2018: Bad Start, Good Finish?

I began 2018 in a hotel in Shanghai. At the hotel, I booked a New Year’s eve party. But I booked the wrong party. My husband and I sat in silence as the new year rolled in. (The hotel’s party was taking place some 30 floors below us.)

Somehow, the year got worse and worse. A sheer endless string of migraines, each one lasting 3-4 weeks. Then in July I landed in the Stroke Unit of the local hospital. My neighbor found me on the stairs and called the ambulance. I had lost all my short-term memory.

Brain is back now, about 95%, but neurologist says it can happen again… Big upset in future planning…

Then, in late September, I got great news about my writing… which I will share with you in November. Cross your fingers with me — that 2018 will continue its upward curve. And I promise to do the same for you!

Neuere deutsche Literatur

Vor einigen Wochen hat eine Freundin mich inspiriert, mich im Buchladen nach neuen Autoren Ausschau zu halten. In Stuttgarts Wittwer am Schloßplatz hat ein bemühter Herr Deihms mir mit meinem Ansinnen geholfen. 

Der freundliche Verkäufer hat zunächst 4 Romane für mich von jungen Autoren ausgewählt, 2 Männer, 2 Frauen, allesamt Ich-Erzähler. (Nebenbei bemerkt: 2 Nachkommen berühmter Autoren des späten 20. Jhds.) Am Besten gefällt mir Axel Ranisch, auch wenn das Buch wie ein Abklatsch von Herrndorfs Tschick anfängt. Frisch, jung, aber nicht dumm. Simon Strauss' (Sohn von Botho) Buch handelt von den 7 Todsünden. (Was war das noch einmal... ?) Seine Sprache trägt Krawatte. Nix für mich. Die Sprache von Fricke und Enzensberger finde ich 'gewollt flott'. Eine Road Geschichte 2er Deutschen (Thelma and Louise reboot) und eine 'Roman-Biografie' einer jungen Bauhaus Studentin. Beide spannende Projekte, dennoch ist für meinen Geschmack die Sprache zu konventionell, die Fricke bisweilen geschwätzig.


Jetzt bringt mir der Verkäufer 4 weiteren Bücher. Stanisic: frische, anspruchsvolle Sprache mit Witz, geheimnisvoll, mehrdeutig, tiefgründig. Mein Hit! 

3x Benedict Wells: 1) Becks letzter Sommer. Allein die Struktur hat Aussagekraft: siehe Fotos unten. Ich möchte weiter lesen. 2) Fast genial. Ein amerikanischer Road Story geschrieben von einem deutschen--nach meinem eigenen Road Girl kann ich mir nicht antun. 3) Vom Ende der Einsamkeit. "Ein Familien Roman" sagte der Verkäufer. Wird gejubelt. Eine Geschichte über eine schwierige Kindheit. Ein Ich Erzähler. Ich blättere, bin müde, finde nichts in den Seiten, das mich anspricht.


Und während ich in die U-Bahn nach Hause stieg, hat mich die neue Migräne geschlagen...

New Project On Hold...

An unpleasant letter from the internal revenue service saying I need to prove I'm trying to make money with my writing has pushed me away from my exiconic art project back to writing. Is art still art when it makes money? For the lucky likes of Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst, it looks that way. Not to mention best-seller authors.

So cleaned up the paintings to the cellar and am back to my project of trying to complete first draft of my novel Paris Choice by year-end. And I launched a YouTube channel for possible long-term monetary benefits... But not easy to make money when holed up in a migraine chamber.

New Project Begins

It's called "Exile".

Exile Storyboard First Draft

Exile, 1st Storyboard

Several weeks ago, in a flash, the idea for a new project came to me. I quickly sketched the various elements, adding to the sketch over the next days. In the meantime, teacher Franzi held a talk about using storyboards to design conceptual art. I showed her my first sketch.

Exile Stybd 2.jpg

Exile, 2nd Storyboard

Franzi said, "Ok, good as a reminder for you. But now make it comprehensible to anyone who looks at it." I made a second draft and, quite please with myself, I presented it to Franzi. "Too organized," was her reply. "The artistic elan is more visible on the first." Got it. Moving forward.


A visit from friend Thomas brought me insights into my 'Child as Carcass' painting (last below).

