Monday, 10 August 2015

Failure Project Day Six: What I Mean When I Talk About Failure

I spent the weekend thinking about the work we'd done last week, and trying to decide what to do with the week ahead of me. Some of the provocations from the observers I'd had in on Friday afternoon stuck particularly in my mind, especially a suggestion I'd had emailed to me on Saturday: "define to yourself what specifically you are exploring about failure". Would that help? Of course. Blindingly obvious, again, now that I consider it. I've spent a lot of time asking other people what they think about failure, and what kind of shaping force it plays in their lives. It has led to a lot of insightful conversations. But ultimately I need to know what I am making a piece about.

Ultimately, failure is secondary. I think I need to make a piece about depression - I've actually been thinking about it for years now. Failure is a major part of my experience of depression, mostly because it is easy for me to use perceived failures as weapons against myself. I guess I've been avoiding stating that with decisiveness, because I often tell myself that "personal is not the same as important". Most of the time it isn't. But perhaps, with regards to mental health, it is.

(I'm aware that I'm still not sounding entirely certain, with my "I thinks" and "perhaps"... I want to leave space to change my mind in the process of exploration).

So this morning Lara and I began by having a chat about how I wanted my exploration of depression (and accompanying failures) to inform our physical work. I brought in an excellent picture book called The Red Tree by Shaun Tan - I can't emphasise enough how much I think it's worth getting your hands on a copy - because the illustrations have always seemed to me to express some of the experiences of depression that are difficult to put into words.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the movement of impulses around the body, and minimalism in movement. This was really to address my concern that I can't dance depression, because nothing happens. So we tried to answer the question: how little can I do and still be doing something?

It's not going to be all unhappiness. My life isn't all unhappiness. I just happen to have this thing that rears its head up occasionally and seriously affects my experience of the world. So I need to explore it in the way that I know best.

As a side note, it sounds like there are some interesting shows about mental health at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

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