i want to be traditional

By Maritea Dæhlin


Maritea Dæhlin holds a BA (First Class HONS) in Devised Theatre with Digital Arts at Dartington College of Arts in England and an MA in Psychodrama at Escuela Mexicana de Psicodrama and Casa Luz. She also studied acting at Nordic Black Express in Norway.  Her work has been shown in various countries such as Norway, England, Portugal, USA, Mexico, Guatemala and more. She has one foot in Mexico and one in Norway, with two hands to move freely without borders. 

On recent artistic journey to the USA Dæhlin brought her performance art to various spaces in New York City and Chicago. Using ritual, and collaboration as a base for narrative. She creates movement in space, removing borders and connecting with audiences. Now she shares with TiLLT, what this narrative truly means for her artistry.

Stills from video performance by   Maritea     Dæhlin  . Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

Stills from video performance by Maritea Dæhlin. Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

’I want to be traditional like a flower, I want to be traditional like the wind, I want to be traditional like a table, I want be traditional like a home.’

My life has always been nomadic and since being a child I have had to continuously adapt to very different contexts (countries, cultures, languages). This has become central to my artistic practice, to my thoughts, to my way of living and how I see and interact with the world. I always ask myself how to keep my center, my core, to be Maritea, at the same time as being a part of the changing world which surrounds me and which I am part of. I see my performance practice as a dialogue with this space that I am moving within, as a way to question it, to see its paradoxes, to accept that I will never completely fit in. While feeling at home and still being seen as a foreigner. 

Every place where I present my work changes it in a way that I don't completely understand. I am still intrigued by how my apparently fixed solo-performance I ENVY THE KANGAROOS sometimes lasts an hour and sometimes two hours, without me being able to pinpoint what the difference has been, apart from the flow of energy between the audience, myself and the space we are in (the physical performance space and the town or city) and the language, which depending on the context flows between Spanish, English and Norwegian.

In my new project with the working title I WANT TO BE TRADITIONAL, I am trying to let this adaptability of the performance be more apparent both in my process and in the sharing of the work. Instead of making one piece, I am allowing all the material to live their own lives and have the possibility to be shared as separate works or to be merged in different a way each time it is performed to an audience, without being closed to the idea of repeating the same structure, as it will never be the same. 

I just finished a 3 weeks stay in New York where I got the chance to share my process at different venues in New York City: Center for Performance Research (CPR), Brooklyn Studios for Dance (BkSD) and at ITINERANT Performance Art Festival NYC in Socrates Park. The performance was adapted to each venue; parts were left out, tried out for the first time or repeated. Leading to a performance with video, action, sound and live translation by an audience member; performative elements that created and echo with the work of the performance artists Coco Café, Alex Romania, Megan Curet and Francheska Alcántara. Finally, an outdoor performance which was to a certain extent lost in its surroundings and at the same time became the unplanned incarnation of the words that were spoken.

‘I want to be traditional, so that you can stop and look and smile and take a step back and take out your camera (…) and leave and tell the world that you saw someone really traditional like really really, really, really, traditional, like representing people, like people that are from a place, that dress like me, that talk like me, that smell like me and you can make the hashtag #sawatrad.’
Stills from video performance by   Maritea     Dæhlin  . Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

Stills from video performance by Maritea Dæhlin. Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

The work and myself are always in some way changed by the context. At the same time, I try to keep my core as Maritea and the core of my practice, a sense of a deep honoring and offering before each performance, often it is to my ancestors or to someone that has been important to make the performance happen or just to life. Usually it is not that rational, but more of a connection with the feeling that the performance is important beyond what it might communicate in terms of subjects or form and beyond how the audience will react to my work. This prevents me from getting lost.

I usually perform barefoot so I can feel the ground and there is also almost always a swaying of my body, leaving the spine loose, as a snake, from my coccyx to my head, as that lets me be completely grounded to the floor with my feet, and open to the world (audience) with my fluid spine. The sound, vibrating through my body and coming out of my mouth is often deep, rooted in my pelvis, connecting me with a non-thinking mind. None of this has ever been conscious to me whilst making a performance, as my process is also very rational and intellectual, but I have started to acknowledge this other part that has become more present during the last months and specially collaboration and conversations with Courtney Brown (Coco Café).

Stills from video performance by   Maritea     Dæhlin  . Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

Stills from video performance by Maritea Dæhlin. Camera and light: Isaac Díaz Valderrama.

Even being a foreigner in the US I have for some reason felt very at home there with my work. After performing at various occasions someone (of color) have come up to me and said that what I was sharing in my performances is what they were feeling. Then a click occurred, it reassured me that making work, which has an autobiographical root is not necessarily just inwards, on the contrary, by talking about what is deeply important to us it might connect with something deeply important for someone else.

‘I want to be traditional to breath in my past; I want to be traditional to exhale my future. I want to be traditional to forget that many are gone, to stop feeling lonely.’
‘I want to be traditional so you can know where you come from, I want to be traditional like the fish.’

by Maritea Daehlin