you know you’re in the right place when people hate you

alicia radage, one of the residents here, has been making work about landscape, soil, action, place, space, etc.

whilst reading middlemarch in bed last night, i was half-thinking about belonging and ‘introduced species’. i realised that a weed (and its animal equivalent of infestation) is something that has no natural predators and therefore free to spread like wildfire, taking over the whole of the countryside.
it doesn’t belong.

which means that the mark of ‘belonging’, of being in exactly the right environment, is that, as well as fertile soil, you have enemies: people who will eat you alive, keep your vastly spreading ego in check.

bring it on, bitchez. i have arrived.

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situation: place and identity

despite some good times seeing exhibitions, discovering cool things about berlin and catching up with friends, this week has actually been really hard. i’ve re-discovered how anxious a bunny i am and how much i do like being attached to my things and my set ways, including my sense of place. i found myself doubting, again, whether i really had what it took to move to a country where i only understand half of wtf is going on and if it’s really worth it. turns out i rather like my assumptions and preconceptions.

i remember this happened to me when i moved to london for 6 months – i had to lose a lot of preconceptions about the world, and in some weird metaphysical referred process lost a stack of material possessions. well, same thing is happening this time around. [maybe i should have read my own blog before i came, hey.]

i’ve thought a lot about place this week, what a ‘nation’ really means – how different another country is, even with this new homogenous global identity crap that we go on about. i’ve realised how much a citizens identity is actually connected to the public realm: bureaucracy, social norms, weather, what side of the street you drive on, etc. and that the concept of ‘freedom’ in a democratic state is really only afforded those who ‘understand’. 
being an outsider is fucking hard.  in fact, the two areas which i feel the least like an outsider in is when i go to a gallery and when i go to the supermarket. turns out capitalism is a great leveller. i think i feel ill about that.

i could quite easily go home and feel comfortable and safe, knowing my place in the world. i could make work pretty easily and not have to think too hard about how to express myself. i would be comfortable.

then i thought about my friends back home. i miss them dearly. i thought about a few friends who have never lived outside of australia, who have a comfortable life and who, at times, can get stuck in a conservative view of things. i also remembered my dear friend age, who had a similar time in another country and went home early. i imagined what he would say to me.

i also realised that, actually, maybe you do have to suffer for your art. not for the sake of melodrama, but so that you regularly have your eyes peeled. that you make sure you really do take stock of your viewpoint, that what you have to say is not just from a tiny little black dot in the middle of the pacific ocean. that you come to art from a place which has reduced assumptions and preconceptions.

today, at some stage, i realised that i don’t want to always be comfortable. i do want to be challenged and changed – to become the kind of person that is teachable. i want to have to work hard for what i do, but to do great things. and it’s hard to do great things when you like staying in your own living room with the curtains drawn.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

a tragi-comedy in 3 parts

I’m in the middle of a doing a process performance work: a tragi-comedy in 3 parts, otherwise known as house-hunting. I thought I might amuse myself by documenting the process on this blog and making comparisons to communicating with an audience. what a laugh that will be.

Part One:
wrong, wrong, wrong: chaff from the wheat.

On Thursday, I looked at 3 places, all terribly wrong for different reasons – great place, wrong people, wrong place, no people, or wrong place, wrong people.

The first act was a beautiful townhouse in carlton, inhabited by a couple of young spoilt brats, which was a real shame. I could easily have lived there, done the place justice by keeping it reasonably tidy, using the little garden and cooking up a storm in the kitchen. none of which these girls did. it was all party-party-party and daddy’s money. great if they were my friends, but a nightmare to live with.

it was like a trashy mag, or a soap opera, or a ken done painting – the potential to use the place for good, but ending up just a whole lot of surface. which is fine in small doses, but, even though my motto for the year is to take myself less seriously, that would be taking it a little too far, into mid-life crisis territory.

the second act was advertised as an affordable 1-bedroom place in Parkville (close to transport and the city). so close to transport that the freeway was out the back window and so affordable that the place was like something out of requiem for a dream, or trainspotting – smelled of piss covered by air freshner, the carpet torn, the door busted in more times than I can say and the feel of a place one goes to die.

it was a classic story of not reading between the lines again. I forgot that real estate agents and landlords have a language which resembles plain English, but actually uses nutty signifiers, like gonzo poetry. affordable = dive, close to transport = right on the freeway and/or trainline, cosy = tiny, leafy area = out in the sticks. taking marketing to a whole new level.

I did have a discussion with the real estate receptionist, something along the lines of ‘what the fuck were they thinking’ and she replied, simply, “greed”. it got me thinking about greed and wondering if it’s only greedy if you’re dumb or exploitative about making your money. more on that later methinks.

