Reflections on "un·habited space" residency April 2016

I had promised Ren I would write something about our "un·habited space" residency by July: there are two more days of July left.

I really cherished those three days of being open to thinking about nothing but art. Being able to push aside the activities of 'normal' life and the logistics of running around constantly; having that space – physically, temporally, mentally – that space locked in, was such a luxury: some days we run around so much, we keep running by default with reasons we tell ourselves. These reasons are mostly not invalid of course, but perhaps they give us more permission to inevitably become victims of our own thoughts than necessary – and mine in particular are not to be trusted.

The company, of course, added a whole new dimension to the event. To be able to hang out with Ren for three consecutive days was a privilege. I have mentioned on Facebook that we hardly spoke. The silence was not awkward, rather it was a trusting kind that didn't require us explaining, justifying ourselves. We just were, and we did. It was a kind of flowing collaboration: we left each other alone, we worked together, we drifted apart, we had coffee, we walked off, we played music.

Our guest artists and visitors brought inspiration in many, many ways. Our hosts provided a warm domestic environment in which our work could manifest organically. The happenings outside breathed life into our occasion with a contemporary Fitzroy context. It was not an individual, isolated event of Ren + Carmen: there were leading paths, with people surrounding us.

After the second night of performance, Juana had asked me how different it was to the day before. I started “Well the energy is really different...” and caught myself - “omg I sound like Ren...” she half-nodded and smiled.  If there was one main thing I learnt from playing with Ren since 2014, it would probably be the awareness of energies.

Sometime mid-residency, Ren pulled out his guitar and played. Usually when I play with Ren, in THIS ensemble, I'm totally chilled and don't give a fxck*. But, for some reason that day, Ren Walters was playing guitar. And my musician training picked up, and I could feel the pressure – so I just listened, and I enjoyed the music.

I found myself seeing the world differently for a couple of days afterwards. I smiled at everyone calmly - and checked myself after seeing their reactions. Moments, thoughts, conversations, questions and hypotheses weaved a net of memories in my head. I let them pass, I went into some of them, I crossed over to others. I knew they would be internalised. In the meantime reality beckoned and my body was hurting from playing. And then, when I least expected it, complete exhaustion set in – but in a good way.


Here is the link to Ren's Reflections on the event.

*'don't give a fxck' refers to the no reservations attitude rather than the artistic decision-making process