Drawing by Alice Pons - MOHA
04.03.2021
Blogpost #2 MOHA Residency

Taking the time to digest

Kunstenaarscollectief MOHA (bestaande uit Alice Pons en Olivia Reschofsky) onderzoeken in het artistieke project Who Cares? de plek van ‘zorg’ binnen onze samenleving. Je leest het in het Engels.
Who Cares? is an artistic project researching the place ‘care’ has in our society. In order to do that, MOHA dives into six different professions, that deal with care one way or another.

As part of their residency at Het Huis, MOHA will write about their fieldwork and take some time to reflect. You'll find the latest news, updates and blogpposts here. 

Taking the time to digest - by MOHA

Digesting is something I often don't really think of. I consume, I produce and I go on. The digestion process happens by itself while I am already busy with a new situation, new information, new actions. My body processes and integrates my experience, often unconsciously. It just happens. Sometimes I don’t even have time to process that my body is already somewhere else. I fill it in, exhaust it and I go on. 

"It almost feels like a privilege to take the time to digest."

- Alice Pons

It takes me now two weeks of sitting in an empty studio. The three first days are immediately filled with all the things I didn’t have time to do these last weeks and the guilt coming with it.
Time becomes very palpable. Time is running out.

Like a survival instinct, I fill in all the gaps with external inputs. Concrete things. Practicalities. Emails. Organising. It takes me at least three days to accept the situation as it is and surrender. It takes me the whole first week to set my brain on slow mode. It is almost like I don’t know what to do when I have the sudden possibility to slow down. I have been talking about care with everybody around me yet still struggle applying its basic principles to myself and my own practice. 

How do I digest 5 weeks of encounters, talks, fieldwork and research? How do I digest the topic of care? Care and its continuity, its slowness and “inefficiency”. Care and its circularity. The words are there but they sometimes still crash on my well installed and often unconscious patterns.
I had a lot of plans for this residency. Too many plans. Reading three books, listening back to and editing hours of audio interviews, editing texts, doing yoga every day, organising and experiencing a two days lab, having meetings, writing our MOHA structural application, our blog.... The list could go on and on as there is always something we should be doing. Hopefully, I am getting better at this so I stripp everything down to the minimum. I read. A little bit. I write. A little bit. I do nothing. A little bit. I share with peers. As much as I find it necessary. I sit at my blue table, observing through the window kids making choreographies.

Almost envying them.

 

Speel video

It feels like a privilege to let ourselves simply digest, yet it is a vital process. We need to chew on things, absorb things, let them transform, pee/poop it out. Ideally this last part can become compost as well so it all circulates endlessly. It comes back over and over again in different forms.

For two days I invite 4 colleagues to join me around the blue table. I get tricked by myself again and prepare a well structured and full-on program. From the first sentence on, another feeling of time comes to the rescue, like a warm blanket reminding us that we can also just follow the flow and pretend for a while it is endless. Things will happen, meanings will be unfolded, articulated, ideas will be born. Struggles and vulnerabilities will be  shared and acknowledged. 

It comes through different images: We juggle with two many balls, we walk on a thin line, we could fall on the other side, we feel responsible, we want to do more, we feel lonely in wanting to connect people, we are not patient enough, we are too ambitious, the word “impact” and its “neoliberal” appropriation is chasing us in our sleep. Even things we pretend not to care about: Are we there where we thought we would be? Some of us are on the verge of burnout, some of us battle to create a feeling of home and locality, some of us feel misplaced in all the fields they belong to.


So we talk about the necessity to do less, the value of friendship, the need for different systems of measures, and our search for collective matters . We wonder how to deal with power dynamics in social and art practices. One of us suggests that maybe we are afraid of touching power because we have seen so many times power being abused. As a possible response, we dive into the notion of “reciprocity” - reciprocity as a way to care in balance, with collaborators, partners, communities. A mutual dependence, a mutual learning process. An ongoing movement: you are the caregiver as much as you are the one who receives care.

We look into circular logic - if I take care of you, others will take care of me. We think of the time a tree takes to grow before it is strong enough to invite other organisms to join in. We think of seeds being planted that might only grow when we are long gone. We listen to Angela Davis talk about radical self care. We come back to and try to redefine simple words we use a lot but sometimes forget to look into. We make up new definitions.

Attention - Sometimes there is not more needed than just being there

Nuchter - you can't do any more than your best

As our brains are digesting our last years of doing, we bring it back to the body. Care is also flesh and bones. When I work as a care worker, it is taking someone out of bed, helping them drink their coffees, washing them. The smell, the routine, the realness of it, the jokes we make. For the many voices I talked to these last months, it is also having a walk, running, sitting in silence, someone rubbing your feet, laying in bed together, touching the shoulder as a sign of support even though “it is not professional”, or talking with your eyes when there are no words. And one of the most popular ones: simply sharing, listening or making music with others.
So to finish this article hereby a playlist: a mix of musics social workers and caregivers listen to when they need some care.

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