Monday, July 11, 2016


right now i don't really have words. an incredible, smart young woman i'm friends with - that i met thru a former workplace - is rapidly receding from life.

Liz & the last drink I'll ever buy her

in the two years she found out she had stage 4 cancer, she has turned herself into a writer, crafting words around all the gory, disgusting & difficult things that cancer delivers... & how bodies fail. with her quick wit - having learnt so much about cancer, organs, treatment & operations - she has been able to communicate this experience to the rest of her networks

and wider

thru all this she has still been unapologetically, herself.

and yet i am wordless

Monday, June 06, 2016

Failure is...

part of Failure:Lab Vivid Ideas Festival 2016

Listen to recording:

So let’s just get this out there – I’m a failed Sound Artist. Actually, I’m a failed Sound Artist and a failed Producer. The story I’m going to tell you is about creative collaboration that spans two personal relationships; two collaborative partnerships. Two stories that – at least in my mind – have interwoven into one. One meta-failure.

To me, failure is about grief.

Many years ago I was deeply in love with and living with another artist. The connection we had (at least from my perspective) was beyond intense. I wanted absolutely to have it all, y’know – be one of those “arts power couples”. We lived in Japan together for a bit and then began working collaboratively on audiovisual projects. (But I was probably pushing my desires for creative collaboration onto him.)
A couple of years into our relationship we’d pulled off two significant funding opportunities – a major grant and a commission. Not bad for two twenty-somethings.

An Australian media arts organisation, called Experimenta, had commissioned us to produce an interactive audiovisual installation. It was about the sense of isolation in large cities – a work we called “alone/apart”. (Should’ve given that name a bit more thought.)

Things were a bit weird and one evening he came home and dumped my ass with a 20-minute leaving speech - telling me that he was seeing someone else we both knew. So, while I was packing up and moving out that very same night, he took her to his work Christmas party. You can’t fault him on his efficiency.

Despite this deeply traumatising situation, I was so wedded to our creative project, particularly the ideas in it – I refused to let it go.
Against everyone else’s better judgement – cause I clearly had no idea what I was thinking – I refused to ‘let go’ of the commission. I didn’t want him to take all the credit for the concept.

In order to for he and I to work together, the commissioning organisation had to meet with us to organise a mediator. One hot late summer’s afternoon, we met at the café with an Experimenta staff member, who had to mediate a meeting between us in order to organise a mediator. (Have a think about that for a minute…)

With the mediator, we spent several months meeting each fortnight to develop the project (again in a public space of course – as I supposedly know all the tricks about deescalating difficult situations). The process damaged me beyond belief.

Needless to say, the work wasn’t ‘excellent’. He wasn’t speaking to me (he’d only speak via the mediator) and I was on the verge of tears the whole time anyway. As a result alone/apart was never exhibited by Experimenta… or anyone else. They still chose to pay us (though god knows why). The project was an utter failure.

I never made audiovisual installations with anyone else ever again.

Somehow, the end of my relationship and creative partnership threw me into a place where I found my voice, my creative voice.

I even performed a sound art piece on April Fool’s Day (which incidentally would’ve been our 4-year anniversary) at a Sound Art event he and his new girlfriend were running. (They were both visual artists.)
My performance ended with “well fuck you, and fuck your art”. If he was no longer speaking to me, and I had things to say, then why not put them out there, in front of 100 others.

For a while he, his new girlfriend and I all lived in the same small city, and it was truly awful. I eventually threw myself into the world and moved to Berlin (something that he and I had been planning to do together; we’d even been going to German language evening classes).

Instead, I did it alone.

Berlin was both a personal and creative re-emergence for me. I had found my home; the place where I truly belonged. I made new friends there – who are now like family to me.

Two weeks before my visa ran out and I had to leave Berlin, I met my second personal/creative soulmate. It was a different connection, but as I found out years later – it was even more connected and intense. That’s another story, however, and Hindsight’s a real bitch.

I was even happier to connect with this new person because he wasn’t an artist. He was a technician (a sound engineer) - so I was pretty relieved, actually. We met working together on a Sound Art festival. He was the technical director, I was his tech assistant. It was the burgeoning of another collaborative partnership.

