A Family in Retrospect

mde

Today was a day of pilgrimage, one of those moments that defy the perceived linearity of one’s life course…

Over 30 years ago I was a young, curious, naive, thirsty creative who had the good fortune to hang out with a few luminaries in the performance world: thanks in no small part to António Olaio and his international networks, I found myself at the epicenter of a performance art maelstrom in Clerkenwell in early 1988. I presented a piece, which in retrospect was all I was – peripheral, young, tentative. But I was certainly taking notes from the masters – André Stitt, Hester Reeve, Lucia King, Bruce Gilchrist, Tara Babel, Marie Kawazu… all under the mindful eye of Rob LaFrenais.

A reunion took place this evening, to signal the birth of an archive of that era (and a page is thus written for posterity), and to enjoy the immense pleasure of an in-person reunion. In a day and age of hyper-legibility and safety regulations, upon arrival this evening I felt a homecoming, I sensed echoes of the open-endedness we then pursued, the sense of adventure, the sheer vibrancy of it all. I felt an immense melancholia tonight, but also an enormous pride in having somehow been offered a place and a role, however small, in this particular legacy.

The archives will be an important part of this attempt at perpetuity, but how to convey having lived through that era, when the foundations of our desires and celebrations have meanwhile lost their context, their lexicon? In a way it’s simply called growing old: reconciling oneself with the fact that we can recover, evoke, testify, disseminate – but never quite convey what was at the heart of it. We know because we lived it, but that is ultimately where it ends.

In retrospect I now see much clearer how that moment in time, how these friends were so decisive to who I became, so decisive to the paths I carved in life. I am grateful for this family, a family I now finally recognise and fully acknowledge as such, no matter how circumstantial. I am so thankful.

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