“Habitar la imagen” is a photography workshop for self-discovery through self-portraits. The third edition took place between October and December 2021. We have a group exhibition available online (until May). To visit the gallery, click on the link below:
Nos remontamos al año 2017, estamos en Brownsville, Texas, y dos amigos, Luis Navarro y Joel Niño, Jr., deciden juntarse y grabar un EP. Lo que comenzó como una ocasión de hacer música y lanzar un cassette, se convertiría en “Shadows”, el exitoso álbum debut del dúo de darkwave/post punkTwin Tribes.
Los sonidos melancólicos, el ocultismo, el terror y los equipos analógicos son elementos recurrentes en la interacción artística y personal de Luis (voz, guitarra, sintetizador, cajas de ritmos) y Joel (bajo, sintetizador, voz). Desde aquel encuentro en 2017, la banda ha sumado a su producción discográfica una decena de sencillos, un álbum en directo y tres larga duración, “Shadows”, “Ceremony” y “Altars”, un álbum de remixes lanzado en febrero de este año.
Desde principios de octubre, Twin Tribes se encuentra de gira por Europa, por lo que hemos querido aprovechar la oportunidad para conversar con la banda sobre su proceso creativo, sus pelis de terror favoritas y la posibilidad de que actúen en España.
Do you miss me, father The one that bends and counts the steps to the end Gray skies and monumental stones The landscape is sad and painful But the blood is not red
Do you miss me, father The night felt heavy in the guts crystalline mist from mouth to windows I sat in the park where the leaves collapse And the pigeons begged me for food With their anonymous eyes Looking at you without looking
Do you miss me, father I’m in a city with no name Walking and wondering with no hope Phantom limbs surround me as if you were holding me tight
Do you miss me, father Today I think of you with love and I absolve you for daring to leave The attractive silhouette of grieving To seek your presence among the beasts
Do you miss me, father When the coffee gets cold and the only sound is your own breathing Because I do, I miss you but I forgive you.
To dad, on his 74th birthday and the 21st anniversary of his passing.
“And yet, sometimes, I tell myself I must search for the truth, but which one. Even when it remains obscure, especially when it remains obscure, and we feel there’s any truth present (…) All of a sudden, this truth appears, and it’s an extraordinary moment and doesn’t happen every day, and it’s good.”
– My mother laughs. The Song Cave, Chantal Akerman.
A month has passed since I moved to Berlin, and everything seemed light and easy. I was sure that my truth was finally here, –with me, inside of me, surrounding me– despite the obstacles, setbacks and challenges. Even with the weather getting colder; not knowing too many people or barely speaking the language; I was happy.
Then, suddenly, that morning, everything changed.
It was so clear to me that this burden was unbearable. I thought of death again. Those lingering thoughts reappeared, and that voice, quiet for a while, sounded louder than ever. I was safe until that morning when I thought about death again.
It’s hard to find the right words to express how heavy, scary, and hopeless it feels. Especially when people who think they know you judge your life as “perfect.” I didn’t chose to be like that: a lonely, intense, and somehow, tormented person. I’m doing my best to survive despite of it.
That morning, I realised how fragile my spirit is, and how much I need to accept myself to feel at peace. But, at the same time, I began to question whether what I see and what I am supposed to accept is the only possible thing. This darkness unnamed tries to tell me something, and I must sit down and listen.
These intense depressive episodes have allowed me two things: to channel them into creative acts and to question everything. I refuse to let fear paralyse me or set traps to make me feel “secure” with what makes me unhappy. Yet, fear is like a huge bear approaching you with mile-long claws, ready to rip your insides out.
I always turn inward. I become this hierophant who read, listen, and (re)search. I feed my soul with resources that illuminate my path. However, solitude feels heavy on my shoulders. There are days, like that morning, when loneliness is so (um) comfortable that the only way out is imminent and terrifying.
Disintegration can be many things.
“The dream is real, my friends.
The failure to realise it is the only unreality.”
– Toni Cade Bambara.
When searching for tools to feed and enrich my spirit, I came across the theory of Positive Disintegration. Although its use in traditional psychology is limited to the field of ‘gifted’ people, it is actually a theory of personality development that considers these “dark” episodes as enlightening moments.
The theory of positive disintegration (TPD) was elaborated by K. Dabrowski, a Polish psychologist, and centered on reaching a “personality ideal.” Dabrowski’s premise is that this “personality ideal” is unique to each individual but is essentially the best possible version of oneself. Thus, the TPD predicts that those who undertake the journey toward gaining a personality (by progression toward their personality ideal) may find themselves at four different levels.
