I came up with the base of this idea 3 years ago during an anthropology lecture about the Yaka tribe in the Congo. It was all about healing- they saw sickness and social issues as being the same thing so they would treat them with herbal medicine and rituals. An illness that made you shake was the same as being out of rhythm socially- so the treatment involved the tribe gathering round you with lots of drumming- to help you re-gain your rhythm, in your body and within the tribe. It made a lot of sense. Its pre-science sure, but given that a lot of illnesses are made worse by social isolation- to heal by gathering the whole tribe around you- would help you feel better even though it might not cure a real sickness and we do lack that connection in modern lif (example- a lot of people stop eating when loneliness gets too much- me- I do this, and I used the approach I learned from this tribe to heal myself). Loneliness in big cities has become an epidemic, not just among the elderly of those with young children, but also in my age group.
The Yaka tribe also described how the energy they created whilst dancing and singing looked and felt, and it was strangely similar to some moments I've had when dancing. After thinking about this a lot I realised that as an Anthropology student I was learning about the Tribe, instead of from them. I needed to learn from them, they clearly had all this knowledge to pass on. I couldn't figure out how to do this in an Anthropological context. Someone I knew had recently died quite young too, and it triggered a lot of soul searching. Another friend gave me some life changing advice, and after completing that semester I dropped out of Uni to focus on my Art work.
But then I hit multiple walls. Trying to be myself and do art work in a small minded community that is afraid of powerful women is really hard- and I also didn't have an available exhibition space. I found the people I wanted to work with, that had the right energy and understood me. But we can't work together because society says "No" for reasons I can't be arsed to go into. I'll figure that out eventually.
In the process of working out this issue I discovered that many of the people in my local community didn't seem to have any understanding of what love was, they'd never felt connected to anyone. They'd never felt the things I've felt. And when they witnessed other people feeling those things they tried to rip them apart, destroying them.
All of this was swirling around in my head and I needed a break from everyone. I started looking into modern witchcraft just for fun. I found my niche though. Witch- summed up the way I wanted to use my craft, my art work. It sums up my attitude towards my own inner darkness (explore, confront, fix). It sums up how people treat me as though I am a dangerous threat because I'm single and solitary.
But I also try to help those around me. I can feel the emotions of others when I go out sometimes. I can read things in their eyes. I could call myself an Empath I suppose. All this lead me straight back to that lecture.
I want to start working with all the ideas I've had, the words, drawings, research, arguments..... the art skills I have and put them all together. At the moment I envision the final piece as hopefully having an energy that can heal. But life has taught me not to get attached to plans. So I'll start the project and see where I end up.
I would like the process to be interactive and involve other people. I would also like to collaborate on some work with a chosen few.
I'll follow up with details. I may have access to a space in the future to exhibit.
Thanks for reading!! :) xx
I was sitting at the corner of the bar, staring at the Bartender’s butt whenever he bent over to get a bottle from the fridge. He had a cute butt (still does), boxers showing slightly, low slung jeans, a sideways belt… We’d met a few weeks earlier at an art/music event we both worked at. He seemed familiar but I’ve never figured out why. For some reason he memorized the names and prices of all my sculptures, and I gave him advice on how to eat a large hot dog. We’ve mostly been friends ever since.
Checking out this cute butt was relaxing; he had a pretty good face going on too, and hair. Lovely hair. It was nice to stare at a person, especially one who didn’t mind me staring at them. I’d spent too much time alone in front of screen or in a book.
I looked down at the piece of paper I was doodling on, better get some work done. My mind was working furiously, my brain ticking away, my ears listening to any conversation nearby. (I've since had to learn how to block out all conversation).
It had taken a year to meet the people in this pub, first I had to re-arrange my work shifts. Then I had to speak to the Big Man about this art/music event and finally I got to meet everyone. It was a great moment, my planning had paid off and I now had two social groups that were perfect for my Anthropology fieldwork studies. I guess you’d think of Anthropological fieldwork as being something you do on a remote island in the Pacific but I was only in my second year of a degree so it was all based in London. No palm trees. My previous project on local creative communities had failed due to lack of a community- I still got top grades for my way of explaining the epic fail though. But now I had what I was looking for.
Still at the bar, the Bartender brings me over a drink- some guy at the other end had bought it for me. I couldn’t see his face without my glasses on.
My first project was about Italian migrants in London. I compared two main groups, some from North Italy and some from Sicily and then I compared them to earlier groups that settled here. I got lots of Arancini and pasta out of this and learned how to make a proper carbonara sauce. The second project was for the Anthropological Theory module. A hard module, so many very dry texts to read. My plan was to follow up on my research into creative communities. It worked, we did exhibitions together, gigs, I got my first tattoo for this project.
