‘Post performance, as usual struck by the post action low, feeling bereft and ridiculous and sad. And mortal. Questioning the point of the whole thing. And why it has to be a performance with people watching. And which parts were for the performative nature of the whole thing and which parts were me. And if this mattered or changed the authenticity of things, as if authenticity mattered.’
I wrote these words on the plane home from Gavle, Sweden, last weekend. After the performance I left the space, and went back to the little room I’d been given to change in, it smelled of stale beer and the corridor outside whiffed of blocked toilets. I was glad to be alone.
I was prompted to write this by a photo from straight after the performance, see below.
Very far from the action shots with good lighting taken during the performance, which look a bit more glamorous and exciting. Relatively :) At the time of this photo I was feeling bereft, and unsure of why. I am always interested in the experience of doing a performance, the before, the during and the after. I felt, throughout, so aware of my mortality, of my flesh, my skin, my hands, and after I felt the weight of my physicality strongly, my aged body, and I thought about how I feel in my body now at 47, and how we put perimeters on ourselves and how society labels us and how we act under and respond to those labels
It always comes down to the understanding that I don’t particularly like myself, I don’t feel good in my body and the need to push past that. I refuse to allow this to govern my actions. This has to be overcome and managed, in everyday life and in art. Am not sure if it can be utilised, well it can in some ways like in past performance pieces. For example, when I look in the mirror and or see a photo I am usually pretty dismayed, and also annoyed by how this reoccurs on each occasion, as it is, as mentioned, not a productive feeling. To contextualise this I mean that I recall spending a significant part of my teenage and early 20;s engulfed in a deep loathing of my face and body. I mean I gave this time and energy! And the difference is, now I am 47, a parent and I have responsibilities to myself and others, and I have thankfully managed to gain some objectivity about the whole thing and obviously be thankful and grateful to have a relatively strong working body. Also I am fully aware that I have no disfigurements, no burns, no scars, no obvious reason to have the person in the street look twice. But nonetheless this feeling of self loathing bubbles away like a malignant growth that cannot quite be cauterized, and has to be managed, and I absolutely resent it taking up space in my head that could be used fo making, parenting, thinking, etc. I have taken steps to manage it through confrontation and head on acknowedgement. I shave my head so as not to be able to hide, and wear big heavily framed glasses, as I need to, so as to help myself to exist authentically (theres that word again) and confront my physicality in a daily calm way. Here is my head, deal with it. Here is my face, deal with it.
Aging is so interesting. Why is it so dread? I blame social media. People place such importance in us being young, strong, invincible. But Im middle aged, I’m anxious, I’m prone to depressive periods and panic. Im trying to be the best me I can be now, and the most ironic thing is I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks, Its my own black dog that always finds fault I wrestle with most. The performance was as usual, not easy to produce.
Afterwards I felt stupid and cried a bit. I was absolutely covered in charcoal. Marten came in and said one of his mates had said it was a religious experience watching or something like that. I asked him to get me a drink and fins out was there a shower on the premises. He returned with a bottle of beer and I trailed after him, belongings in hand and beer in the other, down to the kitchen area where there was a shower. I had my shower- it took ages to get the charcoal off with the bottle of hand soap I’d nicked from the toilet- and felt a bit better. It was a new action for me and I am glad I tried it.
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