To me, this was my second chance.

As I’d lost so much in my first big breakup, it was a huge deal, a MASSIVE fucking DEAL for me to introduce this new guy to my friends and my creative networks. (And, I told him so.) Despite the risks, I took the leap and offered him connections, networks and opportunities here in Australia.

As I no longer had a visa that enabled me to live in Berlin, nor did he have one to live in Sydney, we straddled two countries, going backwards and forwards – working together when we were geographically co-located and even when we were apart.

Sometimes I was his tech assistant and, other times I ran the show, with him working to me. (He definitely didn’t like that as much.)

The day after Valentines Day (he knew I hated Hallmark occasions), he asked me to marry him… and started referring to me as his fiancé (something I’d never experienced before… and haven’t since). I sunk everything I had, my heart, my soul, my evenings and all my fucking finances into being together – working towards an “intent to marry” visa.
(A visa that – should you need to know – only lasts for 9 months. We started calling it the ‘knocked-up’ visa). In fact, this was a recommendation he’d been given by staff at the Australian embassy in Berlin, should we want to expedite the process.

Incidentally – I’d busted an ankle around this time, just after running a major festival. (My friends told me I needed a break – but that’s not kind they meant.) With a major injury, I wasn’t in a place to relocate back to Berlin until I’d sorted the ankle shit out. Hence asking him to move here for a bit…

I turned down invitations to play gigs so that I could ‘spend time with him’ when he was here in OZ. And – since I had to stay here for a bit – I’d even sacrificed a paid career that I really wanted, working as a part-time Producer at the ABC. In order to pull off his visa, I needed a full-time job (the whole “eligible sponsor” thing for the Australian Government). The only full-time job on offer was in the city I’d left behind (with all those memories of my previous big bad ex). It was also in a different field, outside of the arts. (So yeah, I didn’t want to go back there.)

I told him that going back there was my Joker. My post-Armageddon “Somaya is desperate for paid work to pay her rent (and in this case pay for a visa)”… The one last card up my sleeve.

But I loved him so damn much, I threw that card down on the table. Hard.

I thought I was tough. I thought that – even though I didn’t want to go back to that city (the one with the memories of the big bad ex) – I’d overcome difficult times alone overseas without income.

I had nothing to prepare me for what came next. Due to a workplace-bullying situation in the new job, I wasn’t coping. And in turn, he couldn’t cope with the depressive spiral I was rapidly sliding into. I was alone, in a city that I deeply disliked, without friends, and in a terrible workplace situation.

I awoke one morning to an email that read, “don’t ever call me…” To this day, we have never spoken again.

In case you need to know - it only takes 7 minutes to read an "I'm ending it" email… twice. Germans: guillotiningly efficient. 

Unlike the end of my first creative and personal partnership, when my ass was dumped via email, I didn’t find my creative voice. And I still haven’t.

Not only have I not built any creative working partnerships, I’ve not been able to be creative at all. It’s like a massive four-year-long constipation. The sacrifices I made for our relationship were immense and, as I’ve found out, not ones I’ve been able to reverse.

Not only did I lose him, I lost our creative working partnership (something I don’t really have words to express just how much I miss), and, no one has ever invited me to perform or exhibit ever again.

I also lost my beloved Berlin (because – no more visa), I lost friends (he made a grab for some of those), and I lost professional networks in the arts. I also lost the career I’d wanted as a Producer. To this day, I’ve never been able to land another producer or production manager role.

My failure – doing this damn shit twice. 

I’ve always said it’s not the end of relationship that does the damage – it’s how someone ends it and everything they do afterwards. I was lucky enough to have found my second chance in Berlin, but it seems, there are some losses that are too great to bear. The creative wind seems to have been completely knocked out of me this time.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

to the girl i will not meet

many of us were once that moment, we all believed would last a lifetime.

