Putting the puzzle together

I come back to my photographs, letters, memories & remembered experiences. I search here, copy from there, relive, feel, laugh, cry a lot and rescue what happened. With each of those pieces I put together a puzzle that keeps making more sense every day & starts looking very alike to the person that I am today.

This task is costing my time & energy. I have to balance my emotions so they don’t turn up in an avalanche, dragging the present away or blocking the path, preventing me to keep going.

All the ones who were there at some point start taking their places: family, friends, teachers, lovers, fears, and all those shared moments… Each of them has its very own space. Some are tiny, others endless. I hold vivid & lasting memories from a few of them, others were nearly buried by oblivion.

It is especially pleasant & quite revealing to recall those feelings or experiences that I never told anyone about. Because of that sort of secrecy, they became so mine that they never were named by anybody else remaining untouched, pure, as a genuine reflection of what they were and what I was.

That’s how I start finding explanation to my way of being and some shadows start to shape up, gaining sharpness here & now. This feels soothing and it opens a door to the future. If I was different once and I changed due to something that happened, I can be aware of this today, accepting it as it came (I cannot go back in time to amend it) to integrate that part that I was and that I would like to recover. Or I can also reinvent myself by using every tool around me today.

Marina Abramovic is an artist born in that country called Yugoslavia that does not exist as such anymore. Since the 70’s, Marina is devoted to explore & express via performances the relationship between artist & audience and the possibilities of body & mind.

In 1976 Marina moved to Amsterdam where she met Ulay, a German artist. They began a personal & also a professional relationship, living in a caravan & creating a dual collective called ‘The Other’. After a decade together, whatever they had was broken. Because they truly believed in rituals & used to practise them, decided to put a symbolic ending to what they shared over the years. So they agreed to walk through the Great Wall of China, starting each from one end to meet in the middle. There, after 2500 km of travelling by themselves, they will say goodbye to each other with a hug, and this happened in 1988.

In 2010 NY MoMA was offering a retrospective exhibition of Marina’s work. The title was ‘The Artist is Present’. From 14/03 until 31/05 visitors could view Marina’s pieces and something else: during the museum’s opening times (except nights), Marina would present one of her performances, being seated in a chair, silent, while visitors could sit right in front of her, one by one and for a minute, doing nothing, just staring at each other. 

Ulay wanted to be there for Marina the day of the opening and this is what happened:

Everyone keeps from a story whatever has a meaning, if anything. From this story I get hooked with the people.

I am fascinated by this woman & her creative ability, her desire to know more & to keep moving further. During the two and a half months of the exhibition she decided to be there, present for the audience, being that a job itself and being also her work too. She is actually one of her pieces, her own creation, and being available for those coming to see her even if she does it only for a minute is already the greatest proof of commitment to others. I see it as an expression of honesty and it makes me wonder, how honest am I to myself & to others? Have I been honest in the past? Have you?

I am amazed by the amount of visitors over those weeks. Loads of people went to the museum to queue, sometimes for hours, just to sit with Marina for a minute to experience Presence next to another being, some of them maybe for the first time in their lives. Do we really know how to be present & available for others? Do we put it into practise every day? Do we give this away and do we receive it back? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then, what are we waiting for?

I am also captivated by the relationship that Marina & Ulay had over that decade of creative love that they shared. How did they develop it together with their project & the dramatic beauty they displayed in order to choose an unforgettable ending, devoting care & attention to it as their story deserved. I can gather all that from that brief encounter, that minute of intense reality.

Maybe they didn’t tell each other everything over that goodbye hug in China. Maybe, after sharing so much, love remains and there is always something left to be said that moves us & makes us feel. Maybe, in those cases, the end never exists.

What did I leave untold? What did I say but I would like to say it differently? Which look I didn’t deliver? Which tear did I keep to myself trying to avoid it? Did I put all the endings that I wished?

Perhaps it is not about what I didn’t say but about what I would like to say or do today. Today, with the added value of the time that has passed and the experiences that I’ve built, now that my look is renovated by all the learning I’ve been through. There is never too late to make a move, to place things back for healing purposes.

It is possible that after opening the chest & looking through the boxes full of memories, some other pieces out there start moving as well. It might happen that I meet someone that I haven’t seen for a long time, or maybe someone starts looking for me, or perhaps I would be sending a message in a bottle to a recipient that I hardly know anymore after all these years. There are always unfinished matters & closing circles is a very healthy exercise because it heals & brings peace within.


“In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are incomprehensible and say nothing.

The deepest words
of the wise man teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.”

Antonio Machado

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