The first insight concerned how non-sacred motifs move through art history. The second concerned the notion of 'pastiche' in music works of J.S. Bach (cantatas) and in paintings (e.g., Basquiat's Mona Lisa in Federal Reserve Note). I had forgotten an aspect about pastiche from my earliest music history courses: that the pastiche celebrates or renders homage to the work it imitates; it doesn't mock, as does parody. The third insight was more wish than insight: the desire to see the works 'live', so that I might get a better understanding of how those painters achieved their magnificent results. Thanks, Thomas!


This seems to be a year of clean-up/throw-away for me, as I have mentioned in other blog posts. I am also aiming to consolidate the social media accounts I have created over the years.

I began this website four years ago, in March 2014. It took over from the Vlog (video blog) I began in March 2006. That's 12 years of blogging, never really under my own name. 

I have already mentioned creating separate websites for music and writing due to my desire to separate the two spheres of activity and shield my family from dark posts. I also sought to separate my teaching activity from what was then a private writing activity. Somehow one thing led to another, and in those 12 years I accumulated some 20-30 social media accounts.

From my current vantage point, I would say that over the years I felt I needed different accounts to accommodate my various alter egos. I also felt that my disparate posts addressed such totally different readers that I didn't want to hit anyone over the head with dark posts. In addition, I have repeatedly been cautioned, over the years, not to present traumatic content without warning, as this can re-traumatize sensitive readers.

In the ensuing years I have come to recognize that the harm potential is non-existent, and having so many separate accounts serves to further my dissociation. Hence, launching my consolidation effort this year.

At present, I have four Twitter accounts, and I have decided to keep all four, although my intention is to keep only the last named account as active. (There is some overlap.)

Account 1 is @losangelino and I began it mid-2009. I used it for communicating about issues related to my teaching at the time (primarily Design University Karlsruhe).

Account 2 is @grab_it, begun shortly thereafter. I found I wanted somewhere to grab and lance dark and/or poetic thoughts, and it served that purpose.

Account 3 is @DIDJuni, begun about the same time as this website. There I posted mainly tweets about my dissociation, about dissociative identity disorder (DID) in general. I often posted there when I was very depressed.

Account 4 was @junishimata, also created about 4 years ago, used primarily for thoughts about 'becoming a writer'. I have changed its name to my real self: @joyceshintani. I will no longer keep posts from this blog connected to Twitter in order to avoid duplication.

My Twitter, re-loaded

My Twitter, re-loaded

Regarding Instagram, I have already deleted two accounts and renamed the remaining account from 'junishimata' to 'joyce_juni'.

And then I will attack Facebook... (done on mar 18


Getting Over It

An Olympian on living after the Olympics: Learn to live for the process again without being defined by the results, the way you did when you first started your sport. 

Thumb up.

Journalize the Negative?

On January 1, I had written, "try to journalize the unsuccess, the frustration, the ‘it’s drifting away from me/slipping between my fingers/can’t find my focus’ feeling"; i.e., be honest about how negative I find the struggle to be. To my relief, my painting course has put some weight into the positive side of the scales. But as I plough forward, there are days of extreme sadness and depression. Yesterday was one, and a week ago Monday was one. I awoke crying from a surreal dream about the dog I lost when I came to Europe almost 40 years ago. I cannot discern between sharing and over-sharing. So a warning, the following post is a shared downer.

Awoke after a surreal, terribly sad dream. It was about Jackie. She was unrecognizable as dog. She was something between a piglet and a loaf of bread. I was supposed to kill her as piglet. (I am throwing away -- killing off -- old ‘stuff’: actually reviving memories, possibly reliving them and re-traumatizing myself.) I couldn’t. So I put her in a series of plastic bags and clutched the parcel with her in it to my left breast throughout a long list of things I had to do – don’t know what. And at the end, my husband picked me up. I had decided I had to try to salvage what I could of my piglet. It had been fat, but in the course of my errands it had become lighter and lighter, and now it was just a thick heel of bread. But I peeked into the bag and saw that it wagged its bread tail, so I decided to try to save it. Somehow I knew I had to wash the olive oil off it to save it [a friend just brought us home pressed olive oil] . We had trouble finding a washing place and walked from floor to floor in the building (or ship) we were in. Finally, we waited in line for the woman ahead of us to finish, and I washed it off and took the bread in my arms and hugged it. It was still alive. And I woke up hearing Mahler’s “Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder” (Rückert-Lieder) in my head – Mahler lost so much, too. Bottomless sadness.

