Words from the fragments & ideas we researched before getting into the space:
Frozen Emotions: As facing death of a close family or friends, how our emotions freeze.
“I couldn't cry for a very long time…”
Fear: What are my fears of facing death of me or others?
Fear of not knowing
Fear of leaving behind
Fear of sudden death
Fear of not being prepared
Fear of lost
Time & space of death: Would it be different as we get closer to death?
Death is my enemy: I thought I enough time together with death. Really questioning what it is, it is so near yet so far.
When I miss someone, what am I missing? Physical senses? Togetherness?
Designing funeral: How do I want my funeral to be like? What song? What picture? Where and how?
The very small, rice size: When my mom went through the similar heart pain as my father, doctor gave her a very small pill in case of emergency. Then we looked at it and my mother said, “If he only had this…”
Distance between life and death: It is not separable. It is very closely sealed together. It is like the back-side of my body which I hardly pay attention to. But it is always there with me.
Pumping for life: Doctors made huge mistake during my friend’s surgery and now she can only breathe by pumping herself oxygen 24hours.
Space for living and space for the dead
Relationship in your life
To die= to live
The process of living=the process of dying
Picnic journey of life
Experiencing process of dying, our cells, our hair
Dynamics of death
Deny, escape, accept, threat, and heal
Why do I want to live?
What it means to be fully present?
Week 1 (Jan 15-22nd):
After a long wait to get into the Blank Space, finally Fiona, SunHee, Marloes, Sze and I started to explore the ideas we had through the structured improvisation. SunHee brought in the structures (words that took us on a journey) and we did the improvisation within the structures. It was my first time to experience these kinds of structures. It was very challenging but the invitation to explore within the structure was comfortable because there was freedom. Freedom that came within the boundaries/structures, SunHee provided.
1st week was more of introductory to the structured improvisation and getting to know how to work with one another more. Through the warm-up and short workshops, we started to build a common language between us as we took off 6 weeks of journey together. Before anything took place, Sunhee reminded us to be more aware to what was around us. Awareness of where I have just been in the space, where I am and where I am going to. Awareness of the space; that is in front of me, top of my head, soles of my feet and behind me. Through this I learned to open-up myself which allowed me to acknowledge more of what was around me, within me, in depth and with details. Making a subtle choices and working with clear impulses was essential. Only then I was able to be fully present at the same time create another space that appeared in my mind and more importantly, weaving those two spaces together. It was a process of being patient and listening carefully to what my body has to say, being a lived body and acknowledging here and now at the same time. In our lives we hardly take time to listen to our body which holds so much. We are very much focused on the result and hurry ourselves to perform but our time in the Blank Space was different. We were given the space and time to really take a close note of the process and manifest of us “being”.
We started to visit the topics around space between the life & death and different dynamics of death. We
have been discussing and researching a lot but to actually explore with our own body, it was a whole new sensation which excited me of the research process even more.
One of the Structured Improvisations: I want this
We don’t know what the task that was given to each other.
Task to Fiona: You are a creature that feels pain whenever Ara touches you.
Task to Ara: Take Fiona to the other side. Think what Fiona is to you first.
From beginning to the end, no matter how much Fiona resisted me from taking her to the other side, without questioning why this was the case, my only focus was to take her to the other side of the room. I pulled her arms, pushed her body, I didn’t really care about her but very focused on my mission. For me Fiona was representing my ‘heart’. As I touched her and this heart being resistance, I tried even harder, as this is how I would often force myself to go through the pain, telling my heart, “why are you so much in pain, you little thing, let’s get through this, it will be fine once we get to the other side…” So I was dragging my heart (Fiona) with all my strength. Not knowing my touch was hurting Fiona, only when my mission was complete, taking her to the other side of the room, I realized it (Fiona) was slowly dying, after the all the pain I have given her.
