Diamonds in the Backyard. On an Experimental Art Project About Unveiling our True Selves

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by Caro Quirán
©Jana Drozodva

If we are meeting around these lines, there is a big chance that you and I were born free. Freedom meaning enjoying our senses, using the possibilities life has to offer us; waking up in a safe place, not fearing that we can't make it through the next couple of days. 

Most of us have access to an abundance of chances and liberties: education, free social interactions, good jobs, freedom of movement, careers, financial stability, among many other presents of our lifetime buffet. Jana and I were born free, too. At this point you might be wondering who is writing this. Jana Drozdova is a self-taught designer born in Russia, and I am a conceptual artist and journalist born in Colombia. We have lived in Vienna for quite a while and in our lives full of adventures we happened to meet on the road, coming from totally different backgrounds and having almost zero possibilities to meet somewhere; our common tool to reinvent ourselves, the pen, brought us together. 

Since early this year, we have all been experiencing an emotional rollercoaster due to the so-called Corona pandemic. A situation without precedents and no script to be found to be performed. We saw that the securities we have been taking for granted on a daily basis can suddenly be threatened. We have seen the time pass and every month came with a new surprise. And just when we thought things were settling down, fires started burning in the United States. Even though the BLM – “Black Lives Mater” – movement has been raising awareness since 2013, this year was different. 

These events might seem as if they were happening far in the distance, they might seem unconnected to us and often times we might even find ourselves thinking “we’re unable to change” that “foreign” reality. But the truth is that our lives, as vibrant as they can be, are destined to perish. And that is our common ground, the ground where Jana and I want to plant hope, togetherness and community!

The fact is that nobody is left out from life’s equation. Consequently, sooner or later, every one of us is met by the waves of our actions. We, of course, have many questions. For example: Why is there such a big gap between the world’s currencies? The countries with fewer natural resources have the most valuable ones. Whilst the so called “undeveloped” or “third world countries” in spite of being the richest of the world in flora, fauna, territorial sea waters and minerals, are those with the highest poverty rates and the lowest world´s currencies. Isn't that ironic? Have you ever wondered where does it all come from? Your food, your clothes, your make-up, your resources? Have you ever been thankful for the platforms you've got to express who you want to be? Have you really been thankful for all that you just received without having to fight for it? Have you wondered about the relation between taking and giving and the right we all have towards profiting from this world's abundance?

We might not have all the answers but we couldn’t wait any longer before taking action towards the construction of a better world for those who could not choose, because of their skin color, social class, gender, among others; we could not simply continue seeing how many are at the bottom of the social pyramid we all are forming shine towards the pinnacle. Ultimately, we strive for a better place for all of us.

We have felt the real meaning of not being alone, genuinely feeling the connection between humankind. This has been the moment that compels us to reconnect with our deeper selves; we are happy to tell you that art has been our savior. And so, whilst the actual circumstances feel like a déjà vu of the first months of the lock down; Jana and I have continued with a project we created early this year, called Stories Lab.

We are acting from a space of citizenry awareness. We are thrilled by belonging, finding common spaces for discussion and creation. Every one of us has a story to tell. Stories of community, of migration, of oppression, which, through our art, we transform into power and light. 

Gathering our tales has allowed us to create nets where we meet, interact and connect in different ways and like this, continue growing together. This is the first stage of a book we plan to release next year. We step firmly towards our goals because we are convinced we can be the change we have been waiting for.

We want to impact taking action and therefore we created an IG account where the process can be witnessed and joined anytime you feel like. 

The act of telling your story is a way to empower yourself and at the same time, it empowers the reader. We believe those are steps which help moving our societies towards less self-centered spaces. Exercising our right to talk is the beginning of our healing process. Clarence Darrow once said “it´s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but rather the most adaptable to change.”

Once again, nature is there to teach us how to face challenges, just like diamonds that come from the darkest substances and reach their highest strength and shine only by surrendering to heat and pressure. The same way that diamonds break through to the surface with all their shine and sparkle, we too can break through to the surface of our inner selves. Together!

Stories Lab is conceived in the spirit of these challenging times. Instead of feeling alone, we have been navigating these times with the certainty that we are indeed all connected; we are all one! 

We have come together in creation, following the understanding that in order to live in power, we need one another. We are doing this with so much love that you, without doubt, will feel our hearts beating!

For more information and unique designs check @strslab @jana_mamao @caroquiran

Caro Quiránis a writer with a master’s degree from the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. She studied journalism at the University of Cauca in Colombia and script writing in Barcelona, Spain. She calls her work ARTivism, which often combines topics such as migration, colonization, and cultural heritage with digital media, photography, and text. Co-founder of the Latinoamerican Women's collective Trenza. Lives between Colombia and Austria.