Post-Action Conversation

Still from Star Jumps not Slippers by Brenimara (work in progress)

Thread One: Movement

Y: I thought it was interesting that around the time we were talking about Star Jumps and Slippers, I couldn’t jump because I was recovering from an infection. And then shortly afterwards, you decided to change the nature of your cardio class because you hurt your back. Despite all that, I still need movement. I’ve been running outside every day recently. I love breathing in the fresh air. 

D: I’m surprised there were no star jumps in the cardio session we recorded for the film, as it is usually one of my ‘go to’ exercises. 

Y: Have you done any star jumps since then? You spoke about why you like them in the poem, but do you feel differently now?

D: I still like them a lot, and I’m trying to do lower-impact workouts at the moment. I miss jumping.

Y: So this is supposed to be about what we did, the way we have talked about our movements in the videos before. I like how our hands touched in the recording, although when we were doing it, our movements were parallel rather than mirrored.

D: Yes, when we recorded the video we were lying in the same direction and we each put a hand up to the right side of the frame. I was mirrored in the video but not on camera.To keep in mind for future works!

Thread Two: Stasis

Y: You said the hoovering didn’t work. I wanted it to be like choreography. I thought it would be funny if we were dancing with our vacuum cleaners. I haven’t watched it back, but you said it didn’t work, because it looked like we were dancing instead of vacuuming. 

D: Well, this is an interesting point, as I also wanted it to be  a choreography in unison, like dance, but we were so busy concentrating on remembering the sequence, trying to stay an equal distance from the camera, and moving in unison by watching ourselves on screen, that it lost the essence of the activity. I wanted it to look as though we were actually vacuuming our floors in perfect unison. I thought there could be humour and poetry in that. We just look like we’re concentrating really hard on getting it right! LOL 

If we had wanted to dance with the hoovers we could have picked them up and waltzed.

Y: Maybe it would have been better if we just randomly vacuumed and hoped for the best. Maybe then we would have synchronized accidentally: the structure of coincidences.

D: Yes, I agree with that.

Y: We didn’t really have any moments when we stopped moving. The closest to stasis we got, I think, was being in bed, and then maybe turning around in our outside spaces. 

D: There were some still poses in the vacuuming.

Y: I thought the movement between light and dark would be interesting, but also I was worried about how my face would look.

D: I was also conscious of how my face would look! You look beautiful Yolande. When I saw the footage I thought I really should’ve washed my hair. Also my lockdown experiment of not plucking my eyebrows at all is more noticeable than I’d have thought.

Y: I haven’t seen it yet, but my face often shocks me when I am not expecting to see it. It’s like I can put on a public face and hold my facial muscles in a way that I think looks okay. But when I’m not thinking about being public and I catch a sight of myself, sometimes it looks like my face is collapsing in on itself, or almost like the skin is separating itself slowly from my skeleton. I’ve been thinking I’d like to have my skeleton used for a work of art. I’m sorry, I know that’s beside the point, but I like skeletons.

D: I have never been satisfied with my reflection. And now I care a lot less, which is a relief. I see the aging face and just think ‘oh well.’ I like the idea of your skeleton as a work of art! Will someone paint it or gild it or both? Diamanté? I think it’s a plan. I’d like to decorate a skeleton. Do you remember when you and I painted a pig’s head on foundation? If we lived in the same city we could get a skeleton and make something amazing with it.

Y: I would like to have some kind of jewels or precious stones applied. My cousin, Amy Brener, does sculptures in which she embeds objects in clear material, and I would like to see my skeleton in something like that. But it might be too macabre for her.

Flexi-Shield (sunset) by Amy Brener

D: We spontaneously decided to film ourselves walking down the corridor and then getting on the bed in one take, and we counted the steps so we could make adjustments in order to reach the bed at the same time. But it turned out that it took us both 23 steps to reach the bed. It seemed a great synchronicity. I find it interesting that through these last projects I’m getting an awareness of your living space. I’ve never been there before and I guess there has been a vague idea of it in  my mind’s eye, but filming there and also experiencing your walking through it gives me a real sense of it. This and the 23 steps give me a sense of geomancy.

Y: I have a vague sense of your space now too. But I think we only catch glimpses on the camera. I think being in the actual, physical space is very different. I think it’s interesting that we both have an outside space too. Yours is a real garden and mine is a terrace, but I really value having my own piece of outside.


Star Jumps and Slippers

Image of slipper and Louboutin featured in the poem
unedited audio recording of Brenimara reading “Star Jumps and Slippers.”

Brenimara’s forthcoming short film is inspired by Danielle Imara’s Zoom cardio sessions called “Star Jumps not Slippers.” As well as collecting footage from the exercise class, we filmed choreographed domestic situations and wrote a collaborative poem by each adding to two threads every day for a week. The writing will be repurposed for the film, but here is the poem in its entirety:

Star Jumps and Slippers

Star jumps get their name because you reach up to the stars, again, again and again,

and also because you look like a star shape, pushing down, out, and up, reaching and falling, over and over.

Air fills lungs, and heart beats fast like excitement as you reach, reach, reach.

I used to think I could fly, dream of flying, live like flying. Sometimes just being in a forest in the breeze or even in a park feels like flying.

Star jumps make moments of flight and falling; gravity asserts itself over and over. 

Every time I reach, I fall. But the falling isn’t the point. It’s that moment when you float, when you exist without touching anything but air.

But you land, land, land, compressing the discs in the spine, bringing you closer each time to vanishing altogether.

I want to say it won’t happen, but every moment I’m getting closer to disappearing, and I know it’s vain to say it matters. Everything changes. Movement is life.

I want to reaffirm this with each star jump, but is jumping up and landing on the same spot movement?

When I see myself on the screen, I think about symmetry. If I miss the centre, it irks me. If I land in a different spot, I try to shift back to my starting position.

I try to feel those in the virtual room to learn if we are jumping too much, too fast, or not high and fast enough

Sometimes I feel like I’m not really there at all, or only the little me in the square on the screen is there.

My favorite slippers are black faux fur with pearls the size of candies, 

but the ones I wear more are night blue with knitted uppers, and arch supports.

I had some that made me a creature with furry brown paws,

When I bought them I was high and seeking comfort; I kept them years.

I just bought a pair of seven inch Louboutins from a cobbler on a street corner, partly because I thought he needed the money but also because I wanted to imagine I could wear them at home if a lover could ever visit and if I ever had a lover.

And if I did, would the stilettos make him love me more? Would I ever let him see me in my night blue slippers, with knitted uppers and arch supports?

I’m wearing them now, feeling judged, feeling like I’ve failed, feeling like I’m sitting here in a void. But my feet are so comfortable in these slippers. The Louboutins were too tight anyway.

Wearing slippers makes me feel like a successful human: I am taking a simple step to self care, and I am civilised; mother would be proud. 

Mother is me. I am Mother, in my slippers and dressing gown, with my hot water bottle and my cup of tea. I am Mother. Mother is me.

And Grandmother. Did Mother look down at her slippers one day and say the same? 

Sometimes when I’m walking with my mum, she says, “Who is that little old lady coming towards us?” Then she looks again, and says, “Oh, it’s me.” 

I am similarly shocked when I catch sight of myself when I’m not making the face I make when I know I’m being seen, or when I accidentally turn on my camera and catch myself looking down instead of up.

Forgetting my appearance means I can get on with living. But also it can be fun to dress up and remember that I have a body. I won’t be in it long, so I might as well make the most of it.

That’s why I like moving. It reminds me that I’m alive.