It just sort of snuck up on me, a few weeks ago when I realized it had been a whole year since I bought the house that would become WOMB. There is so much I want to say that it has made my first
official blog entry a challenging one to synthesize the most important factors for this first cycle around the sun...
WOMB is a very personal project, it is the birth of something bigger than myself, my child, my infant who is just learning how to walk. Also, it is teaching me how to be an adult, parent, guardian, stewart. It has tested my patience, my courage, my finances, my creativity. I have have had moments of wanting to give up, of wondering if I had made a huge mistake. But mostly awaking every day to feel the deepest sense of purpose and joy I have ever known.
Before I go any further, I want to share a little historical context, starting in 2017 I had a strong sense that the world was on a tipping point and that a big global change was coming. Something so massive it would send humanity into a tailspin. It was the intensity of this intuition that lead me to leave everything I had ever known in San Francisco, California, to unabashedly follow my dreams without a clue of how it would all coalesce.
In November of the same year, fate brought me to Mexico City. At first, I hated it. The noise, the pollution, the sense of chaos, my stomach constantly hurt, I knew no one, I felt alone. Despite my loathing, I quickly got to know a beautiful community of artists, and before I knew it, I started on what would become a performance piece called, Aire (click here to see more), poetry in protest of the air pollution of Mexico City, it was an active prayer for the right to breathe.
Part of the Aire performance involved creatures wearing custom-designed gas masks. These creatures walked the streets with faces fully covered representing a world where air is so toxic we no longer leave the house without a mask. Who was to know that in 2020 this would be the new norm. But not because the the air per se, rather a flu that scared the world into constantly wearing face gear. Interesting enough, although it gets no airtime there are doctors that state it's not the virus alone that is the problem rather the toxic air quality which combines with COVID to make a deadly cocktail for some people. (Link provided here to more info for those who are interested).
After the success of the performance Aire, I knew that Mexico City would become my new home. For a solid year I searched and searched for the building that would become WOMB, a dream I had been developing my entire life of creating a creative and sustainable art sanctuary and gathering space.
I kept finding lots of "almost" perfect spaces, but nothing was quite right. It was when I actually gave up, that an ad online caught my attention. The house for sale was everything I wanted; big but not massive, older but not a demolition project, an incredible staircase, large windows, lots of light, tile floors, a garden with roses, a rooftop that could be converted into a gathering space, close to public transport but not on a busy street. It was too good to be true. And then I got cold feet. Thankfully, a few close friends in my life reminded me of my dream and that this was the moment, on December 19, 2019, I took the plunge and committed all my financial resources and my hopes on this new venture.
WOMB began very simply. The first artists in residency convinced me that we should have a soft inauguration. I was dubious because I thought that the house should be "perfect" before we could host such an event. I also had a fear that no one would attend, because el barrio de Portales neighborhood is outside of the cool and hip neighborhoods of Mexico City. Yet, on Feb. 28th more than 60 people attended the opening, viewing the home in its entirety, each of us creating installations in our own bedrooms, and giving a grand tour of the space. The home in its imperfections was received with so much enthusiasm and much inquiry for co-collaborations my doubts were quelled and I was optimistic of what the first year would bring.
Then then world stopped.
At first, I worried like everyone else, but at least I had an entire home/garden to play in while we were all told to stay home. I had no more financial resources, but we made do by tinkering ourselves, trying to find creative solutions to the needs of the home. In April a miracle happened, WOMB received an unexpected grant to start the first renovations, and thus began what would become the first of many changes to begin. I felt blessed because if nothing can advance on the outside, on the inside we could still move forward.
Carl Jung said the home is the representation of the psyche, the container of the self. As walls came down at WOMB, scenarios of Wagnerian proportions revealed themselves. From the rubble we created private performances and art videos based on these visual landscapes that were so raw, they felt as if they were my own walls being torn down and excavated. It became clear that I created WOMB to heal my heart, my soul and my body.
A still from a video collaboration with Amaury Gtz based on using the rubble of the walls to create a scenario.
I have also had many challenges this year in respect to the overall vision. First, the sustainability piece. Living in an urban environment is inherently unsustainable. It takes an enormous amount of effort and time to go against the current state of wastefulness and contamination. This also applies to construction and remodeling. My dreams to create and live in alignment with nature mostly failed. One has to be sustainable in sanity first, otherwise you kill the host. At some points I was so stressed out trying to save plants while workers were trampling over everyone of them, or when the compost stank to high heaven and the flies were so prolific that I felt I was living a barn full of cow shit, and then when the rats infested, I had to put a pause on some of the projects until a later date. Because I was literally falling apart physically from the stress of trying to do it all.
As I sit here in my colorful bedroom walls covered in poetry, I can still remember a year ago when all I had was a bed and two chairs and a dream to start living. My pitch deck on my computer was the blueprint, but what I've learned in this past year is every project has a life of its own, and you never know how it will evolve and who will be a part of it until it actually begins.
I am also delighted to say that despite the world circumstances, WOMB has continued to be a safe and loving gathering space for creation and collaborative events of all kinds; gardening innovations, soap making, candles, incense, photography, video, live music, dance, poetry, spiritual ceremonies, healing sessions and parties.
