“Everything is a pretext for a good dinner…”

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Temporary Widows

“..Nothing matters now, for he has gone so far away.”(Troubadour Marcabru)

“Two to One” was a piece I presented at the Artist, Interrupted performance held at the Wild Goose Creative in May of 2011. My husband and I interviewed each other about our first year of marriage; if any of you listen to RadioLab (I am a huge fan) and I felt inspired to try my hand at story-telling through sound and dance. I blended laughter, still moments, stories, and tears as we talked about our perceptions of our careers in terms of creation and destruction and shared ways we’ve stayed connected after a year of long-distance. The piece was meant to be performed as a duet, but, due to circumstances of separation, we had to make it a solo.

Since this time I have become more intimately connected with women who are balancing their complex lives as temporary widows. The power and paralysis that happens for many couples as they balance that fine line of independence/dependence. As I have thought more about this idea I had one of those moments, when you see threads of characters, concepts and ideas. I have learned the invaluable lesson to share and discuss creative processes so I wanted to take some time to write down a few of these ideas.

Women and the Crusades: http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/heroine3.html

“In times of constant warfare, women’s role in maintaining household stability was needed. Women who governed in their husband’s name engaged in legal transactions, directed the farming, collected monies in case of ransom, and brought up the children.”

“Such changing conditions gave some women greater power than they had had before. In times of constant warfare, women’s role in maintaining household stability was needed. Women who governed in their husband’s name engaged in legal transactions, directed the farming, [and] collected monies in case of ransom.”

Three women in particular are highlighted in this brief history:

Blanche of Castile (1187-1251), queen of Louis VIII of France. “Blanche managed to suppress rebellions and actually extend the power of the French dynasty. In 1249 she completed the absorption of the Midi into the French state and made advantageous alliances. As a result, the kingdom of France more closely assumed the shape and appearance it has today.”

“In 1249, Shagrat al-Durr mobilized the Egyptian Mamluk army to drive Frankish Crusaders out of the coastal town of Damietta. This helped her become, for a short time, the Sultan of Egypt.” “Shagrat was a slave who rose from the ranks of mistress, or lover, to become the wife of the sultan (Muslim leader) of Egypt. Following the death of her husband during the Seventh Crusade (1248-54), she assumed joint control of the Muslim forces with two other counselors and helped defeat the Crusader armies of French king Louis IX at the Battle of Mansurah. After a palace revolt, she was made sultana, or female leader of Egypt, a position she held for three months. She was displaced by those uncomfortable with a female leader and replaced by a Mamluk soldier, Aybeck. Yet Shajarat would not give up her power so easily. She went on to marry Aybeck and in essence continued to rule Egypt on his behalf as he fought enemies abroad until her execution for treason in 1257.” http://warandgame.com/2009/08/18/shajarat-al-durr/

“One of the most fascinating was Queen Melisende, daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who became a sovereign in 1131.” Her husband provoked a war against his wife after believing infidelity rumors about Melisende. She insisted on strong peace-terms, which included her admission to the inner councils of the kingdom. She was given great leeway in promoting the arts and in founding a huge abbey. Even after she bore an heir, she had had a taste of real power and she became determined to hold unto it, despite her son’s frustrations. Rivarlies between mother and son continued until he ultimatley won her army. “But these rivalries greatly damaged the future of the crusader’s Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Muslims took great tracts of territories from the crusaders during the period of Melisende’s troubled reign. As a result, Jerusalem never again let a woman rule. When in 1186 a woman actually inherited the crown, her husband was effectively elevated to rule in her place.”

Today, as I was musing on the idea of temporary widows I had a flash of images come across my mind: images of events and actions for two.

Dancing couples
Dropping an egg while cooking in the kitchen
Driving shotgun with an empty driver seat
Empty hand
Two straw drink
Sitting alone at a restaurant with two plates
Empty Chairs

http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/pictures/elderly-women-children-left-behind-in-chinese-rural-countryside.html

Made in Italy

I should have listened. All my colleagues said it would happen.
The immediate cut from dancers, studios, and groupies gone the minute my feet touched down on Italian soil. Yet, despite my digital absence these last few months, I have been meddling in various artistic forms: fashion, food, and photography (really wanted to spell it fotography,for alliteration sake, and in actuality, it is correct spelling in Italian). Yes, fashion, food, and fotography. And, if my friends believe me, my life has actually slowed down; I can do three or four things in a day and, suddenly, the day is over. Those things could be visiting the local farmers’ market, window shopping in the stunning clothing stores along Palladio, and then tidying our lovely downtown apartment. I think back to one day in graduate school and all I can say is, “how did I do that?”

To feed the artistic hole that has been gaping over me the last few months I’ve kept active in art through designing our home, traveling, and, of course, eating my way through this time of transition. Here are a few of my favorites over the last few months:

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