Over the summer I started thinking about the FMP. Doing this course over two years meant that one of the main thoughts I had was to find a project which would keep me interested for a whole year.
I wanted, and still want! to find something that is academically engaging, that would allow me to learn new techniques, to explore things I haven’t tried yet, that would interest me as a theme and as a process.
I participated in the lessons and tutorials last year with my colleagues and saw what they have produced. Some of the stuff I liked, some looked more like “show and tell” to me. I downloaded the supporting material and read through and then I went for some long walks and wrote extensively about what some of the ideas I had meant for me. I wanted the FMP to be an evolution of what I did last year, but I also wanted it to represent me, to be me. Last year I explored FLUXUS as a movement (you can read here and the following posts) and I felt comforted by a movement that allowed me to express me in a manner that I like. Hence, my first idea for the FMP was to do something on NOTHING. There have been many exhibitions and works done on the concepts of emptiness, empty spaces, but not really on NOTHING. Think about the Tate with Nothing Works or Olafur Eliasson in Nothingness is not nothing at all. Not to mention Void, a Retrospective… I thought that as much as I would have loved to do something like that it would have been too academic for the course I am doing and I wanted a larger space to exhibit what I had in mind. All these things are not at the moment possible for me to achieve and do while at FAD.
A second idea I had, has been actually lingering in me for the past three years. It’s something that I wanted to explore and create for myself, to be honest. And that is a PRAM for BARREN WOMEN. I am a 52-year-old woman who has never had children and at times I felt excluded and demonised by other women and society for not having had any kids, and sought after as potential prey by men who did not want any real commitment and enjoyed their free time. Don’t get me wrong, the reasons why I haven’t had children are mine and mine alone, but I have to admit that I really didn’t feel any maternal instinct, I felt petrified by the idea of becoming a mother and I knew that the men I was with at the time, albeit amazing, wasn’t the right man for me to have a child with. BUT… I am very happy for him being an amazing dad now with another woman! The whole idea of creating a pram for women with no kids, single free wild women like me, was multiple and touched different areas:
there are so many prams around: what do we do with them? can we recycle them and turn them into something different? What about UPcycling them?
I am tired of backpacks, and trolleys and shopping bags! I know that pushing is better for my back than pulling and carrying, so… push a pram!
a pram is such a comfortable and somehow protective object when you are walking alone late in the evening after work from the train station!
It can carry a lot of stuff: you can be out the whole day and fill it to the brim if you want to!
I imagined various options and usage for the pram, including a version to go painting at the beach!
So, my pram should have a vibe of a Pininfarina sports car: nice, elegant, stylish, exclusive. It will come in different models and with various options and adaptable attachments. It will be multiverse, modern, freeing. And because I intend, one day, to make one, I am not going to post here any of the sketches and plans I already did about three years ago and refined this summer. I hope you understand…
And then the last idea was regarding BEAUTY. As a psychotherapist, I am tired of seeing art focusing on mental health and gender issues. I am not saying that those issues are not important. Far away from me the mis-concept that I do not care. But art is NOT a show-and-tell programme of people’s depression and anxiety and eating disorders, I am sorry. Just because someone is depressed and anxious, that doesn’t allow them automatically and by default, to call themselves artists. I do strongly believe in this, and I will voice my opinions freely. There are many people who are very good at drawing and sculpting and photographing, but that doesn’t mean they are artists. There are many people out there being very crafty and good with their hands, carving, making things, stitching, and making cards and painting mugs and, even if in favour of honourable causes or to raise money, that doesn’t mean that they are artists.
I like to explore the concept of Beauty because at times I feel that people don’t know what beauty and aesthetics are. Some people might say that they are not an important concept now. I still think they are. Just because someone likes various colours and decides to be free in acting, wearing, and doing what they want, that doesn’t mean that whatever they do and wear actually suits them or that is it beautiful, or stylish, or elegant, or balanced. To me, beauty goes along respectability and dignity. I think that by being all-encompassing and understanding and not wanting to hurt anyone, we are forgetting about the concepts of beauty and definitely ugly. I have seen some pieces of works and I cannot say that I liked them, nor – in my opinion – that they are objectively beautiful nor artistic. Freedom of expression doesn’t make you an artist. Art makes you an artist. [If you want to have a look at some concepts re. Beauty as subjective or objective, pls see here. I also want to add, that if we consider Beauty to be purely a subjective concept, because I am a thinking being, my concept of Beauty is as valid as anyone else’s.]
This doesn’t mean that I am an Artist, but I know damn well who much I am interested in this subject. And I thought that exploring Beauty in such a depressing and grey place such as Blackburn could have been an option. I call this place Escentéa. This comes from SNT. Escentéa, SNT. Or: Shitty Northern Town. I have to admit that the coinage is not mine, while Escentéa is. I find boring the constant living in the past and reminiscing on the good old days, which were not that good if this is how we are living now. I find therapeutically somewhat disturbing to see a large majority of the population still stuck in their psychosocial development at the stage of identity: welcome to the Freudian genital stage! It doesn’t matter their age, they still act and react as if they were angry teenagers, listening to the same music they listened at the time, wearing the same clothes they wore at the time, mingling with the same people, in the same places. Escentéa is a place stuck in time fucking this and fucking that, that doesn’t grow nor evolve and very much not in touch with reality outside of its little construct. Most of the conversations revolve around the past, what happened, why it happened, whose fault it is. Never have I heard someone taking full responsibility for their present and future, focusing on the Self. Unless, of course, they are sitting in front of me in a session. And art, here in Escentéa, revolves around that. The mills, the factories, Margaret Thatcher, punk music, being rebellious, benefits, homelessness, lack of jobs, mental health, this is England and How fucking Great we are. From the eyes of someone who belongs to another heritage, this is all very sad and slightly ridiculous.
And I want to rebel to all of this. For me, Beauty for beauty’s sake is a wonderful thing. And there isn’t enough in this town. This is why I started working on the idea of Blackburn-on-Sea, creating a real map of an imaginary beautiful place. I want to rebel to all of this because I come from a wealthy, right-thinking, industrious, highly-paid, borderline aristocratic Italian / Austro-Hungaric family and there is nothing wrong with being right-thinking and educated and managerial. There is nothing wrong and I am exhausted by the shallow and narrow-minded circular reasoning with no logic that I face. I never heard so many mothers calling their children: You piece of Shit! What’s wrong in this Country?
There is nothing wrong with investing money in beautiful things and in buying beautiful, elegant, and expensive objects. IN wanting a large and comfortable and beautiful house. There is nothing wrong with working hard to elevate yourself to a different social stratum. There is nothing wrong in studying, going to college and university, whether private or public. Stop winging and do something!
There is nothing wrong.
In Escentea I see no imagination, no magic, and everyone is in anguish. But as much as I can feel comfortable writing all of this on here, I find it painful to discuss all of this face to face when the immediate reaction I get is: if you don’t like it, you can leave and go back to your own country. I have been asked: When are you leaving because this is not your Country? I have been accused of not being tolerant nor understanding nor correct nor empathic, while people don’t realise that I don’t have to be understanding, but I am free to express my opinion. We can’t pretend to have equal rights only for the ideas and ideologies that we deem important. If you want freedom of speech, you need to give it to everybody. If you want protection, you need to protect everybody, including the ones who believe in something that is uncomfortable for you to face. This is why, as much as this project feels very close to my heart and integrity and values, I have decided not to fight this battle.
Because this is not my land.