In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by Live Arts Development Agency London and Elena Marchevska, Teresa Albor realised a series of two very strong performances on displacement:
December 13, 2016, The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick, 2-4pm
December 14, 2016, Westfield Shopping Mall, near Olympic Park, Stratford, 1:45-2pm
On December 16, 2016 she wrote the following related statement:
Packing up the large objects this morning, the bright orange life jacket (child size), the beaded scarf, the soft black little girl’s jacket. The smell— part smoke, part sweat, musty, human. Then the small objects—into the orange envelopes and then the zip lock bag, the bits and pieces of jewelry, including the fragile, fragile necklace, all tangled up, hopelessly tangled up.
I imagine,the women who are preparing to be evacuated from Aleppo this morning. They are packing up what little they can bring. Little girls (perhaps oblivious), teenage girls (dreaming of a future?), mothers (thinking of their children’s needs).
Clio looks good in red so I have bought her a red dress. Libby wants a particular book for her medical studies. I put the red dress in a black box and tie a red ribbon around it. I wrap the book in silver paper.
Someone else, once carefully packed the things I brought to Hackney Wick. All these objects once belonged to others, who took risks, who are hopefully somewhere where they feel safe, where they can dream, love, argue, fall out of love, make plans for the holidays.
The mall is busy. People are trying to find things to give to others. To make them smile, to show somehow—as impossible as it might be—how much they love them.
Please see Teresa Albor´s video of her performance in front of The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick, London
The necklace is hopelessly tangled. I spend a good hour trying to ease the knots out. First I try to soften the snarl, gently easing the tiny chain into a loose little heap. Then I try to find the ends and see how long a length of chain is possible. But this makes the knot in the middle grow tighter and tighter. My fingers are numb from the cold, with little dents where I have been holding the chain. It seems maddeningly simple. I picture the untangled chain. I picture it hanging around the neck of a woman. She is smiling.
Tosha needs someone to babysit. It’s not easy being a single mother. She says it’s hard for her, now that she has a son, to watch the news, to see woman and children, the bombardment, their desperate flight.
I feel vulnerable sitting on the cement paving stone outside the Omega watch store. Someone else has the power. A man with a vest that says “security”. Calling out names: Amena, Yana, Ola, Liliane, Nour, Kamar, Lamma Dayoub, Qamar, Haya, Zeinah, Aya, Nooda, Ranim, Reem, Asil. Please be safe. What is the worst that can happen to me? What is the best thing that can happen to you?
Footnote: Clio, Libby and Tosha are Teresa´s daughters.
Things I learned in the workshop:
The advantages of being our own audience: Working together, watching each other, making work for each other to see, acting as a magnet in public spaces to draw others in, acting as a protective shield when there’s some question about our “right” to make work in public. Being open to each other. Allowing everyone to be at a different point in his or her process. Observing each other and learning from each other.
Explaining to security: The art of just describing what is actually happening. “I am looking for something.” “She is wrapping a present.” The power (see above) of being able to focus on an action whilst someone else does the explaining.
Gut feeling + props: The need to allow your gut feeling to direct you, to give you ideas. To have the props but then let the action evolve. But to still be able to edit one’s self, and question one’s ideas, and not to incorporate every single idea. I have so many ideas.
Also, I wanted to say how much this workshop meant to me. This was a new way for me to work with these objects– the second piece, a way to put myself into the work, to make myself a bit vulnerable. It has given me plenty to think about. Once again, thanks to Tanja Ostojic for her warmth, patience, openness– for making us all feel so safe, and so encouraged as artists.
Teresa Albor is London based performance and visual artist interested in how different groups of people negotiate the world. Her work is research-based and often involves broad collaboration. It can involve video/moving image, performance, installation, publication, community-based workshops, and forms of artist-led curation.
Photos: Tanja Ostojic
Video: Teresa Albor