Mittwoch, 24. November 2021

Opening closed systems

I ponder a lot during these days. Recently I did that in the Atrium of Gropius Bau, under the beautiful tree (to me a Baobab Tree) in Emeka Okboh's installation Ámà: The Gathering Place, listening to the beautiful polyphonic voices of Igbo songs. I so loved all the beautifully woven pieces of the tree and of the stools, on which visitors are invited to sit on.

I started to rethink my own artwork and what I do. Many texts you will read here stem from this pondering. I thought about my conservative  catholic upbringing as a teenage girl in the rural area of south Germany and how I would sit with my granny, my mother's mother, who lived in the same village as we did, during the long winter evenings and prepare handcrafted gifts for Christmas: Stiching, Knitting, Crochet. Of course the motives I chose were innocent, like flowers, birds and so on.

My granny and me would listen to the radio, mostly traditional bavarian music. There was never much talking. She would usually knit on a pair of socks. It was during these mostly quiet gatherings that I came to know my grandmother's sadness which she never really revealed to anyone. It was always there, on a subcutaneous level, which is a very strong messenger. I kept this in my tissues and I knew about her sadness and how life would not and never follow a straigth path. A beautiful way of learning, but so powerful that I could only learn to distinguish between my own truth and my grandmother's truth (amongst others of my family) through bodywork and other forms of personal growth work, which I began to practice in my mid-twenties.

When I started to stich again, much later in my life, around 2008, using stretcher frame and canvas as the base for stiching, it was an act of retrocative rebellion against all the restraining introjects I had received during my upbringing in a conservative, patriachal family and community, regarding the body, especially the female body and therefore my own body. My first stiching in fact is a trilogy about the union of the sperm and the egg as the universal symbol for creation and the evolution of something new. I never showed this to my granny, who was then still alive, as she would not have approved of it.

I kept stiching onto the mostly unprimed canvas for some years. Sometimes framed, sometimes loose. The stiching always happened during long winter days. Never in the summertime.

In 2011 I started a series of 5 canvasses, all 30x30 cm, processing the fact that I felt myself to be considered the so called 'black sheep' within my family. It was an act and part of healing and understanding.

I had always felt as being the one who asked questions no one else would ask, addressing voids that no else would  address, causing 'problems' where no one else would see a problem, being labelled as 'annoying and complicated' especially by my mother who never wanted to deal with anything behind the familiy's facade (all forgiven by now).

I still feel the label of trouble maker from time to time when speaking in front of a group, when I seem to be the one who addresses the black spot (ugh, another word to research and ponder about!). Yet: I came a long way with this and I have learned, through Deep Democracy and other systemic forms of process work, that the so called trouble maker has a very important role within a system, as this person pushes things forward and helps to open up encrusted structures, mostly after a period of strong rejection.

I can say from having lived the experience of a 'black sheep': without the black in the middle of the white / cream color, there would be no friction, no contrast. There would be just gradation. It is the group dynamics which defines the negative aspect and the role of the black, before it can acknowledge the importance of opposition and contrast as the driving force for change. Where does this negative connotation stem from? Coming from a rural context myself, I always knew that the black sheep's wool is less valuable on the wool market, because it cannot be colored. So basically it is a form of devaluation in terms of economic use. Talking in the world of color and contrast, black has as high a 'value' as white. And besides, why not having a sheep in the herd just for the sake of having it in the herd?

And since I have overcome this label (at least for most of the time), I can go on to a differentiated way of seeing myself: As the multitude of things that I am (to quote Walt Whitman here).