Good-bad news or the alchemy of energy

As hopefully some of you might have noticed, there was no blog for past three days. Well, there is a reason behind it. Let me reveal it now. The reason is a good-bad news I have received, right in the middle of a wonderful day, which (the news) almost made me cancel the blog completely, and cease any communication for some time. Let me explain a concept of good-bad news first. Good-badd news is effectively a good news, which – thanks to our egocentric thinking – is interpreted as a bad news. The best example would be: a good friend of you, with whom you like spending time, receives an opportunity of doing something exciting in another part of the world, and decides to leave. Your first reaction: you feel betrayed, forlorn and desolated. You wallow in desperation and think only about how unhappy you are. You completely ignore the fact that this might be a great opportunity for your friend, or something which makes him/her genuinely happy. Depending on your character – it might lead to gradual cooling of your relations, and as final result – completely destroy your friendship. But what if you – before plunging into desperation – think, and try to calmly asses the situation from both sides, keeping in mind your friend interest, not only your own ego, and the fact that your friend might actually need you now more than ever?

Without going into details – a similar good bad news fell on me out of the blue, completely destroying my harmony for a moment. I indulged myself in passionate weep, which lasted day and night non stop, regardless if I was in the transport, on the street or in the cinema (needles to mention that I have no idea whatsoever what the film was about). The weep became hysterical at night, and I woke up with eyes so swollen, that I could hardly see, and doing a make up was an impossible task. Funny enough that day I happen to have several important meetings, one at the university and the other with the organizers of the festival I am supposed to work with. Day before I simply ignored all the meetings I had, without even notifying anyone, and got lost in the city loitering for hours with no aim. I might have looked quite miserable, and having passed so much water through my eyes – it completely washed all the color (is it a salt in tears??), and my eyes became almost transparent. When I looked at the mirror in the morning, I realized I could almost see through my eyes. I was stopped by several random people on a bus or on the street, asking what happened with my eyes. It must have been a scary view: an alien, with transparent, watery green eyes you could see through. From the other hand I haven’t cried for such a long time that I have almost forgot the relief it brings. Interestingly enough, what happened later on the same day, resulted to be one of the most interesting days in a very long time, and the night – one of the funniest one. Impossible to write about it in few words, so more about it in a next entry, hopefully before I head off to wild places without Internet. (and there is loooot to write about!!!! 🙂

Lesson: (which happily is nothing new to me) the best thing you can do is to try to change bad energy or bad emotions into good one. Always. This alchemy is one of the most beautiful things you can experience, and in that sense there is no bad thing which couldn’t be taken as a good one. Just have your eyes open, be attentive, have distance to your ego and do not disperse you energy for anger or sadness, transform it into something constructive and it will come back with massive gooseflesh on your skin.

Till next time! 😉

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When life takes over, or the difficulties of translating excitement into art

I am so very saturated with the events of today, that I honestly do not know how to make it into a little resume for the blog. Things stopped happening according to my plan, the research started having its own life. The chain of people involved in my work, having more initiative and belief in what I do than I could ever expect anyone to have, provoking most profound conversations about the subject and inviting me to participate in their reality, offer huge part of their time, initiative and energy to make the things happen. Why? How do I manage to make it all happen??