i've been considering writing this, since much earlier this year, when i was contacted by someone i didn't know. i listened to their experience & wished i had done so much more back then. even if no one believed me (because ex-girlfriends are always crazy, right?!). because i hadn't spoken out, this person had been hurt in ways they couldn't comprehend. (how can you really explain to someone they'll never wrap their head around someone else's behaviour, no matter how long they analyse it?) as someone, who is presumably (at least a couple of years) older than you, i have a responsibility to speak out - in the hope that you won't ever experience his hurt, in the same way that i did. this is not because i am bitter. (yes - there are definitely some things i am bitter about. that is not what i'm writing about here tho.) though really, as you are someone who does not know of this (open) letter's existence, nor that you are the recipient, i'm trusting this message will be passed along, making it's way to you, when you need it.

i believed every moment was real - until it was ended. brutally.

i believed every word of forever & the connection that i cannot put into words (you know the one i mean, the one where you know what he is feeling even though he is on the other side of the world. or he knows where to find you in a city at night - just because his gut tells him where u are - when your phone has run out of batteries). until it was severed. i was informed that the life i absolutely lived for, no longer existed. by email. not even a phone call, or skype. i had no say in it, despite committing to 'us' more than anything. i am sorry that all i had to offer, still wasn't enough.

that email delivered a message: i no longer had a right to anything. everything was removed. i was never offered an actual chance to resolve a situation i believed in wholeheartedly. partially, this is because of you. i knew of your existence before social media did. whether anyone believes it or not, my soul (& i) cried for a reason i didn't know why, that Sunday back in May, a couple of years ago. you weren't to know that i was trying to coordinate his & my meeting up somewhere in the world; to resolve what i could, to possibly gain closure. to not have it be the way it is now - completely nonexistent. you crossed his path, so i never sent the reply i'd written to his request.

i have been informed of - and have now seen evidence of - the current happiness you have & i can't, nor wouldn't, take that away from you. as another woman on this planet, i don't want you to hurt as i have.

believe in each day, in each moment. ensure that this happiness comes from inside yourself. people can affect us in incredible ways. good and bad. i am someone deeply susceptible to this. (i absolutely believed the words he spoke: soulmate, forever, his feelings never changing. he was my fiancé, i was his tech assistant, we were partners - personally & professionally - so what wasn't there to believe?) this guillotining of my soulmate-ship, my life partnership, my collaborative working relationship... all of those things i was committed to as much as you are now, being taken away has been the hardest lesson. it is not an experience i would welcome on anyone in a million years. i was unfortunate to be informed every moment of realness i believed in was not true & that " don't know anything about me and my live [sic]". i hope, in your case, that you've been granted the truth right from the start.

the end of the life that i desperately wanted & loved, also affected those around me. friends who were as shocked as i was, & who grieved, knowing i could no longer live close to them. (now separated by oceans - with no (legal) way to resolve this distance. these friends, i consider my family, who i now see only once every few years.) other friends, also lost their friendships that morning too.

while everything is incredible now & you are on top of the world together at the moment, please remember all it can take is an elbow from someone, for you to topple off. while you might believe that your life is what you make of it, realise that no-one gets to where they get to - the pinnacle or the base - without the influence of others. no one 'succeeds' from within a vacuum, or without support. none of today's refugees (adults or children) stepping onto dangerous boats to cross the Mediterranean to escape their wartorn homelands, are in their real-life life & death situation entirely of their own doing. if you believe you create everything in your life, you might also believe, if anything ever turns sour, that this is also your fault.

we all have incredible opportunities, moments of good fortune, traumas & losses of different kinds. they are not always entirely of our own doing. i have been just as lucky and cursed as anyone else in life. definitely incredibly lucky that i have had a soulmate connection with two people, as he has now too. what he & i had, meant the world to me. i can safely assume it means the world to you now.

remember that a healthy amount of questioning and trusting your gut, is something you should never shut down. if i had done,  a conversation many months earlier might have brought a respectful closure to something that i never wanted to end. it might have lessened my heartache & perhaps i wouldn't have been a fool to rent two places in two cities for someone else, only to have them never arrive. instead, like the deafening slap of a palm contacting a cheek, the life i loved & lived for, was guillotined. (at least my gut instinct awoke.)

clichéd as it might be, you are the upgrade model. you have a better chance than i did. please live the life you have now to the fullest, which i expect you are, and also with your eyes open.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

two weeks on

4th May: your words

hey ,

…..fuck somaya,i actually don´t wanna do this,reading you´r posts, sorry when i read post that´s not intended for me, but i have to give a comment on this….

