Phoebe Knapp’s TOMB receives new life as host to poetry and sound performance
Phoebe Knapp has resurrected TOMB. The 18-year old structure is being given new life as part of a sound and poetry performance on Sunday, Oct. 9 in the backyard of studioLGX, 407 N. 24th St.
Knapp, a third-generation rancher known for her large-scale installations and three-dimensional wooden structures, created the enormous interactive structure for a solo show at the Yellowstone Art Museum in 2004.
“I wanted to fill this room with something that was going to be expanded in concept,” said Knapp. The labyrinth-like interactive structure is composed of three cubic boxes nested inward, from the largest box of 12’ X 12’ X 12’ to the smallest box of 3’10” X 3’10” X 3’10, with all angles determined by phi – the irrational mathematic concept represented as 1.618 repeating into infinity.
TOMB now has new life outside studioLGX as a one-night venue on Sunday, Oct. 9 for poetry and sound. Artists Lee Below, Lea Fallow ( my sound project ), Matt Taggart, and Jon Lodge are collaborating for a performance that incorporates violin, spoken word poetry, ambient drone, and amplified sound. Knapp will also give an artist’s talk about the structure, starting at 6PM.
“I see this as an amplification of this structure,” said Knapp. “TOMB is having an extended life by having poetry and sound input.”
Bringing TOMB out of storage has been a chance to see the structure in a new venue. “It feels like a home,” described Anna Paige, who performs as Lea Fallow and will be sharing original poetry in collaboration with violinist Lee Below that evening. “There is something in TOMB that feels very comfortable.”
The structure is an homage to phi, also called the golden ratio. “It is in all beings,” described Knapp. “It is micro and macro. It applies to galaxies in the universe. It’s present in nature, in the structure of plants and trees into the smallest bits of DNA.”
Knapp’s fascination with this number is expressed in her art, and TOMB is the largest construction on this topic. “Because of the proportions, you feel like you’re expanding,” Knapp said. “Phi is an irrational number, so therefore, it gives it that sense of no end. There is no end to that number.”
Modeled after subterranean tombs Phoebe once observed along the Appian Way in Rome, the interactive work captures the strangeness of walking a labyrinth, giving the viewer a feeling of expansion — even when physically contracting. Inside, crouched in the smallest space, it feels like being entombed, while still getting to feel the wind, the rain, the elemental portions of belonging to this world and the next.
“The idea of death is very frightening unless it’s couched in a vehicle of a horror movie or Halloween,” said Knapp. “I took the idea of what we are afraid of, and I wanted it to be a pleasant experience and interactive journey.”
Knapp incorporated the slat walls after noticing the subterranean chambers along Rome’s ancient roadway, which turned out to have tombs below. It shifted her thinking of burial and of the preservation of the dead, as not all tombs are buried.
“We all die a little bit, all the time. We all have our moments where we aren’t very aware. Our consciousness is closed,” said Knapp. “I wanted people to be able to walk into something, and when you get inside, it’s like being a little kid hiding in a cave with blankets and pillows, and you get in there and you go, ‘This is kind of great.’”
Thank you to Mike Clark and Nicholas Slater of the Billings Gazette for the story prior to the event. Read the full article here.