I approached the final act with a sense of impending doom. this share house had included early in the ad that they ‘liked a social drink after work and on the weekends’. knowing that we only tell people a tenth of the story, I figured that they were probably boozehounds. and, like the first lot, great it they’re your mates, but not so nice to live with. the house was just ok and there was bad art on the walls. the back decking area was a bonus, and the fact that we talked about going out for a drink 5 times within a 5 minute conversation confirmed my suspicions: they were looking for a drinking buddy.

this reminded me about the fickle relationship we have with truth and communicating with others. even with our close, personal friends we only communicate a very small percentage of our true nature. let alone to strangers. reduce that again when you’re trying to sell something, or manipulate the reader/audience and you’ve got yourself a decimal point and a percentage sign in there somewhere.

it’s not just house-hunting, buying a car, or advertising that operates on this distorted truth plane. the arts bend it the one way to make a completely beautiful mockery of truth (artifice) and law tempers it the other way so that it is an arbitrary currency, but a currency nonetheless.

and all that rambling from looking at a few houses!

Part Two:
If fate is a cruel mistress, I am a naughty child

I had a good feeling about the places I planned to see today: a small one-bedroom place in abbotsford and an eco-friendly sharehouse in Brunswick with a vegie garden, green power and a nice price range.

I dealt fate a nasty blow today by fucking with my usual alarm system (new phone, new noises) and not waking up until 9am, way past the time possible to catch buses and trains to make the modest appointment times of 11:15 and midday. ah, country life – where the magpies sing, the breeze flows through and the buses run once an hour.

With my new motto of not taking myself too seriously, I’m hoping that once I’m settled in my fabulous new place, with great people, that I’ll look back on the hysterical crying and the feeling of being trapped, with fondness.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

homeward bound and stuck in a stasis

Château de Chenonceau O M e
nicked from here

It’s quite strange being home. Or should I say, it’s quite strange being almost home.
Home, for me, is a sense, a feeling, rather than a place. A person can feel like home, a smell, a piece of clothing, a website – god forbid. And of course, a place.

And while i feel the most at home than I’ve felt in the last 6 months, I’m still a little bit out there. I’m living with my folks, who are fantastic, I’ve got a whole exciting life to start again and if I’m honest, the whole blank canvas-ness of it all is a little daunting. And, add that to the mix, I’m missing some really strange things from my time overseas (otherwise known as my friends.. ha!).

When i first arrived in London, it took me bloody ages to get used to standing on the right of the escalators. I’ve never stood to the right for anything! Now, I get to go back to what is supposed to be comfortable and it just feels weird. Not to mention they’re so slow here, especially compared to Oxford Circus at 7pm!

I’m missing the silence that comes from being in a country in which you don’t speak the native language. When i was in Europe I spent a lot of time thinking, listening and focusing on my own stuff. Now that i’m back and emersed in my native language, and even an accent i’m familiar with, i feel somewhat exposed and ‘on’. Like I don’t take the time to think, ponder or float anymore. I miss it.

And obviously, I miss the people who I became close to and spent time with. I’m laughing at in jokes when I’m the only one in on it, and i can’t even ring them and go… ‘Oi duneven loik ya!’, or ‘Fancy fancy club’ (see, they’re stupid if you don’t get ’em).

The other day I realised that in missing home, I also developed selective memory. I forgot how shit public transport is outside the 8 streets of the Melbourne CBD, thanks to the privatisation of the public transport system by Jeff a few years ago – I had a rude awakening when I missed a bus and had to wait 2 hours for the next one, two days in a row. And I’m also being reintroduced to the particular brand of Aussie bogan that I had wiped from my memory. I know that England had ’em and I’m sure all the countries I visited in Europe have their versions too, but for 6 months I haven’t had to deal with them and I’ve got a cringe factor happening right now.

However, the things I am enjoying (and looking forward to) are being back with my family, seeing my best friend again (and living in the same state as them for the first time since I was 17!). Melbourne city still does rock and I’m enjoying discovering little places that I never had the chance to in the past – like the french galette/creperie in Scott Arcade, or rememembering how good mag nation is (Oehmchen, I’m sending you sneaker freaker!)

And I’m looking forward to re-discovering Fitzroy, South Melbourne, North Melbourne and St Kilda as an adult. I’ve got a list of 5 good places to get espresso and I plan on getting to the markets on a regular basis to get my fill of singing italian provedori. Plus I get to look for a place to live wherever the fuck I want (funds permitting, and all that)! I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about a place (or my life) before and it is exciting and extremely fucking odd, all at once.

And despite being terrified by the world of career possibilities, I’m looking forward to where it will all take me. I’ve got the possibility to take up some crazy opportunities that I never would have thought possible and I get to make some really great decisions about where my artwork and my regular employment work will take me. I’ve currently got my eggs in all kinds of baskets and waiting to see which one cracks first.

I do have to figure out what it is I really want soon (what a fun game that is!), but for now, I think I’m almost enjoying being a little open to the wind and a little indecisive. You know, kind of getting into pondering the big questions like ‘should I get a “get-me-through-the-week” job and focus on my art career?’ or ‘should i completely change careers and go into an industry that i want to make a difference in’ or the big ones ‘am i good at what I want to do’, or ‘am i good at what I do?’.

Fun, hey!

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx