Within DearWorld’s initiative to collect stories about COVID-19 I had to deliver a portrait (self portrait in my self-quarantined case), the story in the form of a letter and some behind the scenes/archive footage as the PS. I also had to incorporate their style into the portrait, by writing a phrase of the story on the body of the person portrayed. In this case, mmm, me again. Here’s what I made.
This is not my home. Or at least it wasn’t planned to be, although it might be so for now. 4 years ago I started travelling non-stop while working online.That made me good at adopting homes and getting used to the temporary. But who knows just how temporary this will be?
While people tend to fear change, it is stillness I dread. Isn’t it funny? As the borders closed and my fabulous globe-trotting plans for 2020 got cancelled, I was being deprived of the very reason why I don’t own more than 2 trousers at a time, carry any books or have a place to keep them. When they started saying, repeating, commanding me to stay at home, I didn’t know where that was.
It’s been 2 months. I spent the first one at my Dad’s, who I happened to be visiting. 2 weeks into lockdown, I started to work out and dance a lot. Constantly bumping into furniture and walls did not discourage me entirely, although I was in quite a low mood. Sometime around the third week, I sat on the staircase and looked at my Dad down in the living room. I said: “Every time my plane takes off, I have no fear of death. I feel fullfilled and gratefuI, ready to give in. I don’t mind dying as long as death finds me living, but this stillness is killing me.” Gloomy and ungrateful, I know. My apologies.
I have changed my mind since. I have also moved to a borrowed house. I continue to work out and dance every single day, the furniture conveniently turned into weights, gym equipment or props. Waking up here a few days ago, I felt totally different. I realized my personal drama was vanishing.
In some ways, this pandemic has not impacted me that much. Working online, my source of income and work routines have remained untouched. On the other hand, it has brought my thrilling unsettled lifestyle to a sudden halt. And, of course, because I was living on the road, I didn’t have a home to go back to, I chose not to. My enthusiasm feeds on the possibility of moving towards the unexpected. What does home mean to someone like me, who cherishes movement over stability?
As a nomad, I’ve thought many times that my home is my body, or the way I look at what’s around. I’ve sometimes experienced it as a transient feeling built along with others. I have also been looking for the place to build one of my own. More recently, I have blamed myself for not having it all setup when this thing hit us. “But this is also the unexpected”, I tell myself now. “You should go about it as if it were a trip. Move with it.” And so I’m trying.
This is not my home?
You may see the published version on DearWorld’s website: https://stories.dearworld.org/081-This-Is-Not-My-Home-1
I really like to take part on crowdsourced projects like this one put together by DearWorld. Crowdsourcing means that an agency or client chooses many creators to produce for one same brief.
Because they are requesting ‘the same’ from many different creators, they make a big effort to describe their need with precision and to define clear parameters of what will be considered valid/invalid. And there’s nothing like a good set of limitations to structure creative work. These limits work just like sharp lines within which to color. When the time comes to respond to the demand, we will incorporate all our own restrictive elements: production times, where we are at, what kind of light we get hit by (in my case no lighting equipment), which spaces I can work in, how do I set the whole thing up for self portraits, what should be the key visual elements of my particular story?, and so on… I find great pleasure in playing with all these knowing that, as long as I color within the given lines that structure the work, everything I find will be acceptable. From there on, it’s a matter of choosing whichever makes the most sense to me. And that’s my favourite question to answer.
Thinking a Portrait
I chose to write “This is not my home?” on my skin because it’s both the beginning and the ending of the letter. It’s the one thing I start by asserting and end up questioning (we should always remain wary of our own certainties) and it’s also a good summary of the situation this pandemic caught me in.
I wrote it on my leg because it allowed me to do big letters but also because legs are the walking limbs, the ones that take us places. Now that in a house that is not even mine and is located in the city where I come from but that I had, last time I checked, already left for good; the central issue is I can’t move as I normally do. I’m trapped. This could stir the kind of frustration that would have me go up the wall. So much so that I have been working out and moving my body several hours a day since lockdown started. That’s why, for the portrait, I decided to play with body postures that would find support in the limits of the tightest space of the house. I used the narrowness of the hallway as a structure and turned the walls into the lines that mark the inner space to be coloured. Supported by this structure, I played the game of using my restless body to go against gravity and distort the limits that trap me.
Because, well… that’s what I’ve been up to.