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  • Lora Krasteva

Becoming [...]

I wrote the following texts as a response to the creative residencies Becoming [...] which took place in 3 different countries: Becoming Czech in Brno, Czech Republic; Becoming Romanian in Bucharest, Romania and Becoming Alman in Berlin, Germany. The fourth edition, Becoming British, is an exhibition interrogating national identities and processes of belonging from the perspective of migrant artists and communities based in England. It took place at Bloc Projects in Sheffield, from 17th to 25th June 2022 as part of the Migration Matters Festival.


The final monologue included in this series of texts is the piece that gave birth to the idea of the Becoming British play (and exhibition) and all the international residencies that followed.

































WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND?

Written in February 2022, days after the invasion of Ukraine and before starting Becoming Czech.


Shock, sadness, impotence, anger

All the ways you can lose your home

Nationalism

Some of what is on my mind right now.


White supremacy

Racism

Borders

Refugees

My brother. His family

The sickening feeling of disgust in the face of our cruelty.

Safety. Comfort. Belonging

Individual responsibility and communal duty

The role of the state

The role of the arts

Guilt

The importance and power of the arts are always under question.

A call to action

Sprints VS marathons

Redistributing resources

Supporting what is already there

Scaffolding. Networking. Connecting

Doing instead of thinking

Coping

Bringing together

Sharing. Co-creating. Listening

Really listening

What does actually matter, at the end of the day?







INGREDIENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL BELONGING

Written in March 2022 at the end of Becoming Czech.


INGREDIENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL BELONGING - PART 1


Coziness and the belief that our collective energies merge and collapse on each other to create a soft cloud of understanding.


Solving problems like a fun, harmless drug that transforms challenges into silver bond of friendship.


Tired together by the invisible thread of our common destiny, we exist.


Under the canopy, new and wonderful things start to emerge.


We learn from each other

We transform


What does it mean to become in a world filled with uncertainty? What stays and what is gone forever?


We use our words and we use our bodies and like a living, breathing organism we contract under pressure and expand in our safety.


Safety. Safe. Protected. Privileged.


The missing voices push through the page and through the walls in our ears and our heads, they must be present. Visible.

Visible

Visible

Invisible

Visible

Invisible

Impossible.

It is? Who says, who decides, who gets to have the last word?

Who can tell you you are not enough and who is listening?


Can you truly be heard?


INGREDIENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL BELONGING - PART 2


Trust


INGREDIENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL BELONGING - PART 3


Potatoes

Mushrooms

Bread

Hummus

Tomatoes

Cookies

Beer, wine, homemade apple alcohol

Coffee! Lots of coffee

Tea

Oil

Onions

Coconut milk

Fruits, chopped with lova

Pastries

And some other stuff I forgot.


In case of need, ask a friend.


INGREDIENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL BELONGING - PART 4


I am sitting in a silence that isn’t.

My breath is soft, relaxed. In the near distance, words of experience paint pictures now shared into the ether of the world. Movements further away remind me the city, its people, this country continue their activities unaware.


Does magic exist if no one witnesses it?

Isn't that exactly what magic is?


As soon as I attempt to understand what we’ve done, what is happening, the tent walls become bed sheets again; the stories become sound again; the soft embrace of a stranger: a bunch of weird people bumbling about in a building made of promises…


I always feel this uneasiness, like I need to justify every choice, every action by its usefulness, by its impact on society. It is exhausting. I am tired. Guild is a heavy feeling, I don’t want it anymore.

Can you hold it for me? Just a bit. Just for a little while so that I can slip into a coat of fantasy and forget about the wars, the injustices, the inequalities and the burning sensation that our world is ending.


Please. Give me your hand, see me for who I am and stand by my side.

Together, I feel, we can cope. We can move from survival to living. To thriving.

Thriving. What an intriguing word.

Grasp. Getting hold of. Flourishing.

Hold on to my hand, new friend.

Grasp, understand with me.

From individual branches we can become the forest.

We grow.

We transform.

We flourish







































A NEVER ENDING PROCESS

Written in May 2022 as part of Becoming Alman. Based on the workshop participant’s notes.


A life-trip, observing the world from a different perspective.

A transition.

A constant process, experiencing the freshness of the new…Traumas.


When I go back home, it is not my place.

I really like it here but it is not my place.

This place doesn’t belong to anyone.

This is a journey. A never ending process.

No terminus.


Personally, I don’t feel integrated but rather incorporated.

I float. I don’t mix.

I am oil in water, chocolate powder.

I won’t melt.


You only complicate things with your arrogance and your bureaucracy and…

I feel your gaze, your questions.

I avoid contact because I don’t speak German. Or English.

I don’t have German friends.


My body is rigid. I am trapped in my body.


I have to, I have to, I have to, I have to, I have to…

I am forced to conform to this system. I cannot express myself properly.

There are too many codes.

I am told things, bad things, and I want to be able to respond.


I want to, I want to, I want to, I want to…

How do I quit or escape or unplug?


