Maya Simkin

About Maya Simkin

I am a farming fellow at Sadeh, a Jewish farm just outside of London. Over the last few months I’ve huffed at wheat, winnowing the berries from their casings over a bucket, tipped back dazzling water droplets held in the center of nasturtium leaf purses into my mouth after Avodat Lev morning singing, and gripped onto brittle damson tree branches, reaching like a monkey upwards, and stuffing the small fruit in my pockets. I study American jurisprudence at law school and Jewish liturgy with a queer yeshiva. I am invested in a future without prisons and work with a research team to abolish civil commitment of sex offenders based in Chicago. I’m interested in learning to fix bikes or clocks this year (big or small? which to choose?). This winter I will be a resident at the Derbyshire Artist Residency Program building a phonautograph machine to wipe recorded secrets from smoked glass and learning how to wake people up. I have a persimmon-red heart and milk kefir grains at my friend’s flat and I used to have a bread delivery route and I lose two notebooks a year.


I HAD A GREAT TIME is a built space for a ritual suspension. After learning a text from Menachot 29b, where Moshe ascends to find HaShem sitting, and tying crowns to letters, I became invested in the relationships between rest and idleness and making special, distinguishing. Shmita, the time-based ritual release of the land, debts, and people, reminds me of the joy in loosening and resting (the root of the Hebrew word shmita means these things as well). To honor this commandment, I hope that people will lay in this net, become crowns themselves, garland its knots, reminding us of the importance of release. In Judaism and other cultures, knots and wraps and fabrics are used to bind one to commandments and to the holy, to hold us straight. Not unlike a fishing or mist net, this net is meant to do that as well, to be a place for people to be simultaneously bound and suspended.The net is also a tribute to Sadeh and my time here, the connections that have been created during the fellowship. It is joined by ropes harvested from a box of 300 due-to-be-discarded black drawstring bags reading “I HAD A GREAT TIME @ SKEET HILL HOUSE” in Comic Sans. There are 36 permanent knots on the circumference of the net, using knots to forge the memory of the 36 petals of a calendula flower sprinkled into our lunches and my 36 footsteps from the barn where we sleep to the kitchen. Rhubarb and/or Asparagus crowns will be planted underneath the net, eventually sprouting pink and/or green stalks at the net.You can see some research inspiration collection here: https://www.are.na/share/VnyqjjS