpon Springs as well as on the newly designated Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot of oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue organization.

What can sponges and exchange teach us about meditation?

First, the sponge is a model exchanger, taking in surrounding nutrients and releasing them as smaller particles, feeding its fellow undersea creatures. We are deeply grateful to be in exchange with this site and honored to be able to make this offering here in Tarpon Springs. We have been supported by the community. And we have taken inspiration from the sea sponges – the first ever multicellular organisms – an originating model of collaboration and exchange.

As we segue into the work now, I’d like to invite each of you to join us in this meditation with Tarpon Springs, with everyone gathered in the Sponge Exchange, with the waters of the Anclote River, the wider waters of the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

And an invitation to take the sponge itself as our inspiration for this meditation: Sponges, have no inside or outside! They are all pores: the phylum porifera. Their entire bodies are penetrable by the water around them. Good, bad, terrifying, ecstatic, everything passes through them ­– arises and flows through ­– they are a glorious model of non-attachment – if you will, the ultimate meditators – ever present to all unfolding in their world – and they do not move – totally still, in perpetual experience of their surroundings. Think of what we can learn from this kindred species! Your breath moving through you, sounds moving through you, are as water moving through the pores of a sponge. Can you return to that thought as your mind wanders – which of course it will!

The piece takes place in three movements:

The first: concentration: please join us in watching your breath for steadiness and focus and return to it when you notice you are distracted. Your breath is always there. (So is distraction!)

The second: mindfulness, this is a refining of attention to allow full connection with everything going on within and around us. Up here, we will be shifting, breathing normally, and continuing our practice of noticing each moment. Please be welcome join us in doing the same!

The third and final movement is compassionate awareness: we open our attention, making it more inclusive – we are a connected species and connected to the species with which we share the planet. This is the moment to move your attention outward – sending wishes for each other, those not here, the divers, the community, and on…

With that a dedication of this work: to the sponge divers of Tarpon Springs, past, present, and future, from here in this moment.

Photo: Pat Blocher
Photo: Pat Blocher
Photo: Pat Blocher
Photo: Pat Blocher
Photo: Pat Blocher
Photo: Pat Blocher