Positive Disintegration Levels
I: Accepting what it is without challenging the status quo.
II: A transitory level in which an individual starts experiencing inner conflict but can’t consciously move toward the next level. It can quickly revert to level I or tip over uncontrollably into level III.
III: Multilevel disintegration where an individual has the ability to differentiate “what is” from “what should be”, and it can self-reflect. At this level, some people might experience anxiety or neurosis but also have the awareness necessary to actively develop their personality in a self-directed, autonomous way.
IV-V: It’s a transitory level towards self-realisation. A person can act according to self-developed values all the time, and under all circumstances, those values are toward the greater good rather than self-serving goals.
Despite seems a bit rigid –like any other psychological theory–, TPD has allowed me to broaden the spectrum of acceptance and understanding of my depressive episodes. At its core, my unhappiness is a trauma response and some of my relationships were and are based on trauma bonds. When the “darkness appears”, it is something within that asks me to disintegrate those notions to give me the permission and the freedom to be who “I truly am”.
This positive disintegration can be many things, and it doesn’t work the same way for everyone. The multilevel of your own discomfort will take you to the place you are supposed to be, but only if you allow yourself to go there despite the fear. Even in the midst of inner-conflict, some people choose to go back to Level I. I say this acknowledging my process, that has been going forward and then backwards for many years.
But, believe in the dream -your dream-, as crazy as it seems.
You have to let go.
“If I come into a room out of the sharp misty light,
and hear them talking a dead language
if they ask me my identity
what can I say but
I am the androgyne
I am the living mind you fail to describe
in your dead language
the lost noun, the verb surviving
only in the infinite
the letters of my name are written
under the lids of the newborn child.”
– The Stranger (fragment), Adrienne Rich.
I know that I have been talking about this process for quite some time. I am starting to fear that my blog is turning into a self-help pamphlet (I hope not). But, honestly, I find this space comforting and empowering. I believe that people facing trauma are more likely to engage cognitively with fundamental existential questions about life and death in an honest way.
These existential questions are all-encompassing and force you to make decisions that are alarming or petrifying to many. For instance, moving to a city where, like Adrienne Rich, I am “the stranger”. It also can be reflected in the process of outgrowing relationships, friendships, situations. It means reinventing yourself and losing yourself in that process, many times.
Or simply when embracing the self that I am without caring if I am losing the person that I used to know. There will be people in your life who will not understand it and will resent it. There will be others who will celebrate it and those you will meet during the journey.
The same will happen with questions and ideas about what your life should look like because even the most unrestrained person will show you that society has engraved us that notion of needing frameworks, definitions, and roles to play in order to course our actions. You can’t just be. So, it is scary when someone asks you: who are you?, and you have no idea.
“We’re constantly in intermediary phases. Everything is transient. The ephemeral is found in everything that lives.”
Five days have passed since I started my new life in Berlin (more on that later), and someone just asked me what a reflective essay is. In my case, it’s my way of sharing my process and thoughts out loud, throwing a bunch of references while doing it, and if everything goes well, connecting with someone out there who feels the same way. It is also a route to creatively express myself after deciding to take a break from music journalism. This is an empowering and liberating practice for me.
It has been a year since I stopped EMDR –at least, in the way, I was doing it before–, since my therapist transferred my case to her mentor, and in which my life has radically changed. Adrienne Rich said it well in her poem A Vision: “this enforced loss of self in a greater thing, of course, who has ever lost herself in something smaller?”
The road has been challenging at times. I’ve been paralysed by the captivity created in my mind. My eating disorder showed up again. The violence embedded in the silence of what is taken for granted was more visible and present than before. Yet, since my journey through therapy began, I have slowly allowed my creative self to flourish again. I have forged a healing bond with poetry. I have discovered the beauty of the hidden speech of the everyday sounds, the routine that subtly startles our senses.
“with the hands of a mother, I would close the door on the rooms you’ve left behind and silently pick up my fallen work.” – The Spirit of Place, Adrienne Rich
I have had to cut some demons and collect the remains. Setting limits feels weird, especially when you associate love and boundaries with the fear of abandonment. It is like a ring that dances on your finger or a dress too big for you. The feeling is the same: it can fall (leave you) at any moment. Helplessness as a comfort zone is painful and absurd. Boundaries define stories and separate protagonists from secondary roles. Yet, you ask yourself, “Where had they all gone, these people who had seemed so real?”, paraphrasing Louise Gluck.
