Snow Q: “when artists go to work” by Maria Jastrzębska

Toni Morrison famously reported a conversation with a fellow artist when she was feeling helpless and dejected about the U.S.A and he told her that this was precisely the time when artists go to work. ‘Not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!’ We are living in scary times when inequality, poverty, the abuse of power and with it the abuse of the planet seem to be growing, not diminishing. All the more reason to make art, to try to connect with each other.

Maria Jastrzębska’s Snow Q poems, originally inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen story are about ‘ice in the heart’, disconnection between people, the loss of hope. There are three characters in the live literature performance which the Snow Q team are putting together ready for February 2020: Gerda and Kai, two young people, one of whom Kai goes missing, after disappearing from their home without a word to anyone and the Crow a chorus, story-teller, timeless trickster. More about Crow to follow in another post. Gerda and Kai both identify as non-binary. When asked about these two characters Maria said:

“What does society offer our young people? A world that is falling apart, unemployment and massive debts, a world that still peddles blue/camouflage for boys and pink/flowery for girls. My generation challenged those stereotypes and the next generation is doing it in their own way. I’ve see young people doing amazing things – look at Extinction Rebellion or the anti-fascist marches in Poland or Greece for instance. But struggle doesn’t always mean big public events. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to get through the day. Gerda sets out on her quest to find Kai. But Gerda and Kai are both lost in different ways, in a landscape that is part contemporary, part fairy tale. And these are poems – they are not a literal story. They will be interwoven with sound recordings, with Peter Copley’s incredible music and Wendy Pye’s awesome film work, using some of Dagmara Rudkin’s stunning, original art work. ”

Kai says:

Snow makes everything quieter.
Plastic, shattered bone – even
rubbish looks beautiful. A trial of prints,
maybe fox? People’s footsteps. Never wanted
to walk in anybody’s. You mustn’t go to sleep
in snow mustn’t lie down.  But it’s all
you want to do in snow…

Here are performance director Mark Hewitt and Maria trying to figure it all out in one of their café haunts and here below is the composer Peter Copley presenting  Maria with a very ‘hi-tech’ suggestion for blending film and words. Where would we artists be without our scraps of paper?!

By Maria Jastrzębska

This blog was originally published on Snow Q Project‘s website on 16 December 2019.

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