(absolute) Commitment to the Idea
Confrontation (with the nature of the Materials of the work: “Respect the Materials”–Paul Kos)
Concentration (“Everything Matters”–Paul Kos/”Everything is equally important”–Anton von Webern)
Attention to DETAIL (when sweeping the floor, don’t spread the dust)
Humility (when needed)
Conservation of Energy (knowing– exactly –when to “end”/knowing what is a “beginning”)
No Unnecessary Parts
An Ear to the ground
An open Eye
Love of Books
(where is the) Music
The Creation Myth:
How to start a corresponDANCE? Maybe start by talking about the past? We could describe our situation, our isolation, the inescapableness of it all. And the resulting project.
In Los Angeles: Having lived in San Francisco for 27 years; Paris for 2 years; Liege, Belgium for 2 years….on a trip to Koln in 2007, I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, and decided I could not hope to confront it alone…..I moved back (temporarily, I THOUGHT) to my childhood hometown, a suburb of LA, where my sister offered to help take care of me during my illness…….after nearly 2 years I had surgery to remove most of the tumors, but by that time, I had to give up my job, my apartment, proximity to my friends –my life– in San Francisco…….virtually trapped back in LA (with nowhere to go), I agreed to move in with my aged parents and watch over them……after another 2 years, my father died…….I am, 6 years after THAT (2017), the “prime caregiver” for my 89-year-old mother, and have lived in the home in which I grew up for the past 8 years……my mother ages, and her memories disappear…….I age…….she is completely housebound……I have, myself, become almost as shut in as she…I have a single friend here in LA: he lives 12 miles away, and I haven’t SEEN him for SEVEN years….”life goes on”….(as my world conTRACTS)….
My situation is much different, yet effectively (the effect it has!) the same…I left San Francisco for Tokyo and Tokyo for London, London for New York and after a few years in Busan, Korea I finally moved to Berlin…I also thought this would be temporary, that eventually I would move back to NY or SF or Amsterdam…I was on the verge of moving back to the USA when I got pregnant…and I knew this would change everything, but I had no idea to what degree. My son’s father left me while I was pregnant and is not involved in our lives. I have no family here. My friends live on the other end of town. My very very very social and active life (as well as my career) have been arrested pretty much completely. People don’t visit anymore, our lives and schedules are simply not compatible. There will be many more years of this.
In November, 2015, I was invited to “give a talk” at a symposium in Berlin, on the work and life of my late best friend, Terry Fox….before I flew there, my old friend and former teacher at SFAI, Paul Kos, introduced (re-troduced?) me to Jo, via email…..we would meet at the Akademie der Kunst…..I ROCKETed to Berlin….could only stay 3 days because I could not arrange a 4th day of care for my mother……I was ROCKET-lagged (as far beyond jet-lag as metaphysics is beyond physics) when I sat down in the Akademie cafe and saw you walk through the door…………
And I was 8 or 9 months pregnant, it was a typical Berlin November day, cold, gray, wet, very dark. Paul has never gone wrong with his introductions, but the reason I was excited to (re)meet you was your reference to “a can of UBIK” in the email you had sent. And you know: the mirroring became obvious even then: I have not met many “living” people who had complete intestinal blockage and who don’t do well on “healthy” food…
You told me not to be shocked: that you were “very pregnant”….I did not know what to expect to SEE….but you SEEmed to be quite well! And we spoke of our SITUATIONS: your unknowable near-future as a DYAD (with an incredible new responsibility!!), and the father-in-absentia…and the unpredictable CHANGES this new being would bring.
…….& my hermit-like existence with my entropic, aged mother, and no relief from the spiralling decay…..and my bouts with digestive failure…….
I empathized with you because I had seen what caring for a parent had been like for other people…but I empathized from the outside. At that point I was still able to visit people….not until after C’s birth in freezing January, locked into our house, unable to even go take out the trash, did it dawn on me what life was going to be like…it took several months to sink in, really.
The digestive issues I understood right away, though. Almost having killed myself with leafy vegetables and seeds… It’s just not for everyone
And when we met, and walked through the exhibition, and sat down afterwards at the table in the cafe, I believe I gave off a whirlwind cloud of Angst-Radiation…..Plus the fact that my will to exist had been left on the airplane: I was a “graveyard ghost” (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)…..but I ALSO empathized with you!: your impending future-with-C (as then yet unnamed)……I was amazed you were, or seemed to be, so collected!…..Really amazed…….And the MIRRORING began to be apparent, almost from the start: different traumas (or dramas/or dreamas), but strangely symmetrical… symmetric survivors from opposite ends of the galaxy…
At that point I probably was…after C’s father had decided to (rather abruptly) break up with me I had to re-plan, re-organize, re-structure everything….there was just no time or opportunity to break down. And there has not been any time for system failure since! To have the option to break down seems Iike such a luxury now. I’m thinking of the times I had to get up several times a night to nurse/change a screaming infant, even though I had a high fever….trying not to drop him….
Having to take him to hospital with me where I was still in charge of his care (even attached to all those tubes.
I wonder if I WOULD just break down, if given the opportunity?
Yes! But also NO!……I have had multiple breakdowns in the 6 years I have been caring for S …but they were ‘mini-brkdwns”: they lasted, at most, a few HOURS and then dissipated: almost literally like letting off steam…During these “seizures” I was convinced that I would never be calm or feel joy again, and that I was neglecting or injuring my mother’s health by curling into a fetal position in my bed…..but SOMEthing drags me back into the present moment, and some (always new and always different) kind of balance is restored….I think you would NOT even CHOOSE to break down (even if you could afford to)!…..You have natural BALANCE, somehow!! Maybe C’s existence has fundamentally changed YOU??…….I know that caring for S , alone together in this house, her memory ebbing away, and my social “life” in hospice-mode– I know that I am irrevocably changed (I just don’t KNOW if that change is crippling or creative)……
Yes, changed. Very much so. I sometimes cannot believe that the person I was a few years ago is the same person I am now. Mini-breakdowns I have had…crying from exhaustion while trying to calm a crying C …wondering at what point I would lose my mind…I have felt so close to losing my mind several times.
And I have lost – myself. My identity. I have a new one now.
YOU and our mutual corresponDANCE are a source of stability, a source of reassurance. But I also do not know if this experience is crippling or just changing me.
When I think of the things I used to want for myself (a partner, excitement, sex, parties) I just find all that so ridiculous now. So incredibly unimportant and undesirable. Sleeping and maybe reading a book seem so much more attractive these days.
Jo, for me it is the same! I am not sure who I am now: I don’t recognize myself sometimes (is something missing? Or something newly added?)……YOU (too) and the CallResponDance are motive FORCEs and keep me ABOVE WATER. And sources of true Joy!…..really a lifeline. Isn’t it amazing when even a shadow can now bring such excitement and happiness?? Even an upended plate of food is filled with beauty….THAT is quite an accomplishment!!
That is exactly it! While the world shrinks, the universe somehow still expands…the miracles that can be found contemplating an empty ceiling or the patterns of a stain…there are so many stains now…