Да ти върви по вода II (Da ti varvi po voda II), 2020
Water, copper vessel, geranium, text; performance and collective ritual
The state of political and social suppression and oppression we currently exist in calls for rethinking all we have accepted as unquestionable and given — including rituals, customs, or simply rules of being — and reimagining them as acts of urgency and defiance. We need to utilize the transformative power of creativity and radical thought as catalysts for progress and social change, and let it inform new imagined realities manifested by and for us.
I invite you to join me in carrying out a ritual of collective self-transcendence and rebirth by reinventing the Bulgarian custom of spilling water in front of the doorstep when one leaves home for a major event or undertaking. With this public offering of care, we will participate in a moment of catharsis and a new beginning for all.
One by one, I ask you to walk through the door and be welcomed into this space. I will spill water in front of the first person to cross the doorstep, and then each of you will do it for the one following them.
The layering of the spilled water will be a physical manifestation of our collective desire for rebirth: the growing puddle will be a reminder of the cleansing properties of uncontaminated water, and will figuratively counter its increasing scarcity in the natural world; the way it seeps into the pavement will evoke planting a seed and letting it grow. When crossing the threshold, you will also receive a posy of hardy geraniums, a Bulgarian symbol of prosperity and health.
In its original form, the custom is usually performed by an older person for a younger one leaving the security of the home. Today, we shift the direction and turn departure into an arrival; instead of being sent off alone into the unknown by a member of the old world, you will have water spilled in front of you and welcomed by someone who has received and been received by all that is beautiful and new. Everyone will accept an offering and then will offer something in return.
Let us recontextualize this superstitious ritual grounded in blind belief and a hopeful letting go as an intentional collective act. We will turn a small bittersweet gesture that is part of the practiced and perfected routine of departure into a welcoming more permanent and grand, and yet infused with the same sense of seeking and a burning desire for change.
Let us use this communal initiation to reclaim the autonomy of the silenced body using the almost intimidating purity of a blank slate. Inhabiting this shared liminal space, we, seething beneath the still surface much like water, form a new collective consciousness and take the first step toward a new day full of tenderness and hope.
(text read out loud at the beginning of the ritual)
Sofia Art Week 2020 “SWAN SONG,” opening night program
Organized by Æther Sofia and Migrating Voices, co-curated by Voin de Voin and Lisette Smits
Sept 2020, Æther Art Space, Sofia, Bulgaria