Post-Madrid-memories Part 2

by Helen Barker

El Nido//The Nest

Several thousand feet above the surface of the earth I felt most at home. Flying in my tin-can nest through the atmosphere of the sky, I felt closer to belonging than I did when I left the surface of the earth, or when I landed upon it again.

Jeremiah Day, Of All Possible Things, Site Gallery, Sheffield

This morning I went to see the end of an exhibition by Jeremiah Day at the Site Gallery in Sheffield. I won’t review it here, as I’ll be writing something for their website shortly, but to give you an idea of what I saw the exhibition featured a performance by Day which was produced in Berlin, and which tackled the history of the sites upon which the Berlin wall used to stand.

In a park in Madrid stand three pieces of the Berlin wall. I’ve now seen what’s left of this same wall in three different countries – in Germany, in Spain and in England.

Berlin Wall, Madrid, Image – http://sarahkresh2.wordpress.com

I was struck today by the significance of this. We all carry our histories with us wherever we go in the world. The Berlin wall is a collective memory in which individual memories are buried. It now exists as a fragment of human history in a physical memorial to personal suffering and breakthrough, in several different countries. The wall extends beyond Berlin.

Jeremiah Day, an American artist, reminded me of one of the reasons I become so convinced that life as an artist was the best life for me – he reminded me that the borders of human experience extend beyond the physicality of any walls. When I set foot in another country, I see parts of my own walls have been shipped in ahead of me – I see another fragment of myself, another part of my own personal wall.

El Nido/Nest, Spain

I also saw several stalks nests in Madrid, perched on top of churches and buildings. Arguably I am my own nest, wherever I go I inhabit myself – I make my nest when I arrive and I build it again when I move on. It’s an obvious point, perhaps, but it’s one that enables me to cope with the fact that this planet will always only ever be my temporary home. However many nests I make, none of them will last forever, and I don’t have to take them with me. I love that – because carrying all those nests around would be really heavy work.