Monday, October 27, 2008

Sentimentality and labels aside ...

(Writing on the box is backwards because I took the photo using iPHoto, which reverses letters)
Last Monday I woke up and started cleaning and clearing my space and everything in it ... minimizing my possessions as much as possible by throwing them away or packing them up to be given away. Clothing, shoes, objects/nick-nacks, papers, books, etc. It will take a while for me to really get down to the bare minimum, because the more I discard, the more I see to be discarded. In this current cleaning/clearing mode there is little or no time for sentimentality.

Do I use this?
Do I need this?
Do I want this?
Who do I know who will use/need/want this?
Why am I keeping this?
Why is this important to my life now?
What are the things I would keep if I had only one suitcase to put them in?

It's interesting, delving into bags and boxes I had quite forgotten about, unearthing all kinds of memories. Inside is outside. Outside is inside. This feeling for space and a blank slate in my external environment is reflecting how I currently feel about my inner environment.

I was invited to give a talk yesterday to a group of women (which was really enjoyable) - on my work, the creative process, etc. When it was time to begin/introduce myself, I started off by saying that I am a multimedia artist ... Then I stopped, realising that that label, while it may be true (in terms of what I 'do') no longer really feels 100% me. There is more of 'me' which that label doesn't embrace.

'Multimedia artist' is a label I actually didn't choose for myself. It was what someone called me in a newspaper article she wrote about my first solo exhibition in 2001. At the time, not knowing what to call myself because there were so many things to describe, I thought 'multimedia artist' worked because it encapsulated everything. Then everyone started referring to me automatically as "Elspeth Duncan, Multimedia Artist".

Now I feel a bit like someone who got named at birth by their parents, grew up, felt the name didn't resonate and changed it to something they felt more aligned with. I'm not quite sure what my new 'label' is going to be and when I will begin to use it. Will I come up with it or will someone just call me 'that' one day and it will 'fit'?

Anyway ... I began by telling the women that I feel I am going through a major transition and I am not sure what it means or where it will lead me. I explained the cleaning out of my room and the symbolism of it in terms of new energy and life. I expressed that things of the past, including my former work, feel old. Not irrelevant, because they still have their value, but ... it's as though something very new wants to push up and come out ... and that anything that went before is either stepping aside or has to be let go of, to give the newness space to emerge.


Andreamuse said...

Before we came to Trinidad, I did a major scouring of my "things" too. I have regretted very little, if any, of what I gave away or sold. I kept most sentimental items and things that I use regularly. The only sadness was that we had to rehome our two birds during that time.

Now? Everything I own in the world could fit into two suitcases, a carry-on, and a few small boxes. It's very liberating.

Kris Loya said...

i agree with andrea. There is something hugely liberating knowing that worldly possesions are not dragging you down. You're not bound to much or to anything.
Living out of one suitcase for 5 months taught me that i'm quite resourceful and that i can do with less...and its important to do laundry before yuh on yuh las panty.....