Tuesday, 15 February 2011


"Totemism (derived from the root -oode- in the Ojibwe language, which referred to something kinship-related".

For Valentines day I dedicated five totems to a selection of people who mean a great deal to me. I also learned to knit (badly), ate cake, listened to some lovely music and enjoyed the performance poetry and soundscaping of Drew Taylor and Fiona Johnston, respectively. This was the medium through which some of the Totems found their live incarnation.

All of which I enjoyed in the company of three of my favourite people; my Mum, my Fiancé and my best friend. Probably the best way to spend Valentines Day really, my thoughts about which I will return to a little later on (in Blog time).

You are probably wondering what a totem is aren't you? In this instance, Totems are a declaration of love and were the focus of participatory performance project Totem of My Love, staged last night at The Arches in Glasgow.

I've just realised I should interject here regarding my comment about knitting badly; this was through no fault of my teacher, who happened to be my Mother. Mum, it's not your fault I was born with the hands and craft capability of a one armed spider monkey with severe depth perception issues...and who is also in a coma. You did all you could.

The whole experience of Totem of my Love was an incredibly uplifting one; allowing you to bring into focus, in your own mind, the people/pets/places in your life that matter most to you and as a result freeing up some space in what is normally a cluttered thought process, frenetic with the day-to-day business of getting on with things, to truly appreciate them.

Appropriate that it should happen on Valentines Day, which as a concept I despise. My experience on Monday only served to underline the insipid nastiness of this particular day even further. Acknowledgement, admiration and appreciation of the people in your life should really be a daily occurrence that happens as naturally as breathing.

I don't intend to be overly sentimental; what also happens as naturally as breathing are the fights, the mistakes, the thoughtlessness and neglect. And the more you care about someone the more likely you are to end up employing any one item from that list in your interaction with them.

You could go with the Inception interpretation; a totem keeps you grounded, it's the one thing that allows you to maintain a grasp on a fragile reality.

However you want to to interpret it, Totems are good things. I'm really lucky, I have lots...

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