Juno Diary prologue

May 15

Itinerant festival confirmed my participation in the 2019 edition – glad at first – but then I realized that would greatly complicate my plans. I was supposed to perform in Canada on 25th and 26th May during the Neoist festival. At first, I wanted to ask Hector Canonge to change the day of my performance but ultimately I decided that it was probably wise to cancel Canada and instead spend all the travel money to pass by Venice while I am in Europe at the end of the month. It’s always tricky to make those decisions, as Canada was confirmed for over a month, and I was supposed to perform collaboratively with Niko as ASTRALOOP with his electronic arrangements of my melodic poetry lyrics on Saturday, and another solo performance on Sunday.  I also received an invitation from Claire Zakiewicz to perform at her show in Venice but I wasn’t certain if I could make it happen. Nevertheless, ultimately I chose Venice. Weighing all the pros (meeting all the Canadian artists) and cons (long expensive travel to Canada) I took my time to respond to Itinerant so on Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from Hector. I confirmed that I will perform on Saturday 25th May at the Queen’s Museum Park Flushing Meadows, and we also chatted about the contemporary theatre which I have been immersed in for the last few months, feeling passionate about my life.

Full schedule of the performance festival ITINERANT 2019

I started performing through the theater at a very young age. In my hometown, we had those beautiful XIX century old theaters built by Germans. As a little girl, I was part of at least 3 different theaters and that continued throughout my teenage life. I also wrote plays and directed, at the age of 17, my play which included 16 actors for a 300 people audience… I always thought I would be a director but my family pressured me to be more down to earth. Taking into consideration my top grades in all subjects, they truly hoped I would want to be a lawyer or a doctor. Ultimately my mom gave up saying ”Anything but theatre!” and thus inhibiting me from pursuing my dreams. I discovered performance only when I was 19, in Paris, at the art community, Rue de Rivoli 59.

As I said, through recent weeks, the theatre has been calling me again. I met a theater director and an actor, Sean Edward Lewis, who instantly became a friend, and we started sharing our writing. I was invited to some shows by various friends offering tickets encouraging me to see what they thought the most important works are. It’s really hard to keep up with the NYC art events and theatre and performance and dance scene as a mother. My boy is now one year old and he can be really demanding and clear when he doesn’t want to do something, also I am mindful of his sleeping schedule, so unlike when he was a baby, I tend not to drag him to all the shows I want to see.

I feel I ought to explain where the Juno diary comes from… The title is inspired by “Diary of a Genius” written by Salvador Dali. We inherited this concept of genius from the ancient Rome but we dropped the concept of JUNO which was a feminine equivalent of inspired divine insight. As a civilization, we have erased so many cults of feminine wisdom, creativity, power. I said ‘we’ as a culture – referencing the population of the Western countries – with which I somehow identify, although being from Poland, I am not entirely certain I have full membership in this club; and anyway, neither do I necessarily want to fully belong to it. The way I see it is through the lens of a colonized mind. Look, I write mainly in English, having received my education in France and England.  Early on I was persuaded that my own language was inferior and that has often been the perception of my country throughout Western Europe, the Middle East (where I worked) and in the US. I was certainly schooled believing I was part of the European culture, with its Christian values and heavy baggage of political, religious and cultural conflicts. I was brought up believing in one monotheistic male god with his son incarnated into a human form through a virgin mother. In my cultural upbringing, there was no space for feminine sexual power. Mothers as virgins and virgins as mothers to be was a paradigm that somehow also mixed with the communist schoolgirl upbringing I received. And that meant science, sports, performing arts and a conviction that men and women are equal, as they have the equal right – or obligation – to work towards the glory of our common socialist future.

“JADEIVE” photocollage Jana Astanov 2016

As a civilization we have erased the cult of the creatrix, and denied women the role of cultural producers, we women are schooled to admire masculine achievements, read male authors, learn about male scientists.  And yet, somehow, there has been a lack of awareness that the early school manuals, with their overwhelming number of men and lack of women, continue perpetuating the gender inequalities. The same can be said with respect to religion, where women are pushed to supportive roles and deprived their sacred sexual mysteries of birth. The Capitalist system adds yet another layer of enslavement, with its absurd expectations of productivity, pink taxes, beauty and fashion industries, glass ceiling, gender gap, and in the US, a complete lack of free or affordable childcare, not to mention  issues that arise from the economy of huge disparities and production towards destruction of humanitarian values and the environment.

That’s what I want to talk about in my Juno Diary – cultural, economic and political inequalities – along with all the art myself and people I know create; an art that is driven by political and spiritual activism, art against the established culture, art for environmental protection, art about trash, art about our terrible consumption habits, art that engages and influences, art that is hopeful.

May 17

The project I submitted for ITINERANT festival is called “HerStory Hopscotch”, I submitted an abbreviated version of a concept that includes a new media application and was thought as durational: 3 days minimum performance piece. In the shortened version I limited the number of participants and added the video element. However, considering that I was assigned to perform in the Flushing Meadows Park during the day, there is no way I can project the video, also the 3rd part of the concept isn’t going to be easy to execute – it would be too much of a walk to can carry a trampoline to the park! So the whole thing needs a serious revamp which is fine. This is a piece that I have envisioned for a while, the first version dates to 2015 and the Poetry Hopscotch v2.0, new media application we created with my wonderful friend Rolf van Gelder. There is of course the nonlinear storytelling inherited through the literary traditions: Cortazar, and the cut-up technique developed by Burroughs and Gysin which I extensively discussed that same year with my dear friend Eddie Woods, who – must be said – doesn’t believe in it, nevertheless, he knows so much about the whole scene, and in some ways was also part of it. Since then I have had this idea of treating all my performances pieces as elements of the cut-up technique. Few times I deliberated to perform it but I never had a chance to work on it and put it together. One day, one day for sure! So the ITINERANT version of “HerStory Hopscotch” has to be reshuffled. Originally, I wanted to submit a different piece, the performance I developed with Maija Rutkovska, my friend dancer. In March I invited her to collaborate on a piece for music release album and we came up with this concept of a queer mama performance group “JeDieve” inspired by my photo collage series “JADEIVE” with a movement based piece “ERA JUNOH” a result of combination of Hera and Juno, the ancient Greek and Roman archetypes of the goddess of relating. Ultimately, I decided to redo “HerStory Hopscotch” as JaDieve and once again invite Maija to collaborate. I created a short choreography movement which Maija refined and we rehearsed it a few times. During the rehearsal, I had this “aha” moment and instantly knew what the structure should be!

Maija Rutkovska & Jana Astanov as JaDieve rehearse for “HerStory Hopscotch”

 

Originally published at CreatrixMag.com

Juno Diary prologue

 

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