Place and Displaced Process: Blog Post #1

The concept for this work really began many years ago when creating in Finland.  We were on a long drive from Oulu to Pyhäjärvi, and it was a drive of endless forest and water.  I thought, is this where the Finnish ‘quiet’ and ‘peacefulness’ comes from?  From the value and lessons of nature? I suddenly understood how the land, our physical environment, helps to shape us.

Where I come from, a city of concrete and pounding ocean (Los Angeles), I know well the power of the water, the sun on my skin, the crowded streets, and the constantly changing environment.  In Finland, I felt the quiet, the reflection, (and many other things like humor and an amazing ability to listen). 

I miss the sea and its power but also the temperate climate, warm sun on my skin; here in Calgary, my relationship with the weather has radically changed.  I see and often speak with Wojtek about the call of our respective homelands, (his in Poland) though this place (Calgary) is our home now.  Through my many years in Poland, I felt the importance of the complexity of political life, the richness of farmland, the necessity of coal, the management of scarcity of goods, and as I came to understand the language, I understood that language also expresses our values. There is a dramatic shift from city to rural areas in Poland, and strong opinions, emotions, and deep conversations are not avoided. The drama in what the land has experienced is written on the cultural environment.

At the Flow Festival in Warsaw, Poland, I was asked to create a structured improvisational work and I tried to explore these ideas.  When in process, I realized that most of the participants, both senior and emerging artists, did not have the experience of leaving their homeland and trying to adjust to a new land, language, and cultural environment.  Though many had the understanding through the experience of their grandparents, it didn’t translate with significant meaning.   It was interesting to explore which are the events or elements around us that make us feel displaced?  How do we define our ‘place’?

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