This year has been a year of so much renovation and clearing, letting people in and letting people go. The one thing I can say for certain is that WOMB has lived up to it's vision of being a refuge and sanctuary in the concrete jungle. Its magic continues to produce miracles when I least expect it. WOMB has pushed me to my edge and beyond. And in the words of a dear friend when I doubted if I had what it takes to bring WOMB to life, he said,"This project will grow you up." Nothing could be more true. I can confidently say the first year of WOMB has thrown me into
Here I am sitting on the huge dirt pile after excavating my garden for the cistern.
adulthood, no longer señorita, I am proud to be Doña Joui.
Feliz Año Nuevo, and many hugs and kisses to everyone on this planet.
--Joui Turandot, founder of WOMB
Here's a bullet point summary go over the different accomplishments of this year:
House Improvement Projects
-Changed out all the toilets to become low flush
-Converted the garage into a colorful workshop space
-Created a cistern and a rainwater collection system on the roof
-Removed all natural gas and put in electrical system for hot water and stove
-Changed the color of mustard on the walls to white
-Combined two closets to make my ultimate closet
-Put in a window of recycled bottles
-Removed the cement in the backyard and made it dirt again
-Put in a larger drainage system in the backyard
-Raised the back area so it no longer floods
-Rescued the garden bathroom
-Removed a wall to connect to the light well
-Removed rotting cement and stucco from the front entry, and rooftop
-Built a rooftop oven
-New tiles on a section of the roof
-Repainted and redid the floors of two of the bedrooms
-Changed the electricity
-Created mood lighting in the dinning room and living room
-Made a gold leaf wall
-Changed the doorbell
-Started a gorgeous onyx bar on the roof
-Planted tons of fruits, vegetables and herbs
-Mini bar created in the downstairs closet
-First artists in residence join Womb, Martin Renteria, Franz Antoni and Julia Stern
-Soft inauguration Feb 28th
-Medicine woman and healer Cristina Chi joins WOMB
-Series of five different COVID-19 inspired performances at WOMB by Martin Renteria, three of which internationally streamed
-William Carleton writes two books at WOMB
-Collaboration of a solar powered veggie growing cart between Adriana Carl and William Carleton
-Homemade soap and incense workshops are held by William Carleton
-Norma Flores creates a performance in one of the disheveled spaces
-Diosas Cristina Chi, Adriana Perera, Clo Garcia and Steph Flores hold workshops on the divine feminine
-Joui Turandot is featured in a documentary "Narrativas de la Pandemia" by Oscar Enriquez about artists surviving the pandemic
-Three video collaborations between Joui Turandot and Amaury Gutierrez and Laura Vargas
-Fashion shoot and video by Jessica Juliao, published in Picton Magazine
-Joui collaborates with photographer Oscar Agis in love and life in a series of pieces based on the remodeling of WOMB to collaborate on three different photo/video series: Portal
-Riva Isabella joins the collective and develops the blog
- Sept 19th "Freedom Bubble Party" where the band Solar debuts, as well as a performance by Amaury Gutz, Laura Vargas and Felix Oropeza, Martin Renteria and Francisco Retana debut a fashion collaboration based on the pandemic
-Cristina Chi hosts six cacao ceremonies
-Sacramento artist Lin Fei Fei paints a mural on the front wall in one day
-Photoshoot with make up artist Daniela Z and Oscar Agis
-Alex Rendon de la Torre debuts his book of poems "Mundo de Espectros"
-Gabrielle Roshelli creates the first mural inside WOMB
Post, post script....no woman is an island and I would like to especially thank these individuals who have been unrelenting their support (in no particular order): Thanks to Romas Viesulas for giving me the financial backbone, to Paul Dawson who told me I could do it, to Federico Tello and Luciana for for helping me craft the vision, Julia Hathaway who was with me on the first night I slept in WOMB, to Ahna Serendren my pilar in life and art, my darling uncle Ken Willmarth for being the dad I've always needed, for my father for loving me the best he can, Jon Seitel for being the little big brother I never had, to Melanie Reuter for being the little sister I never had, to Hely Reuter telling me to "go for it", to Reynito or Miguel Angel for saving my bed the first week, to Yosi Ramos for taking all my crazy and desperate calls for help, to Cristina Chi for healing my body and soul, to Martin, Franz and Will for being the pioneers, to Roderick who brought the Santa Lucia to WOMB, to Amaury and Laura for always being willing to create art with me when nobody was leaving their home, to Lin Fei Fei for painting a mural at WOMB on her one "day off", to Eva Soltes for being an inspiration and always listening to my deepest fears, to Anneliese for truly believing in me and WOMB, to my Winters community; Bill Bently, Ricard and Ellie, Sonja, Chris Gertz, Chris Rose, Jim Seymen. Thanks to Abe Spera and the Sacramento art community. To Gus G and Hector Carreto for helping me get it all done. Marisa Quiroz for more than I can ever say. Last but not least, thanks beyond words to Oscar Agis for loving me and for being willing to bring your talent and passion to WOMB.
And many thanks to the countless other people, angles, guides, spirits, and energies that collided to make this year a trying, but ultimately, the most powerful growth period of my life.