Marina Abramovic: A Reflection
3pm on a sunny Monday afternoon, we set out to the piers to visit Marina Abramović: In Residence. It was the first time we had the opportunity to participate in the Abramović Method, a series of mind and body cleansing exercises. Upon entering the exhibition space, we were greeted by a check-in area that had an extensive number of lockers where we stored all our belongings before entering this Timeless Space. After a video-led series of warm up exercises, we entered the space with noise cancelling ear muffs.
The first area we were greeted by had rows of participants seated; in front of them, were small mountains of black lentils and rice, with a placard that said Separate and Count.
Something about separating our piles and creating a system – some order – was deeply therapeutic and meditative. Although we only managed to finish counting the lentils, the experience left me both cleansed of external distractions, but also exhausted from the amount of focus despite diminishing daylight. The rest of the series of exercises were spent mostly with my eyes closed trying to recover from it all before hitting the cold winter streets again.
Claude on Solitude: Being primarily an organist by trade, most of my time is literally spent in solace. A lot of time is spent practising especially complex repertoire and this usually takes place in an organ loft, in a darkened church with no one around.
At performances and rehearsals there is a collaborative aspect as I’d be accompanying a soloist or choir. On some occasions I get to play the organ with a horn quartet or string instruments. That's a rare treat although I dare say I revel in the individual nature of my practice. That one person and an organ can make such a big sound that completely fills a space is what intrigues me to this day.
As an electronic musician, like anyone working with computers and gear, solitude isn’t a stranger. Getting so into a project, that everything else including time disappears. There’s a lot of prep before going into the collaborative timeline of a project. Lots of demos before studio time, lots of programming before performance time.
I think being an artist is a solitary vocation. It’s in the performance, the album and the artwork where the connectivity is attained.
Vanessa on Solitude: My practice is catalysed by interacting with people however is truly crafted in total silence.
Impressed that we managed to complete part of a task that we had seen many people around us abandon, the conversations we had derived from participating in the Abramović methods were mainly about the notion of solitude within practice.
Ironically, in our hyper connected and increasingly alienated reality, we lack the restorative periods of solitude. It's no surprise to see and hear from our fellow creatives, that the need for alone time, the genuine and constructive periods of reconnecting with oneself, is actually necessary for subconscious problem solving. How many of your lightbulb moments were birthed in the shower?
Alone but by no means lonely, solitude restores our power to create and therefore better connect with others through our work. In our shared work space, we aim to negotiate being Together and Alone in more productive ways, to bring out the best outcomes while minimising distractions and pressure caused by expectations of producing work at a societally predetermined rate. Our skills and talents are a blessing, but seeking this balance is our true art.
"Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers. " - The Call of Solitude, Ester Buchholz, Ph.D., 1997