Leaving Madrid | The artist’s cauldron

By Limor Shiponi

Our last stop in Madrid was Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; an interesting modern building hosting modern art; the house for Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica’ which I find poorly placed indoors. I understand why it has to be safeguarded but I’d rather see it somewhere outside, somewhere it will be part of people’s everyday life like graffiti.

Visiting Reina Sofia I suddenly realized every artist has a repertoire of possibilities – some richer, some leaner and at the same time every artist has a special cauldron that cooks all kinds of ingredient into a main deep theme, a leitmotif, along many years. Each of us is trying to figure out something, to reach a clearer understanding even if it’s only for ourselves; none are totally eclectic when it comes to a theme.

I started wondering about myself and about other works I’ve seen through my life – what am I concerned about? What are others trying to understand? One theme I know for sure which I’m busy with is the balance between the chalice and the blade – the balance between empathy, compassion and inclusion on one side – being reserved, unaware and excluding on the other.

Knowing a thing like this about yourself helps a lot when looking for repertoire or crafting a program – to mention two benefits out of several. Many storytellers go through a long period of looking for their ‘voice’, collecting loads of texts they will never use only to reveal what they are truly interested in and where they can do their best because of who they are. At times it seems easier to have been an ‘ethnical’ teller – the stories, the style, the moves even the costumes are there waiting. But that’s not the situation for most modern storytellers and even those that have the scene as-if ready and waiting will have to find their personal voice in a long chain of predecessors.

Look for your themes.

5 thoughts on “Leaving Madrid | The artist’s cauldron”

  1. I never had the opportunity to be an ‘ethnical’ teller – the tradition has pretty well expired in England, and I was based in a New Town, a place (ostensibly) without history – so right from the off was forced to develop that inner ear to find the stories that speak to me…
    Took quite a long time to start asking why those particular stories, as opposed to any other ones, though…probably due to spending a lot of my time helping others to find and tell their stories.
    I think there’s probably something quite important in the order things happen in, here. Questioning yourself to find out what deeply concerns you, then finding the stories to express/explore those concerns is very different from finding the stories you need to tell and then coming to realise the underlying themes they might all share. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

    1. The feeling of not having a ‘special’ history is something I feel quite a few modern-days tellers recognize. Later on you find it – special as any other history. I resonate with the time it took while helping others. At a certain point I stopped training and coaching them for a while, feeling drained from my own resources and creative drive. I gave more than I could afford.
      What’s the right order? I think the best order is realizing as you go, meaning you are going quite a lot before you realize. If you’re in a hurry, the other way works too yet don’t be surprised if one day you’ll realize you need to shift. Whatever works and it works in any case.

        1. Talking to yourself as you go is part of the storytelling territory. My bigger question is how come so many people who talk to an audience don’t talk to themselves as they go. You know, the people who sound as if they have an inner 4th wall?

          1. Beats me, but that’s a good way of putting it.
            Thinking about that, that’s maybe one reason why I tend not to like people telling personal material (deeply worried by the trend in the US at the mo ) – too much listening to oneself.
            All a question of balance, I guess, like so much else in life.

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