Closeness

Holding hands

“When I hold your hand I hold a miracle”

– British writer AL Kennedy, in a BBC radio programme 

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Holding hands.

Something I do so instinctively, so intuitively.

To grab the participant’s hand and walk like we were friends.

When I reach for your hands, it is not only to guide and lead, but merely to say: I want to be WITH you in this, not ahead of you.

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Photo: Christine Fentz

I find that this simplicity of relation between hands does the difference in my guiding method.

On the blindfolded walks of Sensescapes, we explore the environment of everyday life as it is, completely out of the institutions art, with a minimum of pre-build constructions for the event, no fictional frame and no intended audience. For the staging of a walk I make either no, or very few, changes on the site.

And yet everything changes.

The change lies merely in the blindfolded experience, but this experience would not have such strong and emotional effect of etc. pleasure, relaxation, safety and playfulness, without the intimacy of the moving, breathing body of the “we” that is created in the connection between blindfolded and guide.

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Photo: Søren Gammelmark

Here at the farm or in the park, the meeting of your hands and mine change the experience of the relational space around us from everyday-like to something both familiar and extraordinary, both distant and very intimate.

In an abstract and curious dance between blindfolded and guide, our bodies merge into one.

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Photo: Angela Rawlings

It is all set in the beginning of the walk, in the radical shift from two strangers talking briefly in a yard or on a pathway, to the appearance of a vulnerable, curious pair of connected entities, through touch of hands and through a constant mindful awareness of each other.

We meet.

I ask you a few questions to get to know a little about you.

Then you put a blindfold on.

But then… I take your hands and we breathe together.

Both pair of eyes is closed, because I want to sense what you are sensing.

I want us to arrive in our bodies together.

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Then we walk, hand in hand.

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Photo: Rasmus Skov

Perhaps the essence of Sensecapes can be summed up in the togetherness of hands being in touch, eccoing A.L. Kennedy:

“When we reach out for each other, we don’t just reveal our highly evolved and respectable selves. When hands open for each other, they open deep impulses, primate truths, touched before agriculture, before tools, before speaking.”

– A.L. Kennedy in the above mentioned BBC programme.

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Photo: Roland Schild

I find the feeling of deep connection and intimacy most meaningful when shared, like in this re-post of a reaction from one of the participants in the thesis-experiement:

“Even though I was blindfolded I could feel there was one hundred percent contact and attention. And that part is terribly strong! It was not until afterwards I discovered: oh my god, this is what I give my children. But how important it is to do this, because – wow! – how you lack this in real life! So, that was a pretty impressive experience”

– Stephan Gustin, participant on a walk in Aarhus, April 2014

I guess I fall a little bit in love with most of my participants. There is a powerful and mindblowing force in the freedom of being childish together, being brave together, being vulnurable together, being close together for a brief moment in life.

I love it.

Lotus

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Hands, Thesis experiment, Touch, Trust | Leave a comment

Sense experiment at Bart Art Symposium III

 

 

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Here is a tribute to my grandmother, who recently presented a thought experiment of sensorial walks without walking. Her question was: “Could I, who do not walk well anymore, get the same sort of experience as in your walks, by just sitting on a chair in my garden, blindfolded?”

Thus, on Secret Hotel’s Barn Art Symposium III in Mols Bjerge, a short sense experiment of blindfolded sitting was facilitated two days ago. Elements of text, touch, guided walking and change of place was added. But mainly there was just sitting. Alone. With very few sensory inputs, such as (outside:) the wind, the trees, the bench, my hands, (inside:) the sound of a noisy projector, the chair, the floor, the momentary steps of my rubber boots.

Afterwards, contrasting reactions were at play among the participants, which made it clear to me that in a shared physical place, with the same verbal instructions, in the same condition of restricted sight and movement, blindfolding sitting itself can be sensed emotionally and intuitively completely different from person to person. For some, sitting alone on a bench with eyes covered, might lead to a deep meditation. For others, plain relaxation. For others insecurity or irritation. For some, deep fear or anger.

At the end, the eight participants were asked to verbalize their experience in three words each. Some had words, others not. Here is what was said:

Hard. Wind. Happiness.
Space. Inner/Outer. Movement.
Isolation. Caress. Breeze.
Warm/cold. Wind. Unsecure.
Deep. Blindness. Light.
Simplicity. Trees. Contact.
Listening. Enough that I am not knowing.
Birch.

(Said by the photographing participant:)
Looks like peace. Harmony. I believe in you.

Photographer: Roland Schild

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Thank you to all the participants for taking the risk!

 

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Hands, Sensorial meditation, Short experiment, Silence, Touch | Leave a comment

Sensescapes at NSU in Iceland

In the end of July I was given the opportunity to participate in the summer session of Nordic Summer University, which was situated in Sáduarkrokur, Northern Iceland, this year. I became a member of the study circle titled “Crossing Contexts – interventions through artistic research”, where aprox. 35 researchers and artists (most of us having a practice of both) exchanged thoughts, work and experiences from morning to evening. The energy was loaded with creativity and mutual interest, Networks expanded, horizons broadened, inspiration flowed, and I am still contemplating the mass of material and impressions created in our shared space.