And the answer is a brutal silence that tastes like a desert.
Woman in the shape of a monster
To heal your own trauma, you must forgive the pain of others. Nothing more difficult. Impossible. The answer that comes from within is survival. Sometimes it turned me into a woman in the shape of a monster… or have I been a monster in the shape of a woman all along? Forgiving is divine, yes, but it is a conscious and solitary exercise.
In addition to sowing poetic seeds after nights full of dreams or trying to hear beyond the obvious, as Maryanne Amacher suggests, I reconnected with mystical practices. “Rituals are a way to get close to the spiritual dimension”, said Eliane Radigue when explaining the connection to music and sound waves. Every morning, I dedicated a minute to being grateful or channelling the daily energy through the Tarot. I also started to read The Red Book by Carl Jung, and surprisingly, it spoke to me on a deeper level.
Therapy has taught me that my hurt self is embodied in the form of a little girl. Jung used a similar image when speaking to his soul in his dreams: “Who are you, child? My dreams have represented you (…) The wound still bleeds, and I am far from being able to pretend that I do not hear the mockery. How strange it sounds to me to call you a child, you who still hold the all-without-end in your hand”.
Like Jung, my process has been to confront my unconscious. An exercise on “mythopoetic imagination”: “deliberately evoking a fantasy in a waking state, and then entering into it as into a drama, but wanting to give this a possibility of emerging”. This so-called fantasy is full of bleeding wounds that need to be taken care of. This is not a linear path, nor a circular one. It’s a shapeless and endless journey.
“The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth”. – The Red Book, Carl Jung
However, as painful as it is, there’s beautiful freedom climbing from the uncertainty, from discovering this version of you capable of modulating along with life and relationships. It’s overwhelming, noisy, messy, but as Radigue said: “the perceptual acuity is heightened through the discovery”. Filling my learning process with “how” instead of “why” has given me so much of everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. It is me, the one who is healing by travelling through love and loss without regrets.
Transamoren – Transmortem
Before the greatest achievement Before the greatest detachment At the limit of the frontier space the unconscious –tuned waves– consonant things vibrate together. Where does the change happen? In the inner field of perception or the exterior reality of moving things in the course of becoming. And time is no longer an obstacle, but the means by which the possible is achieved.
A temporal totality
A year later, in this new chapter, I am grasping a more brightening version of the idea of who I want to be. I utilise “bright” and not “better” because, like light, the intensity of my progress can increase or decrease, becoming shadowing and foggy at times. There is nothing wrong with scars. They made me who I am and show me the way when I’m feeling lost.
When explaining her creative process, Radigue speaks on creating a temporal reality where the past and the future are contained and hold the present. She also talks about lending new ears to embrace naive ways of listening, immersing yourself in spaces restrained by nothing.
“Multiple convoluted meanings and questionings along a one-way path. But all of them have this complete respect for the single path, the same one from the beginning to the centre and back. By following the convolutions of the labyrinth, you ask yourself certain questions and think about the answers throughout the journey. These convolutions have a structure that ultimately leads you to the heart of the labyrinth.” – Éliane Radigue, Julia Eckhardt: Intermediary Spaces
I know that therapy is not for everyone. But, for me, after turning 40 years old a few weeks ago, it is giving me the power of removing my own veil. This veil is like a windshield after a night of rain, and I am cleaning it, and everything becomes clear. The love that I am starting to sense for myself is steadily growing and feels good.
However, my creative voice is still convulsing. I have to deal with and embrace this lack of confidence in my own work, what I have to say and how to do it. Unfortunately, social constructs still play a role in this, making me doubt, overthink. Who am I to believe that I have something to say? It’s frightening because you are experiencing life and creation in the same way you did when you were 20, only this time you ask yourself: Am I too old? Is it too late?
The same goes for relationships, friendships, reality. Am I ready to fall in love or meet new people or try a new field? Everything is unique, novel. But, in parallel, a voice asks me if there is enough time to start again. I would hesitantly say yes, there is time. In my case, I have decided to leave my 12-year life in Barcelona, packed and stored, to embrace the unknown for a few months.
Anxiety and excitement confront each other and rise like waves every time I say it out loud. I watch my life pass by through this window. Nevertheless, I am starting in Berlin, open to what arises in me and my interaction with others. From now on, curiosity and naivety lead me by the hand, hopeful for the possibilities of all that could be and will happen next.
“I think here I will leave you. It has come to seem there is no perfect ending. Indeed, there are infinite endings. Or perhaps, once one begins, there are only endings.” – Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Gluck