Early June brought the next iteration of Taking Care, installed and performed at Borough Road Gallery, thanks to the generous invitation of Elena Marchevska at London South Bank University. The university setting brought quite a different audience than the residential artist space of Upominki – students, professors, security staff, custodial staff, visitors from near and far (including, unexpectedly, a dear friend from grad school days). Some walked through quickly, while others lingered over the words; one woman read all of them aloud, slowly, to her friend, giving intentional voice to words in the space. Some accepted the invitation to write; others seemed to want to accept, sat at the desk deep in thought but didn’t write; a number told me of the difficulty of the task at hand, to recall a genuine act of care received. Since returning home and reading the letters, I am once again so moved by the generosity of the letter-writers whose stories touched me deeply and I look forward to deeper listening in embroidery.
Thanks to Elena’s organization, we had a lovely opening event on June 5 in the gallery, with London editor Mary Paterson and Edgehill University professor and artist Lena Simic invited to respond to the work. For two hours, we discussed and thought through together the many aspects of letters, care, listening, collaboration, and slow practice.
Once again I experienced the physically taxing nature of durational performance, my body responding to the hours of embroidering and listening. And yet I come home with renewed energy, eager to continue moving the project forward.