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Growing Up w/3 Older Women
Growing Up w/3 Older Women
Acme Lobomizers Ink. (Mouse Over)

(Kim: Joan,

First I was thinking that it was because I grew up with three older woman . . . but I don't think they told me what to do. I think it is more that I don't make my art, that it uses my body.)

That is very interesting. It sounds almost as if you are channeling. I sometimes have that experience but have to get deep into something before it goes that direction.And then I feel a deep and pure connection with a flow of language and thought. I love being in that space.

(Kim: When you tell me what to do then it feels like you are calling me, thinking I am someone else.)

Do you mean I mistake your process for someone else's?

(Kim: Yes and no. I guess it is like a have two personalities (as in "multiple personalities." One is the conscious one that talks to people and the other is the autopilot unconscious one that makes art. I'm feeling a lot of resentment with the Maryville idea of doing the colored drawings. That seems like a request for my conscious to popularize my unconscious offerings. As well, since my aesthetic background is black and white photography I resist "coloring" my drawings. It is not what I want to be doing . . . kind of like my day job. I did one the other day . . . kind of looks like Mary Engelbriet)

(Kim: But then I'll get over it.

I was bothered by the AIDS quilt because it was Western . . . which is why I called it the Western AIDS quilt. And then I was trying to convey in the new peace that even the day after AIDS the world is full of it. Hate is just a feeling that happens when someone asks me to do something in
art. It is kind of how the kid feels when he's working along and someone gives him a suggestion . . . and he wants to do it himself. I don't like someone to say, "you ought to photograph" such and such.)

As you describe it, your reaction is so pure, so unmediated, it could feel as strong as hate, i guess.

(Kim: But don't stop. I really value your suggestions.)

I am relieved to hear that. Because I was stymied by your reaction. Our conversation is challenging. If I say something with which you don't agree, you often write and say something. But if I disagree with your visual response or maybe just want to to go further, what recourse do I have but to ask you to think about making an additional drawing.

(Kim: The ideal is that one person says what they want or need, and that the other person feels safe in saying either yes or no.)

I do respect your choice, Kim. And I usually make it as a request, certainly, never as a demand. I was just responding to an old reaction on a day when others were lashing out at me.

I wish you would say more about that but I get the sense that you don't want to talk about that. Or not publicly?

(Kim: If you want to write something on the lobotomy then I think we should put it in . . . and I'd do a drawing. Otherwise I don't think we should have standalone news stories.)

Am not sure I agree about not having stand alone news stories. In any case, my mind has shifted and I neither want to write about lobotomies in this moment nor money. I want to write about control and will send that to you another email; for today.

(Kim: I heard on NPR an interview with a guy last week that had had a lobotomy . . . and another interview with the son of one of the most notorious lobotomizers (my word) . . . and he described how he had found a lot of ice picks in the kitchen drawer that his father would use (for the operations).

The whole thing is so unbelievable to me.

Should we put this conversation in . . . it is fine with me?)

Yes, do include.

Joan

Sat, Dec 3, 2005


Dear Kim,

We had another service for Lisi Bansen today, our ensemble member who was killed a few weeks ago when she was hit by an SUV while crossing the street in her wheelchair.

After she was hit, her family flew in. She died in less than 24 hours and a service was scheduled an the Quakers Friendship House in LaSalle Park.

Several of the people in our group went to the service but just as many were not able to go because they couldn't arrange transportation. With Caller Ride, you have to call and book at least a week in advance or you cant get a reservation. It doesn't make for a lot of spontaneity in the life of many people with disabilities if you don't live near a bus line.

So we decided to have a service after rehearsal, to make it available to the people who weren't able to be there.

Tom Braford, who was a friend of Lisi's and is involved with creating a co-housing community here helped lead the service. He had asked John, a friend of his who plays the flute to come and participate.

It was very kind and generous of both of them to offer their time and energy that way.John was very late getting there. Ok, than happens. But when he bought out his flute, I said, "If you are going to play music, some of us might like to move or dance to it." Several people nodded.

Lisi was a dancer and moved beautifully in her wheelchair with her bare feet..One of the things we will always remember is a piece I choreographed for her to Mozart's Magic Flute.

John" You won't want to do that. It would be better if you sat quietly."

And I thought, as I so often do when someone tells me what I will what to do, instead of asking me, that it was an arrogant place to claim, even if he was trying to do a favor.

He then said that he didn't know Lisi but had friends than knew her and had heard her she was special. And he asked us to close our eyes. He essentially led us through a guided meditation about loss and said if we listened to the spirits, we will recognize that the person is with us.

Then he said, "Now, you might feel like dancing."

It was such a fascinating situation to find myself in. At a service for one of my ensemble members to be told by someone who didn't even know her, when i/we should or should not move. That was not the fascinating part. People often tell each other what to do. The fascinating part is that I am sure that John was trying to operate out of a loving place.

Instead, it came across as controlling. It pissed me off. We had all been sitting in a circle talking for a long time and the space felt confined and claustrophobic. Some of our most healing times as a group come from exploring moment individually as well as collectively. We get out of our heads, and into our breath and heart space. And we can also touch each other physically.

It might have come across a little differently if he had just said, "I can understand that you might want to move or dance. If you can hang with me, I have an interesting experience that I would like to facilitate. It involves sitting quietly and listening to music and some stories I want to tell. And it does involve the possibility of movement at the end."

But he didn't say anything that. So essentially, he came into our space in a self defined role as "The Great Healer." And imposed his process on us instead of working with us and checking out where we were.

I don't like to essentialize but it felt very male. Even when he was trying to be nurturing and to do an act of generosity, he was dominating.

The other funny part to this story is that this is a man I went out with briefly years ago. He was wild about me and got infatuated very quickly and projected all sorts of things about who I was onto me. Because that is what infatuation is. And that kind of projection is also a kind of domination, although women and men are both guilty of it.

I wasn't sure at the time just what it was that so turned me off. But now I realize that it was a kind of dominating energy, masked in altruism.

I don't think his telling me what to do today was based on a brief relationship I had with him over ten years ago and the fact that I rejected him. We have long since been cordial when we run into each other.

I think he wanted to be sensitive and heal us and we were supposed to behave a certain way, damn it, so he could do that. And I wasn't following the script.

The meditation exercise was ok. Some might call it archetypical. I found it trite. But maybe it was helpful for some people. I don't know. I tried to let go of my exasperation and enter into it. I really did. I was unsuccessful. Maybe I was still too stunned by his arrogance and his desire to control.

And I learned from him today. I was reminded that I can come to something with all sorts of good intentions. But I absolutely have to check out where the other people are. To not assume I know what is going on with an individual or in a room.

I gave an ensemble member a ride home and asked how he felt about the service and he said he now felt more down.He wasn't sure why. But that it hadn't felt creative.

A lot of times the people in my group cant exactly pinpoint what is going on. They can't necessarily find the language for it. But they can usually read the emotional terrain.They know when something off. Like most marginalized people, they have become specialists in reading other people. Their survival depends upon it.

Later,

Joan

Saturday, Dec 3, 2005

11:38 PM

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