I say ‘Again’ as I operate in this perpetual belief that I used to be stronger than I am now. Given that this is true, as I used to spend significantly more time lifting weights and kettlebell training (as I competed in kettlebell sport) than I do now. I also used to teach up to 7/8 classes a day, each of which operated as a movement session where a degree of effort was required to demonstrate and lead the class. It is therefore no wonder I hearken back to that time as a mountain top to which I can no longer scale to the same height. In order to do so I would need to switch back to that lifestyle and profession. But in reality I am still quite strong, as I know how to train intelligently to maintain strength. I just find now that if I am not consistent (and intelligent about how I go about doing it) I begin to lose it, my strength, quicker.
So why is strength so important to me now?
Psychologicial- Identity- Practice. Really I should just post my contextual study from my MA final year here 🙂 as it explains all this, admittedly in way too much detail needed for this present time. Basically I find myself utilizing the skills my fitness past gave me into my art work. These skills are namely the ability to be in front of others and teach/address a group, to utilise my body as a work ‘tool’, and and an enduring recognition of how physical fitness can affect physical and mental health.
I want to make performance work which requires me to be pretty strong in order to do the stuff I want to do. Like the piece Working Through Feelings, which could be described as durational exercising, on and on until you cannot continue.
Or like the I Need To Be Ready tasks 15-20 (not made yet) which I want to make ASAP; Pushing a car. Carrying an adult human. These are things which WOULD be useful in an apocalyptic situation! Also theres the ageing and emotional factor- I identify feeling strong with feeling positive, capable, good about myself. Its a self-medicated practice to temper anxiety and depression.
Stronger. I really want to get as strong as I can right now. How strong can I get? I mean farmers walk, sled push, yoke carry strong, i.e lifting heavy shit. How strong can a 45 year old woman get? How might it change me physically and psychologically? Probably based on past experience it will be more psychological. People hugely underestimate how hard it is for men, and even more so for women, who have a smaller overall body percentage of muscle mass) to significantly enlarge muscles without significant supplementing. I already have an interesting look with my stringy upper body and shaved greyish head 🙂 With my background in training and fitness I understand that if I really want to do this, it this means I would need to commit to a training (and eating) practice a bit more rigorous than I am in now, and for at least 3 months minimum in order to see progress. Strength takes time to build, its not just the muscles that need to develop, it’s tendons and ligaments too. Good Food and adequate rest are as important as training.
Also- a mentor. Someone to advise re habits and a training program. Yes I have the background but if I want to make strength gains I need accountability. Find someone, a fitness professional in my approx age bracket, late 30’s 40’s, who can program for strength. With the tools available to me.
Also- to what end? What for? Obviously the works as mentioned above. Thinking of other artists who have made projects out of changing their body- Cassils. Orlan.
Who else? obviously actors do it all the time. But I am not thinking of it as for a role to inhabit for a period of time. I am thinking of doing this so as to be a stronger version of ME. How would this feel? What could I achieve? What would I have to sacrifice? I don’t have a social life too much so I will not have to sacrifice that 🙂 I already train 6 days a week so just slightly longer more structured sessions I think would suffice. Need to research any nearby strong woman training spaces. I say strong woman as it would have to be a space where its comfortable to train in this way, as the strong woman/man scene is predominantly men.
Its interesting thinking of this as a route along a new fitness path. For the sake of it, as opposed for competition. I would be seeking to see how it feels, how it transfers into my creative practice, if it yields what I think it might. I had an interesting conversation about taking up space publicly with a similarly aged friend, who was bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t get noticed publicly anymore. I was interested in this, and thought about my own experience. I don’t seek to get noticed per say, but it got me thinking about how we take up space publicly as humans. Would the way which I take up space change if I push myself as physically far as I can?
I made the I Need To Be Ready pieces using pre-learned skills, like sledgehammering
And hanging, which is a lot harder than it looks
I wanted it to seem as these skills came in some way naturally, as the rocks in the image are just ‘there’ and the trees in the forrest just grow. The work also afforded me a collaborator, which was the spaces I made the work in. I have made performance work in different outdoor spaces, the streets and spaces of my local town for my MA show work and other projects since, the Burren National Park, a local abandoned hospital, a nearby wood. I like working outdoors, theres a wonderful effect of context which immediately descends upon you making your presence seem small and insignificant. Sometimes I have had to work hard to establish an energy within these landscapes.
I have done very little collaborative performance work with other actual humans, being a bit geographically isolated and also relatively new to live art I don’t know that many people. Also being shy and having imposter syndrome means I need to work harder at approaching others re projects.
I follow some extremely strong women on instagram who I admire, like
This serves as a reminder that you can do whatever you wish if you really want to and are prepared to do the work.
Now I need to instigate the process and not worry too much re the outcomes. That has revealed itself along the way before and hopefully will again this time.