For the most part, 2021 has been all right.
No, the extended lockdowns hasn’t been great, and my heart continued to ache at missing the family in Singapore.
I remained frustrated and angry at the abject failure of a federal government that is so terribly obstinate, and this is only amplified now that we are in 2022 and watching omicron play out across this continent.
The litany of cancelled shows amongst peers and colleagues I love and respect hurt.
And once again, I’ve missed staring at carpets in airports for the payoff of seeing friends across lands and oceans – spending the kind of time only sleepovers can afford.
But truth is, for the most part, my home life and my work life has been good.
And if we have somehow managed to catch up in this past year – then you would have heard me say this quite consistently.
And consistency counts for a lot in my books.
Over the last two years, I did a fair bit of teaching/ artist talks that allowed me to share my practice and process. And here are some consolidated notes:
Generally – my approach is based on:
- Traversing form
- Curiosity/ and all the things you don’t know
- No one having the same experience/ having a solo experience together
- Liveness – that something you/ someone do can shift the experience
- Assumptions – and testing every one of them
- Art not in, but as public space
With this – I start with the following questions:
- Who else is here?
- Who is not here?
- How did this place come about? What are the layers of being and history – First Nations, colonial, settler, migratory<>natural/ manmade, ecological, cultural, community etc.
- How do people/ the elements move in this place?
- Visually/ sensorially/ aesthetically – what do I see, feel, hear, smell, taste?
- What do I want you to see, feel, hear, smell, taste?
- Whose stories reside here? Whose doesn’t? Whose should? Why/ not?
- R/ regional artist – locating myself within a place at any given time
- I am a guest
- You only know what you know
- From where are you looking from?
Alongside this – I have four other questions that are not physical-location-specific, but it is definitely something that changes with time and place of where I am at:
1. What are you excited about?
2. What do you care about?
3. What do you not yet know?
4. What’s a story only you can tell?
I’ve often talked about my art practice and my life practice being the same. That the many hats I wear and roles I straddle – performance maker, curator, dramaturg, facilitator, arts manager etc. – are different streams of the same practice. That holding space for food and conversation and laughter and joy is every bit the same at home and in my art.
And that leadership is demanded of you across all of those spaces.
And today – a week into 2022 – this could not be more important for me to anchor into my being.
That my process to art making should be my process to life making. In the spectrum of the privileges we embody, we all have blinkers worth checking. And there is always another angle worth looking at!
At Next Wave, I have loved the people part of the job the most.
I have been thrilled by the ambition I have been able to foster in myself and with the team.
And I have been affirmed in what I offer as an embodied practice – of intuition, of tacit knowledge; to lead at once with softness and ferocity, to be calm and firm, and to hold both grace and strength.
To straddle, skirt, and hold; to be a vessel and buffer. To realise what we can only radically imagine* – so that over and over, we may look at the world a little differently once again. So that over and over, we may shape the world a little differently once again. To be architects of something that is yet to exist.
But perhaps my richest lesson this year is in fact to continue to expand and deepen my understanding of ‘duty of care.’ Because I’m learning that no amount of strategic insight or financial cunning or charisma or drive make for good leadership – unless it comes with a rigorous and nuanced practice of care.
Year-end birthdays do make for good reflection. And all I’ll say about this one is – thank you to the friends who made it (and wanted to make it) to the revolving table of drinks at The Moon. The coming together of different worlds only confirm what amazing people I have the honour of building friendships with. Not that I would ever forget this – but every now and then, to taste the richness of this in one evening is a powerful reminder we could all have more of in these times!
On the home front, I made life choices this year that have seemed so mundane and as-to-be-expected, and yet have also utterly surprised me. This relationship with J holds an innocence and carefreeness to that of young love, but with the ease and warmth of an old friend. And my 36 year-old self feels equipped for love this grounding, and the unravelling of all the life that comes with it. Joy and laughter fill our home, and my heart is full.
So, what of 2022 then?
I’ve spent this first week by the beach – long walks with J and A, swims, oysters, naps and reading.
If things go as plan – which I am holding on lightly to – is a trip home at the end of January.
And then as with all adventures – all I can say is I cannot wait.
I cannot wait for more.
For more of the same, please.
*Thanks to Hasib Hourani for being the wordsmith when we were dreaming up this sentiment.