Solo Practice in Paris!
We are who we are when we walk down the street and we bring that ego into the studio. My sense of self is hesitant to lay dormant and just acquiesce. My inner self wants to disobey and cow-tow simultaneously until the physical is reflective of the core, all over the place, hard and soft, aggressive and unsure.
I am sitting at my window thinking of coffee and company after a class at the quay when I should be outdoors basking in all that is French. I have come to make a solo about being indigenous overseas. Damn it, this is really hard! I know who I am when I’m at home. I feel special, I belong. There is nothing like the security of knowing where you fit, where you are native.
But here I am swallowed up and have become 1 in 15,000,000. I don’t seem different except for the fact I can’t speak the language and I suspect my manners are a little vulgar. I have begun to second guess myself about everything. Turns out I am a lousy tourist as well as a dubious artist. Have to go up the Eiffel tower and see the small image of smiling Mona at the Louvre before I have officially done Paris (or so I have been advised).
Don’t get me wrong- I am working. I have a plan, of sorts. Every day, for two hours, I book a studio in a windowless basement and I get busy. I recover classes and do what I didn’t have the courage to attempt in public. The epiphanies are fleeting and I set myself tasks that on longer have a clear objective, trusting that like my group work, it will all make sense in the end- like magic.
Solo practice takes a different set of skills. For starters; I have to remember what I’ve made and have the courage and conviction to pull it off. I have to know when I am headed down the lane of self-indulgence and be endowed with the critical ability to edit. I have to retain the ability to pretend and not worry about losing the absolute truth because the work is and is not about you (me) in a literal sense and tends to become slightly didactic when the ability to sit outside the creation is lost, which could be boring. This is harder when you’re alone.
Attending the theatre, watching work here (Paris and Dublin), has muddied the waters, has made me more speculative, less resolute. Do I want to make a work that would do well here (in Europe) and could I if I did? Do I yearn to be popular? Can I make something that would sell in this market when I’m not fully understood at home?
I tried to inform a woman who wants me to teach Australian Indigenous workshops that my work is not ‘tribal’. She watched me demonstrate and stated it was ‘very contemporary’, with disappointment. I said, “Yes.”