Misplaced Women? Performance Workshop, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, April 1, 2015 – Contribution by Fabia Brustia

In Aberdeen, Workshops on April 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Fabia Brustia is a student in English and Literature in a World Context at the University of Aberdeen. The following are her thoughts on the project and photographs of her participation and contribution in the workshop.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines the verb ‘to misplace’ as:

  • to put in a wrong or inappropriate place
  • to lose (something) for a short time by forgetting where you put it <misplaced the keys>
  • to set on a wrong object or eventuality <his trust had been misplaced>

This indicates that the agent and the ‘object’ of the action do not correspond, and that the act of misplacing something has been accidental or, in the case of an eventuality, estimated incorrectly.

My wallet contains my story of young woman and student, of sister and daughter, of friend, of bookworm, of migrant… This multiplicity of identities are enclosed in a single piece of leather that my mum gave me when I was 18. It contained her story, but it was ready to start sewing together the components of another one.

Fabia Brustia; Photo by Tanja Ostojic

Fabia Brustia; Photo by Tanja Ostojic

The objects in my wallet can be divided into different categories:

  • cards of places I wanted to remember because of the good memories I want to keep with their help


    Fabia Brustia explains her work to Tanja Ostojic, and workshop participants. Photo by Filip Barche.

  • cards of five different coffee shops in Aberdeen
  • a card of the café where I worked for two years during the summer and the bus pass provided by the hotel I work for in Aberdeen
  • the business card of the coordinator of Carbon School, a project for which I volunteer in the last two years
  • library cards of three different places; a list of books I want to read which I wrote when I was 16 and I still keep with me, as I have managed to read only half of those books so far; a fidelity card of my favourite second-hand bookshop in Italy
  • documents such as driving license, national ID, student ID, two credit cards and health insurance card
  • money from three different places: an American dollar, a few pounds and a 1000 Lire note (pre-Euro currency of Italy)
  • unclassifiable objects:
  • a picture of me and one of my dearest friends in Italy
  • a playing card with a Queen of clubs on it
  • a coloured hexagram made of paper that nuns in the convent of Carrión de los Condes gave me when I stopped there in 2012, when I walked from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela
  • a card with ‘In bocca al lupo!’ (‘Break a leg!’ In Italian) signed by my grandfather, who misspelt his signature because he left school when he was 8, so he tries to write only when he absolutely must
  • a leaf with the name of my brother and my name written with Celtic runes that my uncle gave me ten years ago
Fabia Brustia, Photo by Tanja Ostojic

Fabia Brustia, Photo by Tanja Ostojic

During the workshop with Tanja Ostojić, I tried to reproduce the same classification system in front of me, but I realised the division did not quite work. Objects cannot be divided into groups, as they link the events of my life and my migration together. I believe that the hexagram is the most meaningful thing I have in my wallet. Symbolising the position of man between earth and sky in Hinduism, it is usually connected to the Star of David or Jewish Star. The connection between Jewish people and diaspora (that is, the movement of a population from its land of origin) is almost automatic, and it links with the condition of in-between person I am, as I grew ‘physically’ and ‘morally’ in Italy, but I am expanding my knowledge in Scotland. What is more, it was that long month I spent hiking from France to the west border of Spain until Finisterre which motivated me to come to Scotland to experience a new way of living and studying. For this reason, the star can be easily connected to my library cards, as it was my interest for literature that pushed me to apply for the University of Aberdeen, and to my student ID. In short, three objects from three different places (Italy, Spain, and Scotland).

Like the cards in my wallet, I do not fit into one single category: I am an English and Literature in a World Context student, raised and born in Italy, who spent the last three years of her life in Scotland for the love of knowledge. I cannot say my home is Italy, as I have created strong connections in and outside Aberdeen and at the same time all over the world, thanks to the variety of nationalities my life at university and my work allowed me to meet.

Fabia Brustia. Photo by Tanja Ostojic.

Fabia Brustia. Photo by Tanja Ostojic.

That is the message I felt when I saw the pictures of the performance by Tanja Ostojić for the first time, and when we proposed again the performance in April. There is no misplacement, because the fact of being in a particular place and voluntarily creating the story of our migration in front of a group of viewers or passers-by has been decided by us. We place ourselves in the world and, thanks to the connections we create with others, we will never be misplaced.

-Fabia Brustia

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