Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Germans, Crickets and Cataluñya

Only a little over a month from my last blog post, there seems to be so much that has happened, from a personal perspective as well as a global one. It's hard to keep the balance, between the local and global news and one's own daily victories and defeats. Somehow all these events intersect somewhere in the psyche to create a smörgåsbord of emotions that inadvertently effect one's daily life.

I don't quite understand why, but the Catalan independence movement which led to the current debacle in Cataluñya has been poignant for me and has evoked feelings of solidarity for all that struggle for their rights. Since we left Barcelona, the situation there has been riddled with recovery and strife.
It's hard to imagine such a historically rich and culturally colorful place could spiral into chaos in such a short time. And it did. It's been a bitter reality for my friends there, walking, living and working on the streets of such polarizing politics as the independence movement conjures.  How the Spanish government chose to deal with the very historically complex uprising is one of the bigger disappointments for me. Not unlike many nations across the globe, there seems to be excess hubris and a shortage of tolerance at the table, if there even is a table to discuss the conflicts at hand. 

How about a big fucking "we are sorry" for whatever atrocities a nation committed against the various peoples who were perceived to be on the wrong side of right in the eyes of the ruling powers?

Even in parenting, an acknowledgment of ones mistakes is the most important first step towards mending trust and building new and peaceful ways of communicating. It translates from our individual behaviour to our national behaviour. Admitting a wrong is an important step to begin making a right.

And here is the segue from Spain to Germany... I just finished reading the book: The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes, and it describes the absolutely crazy history of war laden lands of what are today known as Germany from 500 BCE to the present. It's fascinating.
One thing I took to heart as the book approached the mid 20th century: The Holocaust
"it's tempting to print an entire page in solid black and and just go sit in some blessed English garden, trying to forget what happened among the railways-sidings and birch-forests of Mitteleuropa. Here, if anywhere, is something too awful for rational discussion or comprehension. But we can't leave it at that."
The book then continues to portray the darkest sides of humankind in chronological time. And the mass reckoning that inevitably followed. And I will mention, still, there is reckoning in the air in Berlin. I feel it here daily.

More interesting graffiti in the Friedrichshain Kiez (German for "hood").

And then there is the day to day stuff.... The different etiquette of the German culture, is not an easy one to work around.
Could they please stop honking their car horns? They honk the second you, as a driver or pedestrian or bicyclist, step out of "order". 
It is clear that I am wired for a more organic approach to human movement in urban areas, and thus here, I experience plenty of honking.
And how about a smile? Come on people! Those facial muscles seem a bit under developed here. Luckily I have a super silly 7 year old, who makes me laugh and smile most of the time, so we turn the goof factor up to 11 when we are out in the city.

 One weekend we found excellent Thai and Indonesian street food in a small Berlin park. Christian really enjoyed a plate of fried crickets!

On a much more personal note, I am experiencing bouts of anxiety around not being productive enough. I have to constantly remind myself that this grand adventure has many layers to it, some evidently hidden, and that even though I feel displaced, change like this is good for me. With all this moving and resettling it has been hard to finish any creative project I have started. I began doing research on residency programs in Berlin where you can immerse yourself in your project with support from other artists. Perfect I thought.
I applied for several residency programs, and got accepted to one that is a potential good fit for a sculpture I have been dreaming up. But then the reality set in. The intense residency timetable is nowhere near my current situation, as a mom, living in the South of Berlin, with a sobering schedule around my sons school and extra curricular activities. Like all moms, I just don't have a lot of work(me) time in a day. So, I pass on the opportunity and move on to a work space in a collective space with access to many familiar tools and hope for the best. The cost of participating in the co-op makerspace is a fraction of the residency and that in the end alleviates the pressure of over-commitment. I hope to use this resource and get at least one new sculpture out into the world!

It makes me grateful for all that we built at home, a shop next to our house, a supportive community for our family.  Space, peace and quiet to do our work. Space!
Cities are catalysts of the opposite, great places to get swept away by the urban distractions, noise, lights, mass volume of humans, truly impressive art.  Places to gestate ideas, meet interesting minds, expose oneself to uncomfortable experiences. To be impressed by innovation, to exist within the buzz. To be like a sponge, soaking it all up.  And to remain present, as hard as that is.

We travel a lot, especially now with our little wonder car, the Skoda. It's amazingly fuel efficient and is a solid little ride for our family. We traveled to Denmark. I went back to Barcelona for a short visit, and to take advantage of our dental insurance. We drove to Amsterdam a few weekends ago, to attend the infamous ADM (art squat) birthday party festival. They are the collective that was behind Robodock, the festival where I got to operate my very first pulse jet engine from SRL, which subsequently inspired Caged Pulse Jets. A perfect example of how an urban cultural experience can inspire new work.

I hope that Kodiak will remember some of these adventures later. Even if it's deep down, he, like all of us adventurers, is a global human. Hopefully, even if no true memory remains, he will know that the world is full of possibility and that he holds the key.

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