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First Person: Overcooking and The Judson Church (Malte)

In the age of processed culture, to build roots is uncommon. The thread of life, the essence of reason, the richness of wisdom and the spectacle of nature are being metamorphosed into a vacuum of glutinous addictions which mould the cycle of mankind. This vacuum is an aquarium of opportunities which may fulfil lists, accounts and numbers that allow us to take multiple paths, protect ones deepest secrets with passwords and have power. I am writing about the pool of choices which we face and the dangers it introduces to our life, our goals and our art.

You can become a master of yoga studies whilst eating spaghetti from a Heinz can, then go for a body wrap treatment. Serve your vanity with your new SLR, the camera that gives you high resolution images for your newly published blog which also attempts to tell the world to consume your Acro yoga workshop package. You can spend your savings on a flight to Peru to save the lives of homeless kids whilst fulfilling your guilt trips of belonging to a dying nation, and create a photo album on Facebook making sure you are still the subject of discussion in the West. Meanwhile you fill your suitcase with traditional jewellery, clothes and shoes which you will sell for double once you convince people that looking like a South American is cool. You can reassure your mind that you and your belongings are priceless and spend a quarter of your monthly salary on an insurance plan which gives you a free year planner to promise you that planning ahead is a step forwards. You immediately fill the slots with to do lists which in exchange will pay off the quote of your efficient investment. Or you can be an apprentice at the new Chiropractic Department. You get your own desk, files, computer, printer and telephone. You have your own mug in the kitchenette and can now have long conversations with your regular clients whilst corroding your vertebrae as you slouch through the hours of your eight hour shift.

To live is to have opportunities and experience. Keep adding to the list. Your status has been validated. You need to leave out some details from your CV as you have done too much over the past five years. You are successful. Your biography is long. It reflects your expertise in the field. You are a creator, a founder and part of a legacy and it is important to write that. Be careful, you might be overqualified. Mention your strong points. You will be respected. You are powerful.

I still think of the old tailor with big ears and big nose (cartilage continues growing even when you are old). He can be your case study for your thesis to provide answers on life studies. You can find him in his corner shop in Isla, a small village in Malta. He sews. He has no CV. You could write his biography in one sentence. I doubt he has passwords. He has not been overcooked by the infectious vacuum. He is raw.

Raw is the beginning. Being raw is equivalent to the roots of your plant which will give life to the flower. The flower will shrink and die but the roots will keep giving life. Don’t make flowers if you don’t have roots. Erase the lists which mark the points of arrival. There is no arrival. Arriving is a conclusion and conclusions are boring. Conclusions have short lives like flowers. Don’t become a flower.

I admit I am a member of the vacuum and I cannot lead a life like that of the tailor. But there are exceptions. I choose not to fall for the addictions this time. How can I be raw? How can I eliminate the lists and enter the space with an empty mind? I try not to seek results, presentations, or endings and I choose to call them selfish expectations. I am curious about the stages, the relationships, the research and the material.

In the 1960s, the Judson Dance Theater broke the chains of dance constructs and classification. Processes were giving birth to questions and not products. Choreographer Deborah Hay was part of this movement. In this interview, she provides me with an idea which can make performance valid in the processed culture.

We have nothing to show from our studio sessions. They begin through emptiness and end empty. It is the process of nourishing the roots to create a flower. For the first time I don’t dream about the flower, I accept being raw.

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Rebecca Camilleri (b.1986) is a movement artist and teacher, performer and research writer currently based in Malta. Initially studying psychology at University in Malta, Camilleri decided to move to UK,where she set herself up to pursue a more liberal form of education. Camilleri graduated from Dartington College of Arts in Choreography and Visual Arts Practices in 2010. During this period she also studied at Hochschule fur Schauspielkunst ‘Ernst Busch’, Berlin. In 2011, Camilleri was awarded a place on the 5 week residency danceWEB Scholarship Programme within the frame of ImPulsTanz –Vienna International Dance Festival. She is a performer and research writer within the multi-disciplinary artist collective rubberbodies, devising methodologies and approaches towards performance based art. Camilleri works as a visiting assistant lecturer in the Dance Studies department at the University of Malta and is a Region Editor of Contemporary Performance Network.

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