A room of my own

Do you know procrastination? Do you procrastinate? I do.

But I don't procrastinate to avoid tedious tasks – I try to avoid tasks that I love. It is easier for me to do my taxes than to create. My creation process consists of procrastination after procrastination. But after many years as a professional artist and performer, I am ok with that. It is part of my creative work.

My new procrastination activity is writing grant applications. It is becoming quite a sport, a rush, or maybe even an addiction. Granted, it is not the worst addiction. And I am quite good at it – I secured some amazing programs for this year. For example, I received the so called Basis-Förderung Sachsen-Anhalt: complete financial security for 2024 and 2025 plus money for creation and production of two new performances. Only four artists receive this per year, and I am the first circus artist ever. But still. It is procrastination. Usually I am doing this instead of doing something else. Instead of creating, rehearsing, or training.

Circus MühleI think I am overwhelmed. After 50 years of living in big cities (Munich, Prague, Moscow, Berlin), I moved to the tiny town of Kelbra in the rural area of southwestern Saxony-Anhalt: to establish a place of creation and artistic production for myself and for other artists: CircusMühle Kelbra.

Of course I am overwhelmed. I live in a new space, in rural Germany, in a right wing region. I have to learn new codes, a new dialect, a new sociolect. I have to be careful when to flaunt my feminism, my sub-cultural leftist life style. For the first time since high school, I have to deal daily with people outside of my artist bubble, regular people, "normale Bürger". And most of all, I moved here with my partner alone. I miss my friends, my colleagues, my Berlin bubble. I have to relearn how to train, how to work, how to create – alone. All this, while putting so much work into making CircusMühle Kelbra happen. So much WORK.

But I am also overwhelmed in a good way. I am living my dream. After more than twenty years of artistic creation in gyms, flea market spaces, barns, and garages, I finally have "a room of my own". I have a space to create and train whenever I want, without limitations. Virginia Woolf was so right: my art can thrive now. And it is thriving. I have been able to focus on new creation (two premieres last year, one next week: W.A.L.D.), while touring with other performances. And it feels incredible, to have this space, and to really have space.

W.A.L.D. Jana Korb 2024Combined with the fact that I also have "five hundred pounds per year" as Virginia Woolf wrote, financial security for the next two years (Basis-Förderung), I am really living my dream.

Achieving one's dreams can be overwhelming. I have to grasp my feelings. I have to learn how to operate now, in this new setting. I have to understand how to be content, how not to be in permanent hunting mode. So of course I procrastinate like this. Instead of letting my feelings sink in, instead of letting myself arrive and explore my possibilities, I turn to writing more grant applications – chasing after the feelings I know, in the pursuit of something that I do not have yet.

But I will get there. I will overcome my overwhelm. This space will help me, heal me. This space, CircusMühle Kelbra.

It used to be an industrial water mill. After German reunification in 1989 it was mostly abandoned, until we aquired it in 2022 to turn it into an open space, an artistic space, a space full of opportunities.

With CircusMühle Kelbra we are in the process of establishing a creation and production space for performing arts, site-specific performance and contemporary circus, that will cover all aspects of the artistic process, both permanently for associated artists and for temporary artists in residence. Artists will be able to rely on the professional, spatial, and material infrastructure of the place, thus combining all artistic and creative skills. A space for joint artistic collaboration.

We already have 20 beds in five appartments, fully equipped with bathrooms, kitchens, heating, warm water, and internet. And we have a first rehearsal space: 12m x 8m, 7,50m high, with basic heating, floor mats, crash mats, rigging equipment for circus, basic sound and light equipment etc. The town has good transport connections (train station 20 minutes by foot, highway in 7 minutes) and basic infrastructure with a supermarket, bakery, pharmacy, etc. within walking distance. The landscape is beautiful: Kelbra is located in the valley between Kyffhäuser and South Harz on the Kelbra reservoir (with a renowned resting place for cranes and other migrant birds).

So I invite you to come and visit. Come and work. Or just take a break and reload.

And yes, I have appllied for funding to get you here. If I get it, there will be two programs for (physical) theater women:

"Feminist voices in circus arts" – a six weeks residency for five European artists (except Germany) to explore queer-feminist methods of circus creation – and "Raum Zeit Zirkus" – a five day think-tank about site (and time) specific creation in theater and circus. Please let me know, if you are interested in one of these programs.

Or just come and visit! I really miss you all!

Jana Korb
Kelbra, March 2024

www.luftartistin.de/produktion/circusmuehlekelbra (temporary website in German)

Photos by Tobias Stiefel.