The poetical and magical act of healing
Sessions with Frida focuses on multiple identities in a globalized world, which you analyze performatively using your own history and identity as an example. In doing so, you put your own self up for discussion, why?
Frida Robles: First and foremost, I believe in the idea that the personal is political. I remember many times writers saying that you should write about what you know and what I know, or what I'm at least confronted on a daily basis is myself. When I did my bachelor in history, one of the most important lessons was the understanding that everything is historical, everything is pertinent to a context and it is so because of the same. Thus, if I understand myself - and everyone else - as a historical and social expression, exposing my emotions can - hopefully - trigger a reflection on our current emotions, on what in many ways we are dealing with nowadays. Of course, always with the personal peculiarities and stories. I understand this performance as part of my personal and artistic research and because of personal reasons I'm interested in understanding a bit more of emotional pain. I am basically offering my struggles to see they can trigger a conversation to continue from.
Another central starting point of Sessions with Frida is the theme of psychoanalysis, which you take up performatively in order to analyze plural identities. Why did you choose this approach?
Frida Robles: I don't think I will analyze plural identities. It will be a regular and plain psychoanalysis session, no previous agenda, no special trauma or issue to discuss but what is "alive at the moment". This project started with the finding of a beautiful medicinal incantation from Ancient Egypt (which of course I found online). It blew my mind that along with potions to remedy a pain there would be written words to be spoken to one's own body. It made me think of the poetical and magical act of healing. When discussing further the project with Philippe Riera, one of the mentors at HUGGY BEARS, he suggested that I engage with something more pertinent to the European context. In this dialogue we both came to the idea that it would be an interesting/funny comment to think about psychoanalysis, as one of the most important means of mental healing in contemporary Europe. The idea of having a psychoanalysis session live on stage made me curious and excited. Daniela Finzi, from the Freud Museum, was very kind as to put me in contact with Makus Zöchmeisteir, a lacanian psychoanalyst, who was willing to be part of this project. During our first meeting Markus told me that I was pretending to do the impossible, that the transmission of a psychoanalysis session can only happen in an intimate space and he also smiled at the fact that the performance would take place in Vienna, the cradle of psychoanalysis
The psychoanalyst Markus Zöchmeister will be on stage with you and will also work with you psychoanalytically. Did you write down a script beforehand or is this process different every evening?
Frida Robles: Yes, Markus Zöchmeister will be on stage and no, there is no script, no preconceived idea, no expectation. We will come to the stage in the same way as if we were to meet in his praxis. I imagine there will be odd silences, awkwardness and most likely incoherent thoughts. One of the reasons I named this performance Sessions with Frida is because each event is one session, each time is different, as different as normal sessions are. Most of us have recurrent themes that appear over and over again in a bit of a different form of shape. The title is not only restricted to the psychoanalysis session. The other parts of the performance, a live music session, a yo-yo playing session, a singing session. All of them are coordinated but are also free, everyone has a space for their own "free session", a sort of jam session together.
You have now been able to work on your project for a year as part of HUGGY BEARS. How was this year in the mentoring program for you?
Frida Robles: It has been challenging, it is the first time that I confront myself with thinking for a stage and that is no easy task. However, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, for the possibility that HUGGY BEARS gave me. Also, for the discussions and for being able to witness the process of my fellow artists who are engaging in quite interesting topics and ways of expressing them. I hope that I am able to continue to strengthen my practice in the realm of performance after this experience.