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Pleasure as Action

You don’t need to suffer to be an artist. TRUE.
To be a performing artist is extreme. TRUE.
Working in the independent field is madness. TRUE.
You need validation like the earth needs rain and sunshine. TRUE.
You can grow old in the independent field. TRUE.
You can grow very old in the independent field. TRUE.
You must be naive to grow old in the independent field. VERY TRUE.
It’s okay to be naive. TRUE.
Which is a prerequisite for aging in the independent field. TRUE TRUE.
The independent field works differently than institutions. OF COURSE. TRUE.
Institutions offer security and boundaries. TRUE.
Institutions discuss the market value of your performance. ALL TOO TRUE. And they state that it’s lousy. TRUE.
Institutions suck. TRUE.
We need institutions. TRUE.
The greatest artists are not found in institutions. TRUE.
The greatest artists are not found in the independent field. TRUE.
Art is work and independent companies are workplaces. VERY TRUE.
We create structures and boundaries for our work like everyone else. TRUE. TRUE.

You are desperate. NOT TRUE.
You are happy. TRUE.
You are content. TRUE.
You are fulfilled. VERY TRUE.
You don’t understand why not everyone can accomplish the things you’ve accomplished. TRUE.
Perhaps they don’t want to. TRUE.
At all. TRUE.
They do their own things in their own way. MIGHT BE TRUE.
It’s impossible to know. TRUE.
One can live well like this. TRUE.
Not everyone is like you. TRUE.
It took a while for you too. TRUE.
Look at your text from 2018 you found in your drawer. NO.
Read that “feel sorry for yourself” text. NO.
You wrote it. TRUE.
It’s terrible. TRUE.
What’s changed? TRUE.
You grew old? TRUE.
You became clairvoyant? TRUE.
You looked into your soul and your mother died. TRUE. TRUE. But not in that order.
You bought a flat and moved. TRUE.
You prioritise your family. TRUE. ALMOST.
You accept your sensitivity. WELL…
You accept yourself and doors are flung open. WELL…
Suddenly everything is easy. PERHAPS.
You say suffering is passé. TRUE.
Totally overrated. TRUE. TRUE.
You were the only one who suffered. NOT TRUE.
Everyone else but you had a party. NOT TRUE.
Everyone else laughed and moved on. In their careers. Forward, higher. You were the only one left. NOT AT ALL TRUE.

You’re right, it’s not true. When the feeling of something you take for cruelty even when it isn’t cumulates because of a) not communicating, b) not satisfying, d) not articulating, or even d) recognising one’s own needs, you feel bad. VERY TRUE. Calm, confident, and curious is a better choice. TRUE. It applies to you too. TRUE. Believe me. OKAY. This is why it’s good to age, to accept that you can leave the weight behind and move on with light baggage. TRUE. That you’re not alone. TRUE. That you don’t need to be afraid. TRUE. That life is about completely different things than you thought. TRUE. It’s going to be okay. DO YOU BELIEVE IT? Sure. TRUE.

For me it’s about redefining what it is to be an artist in the independent field. I’ve done it for thirty-one years. Back when I started, my dream was for life and work to meld into an organic whole. Today I’m making an effort to divide life and work because it has been a lot of work and little life. I’ve become a working machine with long holidays just so I can work even more. My choices have been work-related and when I look around, I see so many who are like me. All of us think this is the natural way of being.

I don’t want to live like that, work erasing life. I want to find new aspects of myself, I want to look inward. Prolong the feeling of resting. Become another. Become who I am and can be in all of human diversity. Creating art will be easier. Breathing will be easier. Perhaps I no longer need to balance on the existential knife edge, on life and death most of the time. Perhaps the hole that tends to lurk around the corner to swallow me up after a period of joy is now covered. Perhaps more or less everyday nausea is not a law of nature.

What changed this? A pandemic, staying at home, age, new perspectives on communication, and a strong insight on the fact that something needs to profoundly change if I am to continue doing my job. That something is myself and how I exist in the world, with myself, and with all others around me. How we and I communicate.

In Oblivia’s new strategy, we write: The Pleasure principle. Pleasure permeates everything that Oblivia does. The term “pleasure” guides our actions and decisions. It helps us to make wise choices, good decisions, and to be brave and kind.

It has already started to work even before we begin examining what Pleasure means for us. I wake up and lie down with pleasure, I carefully feel the confidence and look inward in order to go out into the world. I exist. With pleasure. TRUE.

Annika Tudeer is the artistic director of performance group Oblivia and the chairperson for Hangö Teaterträff’s board.

Pleasure as action is part of a series called Messages from the Independent Field that consists of porous and interconnected texts. The series addresses the realities of the independent field and as such, is an attempt to unfold its problematic aspects and perhaps even offer some solutions.