ASTERION | Modern Art Oxford
Where the heart beats and the life blood flows between
The liminal spaces which form the pathways and corridors between the third spaces in which we seek communal gathering, entertainment and escapism, are where I feel belonging. 20 years in events management in the entertainment industry has formed a familiarity and comfort with those narrow, directional, sparse places. At the same time, my personal antipathy and aversion to being in the path of the onstage limelight is cemented.
The parallels, as a Neurodivergent person (Autism/ADHD), with feeling ‘outside’ of the gathering places are not subtle. But these in-between pathways need not be a maze designed to trick and puzzle the navigator - they are instead a labyrinth - and walking them is, for me, an exercise in meditative movement according to that most ancient of traditions. (And modern too - since the labyrinth is also a practical exercise used with Autistic individuals. The aim being for individuals to find unthreatening space in an open room).
The threshold between two transitory spaces: separation (from original state) and incorporation (into a new state of being) is liminal. The middle state of in-betweenness is often characterised by ambiguity, uncertainty and loss of control but also holds potential for change and transformation.
From here, the associations with myth and monster proliferate - the threads cast across this ADHD mind attaching in unexpected places; Perhaps the Minotaur of myth is benign and condemned to the shadows by wild speculation of a beastly and most in-human nature. This Asterion (wo)man is not bullish and macho, using the excuse of instinct to dominate and mask - as Picasso mused. Instead, I imagine the visceral strength transformed into a recognition of shared humanity as we encounter and reckon with this Covid contextualised experience of liminality. The string which the (duplicitous) hero of myth relies on to navigate the maze, is here woven in the waiting times and becomes a knitted blanket; perhaps the end of the skein will be offered out to lost wanderers, ready to unravel and mark the path and passageways back into the open.
This string is also the fascia, the connective tissue within the beating heart of the place. Alive and pulsing with movement and creativity - reconfiguring itself in continuous tensegrity - only as all the component parts of the theatre ‘body’ recognise and honour their interdependence. (The play cannot go on without the audience, but nor can it go on without all of the starry ones; the lighting and sound and box office and marketing and technicians and stage hands and stewards and concessions operators and and…)
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