I feel saturated not only with the information I got, and the enthusiasm of people I met, but with the heaviness, or -call it pretentious if you want – depth of what was communicated to me. Being surrounded by such warm, lovely people, suddenly I felt extremely lonely, a feeling I hardly ever experience in such intensity, in fact I hardly ever experience it at all. It very occasionally happens when I am experiencing something truly extraordinary, where reality surprise me to this level when I feel I am dreaming to have such things happening. It makes me profoundly lonely for a moment, because I realise that no matter how much I would like to explain this experience (not the solitude, but the events, life wonders I’m being forced into) to anyone, it will be completely impossible. There is no translation. Try to explain the most beautiful song you have heard, try to explain the most amazing sex or act of tenderness you experienced. How do you translate it into words? How do you explain it to people who don’t have similar experience? It feels painful for a second. My first and immediate reaction was to desperately reach for Sartre, who always brings relief in such moments. Unfortunately I stuffed my suitcase with research related literature, abandoning Sartre back on my desk or my bed…
The problem with my research is quite similar -it is all about translation. How can you possibly imagine translating one’s identity into image?? How can you reduce such a complex process of encounter of two or three cultures, where identity, self consciousness of each side with will certainly get affected by this dialog – how can you reduce it into an hour of documentary? Something that might not be fully understood in a whole lifespan. How? I don’t want to simplify everything into easily digestible form. But the more I work on this project, the more questions I have, and less precise ideas of what is exactly that I want to achieve. Inevitably I have emerged onto a journey of chasing impossible. Journey where the process, the evolution, becomes the most important element, possibly leading me to nowhere.
I was very precise planning my project, I tend to be a very well organised girl. But sometimes things begin to have life on their on their own, unexpected things happen, and they pull the string, chain of unpredicted events falls down like a domino, and you can only participate (or escape, but why would you). You have no more control of what’s going on. It’s like when you meet someone, speak about photography and art, and knowing yourself you think are in full control of what’s going on, and suddenly something triggers and you don’t even realise when you cross a border of intimacy, and all the rules break out of sudden. The moment of loosing control happend unnoticed, and you became an actor in a something that happens almost externally. In such moments I suddenly see myself ‘from above’, curiously observing a situation in which I happen to be the main protagonist. And when you look backwards, it suddenly all makes perfect sense.
Being so well organise I occasionally experience these moments where there is only that much you can do. Many times I feel my art projects take over, and they ‘make themselves’, me being just a facilitator, simply a tool. A translator between a very impatient urge to express something, into a form of art, let it be photography, film, text or an act of communication with another person. After all isn’t art just a way (or attempt) of translate this urge, desire, need, of whatever kind, into another ‘language’? Language of image, or sound, or word. It all requires quite a level of abstraction. Being obsessed with sense of touch in art, I’d like to explore how one might express oneself via body, purely. Without referring to another mean of expression. But this is subject of another conversation, monolog or reflections. Let’s leave it for another time.

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How reality mixes with fiction or my very first dead man

My first full day in Bogota was exceptionally rich in events, more than I expected. Having done all the logistics and organisational work, I happily stuffed myself with cheese arepas, and sunk them in litres of aromatic coffee, I visited some stalls in feria de Los Indigenas where I almost bought myself strange looking ‘love potion’ from feathers adorned Taita de Putumayo (from the same Kofanes I want to work with!!!! Which again proves impossible, as all my contacts firmly discourage me from going there now, where supposingly peace talks are about to begin…) Taita presented me a small bottle full of small seeds, leaves and other strange looking ingredients, and seeing my growing reluctance – he took a brush and vigorously started sweeping the floor, forgetting his traditional outfit and feathers. I imagined him doing the same in his own house – his wife, if he has one, must be quite happy with him. He must have drunk a lot of this ‘love potion’, perhaps I should have bought it, after all?

Then came the main point of the day: visit to Cinemateca Districal, to see a marathon of Colombian films, presented as part of the ‘Week of Colombian cinema’. Excellent!!!! I was dying to see the variety of presented titles, considering that even my Colombian friends, asked about their national cinema, do not seem to know much more than ‘Rosario Tijeras’ o ‘Maria eres llena de gracia’, at best. All the Colombians I know seem to know more about Cantinflas than about their national cinema. For some reason most of the books dedicated to Latin American cinema seem to quietly ignore Colombia in their content. And here I come to the Cinemateca, on Tuesday early afternoon, expecting to be the only crazy person to watch some festival movies, and I was welcomed by some nice surpices. First of all -the entry to the festival was completely free!! In a place, where one can easily find other priorities than art, one can see an ambitious cinema in the heart of the city for free!! Second of all – not only I wasn’t the only person in the auditorium – it was actually full!! (later it made me wonder how it could possibly be related to the fact that it was free, but I honestly doubt it, because on the next show there were already people sitting on the floor!!). And third: the films I have seen were actually really good! First one, ‘Postales Colombianas’ by Ricardo Coral Dorado, was probably my favourite one so far. I do not want to bore you with the review right now, but if you want to gain some understanding about the country and the life in Bogota – this title might be an interesting choice. It starts as a very light funny film, until you realise what hides behind the story. And the fact that is all develops, like a taste of good wine, make me appreciate this film a lot. I might be writing about this film again at some point in the future. The other one was ‘El escritor de telenovelas’ by Felipe Dothee, and this is something which again I wouldn’t expect to see in Europe. Quite silly story about screenwriter of telenovelas, who one day wakes up in the reality of one of his novelas, and makes massive efforts to escape back to the real world. Again without going into details, this film could not have been done in Poland or Slovakia. Forget the silly story – it still brings some interesting observations of the society, witch characters representing a various fan of personages. Also – worth noticing – there is no violence, or drug related subjects, well, apart from one or two attempts of murder, but all softened by telenovela style. Maybe not the most ambitious title, but still interesting to see. Finally – ‘Todos tus muertos’ by Carlos Moreno – a striking image which tells a story of absurds related to quiet massacre somewhere in provincial Colombia. The most memorable scene is the final one, where all the actors who played the dead (sklillfuly piled one onto another) stand up, and in theatrical style bow towards us, the viewers.

