Festival

The Turtle Who Carried the World — The Art of Treasure Island Music Festival

So I know it sounds crazy, but one of the things I am the most excited about for Treasure Island Music Festival this year, is the art installation being created by Chromaform. Here is an example of their past works:

The ZOA is a large pulsating organism from the microcosm inspired by a baby jellyfish, the hydrozoa polyp. A mysterious white light emanates from the nucleus of this alien lifeform.

Issa damn jellyfish playground!!!

Chromaform is an artist collective that brings together art and science to create beautiful, interactive sculptures and bring them to life in public settings. This year they submitted their newest piece “Gaia” which is based upon the Turtle who Carried the World mythos. I want to tell you the version I know… it was passed down to me from my Tio when I was a kid.
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Before there were people, the world was nothing but water. There were no men, there were no women. Above the ocean, there was a void of air, and that void held all the birds. The ocean held all the fish and creatures. Far above the unpeopled world, there was a world called the Sky World, and that is where the Gods lived. There was a man in the Sky World, and that man had a wife, who pregnant with child. She had the strangest cravings for the most random of food, (because let’s face it, we like some weird ass shit when we are preggo), and the man wanted to ensure his pregnant wife’s happiness.

One day, the wife decided she wanted to eat bark from The Great Tree. The Great Tree grew deep in the center of the Sky World, and it’s roots spread across the floor the Sky World. On its branches there were many different kinds of leaves and different kinds of fruits and flowers. The tree was not
supposed to be marked or mutilated by any of the beings who dwelt in the Sky World. It was a sacred tree that stood at the center of the universe.

(It started to sound a little Adam and Eve to me at this point, but I digress)

Her husband, wanting to please her, went to one of the roots and dug a small hole in order to expose the tenderest roots — but the floor was not sturdy, and a hole broke through — exposing the Gods to their first glimpse of the void/ocean below. The husband was scared, and ran.

His wife, however, was curious. She wanted to understand more about the world below, so she stole away to the hole to look through to the other world below. No one knows if she slipped, or if she was pushed by her husband, finally tired of her nagging (it was that one, my money says) but either way, she fell. The Gods saw this. They did nothing.

It was the birds of the sea who saw the pregnant woman falling, and came together to form a feathered mattress to catch her thought they were unable to carry her for long. Some of the birds flew down to the ocean’s surface, and called to the Great Turtle for help. The Great Turtle agreed, and floated to the surface. The birds brought her down and rested her there.

Rendering of Gaia, The Great Turtle.

She was sure she would die alone as the Gods watched her. But the sea creatures and birds refused to let her perish. They asked her what they could do to help.

“Find me some soil, so that I may plant these roots deep between my fingers, for them to grow. They will sustain me with their life.”

The animals knew that IF the soil the woman needed existed, it was deep below the surface. One by one the diving birds and animals tried and failed. They went to the limits of their endurance, but they could not get to the bottom of the ocean. Finally, the muskrat said he would. He dove far below the surface, and all the creatures waited with deeply bated breath — but he did not return. The animals began to panic… until suddenly his little body floated up to the surface of the ocean, a tiny crumb of earth clutched in his paw. He seemed to be dead. They pulled him up on the turtle’s back and they sang and prayed over him and breathed air into his mouth, and finally, he stirred. Thus it was the muskrat, the Earth-Diver, who brought from the bottom of the ocean the soil from which the earth was to grow.

The woman took the tiny clod of dirt and placed it on the middle of the great sea turtle’s back. Then the woman began to walk in a circle around it, moving in the direction of the sun. The earth began to grow until eventually, she was able to plant the roots she had clutched between her fingers when she fell. The plants of the earth grew. To keep up the progress, the woman walked as the sun goes until eventually there was enough that she could gather roots and plants to eat and built herself a little hut.

After a while, her pregnancy came to an end, and she birthed a daughter on the back of the Great Turtle. Now the woman and her daughter both would walk in the circle to ensure that the earth and plants would continue to grow. They lived on the plants and roots they gathered. Eventually, as the girl grew, a man was sent down from the Sky World. The daughter was so in awe of seeing another human like herself, that wasn’t her mother, she fainted.

The man pulled two arrows out of the quiver the Gods sent him with. He placed one sharp and one dull over her stomach, and left. When she awoke, the mother and daughter realized that she was with child. When the daughter was to give birth, it was discovered that she was to give birth to twins. One twin, the right handed twin, was normal, and saw the world through the eyes many of us would today. But the left handed twin was different, he saw things through a different lens, and viewed the world differently.

The left handed twin ended up killing the mother during child birth (hence why folks always be hating on lefties) The twins met in the world outside, and the right-handed twin accused his brother of murdering their mother. But their grandmother told them to stop their fighting. They
buried their mother and from her grave grew the plants which the people still use. From her head grew the corn, the beans, and the squash—“our supporters, the three sisters.” From her heart grew the sacred tobacco, which the people still use in the ceremonies and by whose upward floating smoke they send thanks. The women call her “our mother,” and they dance and sing in the rituals so that the corn, the beans, and the squash may grow to feed the people.

But the conflict of the twins did not end at the grave of their mother. And, strangely enough, the grandmother favored the left-handed twin.
The right-handed twin was angry, and he grew more angry as he thought how his brother had killed their mother. The right-handed twin was the one who did everything just as he should. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He always told the truth, and he always tried to accomplish what seemed to be right and reasonable. The left-handed twin never said what he meant or meant what he said. He always lied, and he always did
things backward. You could never tell what he was trying to do because he always made it look as if he were doing the opposite. He was the devious one. These two brothers, as they grew up, represented two ways of the world which are in all people. The Indians did not call these the right and the wrong. They called them the straight mind and the crooked mind, the upright man and the devious man, the right and the left.

The twins had creative powers. They took clay and modeled it into animals, and they gave these animals life. And in this they contended with one another. The right-handed twin made the deer and the left-handed twin made the mountain lion which kills the deer. But the right-handed twin knew there would always be more deer than mountain lions. And he made another animal. He made the ground squirrel. The left-handed twin saw that the
mountain lion could not get to the ground squirrel, who digs a hole, so he made the weasel. And although the weasel can go into the ground squirrel’s hole and kill him, there are lots of ground squirrels and not so many weasels. Next the right-handed twin decided he would make an animal that the weasel could not kill, so he made the porcupine. But the left-handed twin made the bear, who flips the porcupine over on his back and tears out his belly. And the right-handed twin made berries and fruits of other kinds for his creatures to live on. The left-handed twin made briars and poison ivy, and the poisonous plants like the baneberry and the dogberry, and the suicide root with which people kill themselves when they go out of their minds. And the left-handed twin made medicines, for good and for evil, for doctoring and for witchcraft. And finally, the right-handed twin made man.

The world the twins made was a balanced and orderly world, and this was good. The plant-eating animals created by the right-handed twin would eat up all the vegetation if their number was not kept down by the meat-eating animals which the left-handed twin created. But if these carnivorous animals ate too many other animals, then they would starve, for they would run out of meat. So the right and the left-handed twins built
balance into the world.


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Chromaform will honor this story by creating a huge sculptural version of the Great Turtle in which a massive laser-cut stainless steel sea turtle offers horoscope readings that change based on date and time after participants press buttons on the turtle’s fin.

A piece of my childhood coming to life in a place that I manifested myself to be a part of.

I can’t you guys. Sometimes the beauty can be too much.

Get your tickets please! I need someone to be there to experience with me, mostly because I might cry like a baby when I see the Great Turtle.

https://www.treasureislandfestival.com/

Until then, you know where to find me:

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Olivia Monahan

October 3rd, 2018

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