Field Report, Otto Ramstad

Lineage Research in Maihaugen

During my time at Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer I engaged in a series of drawings. These drawings were made on the snow covered hillsides in the museum. They were temporally made, with my movement, and lived as as long as the snow was present. I documented them with video, one of which you can see below.

My great grandfather John Fredrikson Ramstad, a metal worker, was born in Skjåk, Norway in 1890 on Ramstadtrædet husmann farm. He immigrated to Minnesota in 1911 and only returned to visit once in 1948. Since then none of my Minnesota family has had any contact with family in Norway. He died 1984 when I was 9 years old. These drawings were made as an action responding to my feeling that my relatives and husmann in general have left unrecognized marks on the land and dominant surface cultural narratives, in particular those exposed to tourism in Norway. I would summarize this narrative as: before oil was discovered Norway was a poor agricultural country and through the hard work of Norwegian people they created farms and a life out of the mountain valleys. In doing these disappearing action drawings in the museum I was bringing forth movement and embodiment as intangible forces in the present and in history amidst the more tangible physical presence of Norwegian cultural heritage in the form of buildings.

I used rolling for several reasons. In developmental theory, as applied in Body-Mind Centering®, rolling is an earlier form of traveling. Using rolling to travel is going back in time. Rolling also connects with another thread woven into the research of Lineage, Steve Paxton’s Material for the Spine. Paxton began developing Material for the Spine in 1986 as an exploration of the movement possibilities within the muscles surrounding the spine, as well as the connections between the pelvis, head, scapulae and vertebrae. Beyond its connections to my research as a core method, rolling is surprisingly effective in deep rotten snow; a way of traveling that can be deployed with grace.