Sarah Smuts-Kennedy Energy in Quiescence
26 November – 14 December 2019
Sarah Smuts-Kennedy’s gallery-based installations are devised as complete systems operating on an energetic level to effect a recalibration of the resonance within the field. For many gallery visitors, being in close proximity to the works, or ‘tools’, as the artist refers to them, facilitates a subtle bodily experience that has been described as peaceful. For Energy in Quiescence Smuts-Kennedy presents a series of drawings that emerged during her McCahon House residency in 2016. The residency project, Systems and Collaborations – Awake, evolved around Smuts-Kennedy’s interest in the concept of ‘service to others’ and its potential to be used as a material or strategy for making contemporary art.
Smuts-Kennedy’s practice involves actively engaging with energy fields. For the McCahon project, the artist performed a fire procedure known as Agnihotra, which requires a Vedic homa (fire procedure) at sunrise and sunset each day. The artist directed the outcomes of the procedure towards New Zealand’s threatened native Kauri trees, which were showing signs of Kauri dieback stress – ash from the procedure was used as a tree paste and applied to trees around the original McCahon House to facilitate tree health and healing.
During the three-month residency, the artist performed this service-to-trees procedure without expectations of a predetermined outcome. The discipline of the process, which the artist describes as ‘letting go’, eventually articulated itself in a new body of drawings called The Sound of Drawing. Smuts-Kennedy describes these works on paper as ‘feedback loops that resulted from a new kind of tuning-in, a brand new form of listening … coming from a brand new form of intelligence’. This body of work was first exhibited at Te Uru Waitakere in 2017 in two parts: Light Language and Awake.
Energy in Quiescence is a curated offering of Smuts-Kennedy’s service-based drawing practice over the past three years. The immersive intervention invites the viewer to test their capacity to sense the subtle field activations generated in collaboration with the field via these two-dimensional artefacts.
 Agnihotra is a Vedic fire procedure performed at sunrise and sunset. It involves burning dried cow manure, organic rice and ghee in an inverted copper pyramid. The addition of a mantra at the precise second of sunrise or sunset triggers the activation and catalysis of an atmospheric recalibration.
 Personal communication between Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and Dr Laurence Simmons for ‘A Text of Appearances’ in Light Language, Te Uru, 2017.