From: Fatih Gençkal
To: Meryem Jazouli
Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2020 16:15
I want to start an interview experiment. I will ask you one question everyday and you will have 24 hours to respond to it. Then I will ask the next question based on your answers or my curiosities. You can also ask me questions in your answers and interview me in a way. It will be like a conversation.
If you answer quickly, I can ask the next question right away, so we don't have to wait 24 hours. It can turn into texting each other too. Or not.
Please feel free to write as you are speaking. Follow the spark the question starts in you.
So here is the first question:
What do you see happening with you and around you since the beginning of home confinement?
Meryem Jazouli 30 Apr 2020 00:29
Response: First I'd like to say that I've become even more resistant to deadlines so when I read that there was a 24 hour delay to answer your email I almost wrote to you to tell you to find someone else. And then finally I told myself that until now everything I had been doing with difficulty was actually becoming an excellent exercise to understand certain reactions in me.
Like this confinement, I would never have been able to hold on to it without the obligation and the prohibition to do otherwise, and so what was initially a real test shows me day after day my ability to adapt, to be able to do without many things and to finally measure that this slowdown was a golden opportunity that may never happen again.
For the first time in a very long time I developed and took the time to indulge in some of the practices I was overtaking. Like writing, for example, and if there is one thing I discovered during this confinement it is that despite the fact that I really enjoyed the presence of others I had an incredible ability to support myself and be good to myself. It's serious doctor?;) And you Fatih what did you discover that you didn't know yet ???
Fatih Gençkal 30 Apr 2020 14:08
Last few days, I am realizing my restlessness. I have a lot of time on my hands and I can choose what to do and what not to do. I am coming up with different projects and consuming a lot of text, video and audio materials online, which makes me feel under attack of media. I have been trying to write an article on the current situation of performing arts in Turkey and each day the task seems to be more and more unsurmountable as more information comes. In general, there is too much distraction and I find it hard to focus. On another level, there is a feeling of the need to make the most of this time. I realize that a big reason I wanted to start this interview series is actually to get over this feeling and really get in touch with friends from around the world to see how they are coping.
Do you think this period may have a lasting effects on how you live and work?
Meryem Jazouli 1 May 2020 02:31
Sincerely dear Fatih I am not yet sure what impact this will have on my work and whether it will be as lasting as I would like it to be. I know that I don't want to go back, I don't even know if I really want to continue working...I have a longing for nature, writing, reading and essentials...What is sure is that the race for projects, calls, professionals etc... doesn't interest me at all anymore but it had already started before the confinement. I have a desire for creativity, renewal, respect and even more empathy. I think it will start with the relationship I have with my own body, which I really want to take care of. I want to nourish my mind in such a way that I can continue to develop this awareness of what's around me, how I do things, at my own pace and with desire.
With this confinement I realized that rigour wasn't everything...I don't want to be as demanding as I used to be. I don't want to let myself be overwhelmed by the outside world, the networks, the news, the useless constraints. I would like not to waste what I learned during this period...I continue to reflect on the lessons to be learned but the one thing I can say that I have heard with all my being is this need to slow down. No longer running to avoid missing anything, no longer being productive even when you're not inspired and on the contrary, appreciating not to be on every date, appreciating to recognize that we have sometimes nothing to say, no longer wanting a recognition that I absolutely do not need to learn who I am and what I want to be.... Sorting out, that's a lesson I would like to learn for a long time.
Don't you think that is time to let go all this crazy routine my dear Fatih ?
Fatih Gençkal 1 May 2020 15:12
Yes, yes, very well said. I love that you mention a desire for creativity and point to it elsewhere than the work environment we are used to. Creativity as a way of being in the world. I might contrast this to artistic output, as product of the world of projects, calls, networks etc. I wonder if this dismisses arts as a career or a job which the society needs and has to support, hence diminishes its value. Because on another level, most artists I know are under serious risk of going on because they live extremely precarious lives which is further threatened in an environment where their 'products' cannot be out. And there are very weak, if any, support system for them. Do you know what I mean?
Meryem Jazouli 2 May 2020 04:11
Of course I understand and I am aware that if this decision is taken it implies sacrifices of which I may not yet measure the consequences. But you know Fatih I am also part of a generation of artists who believed more than anything else in working, creating, experimenting and who gave all their time and energy to work without ever having the assurance of seeing their work being shown and even less being paid. We worked because we had faith, because it was what we had chosen to be and to do. and we had never thought to put together a project on paper before having experienced it in our bodies and in front of an audience, even if for that we had to rent the room, invite people, etc. I recognize myself less and less in this system and yet I still have the desire and energy in me.
