From Thriving to Rewilding
Rewilding: Restore, return it to its natural state,reconnecting with what matters, reinstate natural processes, goes where nature takes it.
The focus on thriving was prompted by my cousin, who saw a televisual performance I was commissioned to create called A Primal Scream 2021. The piece portrayed struggle, collective survival and resilience, and after she viewed it, she said; 'I have seen you survive, now show me how you thrive.' This provocation was almost a throw-away comment, but it reverberated around my brain, revealing that I could not imagine myself living in a thriving state. Thus, the research question for FACEFORWARD, (a solo, participatory performance) was unavoidable; from surviving to thriving: cultivating a performative process that enables a sense of thriving.
Grappling with the notion of thriving led me to acknowledge that I had been trying to transcend the state of depression and internalised and externalised oppression for over a decade to realise my full potential. But the more I look around, the more I and forced to acknowledge this challenge is not just affecting me...
The idea of Thriving, even the word in and of itself, is almost triggering for me as a Black British woman due to my intersectionality of gender, race, and class (I am aware that, frankly, this might be a problematic concept for people who are not Black, not a woman, and not from a lower economic background - but I am my first point of reference).
The traditional definition of thriving doesn't account for the impact of structural factors on one's ability to thrive, which is a significant issue for Black British populations. Historical marginalisation, inequality, and various forms of violence make it challenging for Black British people to succeed. Black British women face additional challenges due to cultural norms entrenched during centuries of enslavement in the Caribbean. The "strong black woman" stereotype dehumanises how we are seen and see ourselves.
These challenges are shared among the women in my personal and professional networks- I literally know only three Black Women in my extensive network who have said that, yes, they are Thriving according to the broadly accepted Western definition.
In my performance of FACEFORWARD, I talk about a fallen tree I came across years ago in the woods who was, in many ways, a mentor to me.
I have begun to see the trees as a reflection of myself, of women, of Black women. I have looked back through my life and considered all of the ways that my natural nature has been pruned, cut back, and left unnourished. I have grown in response to the post-colonial circumstances I was born into; my lineage has been dominated and shaped by that power structure and has contorted the person I feel I came here to be.
It is so tangled and complicated.
In performance FACEFORWARD, I curated a process for the audience to facilitate me in a ritual of untangling and readying to thrive, bringing my work with the community into my performance practice. In the performance, I discuss a fallen tree that inspired me to reflect on my resilience as a Black woman. Post FACEFORWARDS, practice is centred on black women's self-recovery and healing as I/we strive to do more than exist in a post-colonial and capitalist world.
Welcome to my inner workings - you will see selections of works that have brought me to where I am in my creative process now...
Playing small. 2023. Wire, foil, clay, plants, soil, stones, perspect box.
I have witnessed a glass ceiling when it comes to my perception of who and what I can be. It is a cage without bars, made from the outside, but I am the one that keeps myself compacted/contorted.
A Quetsion of Thriving WIP
Since the performance of FACEFORWARD, I have been collecting photos of trees that Have fallen or been cut and continue to grow. I have also worked with stills form somatic pratcice. The above is a document of sketches I have made in response to this exploration. Digital drawrings 2022.
To see to hear to feel.
To be seen, to be heard to be felt.
FACEFORWARD is a hybrid piece intended to facilitate the audience to ‘actively’ witness my process of moving from a place of surviving to thriving.
The performance attempts to magnify and expose the reality of needing to have strength as a black british woman, whilst holding the equal realities of exhaustion, sadness and everyday economic struggles within the capitalist paradigm.
The performance space positions the audience as co-facilitators, whose involvement is instrumental to building a portal through which I free myself from the constrained narratives and subjectivities limiting both my personal and socio-political agency/action.