Composed by Vivien Huynh / Images of RŪPAHAUS

We sat down with Bella Corser of @musesofbella, a visual artist and a story teller; and a great friend to RŪPAHAUS.

It's a woman's world

There used to be a place I worked at that everyone would make fun of. It was an old, run-down building filled with things that no kid today would know about, and weeks on end all that circulated was how much the managers wanted to close this it down. It became almost a breeding ground for complaints, and all of us would laugh when something broke. Though, we loved it. We never understood it until they actually closed the place down and for that I realised it was because the building came with many memories. Memorable experiences, to ones you don’t want to be reminded of. It was a place you hated to love. Bella Cleopatra, lives in a place we say we hate to love. New York City became a temporary stop-over, to a now home to thousands of people who would say the same. Have you ever spoken to a New Yorker? They could give you 50 bad reasons and somehow make you want those reasons to happen for you. This is what the city does to you and the millions of tourists flooding the Empire State each year. Someone would ask you how long you need in the city and you would say, “at least 2 weeks” but you get handed with an expression that reads “That’s SUCH a long time in a CITY?”

But we’re not here to talk about New York. Bella is looking at me with a gaze that relinquishes ease, because it seems we’ve begun with an acknowledgement of pre-confusion when we both arrived here. “Yea I didn’t really like it at all..” she pauses at the sound of raging sirens through the streets, “but, you know, it grew on me and now I’m 26 and I’m back here.” Shrugging slightly, but not at all hesitant nor regretful about her comment, there’s a shared understanding with the feelings this city accentuates. “I would say the worse is obviously living in a place where everyone here is so full on and on top of their game. Success here really comes down to the work that you’re doing in terms of the work you do to make money.” It couldn’t be any more true. We’ve seen the city become the palette for fashion and the arts. Home to famous museums, fashion weeks and renowned restaurants, this city is known to generate the most forward and progressive thinkers. I look back over to Bella, and she responded before I could even ask, telling me that the move contributed to her recent decision to embark the life long dream of acting. “Something I have always been passionate about” as she describes, a passion of hers that was suppressed until now. “I think to act is a deep discovery of the self and you kind of have to really strip yourself down and build yourself up continuously. The characters you explore, you actually explore aspects of yourself.” She reminds us of the difficulties that come with wanting to walk your own path without being dissuaded by others and I agree that for the most part, would it be as fulfilling if it didn’t take some effort to get there?

“I think to act is a deep discovery of the self and you kind of have to really strip yourself down and build yourself up continuously. The characters you explore, you actually explore aspects of yourself.”

“Moving here was a bit of a radical shift for me, I went from the literal jungle to a concrete jungle” a balinese upbringing contributed to why the sudden change became too apparent for Bella, as a child she was accustomed to the flora and fauna, yet what was there to offer her in NYC other than streets decked out with people and you wouldn’t have to know her to be able to pick her out like a sore thumb. Still rubbing our heads and trying to piece together why this city has truly embraced their polar opposite new acquaintance, though it’s so much more than just a relocation. “I love film. Just the medium of film is so incredible, the storytelling, the universality of the stories you can tell, but also the universality of human emotions and how everyone can find their truth in a story.” In part this is why she’s situated here for now; a place that dishes up a fair few colleges that churns out the best art has to offer, has pushed her to break boundaries —“but I also want to tell the stories of women in particular” swiftly drumming up her explanation, “I mean, not to exclude men, but that’s definitely a main focus. We live in such a world that is dictated by phallocentric lens, to see things through feminine lens would be incredible” — this is where we realised we have just walked ourselves into a perpetual discussion of the female agenda , which we didn’t mind at all. In fact, there should always be room for a woman’s perspective. Perhaps she is just what this city needs, a ballad that accompanies a soundtrack. One to put on when you to remind yourself to take it slow.

Many times has this city forgiven itself for not having its own ballad amongst the horde of fast paced bodies. Bella has utilised this opportunity to inject most of what she can into an environment that she knows does not have the time to listen; but she knows it’s also the source for all kinds of folk. Recently she has brought into fruition a passion project of hers that require endless interviews with women, helping define what it means to be a woman today. She calls it the “muses of Bella”, a blog website in the making, “we grow up in a world where both men and women, but women more so, experience this. You’re told what to do, how you should be or act, so this will be an exploration of a woman’s experience in this world.” It serves to also create a real and honest conversation between ordinary women, an aspect of this discussion that you don’t see often on social media platforms — “it’s either a dramatic tone or political overcoat, or it’s a story of the supermodel who’s also a great mum and business woman, but you know it’s all bullshit really..” the feeling circulates the room again, and we remember the safe space we’re in “I want to hear about these women’s stories essentially, covering things from what they do for work, to their sexuality, sensuality, their experiences and their childhood.”

Through her eyes we can see how travelling has opened doors, but having the privilege to live in several countries has enriched her life. “Being exposed to so many different types of cultures and people, I think I have more of an understanding towards people. When you’re coming from different places, you gain a lot of empathy and sympathy, so it’s easier to relate to people.” Bella is a woman of nature, her parents being Australian and Greek descent has made her more aware of the world outside her own. As she continues to reiterate, the ignorance displayed from the places she’s visited have “created an unnecessary divide” and as we agreed, most of it is has been psychologically made-up in our minds. As I’m asking these questions, I’ve begun to reflect on the flow that i’ve been swept up in since meeting Bella. A candid vessel that has been building a safe passage for women all around since she was a child. “Yes, I’m concerned with feminism” — not that it’s ever a requirement to voice the rights you’re fighting for, “I’ve had a few hormonal problems since my late teens, and it’s just not something that’s not really spoken about for us. It’s a huge problem and the general education isn’t there. I want to share my experiences and help people.”

At times, it’s hard to capture the very essence of your core beliefs and get a hold of the fear you have in losing others that think you’re preaching. Yet over the past few years, I’ve recognised that only good people fight the good fight, and Bella has been there with open arms from the beginning. “When you’re connecting with people, or sharing love with people, that’s when you can successfully execute your creativity. You just have to remind yourself to take responsibility for yourself as no one is going to fix this, and if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect other people to believe in you?”.