|10 Nov 2021||1:00pm - 3:00pm||ONLINE|
“In My Room”: towards moody reading, making room, creating pleasure
A workshop with Lindiwe Dovey and Nobunye Levin
Taking as its main prompt Mati Diop’s short film “In My Room”, made during the 2020 lockdown, this workshop will explore – through moody reading and collaborative creation – the impact of the pandemic on our sense of the spaces, and specifically the rooms, that we live and work in – some shared, others inhabited alone. Questions we will explore include:
● In ‘the room’, “in my room”, how do I ‘make room’ for myself and others, where ‘the room’ is at once both a physical and interior/subjective space?
● How has our sense of space, self and others been defined and delimited by rooms, both before and during the pandemic?
● For those who identify as women, teachers, mothers, and/or carers, how do we ‘set the mood’ in our ‘rooms’ to create intellectual and affective pleasure?
What to do before the workshop:
- Watch Mati Diop’s film “In My Room” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2Bd77yfvNM)
- Note down a scene – or even a moment – in the film that resonates most with you
- Reflect on your own responses to the questions above and make some notes
- If you have time, engage with the further ‘prompts’ on the next two pages and note and gather what they make you think about (these gatherings could include a photograph, painting, line of poetry, prop/object, piece of music, or piece of prose)
What we will do at the workshop:
- Divide you into small break-out groups to work together for an hour sharing your notes and gatherings and making something collective out of them, so please bring them along with you! We know you don’t have much time, so they don’t need to be extensive – it could be some scribbled notes and one item.
- Come back together for the second hour of the workshop to share our collective creations with one another and use them to inspire further discussion.
“In my office at home I have created a space that is very special to me. It is simple
and quiet, with beautiful things about, and a ray of sunlight cascading through a low
window on the best of days. It is here that I write whenever I am home, and where I
retreat to center myself, to rest and recharge at regular intervals. It is here that I do my
morning visualizations and my eurhythmics. It is a tiny alcove with an air mattress half-
covered with bright pillows, and a low narrow table with a Nigerian tie-dye throw. Against
one wall and central to this space is a painting by a young Guyanese woman called The Yard.
It is a place of water and fire and flowers and trees, filled with Caribbean women and
children working and playing and being. When the sun lances through my small window and
touches the painting, the yard comes alive. The red spirit who lives at the center of the painting
flames. Children laugh, a woman nurses her baby, a little naked boy cuts the grass.
One woman is building a fire outside for cooking; inside a house another woman
is fixing a light. In a slat-house up the hill, windows are glowing under the
red-tiled roof. I keep company with the women of this place …”
Audre Lorde (2017), A Burst of Light: and Other Essays. New York: Ixia Pres, pp. 211-212.
“My obsession with aesthetics I inherit from Baba, mama’s mother. Her house is this
incredible place of magic and creativity. Baba is an artist. Although she cannot
read or write, she is a maker of beautiful and exquisite quilts. (…) I long to climb the
“stairway to heaven” with her (that’s what I call the upstairs in her house – cause it’s there
that she has her special sewing room). It’s a huge room with material everywhere and a
sewing machine with a pedal. (…) Baba is an eccentric. She is the woman I most want to be
like in the world when I am a girl, because she lives like a free spirit flouting convention.
That’s why she has those chickens and goats and other animals in her backyard even though
there is a city ordinance forbidding their presence. And she grows gardens of vegetables and
flowers that folks come to see. She believes in the power of beauty to sustain us. (…)
When I leave home, I carry with me an understanding of the world I want to create in
my home – an aesthetics of existence that will express my needs. Every room in
Baba’s huge house is different and every room has its own story. Later when I read
Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own I think about my grandmother’s imagination
– the world she created for herself and her own. (…) I need a space that is all mine. That has
nothing in it that I have not chosen – a space for precious things. In my space I bring quilts,
coils of braided tobacco, the stuff from Kentucky that means nothing to nobody else but me.
Everything in my room reminds of who I am and where I am coming from.”
bell hooks (1999) Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life. New York: Henry Holt and Company, pp. 91-96.
by Langston Hughes
Desire to us
Was like a double death,
Of our mingled breath,
Of an unknown strange perfume
Between us quickly
In a naked
by Charlotte Mew
I remember rooms that have had their part
In the steady slowing down of the heart.
The room in Paris, the room at Geneva,
The little damp room with the seaweed smell,
And that ceaseless maddening sound of the tide—
Rooms where for good or for ill—things died.
But there is the room where we (two) lie dead,
Though every morning we seem to wake and might just as well seem to sleep again
As we shall somewhere in the other quieter, dustier bed
Out there in the sun—in the rain.
If you are a teacher, you might also want to skim Lindiwe’s artistic research article to think about your relationships to your classrooms: Lindiwe Dovey (2020). “On Teaching and Being Taught: Reflections on Decolonising Pedagogy.” PARSE 11. (https://parsejournal.com/article/on-teaching-and-being-taught/).