My course aims to devise and develop strategies for caring for the self (you!) while making work, and, perhaps, making work about self-care. This is the very first step towards full, present, fruitful collaboration, as without the artist, there is no art. Or is there? What do you need to understand about your practice, and your life, to be sustainable? What do you need to take care of? What do you need to let go of? Although quite performance based, the course also welcomes you if your practice is not performance, as we will aim to introduce working practices, ethics of care, reading and writing that cares for you whatever kind of work you make.
We will work, for example, on understanding the challenges and demands of practicing art, on letting go, making work and then destroying it, on ritual making, stillness, silence, meditation, intention setting, on daily practices, walks, nature, on risk taking and preparations for it. We will develop strategies to observe the self such as reflexive journals, self-portraiture and autobiographical film-making. At the end of the course, we will share our explorations and gift our self-care strategies to the rest of the Transart community.
– Notice what you need care for. Identify that need.
– Devise and develop sustainable strategies to take care of yourself which you can use daily and when needed.
– Be aware of risks and become able to risk assess, especially in terms of physical, mental, emotional and energetic health.
We will begin the day with a check-in. During the three days of this course, we will have led discussion in the morning, centred around topics proposed, the readings, works and artists, including Rhiannon Armstrong, Julie Vulcan, Ria Jade Hartley, Linda Montano, Tehching Hsieh, Rosana Cade, Anna Halprin, Adrian Howells, Ellie Harrison and Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself. I will direct a number of exercises to illustrate those discussions, to exemplify the concepts raised, for example, vulnerability, or togetherness, or touch, or being seen.
The afternoon sessions will be practical, with students (you!) devising and sharing strategies for self-care in relation to the topics raised in the morning. We will finish our day with a check out, and with contemplation, chanting or meditation.
Day One: A precarious, demanding, unsustainable world
Morning (10-1): We will identify the problems artists and performers (we!) face in the contemporary world and settings we live and work in. For this, I will explore things raised in your observation diaries. I will bring my knowledge of psychoanalysis, mental health and yogic practices, and I will invite you to bring your areas of interest too. We will explore how to risk assess and establish control measures. I will propose some warming up exercises, perhaps around writing, walking, looking, talking, making and destroying, breathing or other simple practices. These will be set according to the group as, in self-care, it is important to be responsive.
Afternoon (2-4): You will develop strategies to observe the self, with words or images, as they show the problems raised in the morning session. We will discuss potential strategies to address these observations and how we can incorporate these into our lives and practices.
Day Two: Presence, ethics and silence
Morning (10-1): We will explore the concepts of presence, ethics and silence through ritual, meditation, intention setting, group work, as well as a discussion on readings, your observation diary and artists’ works.
Afternoon (2-4): You will work with the concepts raised in the morning and develop strategies of self-care that incorporate these. If that is too hard or too vague, I will have practices to hand we can try, but this is a time for others to be guided by you, your self and your care, ideally. It is a time for you. We will then discuss whether we can incorporate these into our lives and practices and how.
Day Three: A self to care for / sustainability
Morning (10-1): We will discuss what sustainability means to each of us, and how we will work to bring our learning forward, through a commitment. Are we ready to change? To let go? And if not (which is absolutely normal) what do we need? We will finish discussing texts and artists, as well as exploring sustainability through exercises, including breathing and care giving (holding, washing).
Afternoon (2-4): In the afternoon, we will create something together, as a group, to act as a guide, self-care for others. We will take the individual dimension of the course into others. How do we share what we have learned? How can we make our community as a whole more sustainable?
I have fewer readings than the norm for this course. This is because I would like to ask you to write an observation diary based on what you need care for and what your strategies for self-care are. Anything is valid and you don’t need to do anything to take that care yet, just notice!
- ‘The ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom. An interview with Michel Foucault on January 20, 1984 conducted by Raul Fornet-Betancourt, Helmut Becker, Alfredo Gomez-Muller’, Philosophy Social Criticism 1987 12: 112 [20 pages]
- Jonathan Crary, Chapter one from 24/7 [26 pages]
- Brene Brown, excerpt from The Gifts of Imperfection [7 pages]
- A Pema Chödrön Primer [30 pages]
- Dee Heddon and Adrian Howells (2011) From talking to silence: a confessional journey. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 33 (1). pp. 1-12. [10 pages]
- Antero Alli, The Eight-Circuit Brain: http://www.verticalpool.com/8circuitbrain1.html
- Antero Alli, Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman's Guide To Reality Selection
- Maggie Berg, Barbara Seeber, Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy
- Augusto Boal, Games for actors and non-actors
- Tara Brach, Radical acceptance
- Rob Brezsny, Pronoia
- Brené Brown, The gifts of imperfection
- Julia Buckroyd, The student dancer
- Pema Chodron, The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
- Jonathan Crary, 24/7
- William Davies, The corruption of happiness https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/william-davies/corruption-of-happiness
- Tim Etchells, Certain Fragments
- Bo Forbes, Yoga for Emotional Balance
- Michel Foucault, Care of the self: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fouc-eth/#H4
- Guillermo Gomez Peña, Exercises for Rebel Artists
- Peggy Hackney, Making Connections
- Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
- Dave Markowitz, Self-Care for the Self-Aware: A Guide for Highly Sensitive People, Empaths, Intuitives, and Healers
- Minna Martin, Maila Seppa, Paivi Lehtinen, Breathing as a Tool for Self-Regulation and Self-Reflection
- Marion Milner, On not being able to paint
- Caroline Myss, Defy Gravity
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
- Osho, Living on Your Own Terms
- Laurie Penny, Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless: http://thebaffler.com/blog/laurie-penny-self-care
- Russell Razzaque, Breaking Down is Waking up: The Connection Between Psychological Distress and Spiritual Awakening
- The Essential Rumi (Coleman Barks translation)
- The Tao Te Ching
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
- Zen Flesh Zen Bones
- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Materials students should bring to class
As well as your computer and usual materials, you should bring paper and pens, things to draw with, warm clothing to lay down or a blanket to cover yourself, and clothes to move in (very gently).
Self-care, sustainability, vulnerability, change, presence, ethics, precarity, silence
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