November is a solemn month. No longer the fiery autumn colours, the skies are steely grey, and the mornings black. It’s a quiet contemplative month as we strive to remember the sacrifices that were made to get here lest we forget. I am spending November in the studio working on my solo work.

the empty space

Solo work itself is a challenge for me. I usually prefer to work collaboratively to create a piece. I think there is a reason myths of old have so much power, they’ve been shaped by generations of story tellers mouths and hearts, and each retelling is immediately relevant to those receiving it as a special gift from a dear friend while also holding timeless presence of times gone by. It becomes part of the fabric of the community both giving support and being shaped by it like well worn leather: comfy and sturdy.

Collaborative work can also allow me to hide within the work. To blur my artistic perspective with that of the group, and to rest from time to time when all eyes are not on me. Even when I make bold offerings in a collaborative context I have the ensemble to reign me in, to soften my rough edges, to enhance the work in ways I couldn’t imagine. To make the same bold offering in a solo setting I have no filter, every offering is bald and brash in it’s solitary openness with no escape.

It’s a bit like trying to recreate a Monet water lily, nothing makes sense up close, but the reveal comes when you are able to distance yourself from the work. It is challenging as the sole creator and performer to construct a context for the audience to understand the story from my position in the eye of the storm. How does one fathom the force and magnitude of the piece in the wider world in the solitude of the studio?

“Human relationships trumps story, you know the connection you have with your subjects is even more important than the story itself. Because you may have an idea of what the story should be, but that’s never actually the story. The story is actually what unfolds you know in front of the camera, what unfolds with your connection with the subject, and what unfolds in the moment, and you can never plan that.” – Kalyanee Mam

Listening to She Does yesterday I stumbled across this great piece of inspiration and it has been helping to inform my solo process. It’s important to remember that I chose to create this piece as a solo work to create space for my specific connection to the source material to unfold. It’s easy to feel like as the only person in the room I must have all the answers, but all those grey areas rather than black holes sucking out my work are fertile invitations for the moment to unfold with my audience.

It’s a scary, exciting, introspective beginning to the month as the nights grow longer and the air colder. I am looking forward to spending more time in the studio to better prepare myself for a new project beginning in January. Hopefully I come away with new insights into my individual process and some seeds I can continue to tend for future explorations. Stay tuned for some more concrete announcements later in the month.