(So, I presume the fat, wriggling piglet was the package of dreams I brought with me to Europe that was full of energy and nourished me. And today, a crust is left. But it's still wagging its blimey bread-tail. And I'm trying desperately to take care of it.)

At gym Sunday noticed how very sad I am all the time, preoccupied with myself. Thinking about stuff. This morning I was again preoccupied with thoughts of mother. Recently, while transferring her stuff from one plastic container to another, I found a short tragic poem by her expressing the distance between us and her sadness over it. She was never able to do what would have been necessary to break through. What stubbornness. What a tragedy.

Have been on a ‘search and destroy’ mission clearing out old stuff, throwing and giving away, changing rooms. Husband warned me not to overdo it. Perhaps I am.

I remember once as a teenager going on a radical search and destroy. I felt my father in my memory pressuring me to do so, just as he had forced me to push the ice cream cones we were eating into the sand -- to teach me how to 'let go'. Ha. A child of 8. And afterwards I regretted terribly having thrown away my stuff. Probably also writings.

Have been thinking the last few days about text I dictated on Danube trip about having lived through my life feeling hunted, seldom being in the moment. Except tasting wine and conducting.

A few minutes ago, sobbing uncontrollably, I took a pill. I could feel that I was having one of the horrible rushes I had while doing dissociative therapy, when I would be housekeeping and suddenly break down and sob desperately, even scream in pain, for an hour or two. The spasms don’t go away. Only drugs reduce the pain.

I am wondering… So my ‘search-and-destroy’, my cleaning out and throwing away, is somehow opening up old wounds. I am reliving stuff, but then trying out of the past's memory-ashes to create something new – and I think my blog entry on the sewing patterns is probably a good example. But it is draining, too, pulling up old stuff that's coming out in painful dreams.

So perhaps I need to pace it.

Gave away my records to Oxfam. Hundreds of them. Records I brought from USA. Recordings of pieces on my first concert, Milhaud, Brahms, Bach. First records I bought in Germany. Daniel accompanied my sorting process. Bless his heart. I was not alone.

Threw away travel books. The books and maps I used to plan all those travels. All those years. All those decades. I loved – I love! – planning trips. How I adored planning the USA and Spain and France trips and going on them with hubby. I even found the stuff from our beloved gîte in Epoisses.

So maybe I need to revisit these places?

Somehow I need to pace this better and FIND MORE WAYS TO RE-CREATE IN THE PRESENT. Or else the memories of what I have lost or was never really able to taste will overwhelm and crush my spirit. Either set monuments, like the blog post, or revisit the places in actuality.

Have also been working on my new project “Eeuuw, you eat seaweed!?” which trudges up trans-generational and discrimination traumata. Been listening to James Wood’s podcast on exile, based on Edward Said’s excellent "Reflections on Exile". (Said's face has been peering at me from the book cover on my desk for weeks.)


Yesterday, driving to market in heavy snow, husband said, "Why don’t we retire to Long Beach? I don’t need this snow in my future." And this evening I looked at houses and apartments on Ocean Blvd. and in Belmont Shore. In the photo of a condo for sale on Ocean Blvd. I thought I recognised the home of someone in my sorority Beca next door to the property. All those memories dredged up, too.


And yet, on many of these days I have given a grade of RAD (best) on my mood-meter app ("Daylio" -- love it), because I am getting rid of the burden of endless stuff from the past. But then there's the lonely night-side of things.

My pill is kicking in. I have become numb and will quit.

Perhaps I need to look for a therapist?

Throwing Stuff Away

At 65, I’m hardly making room for the new, rather preventing it from being thrown mercilessly onto the trash heap when I’m gone.

Today it’s sewing patterns.


Sewing a garment yourself is not instant gratification. You start with a dream and find a pattern to fit it.

First there’s finding the pattern that’s right for your type, in the right size. Then there’s perusing the back of the package for materials that work well with that pattern (a trick I learned from my Dutch pattern-making teacher during summer school sometime in college). After that, driving from shop to shop looking for the kind of fabric in the fiber and color you want plus the sundries (buttons, thread, zipper…). Finally, with the stuff at home, you wash, dry and iron the fabric so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises the first time you wash the finished garment. At last, you can start to sew…

What was the first garment I made?… It must have been eighth or ninth grade. A pale sea-foam green, long-sleeved cotton dress with dropped waist, a long back zipper, bias-cut skirt and bias-cut flouncy cuffs. It looked awful and I never wore it. Sewed it on Harding’s ancient black Pfaff machine.

