Important lecture nr. 2 for the thesis student:
You are not alone.
Among many art projects that deals with senses, performance, phenomenology and landscapes, my thesis production is just a small-scale experiment (even though it does not feel like that at the moment). In some way that is revealing to know. I am not attempting to suggest that I have found a new and totally un-investigated field. Many others have traversed the fields of sensorial investigation long before me, exploring these landscapes out of philosophical curiousity and political interest. Even though I will not (at the moment) characterize Sensescapes as theatrical work, I am shaped by experiences with the sensorial theatre of Carte Blanche. And through the last five years, experiences with human specific performance installations of Cantabile 2 and Wunderland have opened a new world of performance art for me (just to mention a few production units based in my own country). Now being a part of Secret Hotels‘ project “Landscape Dialogues” I have placed myself in the midst of another inspiration source. When the mind tunes into the fields of experimental performance, sensorial works (and walks) show up everywhere. Behind these works are passionate and experienced artists, working with non-acting methods, creating sincere and ground-shaking meetings between humans.
Last week I visited another great inspiration source that I have recently discovered. Sisters Academy – a large-scale, combined performance and research project that investigates sensuous knowledge production as a basic teaching methodology in the education system. The project is conducted by Copenhagen based performance group Sisters Hope and the first manifestation of Sisters Academy currently takes place in a high school in Odense, ongoing from Feb. 24- March 7, 2014. In the press release the founders of Sisters Hope explains their purpose with the project:
”The current crisis rhetoric was one of our initial inspirations. To us, as artists and researchers, it is all about exploring what kind of society we can create in the future. And in this aspect the educational system, where our minds to a large degree are being shaped, is central. In this full-scale experiment we create a parallel world based on art and the aesthetic experience and mode of being as the primary system. This means that the political and economic system has less impact in this world. We are exploring what an educational system would look like if the sensuous and aesthetic were the center of all action and interaction. The school that carry out these explorations we name Sisters Academy.”
Video in Danish, introducing the founders of Sisters Academy:
It was very, very inspiring and touching to be a guest at the academy for a couple of hours. Seeing manifestations like this one come to life in my country, in the education system, right there as a part of 22 teachers’ and 175 students’ everyday school life, is a sign of hope for the future of our society, as I see it.
I feel I am becoming part of a bigger movement with my small experiments of blindfolded walks as a way to enter a sensorial state-of-mind. It is good to know that there are many people around working so whole-heartedly with sensorial perception, acknowledging the importance of a more open, curious and experimental approach to how we learn, live and encounter the world we are part of. Our society is too concerned about economy, growth, competition and measurements. We need other ways of thinking.
Several profound meetings were given to me during the few hours spent in the open house day at Sisters Academy. I met students, teachers, performers and the Sisters who run the academy and spoke with many of them. All of them were honest, kind and deeply connected to what they are doing. In the middle of it all I had a beautiful meeting with my fiancé Rasmus, who is a performer in the project. His character is The S – the silence and the seeker. The S do not speak, but live and search in silence. When I arrived the staff had been performing non-stop for five days. I met The S under a staircase, sitting in a meditation position. I sat down beside him. For a long time he was looking me deeply in the eyes. That moved me to tears. Heartbeats. Tension. Deeply felt love, intensified by the all the words we had not shared for five days, and still could not share.
There is so much powerful potential in the non-verbal conversation.
Later we drove home and Rasmus spoke a lot of his experiences in the week-long performance. On the day before he had walked around blindfolded in the school for the whole day. We reflected on the difference of being blindfolded on your own and being blindfolded and led by someone else. And we talked about the students and teachers who participate as students and teachers in the experimental academy for two weeks. How will they continue their school days when Sisters Academy is over? Will the performance experiment change their approach to learning and teaching?
Could it be that a sensuous paradigme is the future of our school system?
Of our society?
How would it be if that happened?
New doors open. New questions arrive. I will not go into this explicitly in my master thesis. The field is becoming too big for 60 pages. Way too big. But landscapes and paths continue to unfold around the thesis. And after.
Inspiration knows no ends. How disturbingly wonderful to dwell in the universe of poetics for a while.
And then stepping out to reflect upon it.
More about Sisters Academy:
A collection of news paper articles and other press material about the project.
More atmospheric photos from the first five days at the academy.
Sisters Hope on facebook.