The regular retreats at Zarlardinge with docu(mentor) Rasa Alksnyte, allowed us to focus on the analysis of the research questions, community, and develop a sustainable model for collaborations and self-care through rituals. This was a necessary tool in caring for transitions; such as the absence of our colleague, the grinding halt of the cultural sector and the instability felt by artists.
The format of the retreat was adapted for the “end-event” of our 2 years research funding into a telepathic retreat with 18 artists of diverse disciplines and locations.
I remember grass angels at the end of the retreat. Tomato head and artichoke power of Michel. The ritual of letting go of things by putting sage leaves into the shit pats. Making wishes in the wishing tree. Magical time. (there were musicians staying in the guest house it was noisy for Michel and Rasa, Justine and I stayed in Sarah’s house)
Objective: It was the first retreat and the objective was to set the research trajectory. It was just after the news of funding. Apparition of Michel’s illness. Physical heaviness of her illness. We found a rhythm between practice and practical tasks. It was during TOPAZ project. We arrived in a conflict. How can the trio work in TOPAZ? Discovering, establishing group dynamics. We buried the guilt in the shit, no more guilt in oracle.
Task: Add paper eggs ‘expectation’ sheets.
Add sound sources 1/11/18. Michel’s artichoke solo
The first time being in that place; discovering it’s magic. Vocally harvesting the plenty of the garden, leaving behind, wishing for the future. Taking time for things that need time, like burying Michel in a tree. We feel this place will be important for the maintenance of our group.
Tomato head, artichoke, cale
shit pads of pigs with sage leaves
wishing tree with hazelnut leaves
Michel voiced that she wants to see Nika’s 18th birthday; being fine with dying but actually hoping. Coughing Michel. Her treatment doesn’t work.
Objective: Setting trajectory for funding, and rhythm to facilitate practice & practical tasks; we arrived in conflict due to Topaz and due to our funding success for Michel
Michel changed treatment, her face is rushed. We don’t come together vocally. We try with Coco, we try with Myrddin. Michel is slowly wanting her own space. Conflictual time. Dannie.i was difficult. It’s cold, in and around us. We met Myrddin’s father. A patriarch. I directly disliked him. Oracle with a musician. Hard to tell what the other thought. At one point the magic happens. We come together again. Ohhh, i sooooo didn’t want to do the stemwerk exercise with Michel.
Tasks and objectives:
Paintings for the future year with dots, lines, burned they produce aluminium
Production meeting Topaz – very concrete
No more guilt in oracle – decision
Working with paint
Difficult times begin. Michel is ill now. It is winter. It is snowy. It is cold. I just returned from Australian summer. Beautiful images in the snow. We did a practice with Myrrdin – introducing the practice to a musician. Entering new territory. Tarot readings? Oracle practiced indoors. ‘Less magic, more mystery’. There was an overwhelming agenda for the coming year. Danni i. There were tears. We did paintings of the coming year – dots of paint, then join them. Everyone burnt theirs, except me.
Objective: preparation for upcoming TOPAZ activities. Budget etc.
Silent conversation. Chicken practice. Michel’s beautiful tabletop badminton solo practice.The ‘ground shaking’ silent conversation ritual. Justine’s attraction to Myrrdin. The swimming pool. The landscape is changing. Michel formally withdrawing: in preparation for Zwalm. An end is marked for me by the silent conversation ritual with Michel.Something changed. How to continue as two? 3 of us (Michel, Justine and Caroline) staying longer, paddock practice. Visiting the wishing tree which is infested with bugs. Our trio practice in the trees. I tried an open eye moment making my own ‘live film’ to the others’ voices: slow mo eyes open. The landscape was my witness and my subject (Then we went to WPZimmer – great residency)
OBJ: changing the constellation of oracle. Michel not part of Zwalm. Allowed space for her to say it.
Suggested: organised a Michel workshop in Pianofabriek. Opened a door for Michel to be differently present. Can oracle facilitate these changes?
It was difficult to get Michel there. Hard to let go of wpZimmer. I remember she even proposed to go to the seaside instead. Something didn’t want to be confronted. It all changed, when we got there. We made wishes, we had a silent conversation. Michel and Caroline cried a lot.
It was a changing moment for oracle. Michel decided to not be part of Zwalm. The beginning of her slow and silent retrieve from oracle. I remember Caroline telling me the silent conversation closed a cycle for her with Michel. After that she could let Michel go. Really? We stayed one day longer than Rasa. Practiced in the field and took a lot of time for warm-up. Oracle was free in nature. Happy. All seemed to be possible.
I didn’t know at that time that it was one of the last moments spent together in total harmony. But it was.
Caroline and me walked alone in the night. It was raining frogs
Insects in our wishing trees
the retreat made a fabulous wpZimmer residency possible
Changing constellation of oracle: giving Michel the possibility to lead a workshop
The first time we are at our usual retreat without Michel. There was no way to get her there or get together with her in a different way. We tried. Sadness. We missed her, didn’t know how to continue. A first glimpse appeared. Maybe oracle doesn’t need to end when Michel is gone. I remember the moment i started to believe again that we can do it, Caroline and me. Kitten on Caroline’s lap, we just pointed out our highlights of last year, we spoke about Zwalm and the misunderstandings we had. No hidden agencies, simple miscommunications. In that moment i knew we would manage to transition.
Tasks and objections:
What are the highlights of last year?
Writing with a pen you can’t write with
Decision on going inward, less public activities
How to research. Methodology?
How to make Michel present in a different way? How to keep the Triangle of oracle?
Michel very sick and in pain. Seeing Michel is seeing the end.
Reflection on the first year of subsidies. After Zwalm. After Natacha Muslera. Last minute departure of Rasa, Justine and Caroline – will it be in Brussels so Michel can attend? Michel says “no, go to the old stones in France” No – too late to change and go to France for three days. We walked alone in silence – met on the other side of the Zarlardinge property. We went through all the activities of the past year. There are new kittens at the farm!
The highlights – a paper of post its.
Difficult to get there, to leave Michel behind. A false start of trying to do the retreat in Brussels for Michel and then her being clear – “Go! You guys go I am not coming” When there on the retreat, we wandered alone in the paddock, met in the tree house to draw the future – the next year, in a 5 minute scoring practice ‘how we each see next year’. Mine was like a space waling/floating embryo and a music rest notation.
What a funny retreat. We were all tired and exhausted. Budget cuts and working with others drive us nuts. Michel is not with us. This time it’s no surprise anymore.
We fill her space with the purr of a cat, the wind, coco’s sounds, with the whole Gevaerts family. What a strange bunch of people. We smoke the wheat i brought for Michel from Groningen, we read a lot of Tarot cards, we care for ourselves. I’m not satisfied. Sexually. We plan our end-event. Busy upcoming year. Did we make wishes? Somehow i have a blurry memory about this retreat. I need to rest. That’s what the Tarot said. How to cut my head off? Rest in peace, Trudo Hedgehog. Forever erect.
Insights from the retreat:
She did send vocals. There was communication. We practiced together as a trio though not together in space.. Telepathy of practice
We had map
Dajo was drawing one picture during a whole day accompanied by Coco on his shoulder
Myrddin the troubadour
Dajo cried and slept in my bed
Gevaerts are more prudish than one thinks
Dajo said: “You don’t know, how much we miss you here, when you are not here.”