"In the effort to repair our relationship to the land, Janine Antoni will make a labyrinth, an ancient archetypal tool that dates back 3,500 years. As with all labyrinths, walking the circuitous path gives us an opportunity to slow down, arrive in our bodies, and enter a receptive state. Surrendering to the path, we are led into wholeness. To enhance the notion of an inward journey, Antoni’s labyrinth is shaped to follow the anatomy of the ear. We will traverse our inner and outer landscape. Working from the path outwards, we will begin to tend the land with the intention of a gentle prairie reset. As we continue to draw the ear with our steps, we listen more deeply."
excerpt from "We Listen With Our Steps, The Land Speaks," Janine Antoni and Joey Orr, PLAT journal, Rice Architecture
Artist Janine Antoni’s environmentally embedded artwork at the KU Field Station is beginning to take shape. In partnership with the Spencer Museum and Kansas Biological Survey and Center for Ecological Research, here-ing is a labyrinth in the shape of the anatomy of the human ear. At the heart of the project is an invitation for the public to return to the body through intimately relating to the land.
Last Spring, under the guidance of the KU Field Station staff we invited visitors to participate in a prescribed prairie burn. This was the first gesture in a series of gentle efforts to create a healthier grassland. In September, Antoni returned to collaborate with students in Professor of Architecture Keith Van de Riet’s design-build class to survey and mark a grid in the field. The grid was then used to lay out the labyrinth’s design. We welcomed visitors to begin walking the shape of the outer ear into the land.
“As with all labyrinths, walking the circuitous path gives us an opportunity to slow down, arrive in our bodies, and enter a receptive state,” Antoni said. “As we continue to draw the ear with our steps, we listen more deeply.”
In early October, Antoni, along with faculty and students from KU, led guided tours of the labyrinth, sharing their expertise in the fields of ecology, embodiment, and human anatomy. So far more than 200 people have walked the trail, drawing the ear into the land with their steps. In 2023, we plan to continue the trail to include the anatomy of the middle and inner ear. Antoni will continue working closely with the core project team: Curator Orr, Professor Van de Riet, ARI Graduate Fellow Suzan Hampton, KU Field Station Manager Sheena Parsons, Studio Assistant Dilan Bozer and local artist and stone carver Karl Ramberg.
Everyone is invited to join us in the making the work by walking the labyrinth and using it as a tool to connect the inner and outer landscape. You can find it adjacent to the Roth Trailhead on East 1600 Rd at the KU Field Station.
"Our encounter with the natural world calls us into presence. We become part of the land we traverse. It is a pilgrimage of sorts. One that’s destination is the contact of foot with earth. The contact of lungs with trees. The laying of prairie on the convex bowl of the retina at the back of the eye. The cicada’s song passing through the oval window to make our hammer, anvil, and stirrup do their staccato dance with the lyrical sway of our mammalian cochlear hair. All choreographed in their spiraling score." Janine Antoni