On the Couch with Tina Stefanou

Tina-Stefanou-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Tina Stefanou?
Who is anyone? It’s not simply put and always complicated. Never one and made up of many – always in motion. However, there is something that is consistent and that could just be life-living-lifeness. Identities both constrict and give a sense of belonging. For today, I am a granddaughter.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would be easier on myself and take more time out from art-academic aspirational navigation. I would also do more dancing. I wish I had the guts to become an astronaut. Also, get better at growing food and building shelters.

Who inspires you and why?
I have met so many wonderful people and creatures who have pushed and soothed me. My canine companion inspires me to be more loving and open. I met some beautiful cows at a robotic dairy farm the other day and their resilience is inspiring. Also, the horses at Jocklebeary Farm remind me to lean into a slower sense and sensitivity.

Not sure how I feel about inspiration in general – my partner Joseph recently sent me this quote by Harrison Birtwistle: “I don’t believe in inspiration. When people say, ‘Oh that was my moment of inspiration,’ it usually means they’ve lifted the idea from someone else. If they found a toad and then painted a picture of a sunrise- now, that would be inspiration.”

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Hmm I am suspicious of anyone individual making claims about creating a difference in the world. Also different for who? It’s a pretty human-centric thing to proclaim what needs to be done! I suppose composting my excrement will have to do for now.

The planet and its inhabitants have ongoing, visible, and invisible crisis, I am not a utopic person fixated on affluent ideas of revolution (self-love capitalism). Finding ways to shift from competitive market-driven relations would be good and for the state to be recaptured for those whose lives have never been so easily plotted.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My caravan. Because it always feels like I am on holiday.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
A walk around the local area. The attraction is our connection to one another – if they feel like going to a gallery or monument, they can do that anywhere. Usually, a big feast together is what hits the spot.

What are you currently reading?
I love reading my grandmother’s farm, walking everyday with Huxley, and finding kindling for the fire. Also, Michael Taussig’s I Swear I Saw This.

What are you currently listening to?
My wood burner.

Happiness is?
Spontaneous silliness and a non-leaky caravan roof. Also working with my voice and imagination in service of others.

What does the future hold for you?
I am currently engaged in a 40-year research project on creative affirmative practices around death, dying and elderhood. I suppose the future will circulate around this as I step deeper into joyful making with others, caring for family members, and heading towards the edges of my own youthful body on a troubled planet.

I am also in the middle of setting up an arts residency and would love that to be a container for multispecies practices and support for lower economic artists. Creating other spaces and forms of presenting work that isn’t held up by wealthy institutions or aesthetics is important to me and I think the future (like the present) will be very challenging on many levels – other models/values will be necessary. In 200 years, maybe a tree (fingers crossed!).

Tina is a Performer & Collaborator on Chamber Made’s My Self in That Moment – that will be presented at The Substation, Newport in a world premiere season from 27 – 30 July 2022. For more information, visit: www.chambermade.org for details.

Image: Tina Stefanou (supplied)