FK Alexander @ Wellcome Collection
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zarina + gabrielle 26/02/17
Last week we met one of our readers Megan Vaughan for an art date because we really like meeting strangers off the internet. Megan is a good theatre person so she took us 2 an event at The Wellcome Collection that was part of The Sick of the Fringe (which came out of the edinburgh fringe as a separate contingent for shows about health - - - after its founder was criticised of centring too much work about his own cancer experience ! can you cope lol nopeee, how rude).
we didn’t know anything about the event on that day, so read it like we felt it / which was to walk into a room in the basement of the wellcome collection/ lighting low and purple. there were little pillows sparse across the floor and about thirty people lying with one of these under their head, people clustered in places like body friends. N There was a woman stood over everybody with a white bralet and skirt on, rough blonde curls, and silver glitter blotched around her eyeballs (zarina said she had terrifying eyes). She looked ghostly and silly, like club kid dress-up. There was a weird out-of-place projection of cell graphics on one of the walls, v sciencey and v Wellcome Collection + a spread of instruments on the floor like metal bowls and symbols, that typa thing + there were 2 people sat a table with decks at the back of the room.
there was sound like white noise filling the whole space, like a full glass, and kind of gentle. The woman was carrying a gong down at her side, stroking it with a stick (I googled it and the proper name for a gong stick is called a mallet. The more u kno ⭐). when the three of us found a spot to lie down, we realised the gong music only resonated over whoever the woman was standing next to, bc it was lost in the larger sound from the decks.
tbh. I would normally feel awkward about this kind of pressure to meditate but i didnt have TIME because things got VERY VERY loud. within 5 mins it sounded like we were lying in the engine of an aeroplane omfg. the noise was so full on it was almost painful but gabrielle SOMEHOW FELL ASLEEP idgi. zarina ... ye, that feeling of when ur on an aeroplane n the sound of its engines becomes background - that. But then the gong, the gong, it was all very strange and I was on edge, not relaxed.
We stayed in the noise for abaaa 12 mins n then got up wide-eyed and left to debrief outside.
One thing we have gained in becoming art writers is the confidence to walk into a room of creative activity and b ok rationalising whatever is happening inside that room on our own terms. if an exhibition visit is an encounter kind of cut away from time + space, you should write to readers knowing they might not have the same experience - n so the text written about it should try to match a quick relevance of that (so pertinent for performance). The White Pube writes like this, rather than critical pieces of writing that position an aesthetic experience within academic history. I respect that n it can be useful for a certain audience, but its not what we r about. We spoke to Megan about our critical style and scale, n she really affirmed that and encouraged wot we do,, made us feel all warm in our bellies n chests <3.
ZM: I will say, that I was kinda thrown off by this specific work (Gab told me about a nice Scouse- y idiom: ‘sends ur head west’ ye, that). I am so fascinated by white spirituality & its components. Bc tbh European Philosophy & religion r separate things (which is odd 4 me bc it’s not the case for my experience... I feel like Hinduism,,,, duh they’re the same... but Islam, also kinda blurrrrss the line between religion & philosophy in a way Occidental traditions could never kinda fathom??) & the west hasn't rlly got a history of spiritualism;.;.;.;. I am fascinated by white ppl who say namaste & burn incense. What are the composite parts: East///Buddhism //mixed w Hinduism (divorced from context) //mixed with something that felt vaguely West African w the beats & the totemism of the bowls laid out/ but like an altar?// Amongst the Eastern spread of artefacts were witchy crystals - witchcraft as a very Western phenomenon - representing fear of the /woman/as/Other/ / n then some psychedelic stuff in the background - n that as the starting point of the West’s spiritual history — - — - when hippy culture kinda said fuk u to capitalism n if that’s a binary, does that mean there’s something about the conditions created by anglo-saxon protestantism & capitalism that just INHERENTLY rejects the spiritual??? Does protestant/- capitalism represent & vibe off that part of knowledge that is quantified & qualified (something the spiritual kinda rejects, bc i feel it as a system of knowing and learning and experiencing thru ur body & the very f a c t of ur corporeality.??? u get me??? ) n like... amongst all of that is the way whiteness frames meditation: as an activity separate & cut off from any other action than itself. (Kind of like white pube writing lol). It’s at odds with my experience of meditation as a religious act of repetition, and afterwards, Gab said something about how she doesn’t get meditation n i was like ME NEITHER, at least, not like this?.... this piece felt vvvvv strange.. Like, if u went into another person’s house n their front room was like... the exact same furniture & shape as ur front room, but they’d accessorised it differently n it felt similar but alien;;; n uncanny in that balancing act between familiarity & estrangement. I don’t really have any cogent thoughts on the specific aff/effect this interest had on me RE; this work... just it felt strange: a white lady dressed as a disco-queen silently leading meditation with a singing bowl and OM bells.... that’s all