In conjunction with our current exhibition, The Power of Labeling, we are pleased to present you with Exhibit Focus Fridays! Every Friday for the next few weeks, we will highlight an aspect of the exhibition, for example, a specific piece, an interview or commentary by an artist or advisory committee member, a reflection regarding our process, and so on. This week, The Power of Labeling artist, Meaghan Leferink, responds to another piece featured in the exhibit, the album Never Again by Birthdays.
In their artistic statement, Birthdays pose the question, “When there are no clear labels on a relationship, when does it start? When does it end?” The statement also speaks to the continuous loop of stagnation versus the urge to move on that can come from such an ambiguous relationship. As one of the other artists who used their relationship as a springboard for creative work for The Power of Labeling, I thought it was important for me to take a listen to Birthdays’ album, Never Again, and highlight some of the lines that speak with eloquence to the feelings of identity within a relationship.
The Power of Labeling’s home page sets the viewer up with a link to “Every Place is This Place No. 3” off of Never Again, but I am actually glad that I clicked on through to the full album and found the songs “Affection Attention,” and the first iteration of “Every Place is This Place.” I let the crackly low-fi and the grumbling melodies grind through thoughts and memories of a tumultuous and erratic relationship, without definition or boundary. These two songs, through straightforward lines like “I only exist when you give me attention/I only live when you give me affection” and “I’m not myself when I’m with you, but that’s okay/Cause I don’t know who I am anyway” evoke the very real and sometimes scary feeling that you’ve been caught up in your romantic partner’s world this whole time, to the point where you bleed into each other and stop being yourselves. And eventually, that stops feeling okay, and you’re left with…what?
The small sound pieces that I contributed to The Power of Labeling sometimes used just plain earnest love, and other times tongue in cheek humor to explore my relationship and how my partner and I face our world together. Birthday’s Never Again uses pure honest melancholy to fill a void and create an identity, that is torn out of the grip of another. I am glad both pieces can add depth to a conversation about how our relationships with other people help shape who we are ourselves.
Meaghan Leferink is the Program Director at Seattle Music Partners, performs with Seattle Pro Musica and supports many other youth development and music education focused programs with her time. She is a musician and artist, and the creator of many delicious sangrias.