A life-trip, A never ending process. No terminus.

Who do I want to become? Who can I be? What am I?

Observing the world from a different perspective, becoming has already been.

I am what I transform into.

A translation of your version, a reference.



The alternative.










BECOMING BRITISH

Monologue written in Nov 2021 as part of the 1st Becoming British residency at Sheffield Theaters


Sorting out your oyster card for the very first time

Knowing the price of things

Going to a shop, a cafe or the pub and for the staff to know your name...and your order!

Having all the good recommendations

Knowing the history of the place

And being able to take friends and family around like a tourist guide

Hating on tourists!

And never, ever wanting to go back to Oxford street

Knowing the short cuts, the free exhibitions, the good deals

Walking on autopilot

Not looking at the buildings anymore. Nor looking up anymore


Accepting the bad as well as the good as “how things are”


Having the right clothes for the right weather

Finding yourself enjoying a rainy day

Consider wearing a skimpy dress when going out in winter aaaand… changing your mind and layering.

Layering!

Talking about the weather all-the-time!

Remembering the heatwave and that one time we spent the whole day in the park playing rounders

Having a barbecue as soon as the sun is out...even if it is in the middle of March

Craving a pint

Finding the smell of the pub almost… comforting

Eating a good pie

Fish & Chips, obviously

Being the first one to suggest popping the kettle on


After a while, going back home and being surprised by the familiar smell of your own house…


Saying stuff like “back home”, “in my culture”; “in my country”

And catching yourself doing it

Having to find your words in your own language

Using word from other languages, unaware

Feeling like an outsider when “ you go back”

Noticing what shops have closed, what buildings don’t exist anymore… having to look up.

Thinking “back in my day” and not catching yourself doing it.

Wanting to leave

Feeling guilty

Longing

Finding it rude when people don’t say sorry

Finding it rude when people don’t queue

Feeling smug that you live in a place where people do queue

Seeing cueing as the finest expression of civilisation


Not saying the things you really think how you really think them

Nodding, pretending you understand

“Working on your accent” !

Finding out, years later, that it is not “ears-dropping” , “pastry-dish” or “damp squid” (which makes much more sense if you ask me)

And messing up the little annoying bits of sentence that change everything: look out for, looking in, look up, look it up, looking for… ah!

English is half French anyway!


Stocking up on your favourite foods

Having too many KGs in your suitcase

Stuffing cheese in your pockets to go through security at the airport


Thinking

Thinking about the Home Office, deportation, detention, being kicked out, not let in

Being privileged to only be thinking about it at this stage

Feeling guilty again. Feeling lucky.

Sweating at passport control

Travelling with a whole bunch of documents like you are a special envoy or something

Proving your status, your income, your employment, your residence.

“I swear I am not leaving for long”. “I live here (no, not here-here but here there)”

“No, I don’t claim benefits” I don’t even know how they work

“Yes I pay taxes”

“No I can’t vote”

“Yes I have a job” - multiple jobs actually but I am not stealing jobs, I promise

I only take what I need and often give more than I have

No, no I don’t have dependants Not yet.

I haven’t been convicted, no.

I do have an income (not much, never enough but don’t say that!)

Don’t say your parents helped you, that looks bad.

Say you have savings. Make sure they show on your account

Get a bank account. And a credit card.

Find someone of a reputable profession to say that you are who you are.

That you is you.

Wait.

Wait.

Call. Wait.

Call.

Dave, Mitchel, Paul, Patrick, Antoinette, Neil

And finally Helen.

Thank you Helen!

Now

Solemnly, sincerely and truly

Declare and affirm

That on becoming

A British Citizen

You will be faithful

And bear true allegiance

To her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the II

Her heirs and successor

According to law


I will give my loyalty

to the United Kingdom

And respect its rights and freedoms

I will uphold

Its democratic values

I will observe its laws faithfully

And fulfill my duties

And obligations

As a British Citizen


I do

I do solemnly

sincerely and truly

Declare and affirm

That on becoming

A British Citizen

I will be faithful

And bear true allegiance

To her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the II

Her heirs and successor

According to law


I will give my loyalty

to the United Kingdom

And respect its rights and freedoms

I will uphold

Its democratic values

I will observe its laws faithfully

And fulfil my duties

And obligations

As a British Citizen


I will be faithful

And bear true allegiance

To her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the II


I will give my loyalty

to the United Kingdom


I will observe its laws faithfully

And fulfil my duties

And obligations

As a British Citizen


I do

I do

I do solemnly

sincerely and truly

Declare and affirm

I will be faithful

I will give my loyalty

to the United Kingdom

And respect its rights and freedoms

I will uphold

Its democratic values

I will bear true allegiance

To her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the II

Her heirs and successor

I do

I do

I will give my loyalty

to the United Kingdom

And respect its rights and freedoms

I will uphold

Its democratic values

I will observe its laws faithfully

And fulfill my duties

And obligations

As a British Citizen

I will

I will

I do.


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