Then there was trying to keep myself busy during the home-visit in Japan when I was 17. 40° or more that summer, the treadle sewing machine stood unused in my host’s attic, where it was certainly much over 40°. I sewed a brown skirt that didn’t look any better than the green dress and only wore it with embarrassment a couple of times.

The dress I made with my Dutch teacher years later was beautiful. No open seams, with reinforced hem seams and covered buttons.

I loved sewing in Germany in the 80s. With my first-year stipend I bought the Pfaff machine I sew on today. What devotion went into creating the the cream-colored wool skirt I wore to be baptized in. (Looks like I fasted, because I’m pretty thin in that picture!)


Then, in my neophyte’s enthusiasm for renouncing the world, I sent the skirt off with a 100 DM bill in the pocket to refugees in Eastern Europe, gleefully imagining the surprise of the girl or woman who would put her hand into the pocket.

After that there were patterns for work clothes and endlessly imagining how beautiful I would look in them. Sewing them myself was the only possibility on my minuscule budget to get designer clothes – from Vogue patterns’ designer series.

I remember well the last dress I made: merino wool, the color of a winter storm sky – not my color, but it was on sale – lined with light grey rayon. A shirtwaist. Warm and practical, I wore it with woolen stockings.

Later (after the long ascetic phase), I felt pressure to present a certain image as conductor (with mother's style consciousness in my genes). I scraped to earn money and spent it on music, travelling, and – on clothes with fancy labels. (Better to look good than eat in fancy restaurants.) That lasted for over a decade, until I got a migraine every time I fastened a waistband or bra clasp, and my friend Minna opened the world of Christa de Carouge for me. A fabulous Swiss designer, just retired (and passed away on 17 January; here her successor with last pictures of Christa), who designed for women like herself – with character and inspiration, not a waistline.

And today, I throw the patterns and the dreams away.

Thank heaven for Marie-Thérèse. She sews. Hadn’t given her a commission for 10 years, but she just produced beautiful warm winter pants for me. Weather-resistant Loden cloth with a drawstring waistband, big pockets for my stuff and high harem-pant cuffs (inspired by Christa) that don’t get wet in winter rain and slush. To keep me warm for the next 10 years. 


And I can live with the relief of knowing that tiny Bangaladeshi fingers are not sewing my clothes, but a fine Austrian seamstress. Ich hab’s gut.

OK, writing this has dried my tears. Good-bye, dear old patterns that I dragged along with everything else all these years from Los Angeles to Stuttgart to Paris to Vienna and back.


Good-bye old dreams, you carried me well. I’m 65 now. I need some new ones.

How About 'Exiconic Painting'?

On 15 January, I began a painting class and soon got my first assignment from Uwe, one of the four teachers: Based on a painting I brought with me (from Lichtenscheidt’s class), I was to create five more, making a series of six.

Since August, I have been writing words onto my backgrounds before painting over them. I also ordered a Cy Twombly book around that time that reinforced these efforts. In October, I saw the Louise Bourgeois exhibit at MoMa. (In one stitched textile work of 18 panels, there were two with text: “I had a flashback of something that never existed” and “The return of the repressed”; see http://bit.ly/BourgeoisConfessionalArt). And in November, I saw Anselm Kiefer’s Im Gewitter der Rosen ist die Nacht (In the Storm of Roses) 1945, at the Albertina in Vienna. Both of these utilized text in their works.

At the time, my mind was busy processing repeated memory flashes of hurtful events with my mother. So when Uwe gave me the assignment, I got the idea to capture the memory flashes with the assignment. First, I sat down and wrote the memory flashes. Then, I started painting.

As the series evolved, I was selecting different words from the text for each picture. Each group of words represented a different emotional aspect. In the text, these emotions were conflicting. In the paintings, I separated them. For example, “heavy blackness unrolls” is the darkest picture, while “Sunday, rock me in your arms” is the lightest.

I recently discovered ‘Ekphratic’ or ‘exphratic’ writing. (Here's as nice current example by Zadie Smith.) Wiki tells us:

Wiki_en: The word comes from the Greek ek and φράσις phrásis, 'out' and 'speak' respectively, and the verb ἐκφράζειν ekphrázein, "to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name". According to the Poetry Foundation, "an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art."

