The Red Shoes
The use of stories as medicine have informed this piece, specifically the work of the Jungian psychoanalyst and cantadora (keeper of the old stories), Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Where stories are medicine, and movement is ritual, I danced to embody and heal the wounded, wild feminine: danced for those who choose a too tame life and for those who grieve for their handmade life. For those lost in seductive lures and traps that keep them hungering for the heartfelt…As I once did. The music that I moved to was composed by fellow artist Jim Carter- after hearing the poem "Death of a Deer" by Nicolae Labis, whispered in a female Romanian voice, he created a piece inspired by a pull to both represent the wounded feminine, and the feminine incarnation of the sacred as it lives and dwells in animals.
The tale of The Red Shoes concerns the loss of a woman’s ‘handmade life’, and the loss of the deep, wild, instinctive feminine nature. She takes on a muffled life, her joy is lost resulting in a famine of the soul. Her hunger for the heartfelt results in a disastrous choice that causes her to dance madly out of control. Ring any bells?
This tale highlights the reclamation of instinct as a tool to regain a rich life, full of soul and a healthy sense of inner weights and measures.
I have cut up the marked paper I have generated through my dancing and used pieces of it to respond to the tale, creating a visual guide to the traps that can keep a woman from her meaningful, instinctive life.
Faye Dobinson 2016
Coming home, going home
I will open up a little deep night book and look up at the milky way, remembering a warm breeze and remembering who I am.
What needs more and what needs less?
What were those dream worlds giving me as I tiptoed around the water, infested with itchy longing?
Sitting at the base of a huge, kind tree that held me- that told me that instinct gets you furthest.
Holding your own inner weights and measures is golden.
What will I give back when I go back?
My one true wildish self.
And how will I sustain that?
I will lick my wounds, know when to rest to heal. Preventative love for me sees off a battle where I am never the victor.
Practically, what will I return to? How will I be living? What needs more, what needs less?
My art, my making, needs more- I will be singing over the bones of the way thing shave been and summoning up all the legions of fire, strength and inspiration. I will get shamanic. I will act, strongly with my softness.
I will be accessing the tickle of authentic joy as I slipped into the thermal waters at Hanmer Springs.
I will be letting the honey ooze from my opened, broken lozenge of a heart that dripped over the bones of my life as I was truly ‘in’ the beauity of this world.
My heart was cracked open like a nut, staggered by what I was seeing- not just the scale but the kindness, the simple ‘being’ of it all.
I don’t have to ‘do’ anything
I sometimes feel living in both worlds so overwhelming.
I am buffered, held and protected at every turn.
Pure medial woman…that’s my leap.
So much has been happening both in solitude ( being on my own) and in conversation.
But mostly in solitude.
I have walked, talked as I walked, I have made art, I have done all the things that I had to do- work, deadlines, tax, assessments. But all the time I have been returning to quiet as soon as I can.
It is in the quiet that I start to hear my soul and what it needs to feed itself, to make itself whole again. I have started to hear my heart and heal my heart. I have been looking at all my fears, where they have come from, how they affect me. And slowly, in the quiet, things have shifted.
I have learnt that there is a cycle, where I have to come to this place, this solitude, and spend some time getting myself whole again. And then I can return to the world, to you: a little changed each time but more curious and open to what could happen next, lighter. So when I go and I return to my soul, I won’t be abandoning you, or Lilou, or friends but I will be learning about myself in a fresh way and bringing myself back to my real life in a wonderful way.
The Tyranny of the Quantifiable
Rebeca Solnit, from her 2009 essay ‘Woolf’s Darkness- Embracing the inexplicable’.
‘The tyranny of the quantifiable is partly the failure of language and discourse to describe more complex, subtle and fluid phenomena, as well as the failure of those who shape opinions and make decisions to understand and value these slipperier things. It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to value what cannot be named or described, and so the task of naming and describing is an essential one in any revolt against the status quo of capitalism and consumerism. Ultimately, the destruction of the earth is to do, in part, perhaps in large part, to a failure of the imagination or to its eclipse by systems of accounting that cant count what matters. The revolt against this destruction is a revolt of the imagination, in favour of subtleties, of pleasures that money cant buy and corporations cant command, of being producers, rather than consumers, of meaning, of the slow, the meandering, the digressive, the exploratory, the numinous, the uncertain.’
I am in the business of the unquantifiable, the slippery, the hard to pin down. Art making can often be a joy, but it can also be a frightening grind, a lost land of shapes and forms that lack logic but insist on showing themselves. This business of art making has no real rules, regardless of what some may say. And those saying those things are desperately clawing for an inference of certainty in a world of uncertainty. Face to face daily with not knowing is exhilarating, and knackering. At the coal face of mystery is where I dwell. What I create did not exist even seconds before I complete it. There is no fanfare, no pat on the back or ‘good job’, just maybe an exquisite mini moment of a satisfaction that is grounded in its own framework of work well done.
I build scaffolds: supports and creative habits that give me a false sense of fragile security in my own creative ‘no [wo]mans’ land.
Scaffolds can give me sufficient sustenance and hope (though more often than not misguided and ungrounded) for the journey forward. Without the scaffolds, it all falls down- I am an inconsolable heap of doubt and self loathing, living a lie, not making anything of worth (and so forth).
Art making for me is a way of tracking my unknown, to meet and extend my edges, my borders, my boundaries. I give visual form to an unfolding- to a tension between artist, prompt and material used, to a deep and chiming pull to make things in response to something. No discourse, no analysis, just illuminating process.
Faye Dobinson 2015