Just after watching this film, still in a darkish mood, I jumped on a cab and started taking random pictures through the window. I took a photo of an ambulance just outside of my window and suddenly I realised there was a dead man on a pavement, with flood of blood around his head and growing group of people around. Taxi driver said it looked like the guy was shot, and quickly changed the topic asking about the direction once again. I got frozen. Considering I have never seen a dead person in all 32 years of my life, I was quite shocked. How ironic, I thought, that the dead people from the film stood up, but the dead man from reality won’t. What should be fiction was a reality here.

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Off point turbulence digressions

It always happens, even if I don’t want to. As soon as I reach the airport, as soon as the plane take off and I am miles and hours away from my destination – my mind automatically switches to this different mode, without even asking me to approve it. A mode of blissful calm (yes, however unlikely those who know me might consider that), and a very special focus on observation – something I can not always afford in my busy life in mad but wonderful London. So here I am, again (sometimes I feel like I live on a plane, and I spend more time flying than in my own bed). Seated next to the window (which -forgive the digression- indicates massive progress, I will explain this in a minute), on big, shiny airbus, operated by one of the biggest and most problematic airlines. But I kind of like them, I guess I like the challenge 😉 Progress I mentioned above means that I have slowly started breaking my little silly habits, which ‘make me feel secure’, for example always sitting in the corridor when flying. I used to explain this ridiculous custom by the fact, that it is easier to escape when you are not blocked from the corridor by another passenger next to you. I guess it wouldn’t really make that much difference, and in fact it is probably nicer to lean your head against the wall and stare through the window during ten hours long flight. I did manage to overcome it to such extreme, that now I have a big size guy with equally big size baby next to me, and it doesn’t make me feel any more insecure. Speaking about silly habits – I have also managed to ignore my persistence about always walking on the left hand side of another person. I can now walk on the left, on the right, or even before or after, that doesn’t make much difference any more. I am quite proud of all these small improvements, because to me they mean that I am open and willing to learn, something which – I am sad to say – people rather tend to loose with age. So this is my mental anti ageing treatment, and it’s doing quite well. Now leaving all these off-point stories and digression, I wanted to explain my ‘observational mode I have just started experiencing, about -according to the on-board monitor – just a bit less than the original 8023 kilometres spreading between Madrid and Bogota. So I was thinking about the plane I am on. It it massive, and stable, very powerful and therefore prepared to the task it is meant for, which is crossing the ocean. (funny enough- we have just left the land and as usually entering the ocean area makes the plane well shaky, completely contradicting what I have just said. But it was just a moment of weakness, and it’s again displaying the impressive stability and ‘appropriateness’). Why do I speak about it? I do, because it made me think about the nature of my work. About all the effort I always try to put in what I do. About trying to be consequent and stable with what I want, and do not despair having one ‘shaky’ moment when I look to myself like my own caricature. I wouldn’t be human if I hadn’t have that. But I guess you can’t really cross the ocean on a glider. It is fun and it’s not any worse than a monster I am sitting on now, but it serves another purpose. Funny enough yesterday I was speaking with a friend about human relations, teacher, parents, friends, etc, and compared them to toiletries. The products we use to clean our bodies: the best shampoo wouldn’t necessarily by the ideal toothpaste. Similarly, the best teacher wouldn’t necessarily be your best friend, and so on and so forth. Same with planes, same with life decisions. So I also like to take some things easy, if this is what is required, but when I do something – I want to do it the best I can. This pursue of perfection might destroy me one day, but for now I think I still know when to stop. A handsome air steward is offering my tomato juice. That’s probably a good moment to stop writing. (would the juice taste equally goo if he was ugly? Would I even acknowledge this if it was served by an old fat lady? Aghh…) And the people on the plane -who are they? Why are they travelling? What are their stories? Looking at passengers always reminds me of Wim Wenders’ ‘Wings of desire’, and the scene in a tram and then in a library, where Bruno Ganz with massive wings (which I unsuccessfully have been trying to reproduce for years now) reads people’s mind, hears their monologs they have with themselves, analysing their problems, remembering unpaid bills and other trivial details of everyday life. I love this scene. I wish I had this skill now (and the wings, of course. I WILL make them one day, that’s promised) and understand why the oversized baby next to me is so agitated, and -honestly speaking -annoying. Why the father say no word apart from ‘quiet’ and let the boy throw all the food all around, half of which lands on my jeans. (if the text stops suddenly with no sense, it means I was pacified by him, as he keeps lurking behind my arm, trying to decipher my writing). If I w sitting by the corridor I could run now… (the plane shakes again…) Now, several heavy turbulences later, I am sipping tinto on the sofa, indulging myself into conversation and slowly slipping away into Morpheus arms, two nights without sleep, I’ll just confirm to myself how happy I am. It’s my seven’t time in South America, second time this year, and I will becoming back. I am really happy doing things I really love. Good night.