Wiki_dt: Unter Ekphrase oder Ekphrasis versteht man die literarische Beschreibung eines Werks der bildenden Kunst. Im weiteren Sinne bezeichnet Ekphrasis eine literarische bzw. rhetorische Form, durch welche etwas sehr anschaulich und bildlich beschrieben oder geschildert wird. Der Grad der Anschaulichkeit unterscheidet die Ekphrasis vom sachlichen Bericht. Es handelt sich um eine literarische Visualisierungsstrategie: Die Ekphrase versucht, den „Zuhörer zum Zuschauer zu machen“ (so Nikolaus von Myra) und eine quasi synästhetische, ganzheitliche Erfahrung zu suggerieren. Sie steht damit im Spannungsfeld zwischen Betrachtung und Ästhetik.

As I try to understand what I have been doing with my ‘assignment’, why not turn ‘ekphratic’ around. Instead of writing about a work of art, why not art about the written word? Instead of words (phrasis) spoken out about a work of art, how about pictures (icons) coming out of text?

Like ‘exiconic’.

That's my 'Money Honey'.


P.S.: Found this quote by media artist Matthew Barney: "I have a way of making narrative sculpture, where first you make a text and out of that text you make objects. I start with a story and then I make sculpture from that story, it's just that the stories become more and more elaborate."


"Money Honey". Painting Juni Shimata

Phone rang. Sunday. That would be mom. Talk? Heavy blackness unrolls. The ‘where to’ question. To say, “feel so bad,” and not have her change the subject. Rock me in your arms. Help.

Help? “My psychiatrist says you’re just after my money.”

Gulp. Juni never spoke of money again.

19 years later, two days before Azure died, she called again. Barely audible now. “I – have – a – very – important – decision…”


“I’m worried I didn’t give you enough.”

Juni, who had been focusing on how she could be a good death doula and gently help her mother into the hereafter, cried and said, “Don’t worry. I have what I need.”

But did she?

In the end, although Azure had made gestures along the way, she never did give Juni what she needed.

It wouldn’t have mattered, but that Juni had cried so much and with all her heart wanted to help Azure.

This text, as all Juni Shimata texts, is fiction.


The text and paintings in Money Honey play with the tension arising as mother Azure tries to bait her daughter Juni with a monetary taunt into loving her. Her attempt fails, because her daughter already loves her; but sadly, materialistic Azure never discerns this, and her blindness haunts her daughter. Thus 'honey' alludes to Azure's sweet lure to bait her trap, but the actual lure is 'money'. Honey also stands for a term of endearment that the two women are unable to express to each other, separated as they are by the money.

An approximate correspondence between text and images can be experienced here.

'Making of': My classmates inquired how I produced the last painting, Death (Ashes to Ashes). I applied a thick ribbon of black carbon acrylic paint to the template I used for the other pictures, then lay the template onto thick unprimed stone paper. (The template is a mirror image from the preceding picture, Heavy Blackness Unrolls, to indicate how the death and cremation of the mother removed much of the 'heavy blackness' of the protagonist's spirit in the text.) When I removed the template, a fat outline remained. When that was dry, I applied clear dispersion binder thickly on and around the outline, then lay a thin layer of paper towels on top. After a couple of days, I first trimmed the paper towel, then burned off the remaining, using matches and a candle. The paper seemed too white to me, so I poured a layer of thin, light shellac onto it and let it dry overnight. The background still seemed too white and empty to me, so I wrote the word 'death' in white oil pastel on it, rubbed off the pastel, and applied a second layer of shellac. The second layer bound the paper with burnt edges well and, of course, didn't completely cover the words, which remain as quasi palimpsests legible in cross lighting. ;-)

See also my Blog note on Exiconic Painting.

Why Painting?

The 'subtitle' of this website is "Becoming an Author". So what am I doing with all those paintings in recent blog postings? Been wondering about that. 

When my therapist began working with me on DID, she suggested I capture any shreds of memory I could about my childhood abuse. We soon realized that I usually couldn't write them down, it was too painful. So, she suggested I draw or work with clay, which I did. I had done this in my first rehab almost 20 years prior. It worked. At a later date she encouraged me to transform the pictures into words and stories. I learned that this is an established therapeutic approach for transporting traumatic memories from the amygdala part of the brain, where fight/flight/play-dead trauma memories are stored, to the frontal cortex, where temporal logic and reflection take place (hope those brain parts are correctly named).

