Last month I did a piece with PICA titled Aeon, which was a queer walk based on the principles of bird flocks. One of the sentences from the piece which strongly resonated with me was, “sexuality can be site specific”.
Reading through The Diary Of A Young Girl by Adrienne Novy today I thought about how my queerness exists/doesn’t exist in different domains. Also about how I don’t exist in public domains when I am unwell. Whether that be physically unwell, run down or having a tough time with mental health.
Before Anne Frank’s diary was published,
her father removed all the entries where
Anne questioned her sexuality,
lifted away arguments with her mother from the final transcript,
claimed he did this out of respect for the dead.
– Adrienne Novy
In my own diaries (aka poems), which parts of my history have I left out in respect to the girl I was once?
Who has seen the version of me which can’t get out of bed?
I remember, before moving to the UK, having a partner and not wanting him to come over when I was sick. I think this happened with multiple partners over the years. I truly thought nobody would think as highly of me if they saw me when I was bedridden. That the sick version of me must be the private version of me. That I was neither fun or loveable when I was stuck in bed. Or when I was sad.
How can “Bedhead” disrupt the assumption that our truth is unsuitable for public consumption? Would I let a romantic partner see me bedridden these days? Why do I apologise to others when I am sad? How have I censored myself, both in my artistic work and in my social interactions with others? Can anyone know me in an honest way if I only let them see the final drafts of myself? When really, I am a stack of messy, drafted annotations written on the back of receipts.
Pictured: quotes from the poem, read it here.
I’ve made a PDF document (linked below) explaining a bit about this month’s poetry residency at St George’s Cathedral with St George’s Dance and Theatre.
Please have a read and let me know if you’d like to come hang out and have a conversation! And please share the PDF with anyone who might be interested.
PDF: Maddie Godfrey, St George’s Conversation Callout
I am typing as the Cathedral bells ring, this first day has been a varied mixture of unusual experiences. I think this month is going to be a lot of fun.
On the eve of this residency, and before I have a chance to write a post explaining the my actual intent and goals – here are some questions I thought about in the shower. I realise this is likely a flimsy way to start a residency, full of warm questions with no strong desire to answer them fully. But hopefully this will stand as a future reminder that curiosity is my favourite leader, and questions are the footprints left by knowledge. Or something like that.
Questions from November 5th:
- Ideas of the public and private. Who is allowed to feel comfortable in the space of a Cathedral? Who allows this? Who perceives this?
- The whole saying of “you are most yourself when nobody else is around”. How does this look on my own body? Does this change depending on where the body is? If I was in bed, but the bed would transported, how would this affect the previous two questions?
- Can I still have Bedhead when I have a shaved head? Have I made a logistical error already?
- Read Lora Mathis and James Baldwin. How does the intimate interact with the sacred? How does the sacred interact with sexuality? How does sexuality die and live in the bellies of all of us?
- Part 1: Lora Mathis and James Baldwin have a conversation, via Skype, while both sitting upright in bed. What do they speak about?
- Part 2: Lora Mathis can’t leave bed and James Baldwin tries to give them advice/support/companionship/understanding. What does this sound like?
- Speaking of Lora Mathis, is softness always a radical act, can you be too soft? too focused on your own healing? spend too much time in bed? be too bedhead?
- Research a bedhead as a part of furniture. Remember that time when Jakob got a bonus from Centrelink and was excited to buy a bedhead because he thought it would help his headaches. Is there any truth in this? Can the term “bedhead” be used as more than a title, is it a larger metaphor about structural support and fancy furniture?
- Part 2: you use to have books as a bedhead in the East London house, before the cockroaches came. You didn’t have a bedhead in South West London either. How did these beds feel different as a result? If a bed was a home, what part of the structure would the bedhead represent? Walls/roof/bannister/paintings/door frames? What would happen to the residents of the home if that piece of furniture/architecture was removed suddenly?
- Consider how ideas of bed and home and social isolation interact with current situations on Manus Island. Remember that to have a bed is to have a privilege, and the ability to stay in bed is also a privilege.
- Remember that art is never isolated from the culture/country it comes from. This work will be created on land that belongs to the Whadjuk Noongar people and their Elders (past and present). Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
More soon, Maddie x