I do. I want to feel things, intensely so. I like extremes and I like life. The whole devastating reality of it. My actual name is Helena, by the way, but if you were to call me Elzemieke a special energy will pass between us.
You - I guess - are someone who likes art and beauty. You're probably a visual person with an intuitive understanding of color and shape. You love creating a space, you'll happily spend days arranging and rearranging until it's ... just ... so. Whether that's an actual room or an idea bouncing around your mind. If, on top of all that, you also suffer from dependency issues with any green-coloured food items, we're pretty much soulbound (why is it that matcha never gets too much?).
You'll notice that I use the word "art" a lot on this website. Makes sense, doesn't it? But, even though I call myself an artist, I'm not a big fan of labeling things as such. To be frank, it's quite a loaded term. Using it provokes all kinds of connotations - expectations even. Simply put: I create things. If all goes well, people appreciate those things. Something shifts, a connection is made. The "thing" gets a special meaning.
I'm not working towards being bought by some big-name artdealer - only for my work to be warehoused and sold again once (or if) its value increases. I want my work be experienced, not traded. That doesn't mean I'll hang up when a gallerist calls, of course not. Ambition is an important thing. Money is an important thing.
No, really. What I'm trying to say is that art doesn't need to be complicated. When I'm in a creative space my only aim is to feel what I see. I want to be moved on a level that goes beyond the ordinary. I don't want a prospectus or a biography. I want to be haunted. In my dreams, in my mind, in my soul. I want it to matter.
This crazy beast isn't just for artists. Or museums. Or schools. Or, God forbid, basements. The experience of art is entirely personal and available to everyone. In fact, how you live your life is a creative act in itself.
The things you like, the food you eat, the secrets you keep, the relationships you have... The person you are inside and the person you show to others. All of these "things" are, in the end, decisions you make. Creative decisions.
"Now, wait a minute", I hear you think, "and what makes you the self-diagnosed expert?". Alright, alright. I hear ya. I'll stop rambling and tell you a little bit about myself. This is the about page, after all.
I'm a hybrid, one of those people who belongs both everywhere and nowhere. Concepts of nationality are entirely foreign to me - and I'm not quite sure whether that's an oxymoron or a pun, which shows you how much I know. As a child I invented several hair accessories, typed long & complicated stories on my typewriter and developed a sleeping technique to keep my face paint in tact for days on end. It involves clingfilm.
Of course, I wanted to be something dreamy when I grew up. No nurse. No scientist. Nothing boring like that. I was going to be a lone warrior who lived by her own rules and had adventures which she'd type up afterwards. That sort of thing. It may be worth speculating whether I ever did "grow up".
A professional artist visited our school once and told me I had talent. "Yes", I remember thinking, "I do" (note the youthful confidence). But it was also clear to me that this indeed meant trouble. Like it or not, creative talent rarely ends up in a cubicle with 2.3 children and a pension plan.
It does, however, help you build a bridge out of toothpicks when you're stuck between sorrow and indecision. It'll make you work through things which seem really large in your head, and very small indeed on a piece of paper. It's there when you're out of money, out of luck, and out of love. It'll start a trend. It'll be your imaginary hot air balloon. It'll take misunderstandings and turn them into Rubik's cubes. It'll murder all your past lovers.
So where does the trouble come in? For me, the first real trouble started in art school. All through adolescence I'd been working towards getting in and yet, when I was finally "in", I realized that I didn't like it at all. If anything, I felt stifled. Forced. Kind of fake. At the end of the first year I joined some friends in Denmark and, to my own surprise, I never came back.
I travelled, which filled a hunger I hadn't been able to satisfy in art school. It was thrilling and full of lessons and stomach disease and transience. It suited me. It still suits me. It's something about the world and people and information, there's so much to learn from adventure.
I will admit that, in hindsight, I'm a little embarrassed by my youthful ignorance. The distressing fact that I arrived in Ireland assuming it was part of England for instance. Or, when I tried to cross a Polish border right after 9/11 with a completely illegible passport (at that time passports were still written in ink, which would wash away at the merest suggestion of water).
Eventually, I landed in London and decided to stay put. I studied at the London University of the Arts and became obsessed with cinema. I studied, watched, acted, wrote, assisted and, slowly but surely, I directed.
The independent film scene was incredibly liberating - it allowed me to exploit every creative curiosity I had. The definite milestone of these years is a short film I made, called "Babydoll". If you subscribe to my newsletter you'll receive a special link and password with which you can watch it.
Then, as you know, the financial world collapsed. My savings dried up and living in London became unsustainable. In truth, I'd been feeling restless for a while - that travel bug really is a nasty sort - and decided to take the economic crisis as a good excuse to pack up and go once more.
My feet touched ground again in Germany, where I studied Art Therapy at the Academy of Fine Arts. Here's a tip for when you're interested in exploring the realms of therapy: do it in a language you can actually speak. Don't get me wrong, it was a very interesting time and I would do it all again, albeit in English.
Of course I did learn a thing or two. In fact, I don't know where I'd be without the experience, but once I graduated I was more than happy to return to where I once started. There is a therapist lurking in me, and I let it out every now and then, but there's also many other undercover professionals who want their stage time. I don't know yet which one will play the leading role, I don't think we're supposed to know everything.
But I digress. In fact, I need to thank you, you starbar, for your attention and your interest.
All this time I've been going on and on and on, whereas I should've been telling you how amazing and original and clever you are. Because you are all those things. Believe me, as an artist I happen to have a knack for spotting beauty.
I do ask something of you in return. I want you to take a pen -any pen- a piece of paper -any paper- and close your eyes. Put the pen on the piece of paper and breathe in deeply. Relax, goddammit, let it happen. I'd like you to do this every day, for one week. If you want, you can move the pen a little. You can also draw on the table, or the wall. You can also let someone else move the pen.
That pen is you, and that thing you create is you as well. And you're making it in a world which is temporarily yours. Be kind to it, to all of it.
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