The theatre of January
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
Somehow, in all its long blurry January-ness, this January has been especially theatrical. But then January always drags; it often feels like a film that is at least 45 minutes too long.
It began with work on an audio commission for sustainable living – my proposal was straightforward to me, but every time I tried to explain it to someone else the words complicated it and made the links feel tenuous. Like I was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it. But in my head it was specific and coherent, both fitting with the brief relating to sustainable living spaces and my current enquiries.
Hoping that if you don’t have the words to articulate well, then the medium you’re working in is probably the right medium for the job (or better than an essay at least).
And then I found the words:
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
And how that is the thing that is the string, the string between many of the things; the themes of wellbeing, the practices, the things that catch my eye or that I want to be a part of, or I want to make; the outside, the sensory, the stillness. I hadn’t realised that these things could necessarily connect so simply (and definitely could have figured this out a while ago, but never mind).
Taking one thing at a time is difficult when everything is connected. I hope that it’s a more grounding place to start from than if it were all disconnected – but I don’t know what that would be like either?
With these connections, came the contradiction of working with Anna on our contact/bouldering research (I’m sure this will be the focus of next month’s post…), which feels closer to exploring ‘fight or flight responses’ as anything I’ve done before.
And so how to balance winter with drive.
A bit about the audio guides:
Commissioned by Zurich via Ginkgo Projects, Taking Breaths are a pair of audio guides surrounding sustainability, both environmentally and through personal wellbeing.
They live together: to connect to the body, to connect with the environment, through our breath, what we share and how we inhabit our spaces. I wanted to make something where there was time to activate the parasympathetic nervous system through various ways: breathing, nature, massage etc. As well as how noticing, can lead to wonder, awe and eventually care.
And to appeal to young adults.
So not too ambitious then…
These guides are longer than I’ve created before – it felt like they required more of a journey than a theme. Usually, I have less expectation of what it will be.
Support from others has been invaluable; Ennio the Little Brother has created a brilliant soundtrack & Livia Massarelli sharing wise words as mentor.
Receiving Ennio’s clips along the way was important - intricate, cool and gentle.
One of the main things it’s revealed, is that you always build on the research you have done in the past – sometimes collecting and rearranging things can produce something new. Also, that even if it feels too ambitious, you can give it a try.
Now to trial we go.
Simultaneously I’ve been distracted by ways of working.
It is ingrained, this feeling of not working enough if you’re surrounded by those working 9-5, when you sometimes need midweek daytimes to work in a different way. Coffee thinking.
Absorbing and processing is really important and it isn’t so rewarded – because you’re not visibly doing something and therefore you can’t be working to your fullest right?
I perhaps have taken for granted how useful the times working in museums have been for me, in-between guests where waiting is involved. Where I can’t be viewed as lazy.
Listening and speaking with others at Kinship, I was reminded that syncing with seasons is valid and probably good actually. Starting a new year in January doesn’t have to feel appropriate.
Wrestling with drive is ok in mid-winter.
I want to try to eat more vegetables that are in season. I’m a sucker for an all-year-round sugar snap pea though.
*note* Check what I wrote about this time last year – seasons were on my mind again