Goodbye Mujer Forzuda

After foolishly leaving my computer cable at home in the UK when my Mum created a Christmas Miracle and got me home for ten days… I decided to take it as a sign to take a break from the blog. I half said to myself when I started it a year ago that it was going to be a year long writing project to explore that area of my creativity.

It definitely has been an interesting learning curve into realising a. You don’t just start a blog and also start making money and b. It really requires quite a lot of discipline to create the content. If you side that with getting stuck on how to get the words out of you… I have found blog writing to be quite a difficult task even though I write all the time. So I have taken this time to get to grips with my first smart phone and ‘sharing’ through other mediums such as Instagram and Facebook (click on the links to head to my pages). It has been strange at how easily I’ve crossed over into the world of smartphoneing and how it is a fabulous tool that creeps the hell out of me at the same time.

Upon dallying with whether I’ll let the blog go or not, there has been a slightly larger elephant in the room that perhaps it’s time to release first. And by this I mean my foam barrel and it’s counterparts…

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The number ‘Mujer Forzuda’ (Strong Woman) and the creative process began in April 2016. In the height of a difficult time out here in Chile, suffering from extreme insomnia and strongly questioning my choice to be out here not long after I’d made it, I was contacted by the organiser of an event called Lindas, Libres, Locas (cute, free, crazy) an all female run variety show and invited to perform in their themed event ‘Iconic Women of the Circus’. Not only an opportunity not to be missed, it was to take place in a real circus tent. I didn’t have a video of my work or the fire hoops that they wanted but I managed to convince them of my experience and the reflective quality of my sparkly gold hoops. They trusted me and let me in so I got to researching straight away and it was here I discovered Sandwina…

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Sandwina, an Austrian Strong-woman of the late 1800 born to a circus family of iron men and women was the butchest of all her siblings. The family ran a sideshow where men could enter the ring with Sandwina for a 100 marks bet… she had an un-beaten record and knocked her contestants out cold every time. It was in this ring that she met her husband, there are many famous photos of her lifting her husband up in one arm and her son in the other. She went on to travel and perfrom with the prestigious Ringling brothers until later settling in New York and opening up an Italian style restaurant. She still famously would wow customers by tying bars of iron in knots right into her 50’s. Sadly she died young at 60 of cancer but has remained in the top ten of iconic female circus performers.

I began to work her story into my own as a theatrical performance, insomnia refusing me sleep and thoughts dragging me to places I didn’t want to go, ironing out the creases became my salvation as I mentally worked the number from every angle, visualising it over and over.

I wanted to be the strong woman but my discipline is hula hooping, poles apart. As I messed around with ideas of tattoos and beards and other iconic imagery I finally found my story… what if I am the strong woman training? But I can’t train in this big old Edwardian era outfit, I’ll strip down to my antique underwear. And I’m so strong my ton wights soon seem too light and I get bored… Oh look there happens to be a big old liquor barrel to hand… well I’m going to lift it aren’t I! And I’m so strong that I smash the barrel… but I want to continue training… my muscles don’t look after themselves you know! But wait… what’s this? The rings of the barrel, they look pretty interesting…

And so the strong woman discovers the hula hoop.

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Now, that first performance in a real circus tent ‘Carpa Azul’ (Blue Tent) also marked a real introduction into the reality of show biz. I had been weeks recuperating my week ankle and then on the night, moments before the public entered, I doubled it good and proper on a bit of uneven floor. I did the whole thing with my ankle the side of my thigh and I was the last number. On top of that I never practised the number outside of my mind as the barrel was such a giant yet potentially fragile work of art that I didn’t have the space to practice or the desire risk it before hand. I should also add that that first performance had an interpretive dance in a time machine, a live costume change two different musics from two different eras as I tried to show in one number the fantastical development of hula hooping from the discovery to today… like I said earlier I devised the thing though hours of disorientating wakefulness and just went off and performed the thing on a busted foot no less. Adrenalin kicked in and numbed the my leg from the knee down, meaning I didn’t feel a thing so the show went right on, only reminding me of the injury when I found I couldn’t perform the trick where I hoop on one leg. The number was well received however even with all it’s madness and the grand breaking of the barrel was the pinnacle._DSC0400

The following year and a half lead into an exploration of the number, adding more bits and then stripping it all right back to just the strong woman and her discovery. I said the last performance before Christmas was going to be the last as I had made all the changes that were to be made and the number had matured into a complete package. However I couldn’t resist the opportunity to perform with her again when I finally got invited to perform with Pato Munita and his strange cabaret, returning to Valparaiso where I gave birth to the number. But the barrel refused to take shape, and so its final performance was on stage already broken and I had to improvise. It was a success all the same and a sign that it was either time to create a new barrel (which I have already designed as a much more travel friendly version) or maybe let it go. I’m already juggling about 1000 ideas that sometimes I get a bit frustrated I wont complete them all, because they are ideas truly fantastical. I’ve clung onto the barrel three months over the last deadline I set, even coming up with an excuse to not put it out for the bin this last collection, by the need obviously to take one last photo for this blog post of course. Letting Mujer Forzuda and her foam barrel go is something I’m finding truly emotional. Giving up this person I created, from watching videos of female bodybuilders so I could practice her walk to bit by bit finding 80’s second hand clothing with the potential to be taken apart and hand sewn into her Edwardian costume. Finding and recycling all the polystyrene from the street, designing the barrel, making the barrel, cutting the polystyrene first of all inside my 14th floor flat at the time and then working by candle light out on the balcony the nights before the show as I’d created such a snow storm inside the flat I’m sure my old housemate still finds foam beads to this day. Cutting, editing, being vulnerable enough to show it to other artists for critique and then actually being big enough to take some advice…

And now she waits for the bin men. Was she always destined for the bin anyway, or maybe that polystyrene was always meant to be the foam barrel? All the recycled materials I salvaged have at least slowed down the process I hope, as it seems every other video I see on facebook is about the global plastic situation we are in. This week however, I found a wonderful tutorial on Youtube for how to make a grey hard plastic out of polystyrene and acetone that has had me put the bin date off a further collection…

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DYQEGWVXYZMBQ

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