In the past three years I’ve been trying to…
break into, or more like
not play by the rules of a game that’s clearly not designed for ANYTHING useless (art) to survive
but to create my own rules, to survive, to be happy, to share happy with others, to find them first and then play. Because play will set our spirits free.
Today, I shift between that state where after a lot of listening, I become numb. I was forcing myself to care, and then I’m fearful of saying: I don’t care.
But I do, (this is the other, more hopeful state), I just can’t honestly care for everything
The act of listening to anything is to not listen to everything. Practice to discern, to tune in, to focus, to be a be fucking useful member of humanity, and fight the forces that overwhelm us and make us loose sight of the root of suffering.
I’m afraid of becoming sceptic of change. I roll my eyes at efforts of communicating ideas that hit walls. EVERYBODY HAS MADE UP THEIR MINDS. As a society, we are capable of very little, definitely not of achieving perspective. As individuals, maybe.
The truth does not set us free, we know the truth. There’s no conspiracy. All the mechanisms of corruption and greed exist at plain sight. It’s just fucking uncomfortable to try to do anything about it.
But the truth within ourselves. The truth of our actions. We have agency over the lies we tell ourselves everyday to comply, to merge, to feel accepted. Very seldom (and I believe mostly through art) we are invited to step out of the lie, to see that a life is possible without blending completely. That we can still have meaningful relationships, that we can still make a living.
That WE CAN stop lying to ourselves and others about how wonderful we are, even if instagram really wants us to believe it.
Technology has its own agency, and IT wants something. IT wants to keep us using it, developing it, "making our lives easier". Technology only moves forward, it never takes a rest to smell the flowers. It doesn’t fucking ever take a break. It lives out of our lies and out of our being forgetful of the past. And it sucks money and resources.
We are going to tell some stories that we are afraid will get forgotten: Journalists and students are being killed for exposing corruption. The government is controlled by businesses, drug cartels are just one of them, war is the main one. There’s no democracy. There has never been. Indigenous peoples continue to be dispossessed and trampled over. They’re putting the pasamontañas again, and they’re willing to die. Racism is still a reason for people to kill, imprison, and just plainly take rights away from others.
The wall has already been built.
Life feels like we see, but we can't make out anything. We hear but we can’t listen to one thing.
We are trying
We are blind leading the blind
But, at the risk of sounding super cheesy, I’m going to quote Saint-Exupéry and say: “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye”.
#alloftheabove is a dance piece about the artist’s role in times of conflict, born out of personal moments of doubt and frustration. The making of the piece posed questions of empathy, responsibility, and privilege. It also wants to defend the artists’ freedom to not be defined by their affiliation with any particular cause, while acknowledging the existence of suffering. The process is presented here as collection of written and visual sources and conversations with colleagues. I will reference Facebook (FB) often, pointing out that, although social media is now normalized as the core of our shared experience as a society, two years ago, when I started collecting these ideas, it hadn’t occurred to me that it would become so much so. I became interested in the habits of exchange of information of a certain group of people as a reflection of such group’s expression of empathy.
In August 2015, there was a post shared by Juanfran Maldonado, a friend from my hometown (Guanajuato, Mexico) with whom I haven't spoken in person in more than ten years. The post was shared from the ImpulzTanz Vienna Festival’s page, it was a picture of a printed letter, signed by “Members of the Mexican dance community”, which contained the following:
To the international arts community:
We are deeply shocked, hurt and angry about the torture and murder of Yesenia, Alejandra, Mile, Nadia and Rubén, in an apartment in the central area of Mexico City, this last July 31, 2015. This is not an isolated case, and it illustrates the escalation of violence across the country. The mathematics of terror under which we live add more victims everyday to the already thousands; people are murdered (close to 160,000 since 2007), disappeared (between 26,000 and 40,000), raped and abused in all kinds of horrifying ways without consequence. There is a pact of impunity signed by those who hold our government hostage of their interests. Neoliberalism has come to its purest form of cruelty in a situation like this. Bodies only matter as assets. The outrage we feel is very strong, and the strategies to face the facts are yet unknown.
