waking up to practice

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These past few weeks I’ve been wondering what kind of creative work I am expected to be capable of at this point in time anyway (even if the expectation is from myself). 

I’m neurodivergent, experience chronic pains, haven’t been able to fall asleep without medication for a year and a half, and once a month without fail complete madness washes over me for 6-10 days because of PMDD. This year started with me on sick leave because of burnout, receiving an eviction letter out of the blue, fighting off that eviction for months with free legal aid, hustling to raise money, packing, searching for houses, going through Work Capability Assessment (which by design puts you in the most horrific headspace), and once I found the house and started this residency all that went on in my head were obsessive thoughts over which bookcase could fit in my tiny room, and where to source it. 

I guess most of my imagination and creativity has been going towards surviving and acting in the world. Besides collective projects, I have not had an individual art practice for the past two years. One month of artist residency is a tight timeframe to figure out where I’m at and what I want to do. I’d like to say I haven’t been writing these whole two years, but that’s wrong. I’ve been writing applications, filling in forms, composing emails to services. None of it is in a language that’s on my own terms. And that prescribed language makes the world seem very small, banal and scary.

I had a moment during the residency, sitting with the old footage for a potential video work. It was okay and looked cool but it was also boring and unsettling me. I was sitting there, facing the impossibility of all things. Through the meltdown, I ended up in a headspace that I realised I needed to move towards and acknowledge. This deep well of tears along my sternum, hi hello. The point of this residency was to try doing things out of love and kindness to myself, to be playful, and engaged and attuned to joy. So I’ve been making my way through this labyrinth, convincing myself that, one way or another, the wall will become a portal to something a little bit more free and life-affirming.

I’m sitting in my sunny garden, in a new house that I’m very happy with, watching sparrows that I have rarely seen in Brighton until moving here. It’s nice. In fact, the only reason I’m able to write this now is because I found my place, in the sun and in the garden. 

Even now I ask, am I loving and trusting myself through this text, through this process of writing? what would be that act of love, not diverted by fear:  

sucking on a sea shell

a sea shell – a kiss

And so eventually in this residency I found a thing that was kind of a portal, and I made it live on a t-shirt and I wrote some things around it, I hope it is fun to read.

violet marchenkova

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