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Blog : Freelancing Diary

Experiments with enough – Day 90.5

Experiments with enough – Day 90.5

It’s almost the middle of the day and today I am really confronted with some big questions. This week and the next are dedicated to documentation and catching up with things and as everything is slower and quieter, as I have options over what to do with my time, questions about what I actually want to do with it crop up.

Here are some of the themes dancing around my head this morning:

Planning for how long?

I have in front of me the possibility of working on a year-long project that would take at least half my working time to start with, with more hours during the last few months. I have no idea as yet how much it pays and my head is full of questions about whether I want to commit myself to something for that long, whether this fits with what I find necessary, important. Whether it leaves me enough time for the other things which I know I need to be doing. On the other hand, a year long project brings a basic income I can plan things around and which would mean I will know that I can do things a few months down the line albeit not knowing whether I will actually have the time to do them.

How do I document my work better?

I’m a writer who is obsessed with getting the essence across effectively and meaningfully. How do I do that for myself? How do I document my projects better? How do I showcase what I do in a way that represents me well and attracts more of the type of things I am interested and intrigued by? I’m frustrated with my current portfolio and would love to find ways of speaking about what I do in better ways and really getting who I am across to readers who happen to land there.

And the big one:

What is my next step in really intertwining who I am and what I do?

Freelancing is for me a way of being flexible enough to follow my own curiosity, rhythm, gut instinct. Within that I still regularly get lost in my own mind’s cries to go for what I know will pay me well now, to make each hour of work pay, to stick within what I know is relatively straightforward to monetise. Yet I’m clearly both a generalist and a person who is intrigued with the intersections of things. I live between many bubbles, I love spending time with a wide variety of people doing very diverse things and lights fire up in me when I can make links between them, ways of borrowing something from one to use in another, ways of translating the languages of each to show that what might appear as chalk and cheese actually shares a similar milky colour, a crumbly texture and significant amounts of Calcium. As I allow myself more freedom to explore my own possibilities (going to Brazil for 6 months and taking myself out of my self-inflicted boundaries had wonderful effects), I’m becoming better at finding opportunities at these intersections. Yet it’s the quiet work of days when I manage to silence my brain chatter long enough to get pulled into things by my own curiosity. Days when I need to sit in the middle of uncertainty and find the peace that exists in not knowing. Days when I can give myself the time and space to search for the words inside myself and allow my own truth to surface. Days when I manage my own inputs and outputs so that they support rather than squash this truth-finding process. Days exactly like today.

Inputs I’m exploring today:

foam I had the pleasure of working with Maja and Nik on Tasting Tomorrow and I am very impressed by their amazing documentation (among many other things).

This great Creative Mornings talk by Rob Alderson about the magic that comes about when blurring the lines.

Photo credit: Nik Gaffney / foam during Tasting Tomorrow

Experiments with enough – Day 89

Experiments with enough – Day 89

A day working on my own terms. I woke up at around 8:20 (I slept late and needed the beauty sleep), did some yoga, made a rather elaborate breakfast of French toast, muesli and fruit smoothie. My brain was chattering about starting work right away instead of doing yoga etc but I stuck with the programme and it felt good to.

I did some work, went to the post office, dis some more work, cooked, ate, discussed a job we’re working together on with Johannes. At around 5pm, a friend said he was going for a walk to the bridge and I made it a communal walk, stopping work for the day.

This week my brain is creating long to do lists of things that I put to the side over the last few months. Site update, writing about things I’ve been involved with, slower and volunteer work that I’ve not had time to do. For some reason it feels like I should be finishing it all this week while things really quiet but I’m also very much aware that I need the slower pace for my own sanity.

In the evening we had Portuguese João over for dinner. We cooked together, made a million bad jokes and generally enjoyed each other’ a company before João jets back to Lisbon tomorrow. It was absolutely wonderful to remember that life is about more than just crossing out my to do list. My brain still (often) chatters about all that’s left to do and worries about what’s next but it seems that I’m finally learning to make the most of the slow days to enjoy that which I’m too busy to do in the hectic periods.

Experiments with enough – Day 87

A slow day after many fast ones. I woke up at around 8, eventually got myself onto the yoga mat and did half an hour of moving with Adriene. Breakfast and chats with my new friend João and eventually abut an hour of work on a document for the Permaculture Foundation. My mind is queueing up paid jobs I should be doing but I know the key is in finding a balance to be also able to fit in things that are more longterm projects.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning, packing, de-cluttering as I prepare to move house tonight to house-sit my lovely friend Josephine’s house for the next two months. Now that I’ve toned down my possessions to something manageable, I really enjoy the process of packing to go to somewhere new. It’s always a great occasion for charity-shopping things I’ve not been wearing and generally minimising what I want to own.

All that’s left to do for the day is to drag some of the bags three floors down and go get the missed German who will be flying in later tonight after a few days away. I’ve done much less than I planned to but I’m happy with what I’ve done nonetheless.

Experiments with enough – Day 86

Experiments with enough – Day 86

I’m on St Barbara Bastion, lying down, full after my three cities view Margherita. As I was eating I wondered whether the knight who lives at St Angelo ever does the same on the opposite side of the harbour. It’s nice to imagine a knight eating pizza on the bastion. Does he have an email address?

Knight thoughts aside, today was a mix of slow and fast. Wake up at Bahrija, morning meditation, mini breakfast and a drive to Gnejna where I had a little swim. There was a guy sitting inside one of the boat houses there, very close to where I was swimming and I found myself thinking about public and private space, ownership and humans’ apparent need to mark their territory and reign upon it. Before I left Bahrija I read a few bits of Buckminster Fuller’s Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth which also talks a lot about ownership eventually becoming a thing of the past as humanity realises that shared resources work much better for everyone. We’ve moved in that direction without a doubt but there is still quite a way to go there.

