It has been a month since we completed the MA and have time to reflect (and recover) from the process. I have been reading, resting and walking in July, rather than making, and thinking about what I have got from the process and how I can maintain the momentum and energy of the final stage of the course. The question of what is at the core of what I do is also at the forefront of my mind and needs to drive my next projects. Today I take down the ‘Narrativas Desconocidas’ exhibition and I am questioning where that work will go.
Although the MA was an amazing experience overall I think the main thing I take with me is the need to continue to push myself into uncomfortable places when I know they are the right direction. That could be anything from making myself approach an individual or organisation, pick up the phone being the most difficult action for me; to making myself perform as I did in the final project. The way I managed to do this for the final project was by interrogating the ideas behind the work and following it regardless of the comfort of the conclusions. A sub-section of this uncomfortableness is to create and maintain networks as I tend to isolate myself. Another way I label all of this in my head is risk taking but I feel that is too vague and that it needs to be risk taking with a purpose and that purpose needs to be rigorously examined and consistent.
The second most important lesson was to become very organised, or at least to initiate a process of improved organisation. I have obviously improved on this in terms of documentation and managing my time but that is ongoing.
In terms of where my work goes what does this mean? I hope that the ideas in the centre of my practice are the same. My concern for unknown people: and especially the world of work in so much as it tends to define and control us and who we think we are. I need to look at the past and present in order to do this.
When I was in Yorkshire I visited the National Coal Mining Museum and was struck by the clinging to the sense of identity that work gave men which appeared to an outsider as against all reason. The danger to health and risk to life was all around. I vaguely remember the end of the miners strike and the feeling of great sadness that they had lost. Now I feel sad that the end of the coal mines was dealt with so badly but quite glad they are gone. The biggest victory of the miners strike appears to be the empowerment of the wives. The biggest question hanging in the air is why we feel the need to be defined by out work and why what we do continues to reinforce social class. Obviously I am not in favour of the current economic system and it’s acceptance as the natural order of things.
In addition to these ongoing questions I have several starting points for projects and research. I would like to return to maps. I have a map of concentration camps of Spain and I would like to in some way combine walking with marking them in some way. I would also like to map abandoned villages through walking and identifying the work carried out in them in some way. Both of these ideas are about the past: and historical memory in some way. Both are about enforced labour to a certain extent.
I am also reading more about the history of my neighbourhood in Madrid via the research of Peter Anderson who has been working at the National Library in Madrid and oral histories collected by Miguel Yunquera. As I read I will consider how this could work in terms of art projects. I am also thinking about my own academic writing and do not want to give this up, however I am not in a position to start a paper at this point.
Finally I think I would like to continue to write in this reflective way as it helps me work through ideas so for the present I am going to continue to blog on my webpage. I have added a link and will use this post as the first on the new one to link the dialogue. This has been a wonderful journey thanks to amazing lecturers and cohort – Thank you!