If I only had questioned her repulsive reactions and her becoming so weak as it got closer to the other side of the room…
I could have been more aware of Fiona even though I might have thought Fiona was my own heart. Why not give some space and time for that struggle to go through, even to myself. It seems like I am always only so focused on getting through the hardship fast, rather than feeling that pain and acknowledging it fully. Where is this hurting me the most? What is causing this pain? I never had time to think of these questions. I was so focused during the task that all my awareness was cut off, there were no details for me to see and feel. I was in shock when I realize what my touches meant to Fiona. I also took some time to look back into my life… Those times when I was going through pain, losing dad so suddenly. Did I really giving enough time for myself to digest the pain or was I avoiding it and quickly get back with life?
Week 2 (Jan 25-29th):
Before I got into the Blank Space, my fragments/research related more with the images and beliefs I created in order to overcome my father’s sudden death. But this week all the words and thoughts I have imagined around death became more personal to me. Of cause, I cannot say I experienced death fully but to certain point, I had very close visit to some ideas of death through the meditation and looking deep into on a personal level. Don't we all experience death in a very micro level every day? Our hairs fall off, our different parts of the body cells die, skin peels off and we become older each day, moving closer to death. Since the day we were born, everyday of life is a journey to death. With the embodied knowledge, to die was a very active process. Sometimes it was peaceful; sometimes I was lost and full of fear. Different emotions came and passed, it was situations I never have imagined before. Writing in details what my last three stages of death would be like. It was a process which I didn't think it will ever happen to me but when it came so close, another time, another space revealed around me. What does it mean to be dead? All the senses and organs in my body shut down one by one and didn't function as it should be. Couldn’t think properly, couldn’t breathe properly and couldn’t see and hear. My heart was not pumping with the same rhythm. The air wouldn't come into my body but it would only go out until there was nothing left in me… These small thoughts and sensing them through exploring, unusual understanding of my body, of death, of life all came to me at once. What it means to not have the things I use to have. Taking the time if necessary, being aware of the changes in my body and relating to them, this embodying process was intense but fascinating to have small taste of how my own dying process would be like.
One of the Structured Improvisations: Dying (text)
Our task was to write a process of dying & relating to the past improvisations we need. There were already two layers we had to keep in mind in the continuous writing for 15min. Then reading it out, being aware of my voice, how it articulates and forms in my mouth, where does is resonates, two dimensional words became three dimension. Read it few times, adding different pace and layers of awareness (sensing the book, acknowledging the pauses etc). Then I closed my book, saying the words out loud in order of the words that appeared to me. Sunhee then started to take me into a journey where the words would float, rotating around me and as she pointed out in the space, “what’s the word you see here, here, there?” without thinking, I had to shout out the words that was formed inside my mouth. Soon, I was in another world where words would fly around me and small and big words appeared and left me. There were moments of struggle within me because I was trying to remember all the words that were in my writing. The more I went through that line I was lost. Sunhee then kept repeating, “Sustain the focus, breath”. I slowly tried to let go of my thinking process but to trust my mouth more. It took some time but then words came out, one after another. It was very challenging not to think too much but to trust myself, what was already embodied within my body, in my mouth. At the same time, I had to sense where is my breath travelling through, sense where I was and weave those two spaces together. It was another layer of experience. Wow, so many layers can be explored and added as one creates more space of awareness. Also the more detailed I worked, more real it became to me and to the audience.
I tend to think too much. This mean my body cannot be more available to what I acknowledge. I am cutting off what I could see and feel more around me. Time to think less and trust myself more!