But I had begun painting a long time before that, still in my teens. When I lived in Silicon Valley (then called Mountain View), I participated in the wonderfully warm and supportive painting group of a New York artist who opened up the world of artists such as Impressionist Pierre Bonnard to me. And when I was a child, I watched my father paint. His house smelt of turpentine and incense. My odyssey to Virginia last fall was in large part to recover a painting of his (and the bust I wrote about in my story "Es war so"). I remember when he had just finished it. I was three. We just hung it up today:


For a year I have been too occupied with 'burying my mother' to be free enough to write. No more becoming author here. During my 4-week stay at the hospital this summer, they offered art therapy. I jumped at the opportunity and felt rushes of joy I hadn't for ages. Painting makes pain go away. Since then, I have remained unable to write, but my engagement with painting has increased.

First came my 'Archive' picture. And yesterday I first wrote a Juni Shimata text, then began work on a series of paintings associated with it. This is a welcome media-cross-over for me! I particularly relish 'picking out' specific words in the text to be dealt with in one picture, other words for another picture of a completely different nature... I'll show you soon. Those pictures will save me several thousand words, I hope. ;-)

And Behind the Other Curtain...

This might be the moment to unveil why I divided my activities, identities and thus my websites into two: one for Vanessa Araya and one for Joyce Shintani. There was a primary reason and a secondary reason.

I began writing fiction in 2008, after finishing my dissertation and falling into a grave depression. After some time I decided to assume a nom de plume for my literary attempts. The primary reason was to hide my writing and the ‘family name’ from any relatives who might feel offended by it. And there was the off-chance that my mother might discover my publications and find in them something to brag about. (Since it seems that one of my main functions as daughter was to provide bragging material.) She now being dead, in addition to the fact that I have informed most all my cousins who could care about my writing activities, that reason is now moot.

My secondary reason for choosing a nom de plume was to separate my fiction identity from my musicological writing. However, that reason alone would not necessitate a strict division between the two identities. 

In the last months – since my mother’s death and my hospitalization – my goal of integrating my personalities has gained even more importance to me. And so I will now try to unify identities, build bridges between them and, symbolically, between the two websites.

Why I chose the name Vanessa Araya? To be elaborated in a future posting...

Bucket List

I didn't think I was there, in the bucket list phase. But here it is. Criss-crossed Europe for years like a loosely woven shawl, drove from Canada to Mexico and 3 or 4 times coast-to-coast, and always in the back of my mind: once more to Japan before I die.

Now we did it. Spent hours looking for the sembe-cookies I ate as a child, my 'madeleines':


Found them, gobbled them, cried. Then I noticed it -- check. My brain had checked something off a mental list.  

Another New Year’s Resolution

For the past year and a half I have struggled to set and keep priorities. (I, the most prioritized and structured person in the room.) Body pains, mental anguish, and aging have all contributed. I read every article on successful aging and aging boomers I can get my hands on. But while I feel I succeed at seeing that damn glass as half full, the half empty part really gets me. Or maybe, I see it only 40 percent full.


Feeling cut off from the network of music, art, and colleagues that sustained me throughout my life makes finding and keeping priorities the more difficult. Where have all the doors to knock on disappeared to? Perhaps it is a vain struggle against the entropy that will end with my ashes. And my unwillingness to accept that.

All those “succeeding at aging” articles make me puke, because I’m not succeeding. Or at least don’t feel it. 

So regardless, here’s my resolution: try to journalize the unsuccess, the frustration, the ‘it’s drifting away from me/slipping between my fingers/can’t find my focus’ feeling.

Hiroshima Bay

Hiroshima Bay

The personal is political.  

What Now — Achiving, Thanks to Valie Export?

For the past year and a half, the death of my mother and ensuing illnesses have left me incapacitated. Four weeks in the hospital this summer made me more aware than ever of my diminishing ability to reach goals. Cooking and laundry have become day-consuming activities.