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Colombia – the fear fame, or the critical thinking.

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This will be my fourth visit to Colombia. Country discouraging potential visitors just by sound of its name. And yet – one of the most beautiful places I have been to, and I have visited couple of other places. It would be nonsense, of course, if I argued that this is the safest holiday place for families, although ‘nie taki diabeł straszny, jak go malują, as we say in Poland. I dare to base my opinions on my own experience, not by blindly inheriting external beliefs. One thing that slightly irritates me in modern society, is that people either do crazy things with no responsibility for the consequences, or become so careful that fear of anything beyond ‘normal’ paralyzes them and prevent from doing anything adventurous at all. Where are the brave, but responsible people? Adventurous, but not stupid? We, who go to Colombia to explore its beauty, not to get ourselves kidnapped or placed in jail. 

To analyze the situation we will always have to rely on opinions of others, to some extend, but what should never be given up is critical thinking. I consider critical thinking to be absolutely essential. It is like digestion: if you want to have any benefit from the food you eat – you must digest it. You cannot just swallow it all and excrete soon after. You cannot read somebody’s else opinion and pronounce it yours, without even trying to apply your own point of view, ideally gained by your own experience. We all know Colombia’s bad fame for it’s drug trafficking, guerrillas and corruption. But it is also a country that has a lot to offer. And you’ll not necessarily hear about it on the news in Europe, because it is not ‘attractive enough’ for the sensation-hungry career-driven journalists. I do want to promote this other side. I do want to bring here some good Colombian cinema, which treats other subjects, rather than the usual drug and war related. By doing that I am not naive enough to deny the darker side of Colombian reality. But I will do my best to brighten it up, by bringing some light of knowledge of the subject.  

 

Suitcase full of equipment (no space for clothes, sorry ;), time for a little nap and off to the airport. 

 

In preparation: self-discipline and freedom of following one’s passions

I have decided to create this blog for a number of reasons:

1. To keep reminding myself of the purpose of this trip, bearing in mind all the effort I’ve put to make it happen,

2. To make sure I do not waste my time, intoxicated by the beauty of the places I am going to – I plan to produce a regular writing and visual proof of the work done,

3. To keep my friends updated about my whereabouts, when possible, and to share with them what can be shared.

By not fulfilling these tasks, I will make myself aware of potential failure of the aims undertaken, which might be  – nevertheless – considered as a part of creative process. I hope to open my eyes to things we fail to see in everyday busy life, but I also want to spent this time with myself, and not only explore far away lands, but also look back at my own convictions and believes. It is time for a hard work, but also time to reconnect with myself. I want to meet the two opposite poles: self discipline and freedom of following my dreams. This is my way of achieving what I want.

This blog is about my travel, research work, and self-discovery.