- Working Title: Home in Four Places and Six Men
- How can “home” be quantified and found? I argue that home is the most important, central need we all share and seek. When we lack a clear sense of home, we grasp around ourselves in seek of blocks to build our “homes” with, whether we recognize our actions or not. What are those building blocks we reach for? What are our homes constructed from? Physical place (cities, towns, neighborhoods, apartments, cafes, shops, bars, gyms, markets, other communal spaces)? Romantic relationships (sex, connection, intimacy, pleasure, infatuation, love, cohabitation, marriage)? Language (seeking out those who speak ours or learning the language of the place we find ourselves in order to better connect with those around us)? Family (aiming to be closer to those who raised us, or actively seeking a home away from our families if home never felt safe or loving before, thereby building new families)? Tradition (connecting with our sense of ancestry and where we come from, finding a home in the history of those who came before us)? Our own bodies, especially as women (our wombs, which are the “homes” of our children, or our sex, which men must penetrate and enter in order to, perhaps, create their sense of home, and eventually their families)?
What happens to our sense of home when one or many of these building blocks move, disappear, or are taken from us? When one is displaced or moved against their will? When one no longer owns anything? When one is betrayed or hurt by a lover, and one’s heart and sense of trust are broken? When one is lost in a language they do not speak and cannot read? When one’s family is far (or, perhaps worse, near)? When one’s ancestral traditions were never learned or have been forgotten? When a woman’s body is betrayed (perhaps through sexual abuse or rape) or when a woman’s body betrays her (through a chronic illness or disease such as endometriosis, which I myself suffer from)? How do we react, readjust, and restabilize in these cases?
Is it possible, perhaps, to find a true sense of home not in place, not in love or partnership, not in language, not in family, not even in one’s own body, but rather in one’s creative practice? And if so, can it ever be enough?
- The goal of my doctoral project will be to: move through the healing of my own traumas surrounding “home” through creation; provide a sense of solace to those who consume my work, and offer them the same healing through the power of understanding and specificity; and contribute to and deepen the larger conversation surrounding the aforementioned themes through my particular art forms and through a specifically feminist lens.
- The project will take the shape of a selection of recorded music, written word, and live performance, all functioning as one piece, each medium weaved into the next. Over the course of three years of full-time research and creation, I will record one new album’s worth of original music (between 13-20 songs) to be independently produced within my studio space. In tandem, I will complete one ~50,000-word collection of prose and poetry which will further explore the concepts and questions brought forward through my songwriting, and which will have the lyrics from the recorded music integrated within its pages. The final step, in keeping with my regular practice, will be to carry out a series of live performances in which I will perform the music and read selections of the literature. These performances, like most of my previous live performances, will involve multi-media collaborations and will take place in different art spaces in the cities central to my own sense of home (Los Angeles, Calgary, Barcelona, and Paris).
The three mediums will work together and be in dialogue with each other to investigate my topic, with each medium providing a nuanced view of its own. I have found that often, what one medium questions, the other answers. Where music creates space, prose can enter that space and embellish, elaborate, clarify, reiterate. Where poetry paints a lyrical picture, physical performance paints a literal one.
The scope of my project is large but absolutely achievable. After ten years of creating large-scale creative projects as an independent artist with very little resources or manpower, I have every confidence in my ability to carry this project out successfully, especially while having the support, mentorship, and resources of this exceptional PhD program. With the infrastructure and guidance of a forward-thinking practice-based doctorate program and an innovative and forward-thinking advisor, my achievements will be much greater and the results of my research far more profound.
I will consume the work of great (mostly female, given the viewpoint of the research) artists who have come before me as well as my contemporaries who have sought to investigate the topic of home implicitly or indirectly. Relevant literature and songwriting will be my central well to draw from along with certain collections of philosophy, bio and autobiographies, and academic texts. Please see my proposed bibliography for a better sense.
Finally, I intend to have all lyrical/written components of this work translated into both French and Spanish (the languages where I have found second and third homes, after English). There will be three unique recorded versions of each song I produce – one sung in English, one in French, and one in Spanish. The collection of prose and poetry will also be translated and released in three distinct versions. As a result, this project, in theory, will act as its own case study in the area of language as a connector to home. The nuances present between the translations will provide further insight into subject. Can we ever really say what we mean, exactly, in a language which is not our first? Can we ever be fully understood in translation? And if not, how does the sensation of being misunderstood, even if just slightly, contribute to our sense of displacement or restlessness while attempting to build a home somewhere new?
The project will also be able to touch three times as many people as would be possible if only released in English. This is of great importance to me, given my individual journey and my personal relationships with the French, Spanish, and English-speaking worlds. This component will be essential to the project and will be carried out in partnership with two celebrated translators with whom I have a pre-existing partnership.
– Year one: Consolidation of methods, initial practice (honing in on compositions, sonic style, visual inspirations, literary influences, etc.), narrowing down research questions, conceptualizing live performances, reading, approval of proposal, album recording process commences in-studio, bulk of poetry and prose collection writing, translations begin.
– Year two: Production of the thesis in embryo, reading, majority of art production completed and translations completed (album recording, prose and poetry collection editing, concerts carried out by the end of the year), significant progress made on thesis writing.
– Year three: Thesis writing, final touches on the artworks created and public dissemination, reflection on creative practice as research and incorporating findings into external research through the thesis.
- Indicative Bibliography:
The Baudelaire Fractal, Lisa Robertson
Just Kids, Patti Smith
Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home, Edward Dusinberre
The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson
The Appendix Project, Kate Zambrino
The White Book, Han Kang
The Years, Annie Ernaux
Blue, Joni Mitchell
Pond, Claire-Louise Bennett
Sexographies, Gabriela Wiener
The Right to Sex, Amia Srinivasan
La Poétique de l’Espace, Gaston Bachelard
How Should a Person Be, Sheila Heti
- In past large-scale projects I have created, I have found that the greatest struggle is often becoming lost in the work, and struggling to maintain a sense of understanding the quality and cohesiveness. I will look to my advisors to help keep my creative compass pointing toward my larger goal and for quality control. Especially within the prose and poetry collection component, it would be invaluable to have a second set of eyes on the literature. I will also benefit greatly from expert opinions on whether the work I am creating is indeed hitting its intended aim throughout the process. I will happily accept any and all feedback I am able to receive.