I’d already interviewed 2 artists, a guitarist and a handful of other people and lots of Sicilians. I just had one interview left that would bring both projects together. I was sitting at the bar trying to think of questions, questions about the unification of Italy, questions about economics, migration, integration, friendship, bands, networking, food, music. My mind was frazzled and my eyes were sore from reading so I was really enjoying this moment of relaxation. It was quiet in the pub too. Staring at a cute butt was a nice meditation point whilst I had a *nerd out* over my project.
Later in that year I got so stressed I stopped eating to create more time to read, I had 3 jobs plus uni and discovered that rye crackers could be shoved into your face whilst reading without too much effort. Turns out you need to more than just rye crackers to live but whatever.
Back in the Bar; I was sitting there, with my Cranberry Vodka and a piece of paper. I was increasingly thinking this interview wasn’t going to happen that evening. My Bartender and his butt were too busy with customer service. I scribbled a few questions down, drew a few doodles. Some people I wish I’d never met came in and started chatting to me.
Eventually the man who bought me a drink wandered over to join us. He didn’t seem interested in talking to me which was odd. After a few minutes I asked him why he’d bought me a drink. He brushed off the question whilst avoiding eye contact.
“You’re in love with the bartender” he said to me. I explained that I was waiting to conduct a fieldwork interview for a project. He was looking at me with that all knowing, all disbelieving look. He knows my game apparently. I was quite taken aback and could feel some anger rising. He leaned closer to me “you have to play hard to get if you want him to like you, they like the chase”… I think I just nodded a bit. Afterwards I felt really angry.
I sat there nodding politely, accepting this outdated sexist advice because this patronising older man couldn’t handle the truth that not all women are hunting for a man. This was just the beginning, this man. I had become part of a community and that comes with positives and negatives. Increasingly this bullshit got more intense, coming at me from all angles including family. No one believed a woman could have goals other than relationship goals.
It was funny being in a position of Anthropological observer and also an insulted woman. How do you take it? Do you take it? Maybe I store it until later and write about you, reference it with some article about men from some tribe.
What I wanted to say other than “Well, aren’t you a patronising mother fucker” was…
“Right, thanks mate… but actually what I need is someone to explain Karl Marx Thesis on Feuerbach to me as my lecture notes do not match any part of Karl Marx Thesis on Feuerbach, and this is a major issue right now due it being the main text for my paper on alienation and the economics of the local community”
But no. I’m just a woman, just a desperate Groupie. Sitting there, waiting for an “ignorant Alpha male” Bartender musician to look at me and pay me attention. No point in explaining anything to this patronising idiot.
No point explaining my project to this rejected fool. No point explaining that the Bartender was actually working- which was why we weren’t talking to each other. He was not ignoring me.
I think at some point I was given advice on how to defeat the Bartenders girlfriend too. Which was nauseating.
I suppose I could have explained that we were not allowed to fuck our fieldwork project participants due to ethical reasons. But this reject guy sees just a woman, a desperate Groupie wanting a drummer with cool hair to notice her, it makes it easier to accept rejection maybe? She's not an intelligent creature, she has ovaries. Anyone with a Cunt is less cleverererer than Mans, and only care bout da babies and princess crowns. Yay!! Weddings :D I'm not gonna waste my breath explaining to him.
No one would believe the contents of my mind, that I was thinking so hard about how to relate Marxist economics and Marcel Mauss’ Gift theory to my research data, that staring at a cute Italian man butt was the only thing keeping me grounded in the real world. No. I've got lady parts which make it hard to concentrate on reading... Every time you look down > Boobs.
The patronising man wandered off, he was disappointed in me. I was a cliché, I was later to learn that many many women enjoyed staring at this Bartenders butt, but they didn’t enjoy staring at the other guys. Not even a little bit. I wondered if this was because the other men were constantly underestimating us and we were bored of them… maybe there was just a lack of cute butts round here. Either way, I was just staring at a cute butt belonging to a very willing and helpful fieldwork participant, not looking for a husband.
I finally a few days later got my interview, all about how this Bartender/musician was cool with being Italian unlike my Sicilian interviewee. It tied together nicely, I re-wrote it like a dialogue between the two characters even though they never met. The section on why he was trying to create a local creative community was also very informative and lead to many colourful diagrams that my lecturer loved and eventually informed a failed business plan of mine. (Failed in a good way mind)
A few months later I got my grades back. For the project on Italians I got a First, top of the class. Yay. For the Anthropological Theory paper, I got 2 marks less than a First. The comments read, “the bit on Marx felt elbowed in”. It did. I never got my head around why my lecture notes made sense but Marx’s own writing didn’t seem even remotely connected to it. Feuerbach sounded like a German biscuit... with dried fruit in it. But still, 2 marks off was pretty fucking awesome for someone working 3 jobs and not eating... who also has to contend with having awfully distracting Lady parts.
Other than that I was praised for my originality and level of research and lively journalistic writing style. I was damn proud of myself. No one ever thought I could do that, no one ever told me I could. I’m just a woman, a brown woman, just a desperate Groupie hoping one day my ovaries will fulfill their purpose. I have no brain. As you can see.