These are just some of the many images I took during Traces, a residency with performance artist Marisa Garreffa at Au Brana Cultural Centre in France in June 2018. Born out of Marisa's Rituals of Healing series, in which she explores through live ritual her own history as a survivor of violence, Marisa and I reflected on traces and residues of trauma, creating images that spoke directly to memory: fragments, elements, emotions and echoes. These traces will be worked and re-worked in future rituals, future performances, future installations; becoming echoes of echoes of echoes, each trace leading further from the original source of pain, through the passage of grief and towards the integration of beauty.
I kept a journal during our residency. These are some excerpts from my writing during those days of intuitive discovery, reflection, long rituals, and journeys into the woods:
"In the woods I’m drawn to wounds, to rupture, to caverns, to cracks, to decay. But also to healing and transformation, renewal and growth. The delicacy, beauty and intricacy of what I see thrills me. Textures. Scale. Perspective. Am I looking at something so tiny that ordinarily I would miss its story? Or am I observing a much larger universe?"
"The stream of water poured from height hits the blackened heart of the wood, sending out bright shards of light. Marisa pours again, slower this time. A white waterfall. She pours once more. An energetic starburst of incandescent pearls and dancing light-trails emerge. Spirits from the fire. The black heart is oily, glossy, glistening under its layer of water."
"Marisa’s body is imperceptible under the woven-together fragments of paper, formed from the first draft of her book. Traces of her life, now with added layers made from printed abstractions of photos I took earlier in the week: shards of water hitting the charred remains of wood in the fire, strands of Marisa’s wet hair, curled at the nape of her neck, caressing her collar bone, the jagged wound of a snapped tree trunk, raw and vulnerable, the gossamer net of a spider’s web, tangled in the woodland undergrowth. These images bring a new visual perspective to the cloth of words."
"It lies like a large white stain on the floor, this sculpture of paper, this tapestry of words, thoughts, and experiences. A marked-out territory, or map of some kind. Its edges are gently undulating. Marisa’s body slowly rises under it, like an ancient sea creature on the ocean floor. The paper curves and falls across her bent body. She emerges, a butterfly from its chrysalis. Her wings soar upwards. Marisa wraps herself in her words, shrouded in this paper veil."
"We are making an environment which allows people to connect and to imagine; to weave their own narrative between the elements in the room - the symbols, objects, images, texts, sounds, light, and smells. We open up to all our senses - and to an energy. An energy which is almost intangible at first, that grows in presence as we allow it to speak, to resonate and envelop us. My images will sing with the room and the installation. They are inspired by this space and its energy. They add layers; fragments to connect the past with the present. The room is in dialogue. Balanced."