Geography, demographics, the 20th century moment in herstory my professional life occupied, unsolicited mental illnesses all combined to present my life with unique opportunities for getting ahead, for surviving. So much planning, so much education, so much suffering, and seemingly so little accomplished. The pitiless way relatives tossed my mother's (and some of my) belongings onto the trash heap last year shook me. With so little energy remaining at my disposal, what to do at age 64 with my vast writing projects and personal goals? With my collection of documents and memorabilia? Take them to the dump myself? Will I manage to complete even one novel? And if I do, what of the rest?

Wracking my brain with this reality and these questions, I stumbled upon an exhibit at the Lentos museum in Linz this fall.

View from Lentos Museum Linz, looking across Danube toward Ars Electronica Museum

It was the exhibit "Valie Export. The Archive as a Place of Artistic Research". It purported to provide insights into her thinking, research and development of ideas, thus making her comprehensible through experimental presentation using diverse media. Oh, how heavenly, to be rendered comprehensible! I dream on, but the exhibit inspired me to think of my writing project (which began as an interactive concept for tablet, "iPopLit") in a new way. Here is a glimpse of the exhibit:

Valie Export Archive Exhibit, Lentos Museum, Linz 2017

What is my project? Protean, anyway. So at present I am thinking, play things safe, abandon artistic expectations, and content myself with something like "the experimental archive project".

...And Something New

Continuing efforts to overcome fissures and seeking integration in my identity, I would like to tackle professional fissures. I post here an attempt: a page from a new project, an archive (Beta version). (I am inspired by the exhibit of Valie Export's archive currently running at the Lentos Museum in Linz.)

The work involves the recording of a young soloists concert I conducted on 22 June 1986. On the program was Ambroise Thomas' Aria (based on Goethe's text) "Connais-tu le pays" [Do you know the land] (hear Marilyn Horne on YouTube). Here I use it to express Heimweh for my profession.

Do you know the country where the orange flowers bloom?
The land of golden fruit and crimson roses,
Where the breeze is fresh and the birds fly in the light,
Where in any season bees are seen foraging,
Where radiant smiles are a blessing from God,
An eternal spring under a deep blue sky!

... / ...

Alas! Why can I not follow you
To this happy shore, here the fates have exiled me!
There it is! This is where I want to live,
Love, love and die!

Connais-tu le pays où fleurit l'oranger?
Le pays des fruits d'or et des roses vermeilles,
Où la brise est plus douce et l'oiseau plus léger,
Où dans toute saison butinent les abeilles,
Où rayonne et sourit, comme un bienfait de Dieu,
Un éternel printemps sous un ciel toujours bleu!

... /...

Hélas! Que ne puis-je te suivre                  Vers ce pays lointain d'où le sort m'exila!
C'est là! c'est là que je voudrais vivre,
Aimer, aimer et mourir!

Created in an excellent course led by Katharina Lichtenscheidt at the Frei Kunstakademie Gerlingen 30.11.-3.12.2017. Mixed media on Steinpapier Karton. 


And Something Old ... The Personal Is Political

Autobiographical note: After stipends, diplomas from best schools and 25 years of professional activity, I'd never had a 'position' as conductor, nor earned more than 12.000 DM in a year from conducting. At 43, and after pneumonia, hearing loss and long periods of illness, I faced a disagreeable reality: Conducting offered me no financial basis for the future. I took a desk job at a music publisher and shortly thereafter conducted my last concert. For the following 10 years I had nightmares of loss. And from beginning to end, I never ceased hearing the question, "Can a woman really conduct?" Was I a bad conductor?

Women will be equal to men when a mediocre woman can achieve as much as a mediocre man. (I thought this was a quote from a second-wave feminist, but I can't find a reference. If you have one, please let me know.)

There's something else...

Mother died last year. Intensified my pain syndrome, blocked my writing. 4 weeks of rehab in hospital in July/August. Since then only pictures.



ca. 1982 - 2011

2010 - 2011

2002 - 2003


Re-boot: Becoming an Author?

Perhaps we are always gradually becoming ourselves. In the three years since I launched this website, I notice how my sense of myself is changing from 'someone who writes' to 'an author'. After the long-hoped-for publication of two stories last year, my goal this year is to finish one of the novels I began in 2008. To this end, I have embarked on a round of coaching from a publisher in London, and there, the 'whys' and 'hows' of my writing have again come under discussion. I am revamping the website to accommodate relevant thoughts. The website gets a make-over. Old blog-posts remain. Write me — I'm glad to hear from you. Cheers!