By Justine Maxelon

For more than a year i’ve been trying to rest, to rest from and within a fragmented, overbusy life. Sometimes i manage, most often i don’t. Needless to say that i don’t feel alone in it. There were many occasions where i could have learned from periods where i had to rest to heal from sickness and from working and living with persons dealing with severe illness. Yes, sickness and ‘sick’ people were and are my teachers when it comes to allowing for rest. I could have learned and i believe i did, but still i don’t manage to incorporate rest sufficiently into my daily life, if i’m not forced to. So, i’m not an expert on rest, and i don’t strive to be one, but i engage with rest, and i try to practice it. Failing and learning and failing again. This chapter offers reflections, questions and a variety of voices on the topic of rest and its associated themes that i and we have encountered in thinking and ‘working’ with and through rest. It starts with the newsletter text from SOTA’s event “Time to Rest” in 2021.

I would suggest to read slowly and in pieces through this chapter in order to experience another rhythm in this upcoming wintery season.


drawing by Eline De Clercq

November is a month of gates and doorways, between the living and the dead, a month of transitions and of silence. How can the arts, which are often driven by results, get to rest? Some continue their passions in all silence; others recover from exhaustion and burn-outs. Again, others withdraw from the overdrive of constant search for growth.

-----Newsletter Text by SOTA, 2021 (Eline De Clercq, Nicolas Galeazzi, Justine Maxelon)-----

“Everything in nature needs to rest. The Earth cannot exist without deep pauses. Farmers allow the soil to rest before planting seeds. Our bodies deserve nothing less”.

The Nap Ministry

Our bodies deserve to rest, as all bodies deserve to rest, and still rest often has its value underestimated in our society, as well as in the arts. Though we feel we know the value of rest and its importance to recharge our energies and draw inspiration through being aimless and directionless, it’s often easier said than done. Working or being constantly available throughout the day or the weekend seems to be the norm to respond to the ever-changing demands of a capitalistic framework. Even when time and schedules are not the issues keeping us from resting, we often don’t seem to manage to create expansive periods of lying fallow?

Is rest even possible at all in an overstimulating environment? Rest as an active engagement, asks for more than a passive attitude of doing nothing, or simply not working.

We believe that rest deserves a valid place in our communities and in the arts.

In nature, we observe [seasonal cycles of rest]. How can this be translated to human work relations, or do we need to create our own cycles of rest? How would our society and the arts be structured with welcomed periods of rest? How could rest be incorporated into a vision on ‘fairer art practices’?

We are transforming our first almanac session into a day of experimentation on rest.

Our proposal is simple: We invite you to rest or to support rest.

Supporting rest might seem a contradiction in the first place. But as we are all living in different situations, different arrangements are necessary to allow for rest. Some have children that define their timeframes and abilities to rest, some are living in precarity and can’t afford to rest, some don’t have a restful environment…

On the other hand, some are ‘resting well’, and have stored enough energy to even support rest in others.

Through setting up a mutual support system that allows for rest, we want to reflect on rest by engaging with it in a practical way.

All you need to do is choose; if you want to rest on that day or if you can offer to support the rest of someone else.