Getting an artist to sit down and fully explain their work is always a privilege. But we’ve done that twice in a week at The F-Word. First with Yasmin Melany talking us frame by frame through her stark film on suicide, informed by her own experiences.
And second with Anna Sulan Masing going into the inspiration, theory, the years of research that went into her performance dance piece From the Jungle. She explains the pantun (performance poetry) and ngajat (dance), and of course her own personal experiences that have informed the piece, in a feature which you can read here.
As she puts it:
During this journey, I have run the gauntlet of academic and critical theory – post-colonialism, nationhood, concepts of home, gender identity, meanings of space and of course the f word – feminism.
It’s hard to know what to pull out of Anna’s piece, because she takes us in so many directions, but one of the themes she pulls out is her struggle as an artist to justify spending the time telling her own story. She asks:
Am I privileging myself, again, by telling my story? Is it vanity and ego at work here?
But then Anna starts to talk about the ways she overcame this fear, recognised the worth of her own story, and also worked at different ways of telling stories:
By making myself important, I was able to honour the stories and performances I have heard over the last few years. I was not being ‘the voice’ for other women and their stories, but I was able to give space to voices, narratives and identities of the many women involved in this research. I feel I was able to do this by sharing stories, by sharing the telling of each other’s stories, by letting everyone involved participate in the creative development of the story telling. I was not just recording stories to be told on paper, in verbatim style theatre, but we were all entering the workshop to explore each others stories.
The performance itself is sadly over now, but you can also find some video clips on the website.