I know that this period has made the situation of many artists, more or less small structures and others, precarious. But maybe it's time to "take advantage" of all this to mark certain orientations. Of course it can't be general and it's not necessary to make such radical choices but I'm convinced that it's absolutely necessary to preserve a space for creativity, work, negotiation, refusal; in short a real space of freedom for creation.
I am also aware that all this is just talk... How can we go in this direction and how could we demand it from ourselves and others. Do you have any idea about that dear Fatih???
Fatih Gençkal 2 May 2020 17:00
I think there is a choice between the real space of creation that you mention and stability. The current system is not designed to accommodate both. So artists have the choice/responsibility/burden to make a living and create that space of freedom, which I also believe we really need. I think your generation's values still have their echo today, especially in parts of the world with less developed structures for arts and culture. In Turkey, for example, %95 of the time, performers work for free and get paid only through ticket sales for each performance, usually very little. I really don't know how they survive. I am speaking from my own experience here. Paying them a fixed fee is a luxury only afforded by established theaters and big venues. I am talking about the independent scene here, apart from national and municipal theaters where artists have a salary or get paid a small wage for each day they work -rehearsal or performance. I think the faith you mention is still there in some way but the question remains, and is more intense today, as to how/if this should/could be a sustainable career. My personal strategy is to not rely on my creation for a living but do related things that still nourishes it and pay my bills.
Isn't it funny that these talks are always there, part of this thing we call arts? What is the situation in Morocco for artists? Is there any support mechanism for them during this time?
Meryem Jazouli 3 May 2020 03:52
No, nothing is put in place to help artists and we don't hear anything about it. It's even worse than in normal times because art and artists are always people who are a bit on the margins and people do not want to be bothered with trivialities!
I understand what you are saying about this space of freedom that it is our responsibility to defend and which is also a choice to be made. I agree with you because it is also for me something that I had to wrestle with which asks me to find other resources to win this freedom. But contrary to Turkey there is something that I find problematic in Morocco in particular at the level of the commitment of the artists, their honesty, their often too quickly and badly acquired competence and these clan games that I have always hated. In short, I do not find this environment very inspiring, nor motivating, hence my need to nourish my soul and my spirit from other sources. For example right now I cook a lot. It's been a long time since I was cooking before and I thought that I'd lost this impetus forever. It may seem silly but it makes me want to feed my family again, to feed the other in the first sense of the word and I find this gesture magnificent again. For example yesterday I prepared a Vietnamese dish, a vegetable and cheese cake, asparagus and a strawberry dessert ;) Maybe during this "uncertain" period, certain gestures, certain spaces are our ................. (I would like you to write the rest :)
Fatih Gençkal 3 May 2020 22:23
...refuge? Certain gestures can be a refuge, I think. But I still can't keep myself from asking if refuge is a mode of survival or a tactic to keep ourselves stable to keep going. Anyway, I think cooking is great:) I, myself cook a lot, too. Now we are baking, cooking, raising plants etc. One striking thing about being home all the time is the incredible amount of time it takes just to get the basics done like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, laundry. I have a feeling that the quality of one's life maybe has something to do with how much time you actually spend to sustain yourself.=) If you are busy with that, you know more about life and are in more harmony with it. And the rest of the time you do whatever you want. Like the hunter-gatherers!
Thinking of this now, I feel this could be a revolutionary act: To be the master of your time! What do you think?
Meryem Jazouli 5 May 2020 02:13
I was very pleasantly surprised by your answer because it was exactly my feeling and the word I was looking for: refuge... I think I'm really starting to enjoy these exchanges more and more ;)
In fact I think that beyond the fact that some gestures are refuges, there is also the relationship to the present time that allows us a real quality in the fact of making. The projections are less big and illusory. These refuge acts as I will call them bring us back to gestures whose immediate result minimizes frustrations and disappointments…
So I believe, like you, that the time factor is a decisive criterion and certainly the most important one to be able to appreciate, to move forward, to imagine, to dream, to create... But the intention we give to our actions determines our relationships and perceptions of the gesture... Moreover for me there is a big difference between act and gesture.
I have the impression that we are beginning a philosophical and poetic time of confinement.