In March this year, just I was emerging from my medical leave after long Covid, I went on the DRIFT, a weeklong artist residency in London ran by ZU-UK’s Artistic Director Persis Jadé Maravala and her team. The day after the DRIFT, at about 8am in the morning I wrote my thoughts on the experience. I remember the time because it’s unusual for me to write that early. I wrote from the body somehow, vibrating with the effects of the week onto the page. I wrote about the DRIFT and about the piece that I developed while there, which I called ‘Tea Break’ – a one to one experience in which I blend a tea specifically for each participant and vocalise this serene experience. I will speak about ‘Tea Break’ later but for now here are my thoughts on the residency:
26 March 2022, GAIL’s Bakery, Blackheath, London
The DRIFT is very much Jadé’s world. She defines it and keeps shaping it as it goes along. Her strength and way to hold a room are admirable. Her belief in pushing boundaries is intoxicating. You have no choice but to push yourself and understand your own boundaries. This is not a residency for people that feel powerless. You have to be able to hold your own and draw your own lines. You will be pushed and through that push you will grow. But growing isn’t easy, as roots grow deeper or stems reach towards the sky the whole organism vibrates and redefines itself. The DRIFT is a space of intensity. Of intense connection with others, of intense confrontation with oneself. The atunement to others through physical exercises left me feeling something close to magic. If magic would be real life as it’s supposed to be. It made me aware how much individuality and inwardness have been normalised in my life. That over the years I’ve grown layers of protection against others that keep me from seeing them or being seen. This work is for the shedding of the armour. For the peeling of the onion layers so that you can lay bare in front of someone as they lay bare before you and see each other. Really see each other and be seen. I will miss that safe but exposing place that Jade created with so much poise. By the end of it, despite us having very different artistic goals and practices, we had our hearts tethered to each other. We cared for each other. We rooted for each other to succeed, to achieve our goals, to progress in our journeys. When things got too much we were there for each other. We cried and laughed and loved and sometimes hated each other. All of this over 5 days. I am bewildered at how someone can facilitate a place that holds such intense emotion and authenticity in such a short amount of time. As Jadé said, this is her life’s work. And it’s left me feeling a renewed sense of posibility and trust in my own intensity and the intensity of others.