Week 3 (Feb 1-5th):
This week was concentrated on discussions, revisiting our initial ideas and expectation. It was a good to refer back to all the ideas we had and how we wanted to go forward. It was long hours of sharing but some of the question that stood out for me was, is death a bad thing? Well, it is not bad but sad I would say. If it was something bad I wouldn’t have the courage from the first place to share so many stories about my father. It is sad because I will be missing that person so much. Then we had the question of what am I really missing about that person. Missing the physical presence? Shared memories and that we won’t be able to create that again? I remember reading one article where a girl made a paperboard, same size as her father with his whole body printed on it. She would travel around with it and take pictures with it. This idea didn’t really convince me to do the same but it was fascinating to see how we could create some sense of togetherness. What it means to be sharing the same time and space together? I have my mother in Namibia and two siblings, one in France and other in Korea. Even though we are not together, but through technology, sense of being together has enhanced much more than before. I wish I could have shared more of these moments with my father. If he only had a cell phone back then, 13 years ago, I could have warned him to go to the hospital faster… Maybe I could have heard his voice before he took his last breath, before all his senses and organs closed down one by one, or all together at once, alone in bed… I miss his warm touch, his rough voice and different facial reactions as I shared my stories with him. What I can do to miss someone less? Maybe my daily actions, living the fullest is somehow getting closer to him? What it means to know that by now his body has returned to dust and where is his soul? Endless questions and thoughts that will never end until the moment I die.
Week 4 (Feb 12):
Due to the holiday, we only had a day in the space together in Week 4. It was just Sunhee and I in the space sharing thoughts after we took some time to reflect.
After months of looking into the theme of death and exploring further past three week together, I wanted to focus on the last three stages/step of life. It was because when I realize how one’s senses and organs shut down and stopped its functions one after another, the absence of each body parts actually made me more aware what I have. That sense of lost was new and strong after really taking the time and putting some thoughts about it. Sunhee then commented that absence mean always one more thing. The fact it was present, plus not being there anymore. It was always one more thing compared to being present.
I wanted to concentrate on the last steps of life or one could say last stages of death because I wanted to explore about my own coming death. Then maybe I can understand more what life is and what it means to die, to leave everything behind and take the last breathe.
In life we are so occupied and flooded with information and so we never have time for what is already in us. All the memories, stories, words, and feelings that is stored within our body. We are so busy making something because we don’t trust we have enough. I really appreciate our time in the Blank space not only working in depth of death but at the same time allowing us, allowing me to look into life. We are here manifesting what is a “being”. How we relate to what is around us at the same time manifesting together of one another by being more aware. Just by sitting and seeing still there is so much one can observe, sense and look deeply to what life has to give in that exact moment of time.
Structured Improvisations: Journey to death
With the writing I did last week, Journey to death (last three stages). SunHee allowed me to explore more in depth by repetition of a sentence or lines. She added one layer after another. It really enriched my awareness at the same time it was so hard to sustain all the layers together. The more I struggled I had to stay more grounded and focus. When I saw or experienced something, it meant those were real. All I had to do was to acknowledge them, pay attention to the details and embody. Even before I got through my next stages, I found out that there were so many more dynamic and textures within one stage. I had more than I imagined, there was so much more to explore about one being. Through this improvisation, as I was reading my own writing, I was sensing that my senses shutting down, becoming so dark but since I was still alive, my awareness of the lost became stronger.
As I was reading it to myself, whispering, I was able to see more clearly to the interior parts of my body, the red blood vessels, everything becoming so dark, quiet and numb. In the last readings Sunhee advised me to see the person in front of me and read. This allowed me see the exterior of the person I was reading about. She was turning breathless, colorless, motionless…
What an awesome journey of life and death in the space which has only four white walls and cold black floor. But every time I went in, different places, different color, different temperature and different discoveries of what we already have and what is to be lost, celebrating life together.
Looking forward to this week, Week 5.
with my being/
a signature into this world/
a poiema, a living poem/
with our beings/
and leave a legacy/
of belonging, isolation, connection, dissonance/
through the village walls/
cold, stagnant, innocent, fenced/
we furnish ourselves with modernity/
and forget the prominent/
that continues to take shape/
A city poiema written/
but not birthed/
finds its way/
Life nor death withhold/
A passionate tango/