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A letter from Ester Nadal #residency

“Les États tombent, les rivières et les montagnes demeurent; le nouveau printemps recouvre d’herbe le château  “
DU FU (712-770)

The Blank and the Void, two feelings as uncomfortable as they are present.

In November 2019, I attended performance days at WIPCOOP – Work In Progress Cooperation – in Brussels, organised by Mestizo Arts Platform (MAP). We met several women from different cities: Berlin, London, Brussels,… to look for bridges and create links for the exchange of various projects.

During the presentations of the shows, I was struck by the project of two twin sisters – Nathalie and Doris Bokongo, forming the collective Les Mybalés – living in Brussels of Congolese origin. I immediately associated them with two Catalan twin sisters and artists from Ghana. I was curious: what similarities, what points of contact and what differences these four women might have with each other. After a start that seemed to lead us to an interesting research project, the Catalan sisters abandoned the project in a silence that left us, at least me, very confused. And thanks to the welcoming and enriching attitude of Tine De Pourcq (MAP), we turned this feeling of emptiness, and I could also say failure, into an element of reflection to transform the feeling and the experience into fertile material.

We started an artistic research with Nathalie, Doris, Tine and me. From a distance by zoom (November 2020 – February 2021), then in Antwerp (14-21 March) and we will continue in Barcelona in May…

Failure as a starting point leads us to the idea of the clown, but the clown as an attitude towards events with perplexity and wide-eyed stares, lack of words for a half-open mouth, and that sadness that awakens a knowing smile full of compassion.

The other feeling we had was the feeling of emptiness when you are let down, when something is ripped from you; the emptiness after the loss. The feeling that has been with so many people in this time of uncertainty during the pandemic and the lockdown where all of humanity has been reviewing its values and ways of operating, without finding many answers or explanations to replace it.

It is from childhood, childhood itself, that we want to investigate, with a naive look, the feeling of bide and emptiness. Not from a psychological point of view, of course, but rather by using an inner look at our childhood memories like Bashô’s Journey, or the path that Jacques Lecoq proposes to find the Clown himself.

Ester Nadal