One of the victims, Nadia Dominique Vera Pérez was well known to many of us, she was our colleague because of her work as a producer and cultural promoter. She produced the Cuatro X Cuatro International Dance Festival in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, crucial for the promotion and development of Mexican dance.
. . . As an anthropologist, Nadia strongly believed in the arts potential for social transformation, and acted accordingly, Nadia practiced as well a strenuous political activity on behalf of human rights and freedom of expression, against the injustices of an oppressing government, and in solidarity with the victims, the dead and the disappeared of our country. More than once, Nadia expressed her fear: she felt watched, marked. More than once she was threatened because of her political activism inside the state of Veracruz.
We find it very important to spread knowledge of her work and life, to talk about her, to highlight her identity, farther than just her picture of the idea of her broken body.
. . . We need your help and collaboration. We need the entire world to talk about this, because it just cannot keep going on. We live in a Mexico in which more than 90% of crimes are left unpunished, in which state violence is exercised more cynically every time, in which the notion of justice itself seems to be inaccessible. Our country is falling apart, violence gets worse, and we are subject to a greater danger everyday. Nadia was a fundamental element for art in Mexico, for dance and as members of an international community that intends to be reflexive, sensitive and critical, we believe that we are in this together. No matter if we met her or not, if we had similar aesthetic interests or not, if we are Mexican or not, a member of our community has been tortured and murdered in a failed state. Nadia’s death concerns the art community all over the world. It concerns us all. International pressure is one of the few effective protection mechanisms. We ask you to speak out with us, and since many of you perform, speak, write, screen, show . . . We ask you to take a moment during your presentations to talk about the five. We think that it is important to talk about this in spaces open to direct effective exchange.
Michelle applebaum's reflexions on her new piece
A journey into a piece of Madness
On the first day of rehearsal when the director of Dance to the People (DTTP), Maira, said, “this dance is inspired by ideas from Foucault’s Madness and Civilization,” I knew I was in the right place. I had originally arrived at the DTTP rehearsal in January to take advantage of the free training and open collaboration opportunity. I openly admitted to Maira and the rest of the DTTP crew that I was (and am) a dancing fool. Like the character I portray in Dance to the People’s Narrentanz (Dance of Fools), whose masked smile first alludes to her normalcy, I too entered the dancing space with a façade. But just as my rapid and uncontrollable hand jitter develops in the piece and the smile graduates simultaneously into a forced grin, my attempt at deception deteriorated and I revealed my real fool by the second day of rehearsal. The other dancers reciprocated.
Narrentanz formed with the support of the CUNY Dance Initiative, which gave Dance to the People a residency at the College of Staten Island. The making of the dance came from ideas of spectacle. The dance examines the discourse involved with putting on a show. Coincidentally, Foucault’s examination of the discourse associated with madness overlaps ideas of spectacle. Being mad, or a fool, wasn't always associated with medical institutionalization. Renaissance people put their mad denizens onto ships, instructing the seamen to rid the city by taking the fools out to sea. Hence where Bosch got his inspiration for Narrenschiff, the ship of fools. The spectacle of the ships, full of foreign lunatics, created great excitement for onlookers when they docked at fresh harbors. I myself had a chuckle when I looked at Bosch’s painting and thought of the boat-landing sight. Is it the familiarity with the mad that draws us to their spectacle? Is there an inner reality in folly that we possess but hide due to societal constraints?
In Narrentanz the dancers play a game, each coveting the other’s chair, dressing up in clothes, and running in space. The spectacle of the game is enticing. The challenge to win brings out the madness within each player. In rehearsal for the game section I felt unrestricted, as if I was in grammar school again. The social pre-occupation attached to the folly of wanting to win that I adapted in adulthood disappeared when I got more comfortable with the other dancers/players.