‘I couldn’t get this waltz out of my head whilst building a model of collective balance or ‘equilibrium’ for my course.
Meanwhile, the density of distance is becoming palpable. Rectangular reality doesn’t count on screen, albeit it helps.
We are embracing social distancing, equidistant tape marks roughly added on the floor, a new road reading exercise.
Even dog walkers are doing this strange little choreography where you spot someone, slow down and read the movements of the person you’ve encountered, circling each other or moving to a side path whilst they past, simultaneously smiling even in the dark with thanks aloud or breathed between scarves, masks, gloves, all smothered in the darkness of the night falling.
Intrigued by movement notations I’ve seen my sister use in theatre, I started thinking about how to annotate this Covid dance.
She speaks of seeing without looking, feeling what’s happening all around and behind you. You ‘see’- but not with your eyes.
You can anticipate movement, the group moves as one. It’s an extraordinary feeling when achieved, this communion of sorts.
There is no script. It’s a fixed trajectory with tolerance to improvise, like our beautiful Brighton starlings do, like fish shoals at sea, synchronized swimming – mimicking the natural world?
We need to move in public at the same orderly pace – unless you’re a teenager, a child, or a runner. It takes discipline this order.
How to draw this?
‘Continuum’- multiple objects in continual movement at the same pace, following a joint trajectory, equidistant from each other to avoid contact.
We need collective motion found in nature that we humans have mostly forgotten.
There is no competition in these, only collaboration. We are only as strong as our weakest link.’
Solange Leon Iriarte, April 2020.
‘There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe. And yet there are very few, that will give themselves the trouble to consider the origin and foundation of that right.’- William Blackstone.
I own a beautiful piece of wild woodland, surrounded by no less than three volcanoes and crossed by a river, 7580 miles away from where I actually live, where paradoxically I do not own anything. I am a parent of a child who I am responsible for, as well as a dog and cat owner…
On a personal level, this illustrates the disconcerting principle of ownership, be that of land, air, waterways, oceans. Or indeed the planet, but we can nonetheless claim it, exploit it, and pollute it. But is ownership not just an illusion? Furthermore, if we start from the questionable premise that we do indeed own the planet, can we divide it in an equal or fair manner? And do we have a proportionate share of responsibility in the current crisis?
We have drawn lots of little dotted lines across our shares of pretty much everything, to claim our private space and belongings as they somewhat appear to define who we truly are, or give a measure of our ‘success’. All the way from crib to cemetery – where we will finally rest and which we must plan for and acquire now or one cannot rest, now – we live in a continual fragmentation of the self and the world in which we mirror that self. We have gone as far as claiming the moon…
The moon? I’ll have the sun, thank you very much.
Who does the moon belong to, humanity? If not to humanity it must belong to someone, Artemis, or perhaps to the rabbit that lives in it. We cannot simply comprehend the idea that it can exist beyond us, or one like us, that it must answer to.
Is it ours truly, and if so, can we share? And with whom will we accept do so?
'To Insanity & Beyond' - Presents.
“I take pleasure in my transformations. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”- Anais Nin.
It all began with biscuits.
I couldn’t see how else to start telling this tale, and it makes for an intriguing opening line. But biscuits? They are the heart – albeit a slightly dry one – of workplaces and offices and tea parties. It’s either that or something sweet, like in Hansel and Gretel, or breadcrumbs on the forest floor – no poisoned apples detected so far. But this is what our story started with, and how we were introduced to a new Masters module: a ‘Bake Off Internationaliste’. We all sat around the table to share. Once a group of people decide to break bread, or share food, there is an unspoken willingness to negotiation. So food, feasts and banquets are a tempting invitation to share conversation, ideas, resolve conflict and fix the world or try. Red wine is optional.
The previous module ‘Presents’ focussed on the idea of space, division, ownership and collective responsibility.
The simplicity of the dividing line – and the complexities behind it – developed into the central premise: the source of division amongst our ‘Global Human Family’ began perhaps, with identity.
Doesn’t everyone descend from Lucy, and are all human beings not born equal? Perhaps not. Recent theories of our evolutionary tree (2) question the linearity of one hominid disappearing and another one taking its place, replacing it with two or more species coexisting simultaneously. Lucy’s ancestors might have had to share with its predecessor’s brethren, simply known as a less familiar ‘MRD’. The picture of men at the dawn of time, gathering in small clans who might have shared food, physical traits, blood, shared progeny or perhaps practices and beliefs yet fighting one another for survival is one easily formed – and one alas, still current.
We have arguably since evolved into a far more complex global network of human relations and nations, purporting to be civilised, tolerant and co-operating – the UN being the idealistic organisational expression of progressive, collaborative ideals. However, these groups also declare independence from each other, with the inclusion of an elemental promise that they shall only protect those who are recognised as belonging, as similar, as the ‘same’, and protecting them also against the ones that might threaten them.
Identity – the definition of ‘self’ – is by default also what defines the ‘other’, the ‘You and I’, the ‘Us or Them’. Writing from the COVID 19 ‘Limits of togetherness’, it appears even more pressing to find ways by which humankind might recognise the necessity not only to acknowledge but further tolerate our defining differences in order to create collective action to tackle the environmental crisis we are facing, to level disparity and construct fairer and just futures for all.
'Pivotal Constellations' - Futures Model of Sustainability.