i still have feelings for you…but not in the way you wanna i have…i really really wanna be still you´r friend, but i don´t think the relationship works. ...i don´t feel in the relationship wise feeling. you a really great and special person and please don't rethink about you´r plans coming to berlin and study.

i´m getting angry and unhappy when we have to talk about this. thats frustrating and hurting and killing feelings.

i always enjoyed the sex with you,really never had better one before.

i still will support you when you will come to berlin or what ever is you´r plans. i don´t wan´t that you rethink about you´r plans that bringing you forward in you´r career.

so question from me to you…really serious: can we just friends for a while?

and for you´r question of speaking about this. ...i would say october is a good month to meet somewhere in the world. maybe for a week. and then we can speak and look how we handle this.


yet by the 20th May, there was her


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

food haunting & memories

making the food of someone that has departed your life is always complicated.
it brings many memories & emotions & yet.... for whatever the reason, there are days that just seem like the right day to be doing it.

my father had a partner for several years, he built up this whole new relationship & then realised he wasn't happy. his partner was happy, and she was lovely. her son wasn't so happy. he just wanted to be with his dad, not some man who didn't want to have to spend time with him.

anyway, in between the somewhat excitement of a tween setting up a new house and family situation, after loosing my family, where i got to choose the paint for my bedroom wall (the only time i've ever been able to do that ever, given the long-running rental share-house accommodation i've ended up living in ever since...) the colour i chose was  deep purple, so it kinda looked like a witchy den. but far more pristine. the only good thing about that relationship not lasting is that i soon would've come to regret the slightly oppressive colour palate i'd chosen.

when we weren't painting the walls, theresa would make pancakes with me. large round ones with slices of apple or peach laid out like the spokes of a wheel on one side of the pancake. these were delicious. and probably my best memories of that time & those people. the making of the apfelpfannkuchen. by mid-late 1991, my father had ended that relationship and i didn't really see theresa or her son alex ever again.

i must have photos of these weekend pancake mornings somewhere, badly stored, in less than desirable archival conditions.

ive been thinking a lot about this lately, the signature of those no longer a part of your life. whether by death, or heart break or otherwise... a 'signature' on so many levels.

at christmas time, christian used to make christmas cookies from his mother's recipe. he would bake a few batches and i'd try to see if i could subsist on these alone. some days, i did pretty darn fine.

we would improvise, using a vodka bottle as a rolling pin, probably not the right kind of jam, given we were doing in sydney and down the coast at a place near tilba. i'm sure that the german marmelades would have been far better for these kinds of biscuits, but i loved them all the same. they were something so special. to him, to me, to us.

then we'd cut them out with star cookie cutters, stick a layer of marmalade in between them with the tops having an extra smaller star cut out for the sticky-ness to poke thru. i never did get to make these in the winter in berlin with christian, nor make them with his mum. so many regrets. always.

as for my greek grandmother, while the thought of her synonymous is with the smell of onion or leek, frying in olive oil, the dish that she made was the mediterranean baked potato dish that seemed to be warm & tangy; tasting of lemon & tomatoes. i learnt to cook many other things with her, but that is sone thing that really stands out: an almost wabisabi flavour.

again, photos are in the 'archives'. (those dodgy archives)

a previous partner's mother made some pretty awesome meals for her kids (to which i just added myself to the cohort). the best & favourite of these was french onion soup, accompanied by the little toasty bits with melted cheese, then dunked in the soup, if i remember...

my dad wasn't the greatest cook, but he taught me the pleasures of fried cheese over a campfire and cooked tomatoes on buttery toast for breakfast on a cold dark winter morning. those two foods - tho not elaborate - will always remind me of him.

i'm wondering what my signature dish will ever be. risotto with asparagus & blanched almonds? buckets of fried halloumi at parties (not that i get to go to many of these any more as my friends are too distant/i'm too remote), or the winter full of veggie soups i regularly cooked up on a friday nite for the prez flatties. i miss those times there. i miss them & i wanna go back....

Wednesday, August 06, 2014