After lunch with the parentals I returned home with a head full of things that needed doing. I finished my Vat, tax and ssc payments (yay for me, not so yay for my bank account), sent in my final edits for Streets of Valletta and did some Homo Melitensis social media work. On that front, I was incredibly happy to read that the Malta Pavilion was named one of the 5 top ones to see by the Guardian art journalist. Given the incredibly minimal budget that the curators had to make this happen, this is absolutely no mean feat. I’m extremely proud to be a small part of this and hope to be able to bring out as much as possible of the Homo Melitensis flavour in social media over the coming months.

It’s now 10:07 pm and around half of my mind is still active with its long to do list. The rest will take me home to a cup of tea and some light reading in bed with the hope that the first half is also absorbed into it and eventually lulled to sleep.

Photo: I took this on my way home tonight. What a relief it is to see signs of living breathing humans with a sense of humour in this commerce-run capital! Go Kane Cali!

Experiments with enough – Day 85

Experiments with enough – Day 85

Today is brought to you by a lot of thought. Thought about how to make the house I live in look better without investing too much time and money into a rental accommodation that might disappear any day thanks to Valletta’s rate of gentrification. Thought about owning a house again. Thought about how I could have written more / better / different things about the Venice Biennale. Thought about what I have not written about. Thought about how best to document projects in a way that is not too time consuming and yet brings out the gist of things (Inspired today my Maja Kuzmanovic’s documentation of Tasting Tomorrow). Thought about my tax/ vat return payments. Thought about Ernesto Neto’s magnificent and oh-so-communicative piece at the Biennale. Many other floating, undocumented thoughts.

In between the thoughts, I also managed some good house cleaning, a parental visit, an unsuccessful search for non-sucky curtains and finally an evening at Bahrija writing up documentation for the Permaculture Foundation.

Experiments with enough – Day 84

Experiments with enough – Day 84

Coming back day. I woke up early and took the boat to Marco Polo airport, having a goodbye tour of Venice in the process. It was sadly a closed boat but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The rest of the day was mostly airports, food, planes, some airport writing, a spot of hopeful searching for a wallet that did not cost the earth (unsuccessful venture) and some hanging around gates.

I got to Malta late afternoon, drove myself home and spent the rest of the evening in work / writing / coming back home mode. My brain was screaming about things that need to be done, written, better explained but at the end of the day I can only do so much without becoming permanently attached to the hamster wheel. There’s always tomorrow.

Experiments with enough – Day 83

Experiments with enough – Day 83

Oh my biennale what a day. I spent most of the day at Giardini exploring pavilions and later following people around ‘discreetly’ (ahem) photographing their tote bags (as you do).

I walked for hours and hours and hours and absorbed so much art it somehow neutralised my tiredness for most of the day.

Being a semi-heathen in the world of art, my mind became absorbed with perhaps less conventional aspects of the event. Like the percentage of art-speak in curatorial statements and work descriptions (thankfully going down), multi-dimensional ways of telling stories ( I loved the Finalnd pavilion’s moving projections and talking projector characters and the Greek story set in a maze while walking through the maze and becoming part of the story), people’s patterns through the artworks and the sheer number of different tote bags that were being given out. I was also mesmerised by various artworks which I wrote separately about and which left me mulling for the rest of the day.

The highlight of my day was definitely meeting Ernesto Neto and telling him just how wonderful his ‘Um Sagrado Lugar’ is and the absolutely amazing experience I had in there. I got a little bit emotional there if I’m honest.

The evening involved some spritz and lots of walking around to find mythical parties organised by some of the pavilions. We heard stories from some of the Maltese artists about an amazing Spanish party the night before and everyone wanted a taste of the shenanigans. Sadly the walking did not get us to a party. It did however land us right in front of the most amazing pizza takeaway in the whole of Venice which ended my night in absolute yumminess.

Experiments with enough – Day 82

Experiments with enough – Day 82

Homo Melitensis day. Early start, trek from Mestre to the Arsenale which involved a bus and a great long walk from Piazzale Roma. I managed not to get lost thanks to Google Maps which was great. The Arsenale approach was marked with a long queue of people waiting to get in and a very penis-looking arrow pointing to it.

Inside was an assault of artworks. My eyes moved quickly from one piece to the other, stopping for slightly longer here and there but in general trying to make it through to see the Malta pavilion as quickly as possible. I found some works impossible to walk by though and many others had the same walking pattern, it seems that what pulls us humans in initially is quite similar.

Seeing Homo Melitensis live after close to three months of seeing bits was a wonderful experience. Setup team Tom, Martina and Aaron (with Bettina, Raphael and Jon the designer) did a really impressive job putting the whole thing up. It’s an intricate exhibition full of tiny corners, made up out of the 19 chapters that each work as standalone pieces.

It’s a nod to our identity as Maltesers, one that looks from outside and within, with both a critical eye and a lot of love.

Launch events happened at both the stand and at a palazzo where interior designer of Maltese origin Francis Sultana hosted very fabulous drinks.

By the evening I was shattered and headed home quite early, hoping to manage to have a good look around tomorrow.

 

Experiments with enough – Day 81

Experiments with enough – Day 81

Venice!

I’m in my very cute AirBnB place close to Marco Polo airport in Venice. I’m finishing off some Biennale social media work and my day’s diary then off to sleep in anticipation of the Malta Pavilion press unveiling day tomorrow. I cannot wait to finally meet Homo Melitensis in person. I’ve seen parts of the collection, I’ve know most of the objects, I’ve met most of the artists, I’ve seen the PDF version of the publication. It’s now time to see that all in situ at the Arsenale. I must admit I am an excited puppy. More on that tomorrow. In the meantime, the website is finally live, you can sneak a peek here.