Mel x Zoë
Finding freedom and purpose through self-appreciation
Mental health advocate Mel knows all too well the debilitating and endless pursuit of being ’good enough’. In this powerful combination of poetry and dance, Mel and artist Zoë give agency and self-determination back to the body, showing the strength in survival and in appreciating the body for the life it gives us.
Mel Keller-Tuberg (she/her)
What started off as a seemingly normal preoccupation with health turned into a sinister, obsessive and never-ending pursuit to be ‘good enough’. I went through cycles of lethargy and hopelessness, wrecked family relationships, physical and emotional damage. I was diagnosed with disordered eating in 2013 and was in treatment and recovery for Anorexia Nervosa until 2016.
Through recovery, I learned to appreciate my body simply because it allows me to do the things I love. If it wasn’t for my body, I wouldn’t be able to pet my cats, go on a bushwalk, hug my friends and family, see a movie or have bubble baths. I am proud to say that I have learned to listen to my body and am fully dedicated to taking care of it. My eating disorder made me feel worse not better, and now that I am recovered, I am able to feel passionate and purposeful about the things that I do in life.
Zoë Bastin (she/her)
In society girls are so pressured to measure up to an unreasonable standard of femininity. Mel and I wanted to make a work that was about what a body could do, rather than what it looked like. We made a dance that showed agency and self-determination in the body it portrayed. You get a body telling her story, a body that moves the way she wants to; a body that chooses life.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
If we listen, respect and love our bodies for the things they do, not the way they look, we are freer to learn more about ourselves, what we love doing and the world around us.
I’m really interested in the value that we (as a society and individuals) place on our bodies. My personal belief is that bodies should be first and foremost valued for their incredible functional capabilities rather than their specific aesthetic qualities! The ‘look’ of a body should be totally free from judgements about a person’s character, personality and value.
I’d like to see conversations shift away from being about what the body looks like to appreciating what the body does. Everyone deserves to and should feel beautiful! However, I don’t think the answer is to try to feel beautiful all the time. Personally, I’ve found that the key to feeling more confident in my own skin is not changing that skin, but learning more about myself, what I love doing and doing those things often.
After workshopping ideas with Mel through Visible I played around using some of the things she said. As this work responded directly to her experiences and incredible strength in survival I wanted to make sure I used her language. I then wrote a poem which I read aloud in the work and experimented with movement, mostly by improvising while I was reading. I put together a playlist of songs, some from artists Mel had suggested and started to rehearse. Then I worked with videographer Madeline Bishop to find a location to film and we chose the lighting, camera angles and film style together.
Zoë was an incredible partner to work with. I’m in awe of her talent to transform my story into a piece of art which truly touches the emotional core of what it means for the mind and body to grow through the adversity of eating disorder. I’ve always felt safe, listened to and respected by her. I’ll most definitely be keeping up with all her artsy things in the future because she is a-mazeeee-ing.
Mel Keller-Tuberg (she/her)
Mel is a 22 year old university student and youth advocate passionate about making a positive impact in Australian mental health. Mel believes in the power of storytelling to reduce mental health stigma, promote awareness and drive away toxic cultures which make people feel ashamed to reach out for help. In her free time, she loves mountain running, horror movies, playing and listening to jazz music!
Zoë Bastin (she/her)
Zoë Bastin is an artist, sometimes writer and self-described rat bag. Zoë works in-between dance and sculpture creating choreography, objects, videos, writing and performances. Since childhood she’s been fascinated by gender roles in dance class; particularly who’s allowed to do what and why. Currently undertaking her PhD at RMIT University, she researches gender by transforming patriarchal hierarchies in bodies and objects. Zoë runs the Queer(y)ing Creative Practice live on Bus radio, performs often and is currently working with a team of eight dancers on an immersive performance called That Which Was Once Familiar.