One night we had a LAB night, and within the packed programme of performances and participatory installations and experiments, Sensescapes was given 20 minutes to unfold. The night was chilly with lots of wind. Nevertheless we went outside, and after a short introduction to the simple concept of blindfolded walks, we paired and did 15 minutes of exploration around and inside the buildings. I was participating in the exercise myself, but NSU member Magda Mrowiec captured the event with her camera.

My deep thanks to all the wonderful participants! Hope to see you again next year.

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Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Iceland, Short experiment, Touch, Trust, Workshop | Leave a comment

Summer update from Sensescapes

A midsummer tale

Oh, what an unintentionally long pause there has been since my last blogpost!

Here’s the main reason:

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Photo: Kirsten Lykke Madsen

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Photo: Martin Wessel

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Photo: Martin Wessel

Ten days ago Rasmus and I got married. We marked the event by establishing a DIY wedding festival in a big camp by the sea. Most of our friends and family stayed for the whole weekend and contributed in the making and celebration. The ceremony was held in an old forest of oaks and beeches in the national park Mols Bjerge – just a few kilometres from the farm were Sensescapes took place in april.

It was one of the most beautiful, meaningful and emotionally overwhelming experiences I have had in my life. We couldn’t have picked a better environment for our union of souls than between old trees, on an old hill, under a shining midsummer sun. Being barefooted in the forest, writing our own vows,  keeping the programme informal and getting friends and family to contribute in different ways… all this resolved in a wonderful, almost magical atmosphere of deep love, care and connection.

I felt completely in my right element, surrounded by rural landscapes and people I love.

And there were strems of tears. From joy, from overwhelmed senses and from gratitude towards the favours, food, words and positive energy exchanged between so many hands and hearts. We had live folk dance music and a great dj and the most luxerious cake buffet seen. We had the sea right outside the door. We had summer solstice and wind and sky. We had a tipi for the wedding night. We had a fine old car borowed from a generous stranger. I had a wedding dress made from hand dyed silk, so light and soft I could have slept in it. We had a room full of yellow balloons, we had tons of fresh strawberries, wonderful speeches, hilarious entertainment, home brewed mead, a lovely, easy-going priest, a choir made for the occasion, and unique rings made from several pieces of golden heirlooms.

I think we were all drunk on love.

It took months of hard work to prepare, and I decided long ago that in June this would be more important than thesis work. And so there has been a pause in the thesis department. A magical pause, that is.

Now, with all the exhaustion and satisfaction that follows such flood of emotions, a slow return to the more analytical and not completely emotional self has begun. Academic life is calling.

Not that Sensescapes had been sleeping entirely. No, there has been life underneath the surface. Still growing, still on its way.

So here’s a short report with news from the sensorial working field:

Debate weekend and a test workshop

By the end of May, Sensescapes participated in Secret Hotel’s Debate Weekend, where around twenty people from interdisciplinary fields in both Denmark and abroad met for three days to encounter, share, discuss and investigate thoughts, themes and pieces related to Landscape Dialogues. For me it was a weekend of profound meetings, bondings and mutual inspiration.

On the last day Sensescapes was tested and found fit for being practised as a workshop! Curious about the importance of shifting surroundings and urban landscapes, the group had moved from Christines’ farm in Mols Bjerge to the cultural production center Godsbanen in Aarhus. And new faces had arrived. Since we did not have time to go through a long introduction, I had Christine interviewing me about the thesis work. Then she was blindfolded and we made a short demonstration of guiding methods in front of the group.

Then they formed groups of two and explored the area for themselves for about half an hour. In each group, one was blindfolded and one was guiding. And there were no words, of course. Same as usual.

It sounds so simple. It IS so simple.

Just put a blindfold on, and you will feel the world change completely.

Since there was no prepared route, all groups went in different directions, which gave us all quite different experiences, facilitating our own urban sensescape. My blindfolded walker and I had great fun and shared lots of laughter, driving each other around in an abandoned shopping cart outside the buildings. When he drove me, we both were out of our comfort zone, which made it even more fun. I had to create a verbal sound system of alarming sounds to signalize danger and communicate with him as our roles of guide and follower became mixed and blurred. Since we had allready spent a couple of days together, and since my blindfolded compagnion was a theatre person who seemed quite comfortable in doing crazy things like this, it became one of the most impulsive and fun sensorial experiences I have facilitated.

I hope to show more pictures from that day later. For now these are all I have:

 

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Photo: Secret Hotel

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Photo: Secret Hotel

In the end we met to briefly share our experiences. One participant asked me:

“Who is experiencing this sensescape you are talking about? The blindfolded person or the guide?”

He suggested that the guide must be more open to a multisensorial experience of the surroundings, since the guide has to have every sense highly activated during the practise of guiding.

That made me think.

So far, guiding has been mostly about facilitation, in my mind. I think this participant made me realize how important the guiding practise is for the door to a sensescape to be opened AND stepped through. I will reflect more on this.

Iceland coming up 

It is a pleasure to announce that I have been granted a student scolarship for participation in Nordic Summer University (NSU) this summer! On their website it says:

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a long-established institution within the Nordic intellectual arena. During more than 50 years of existence it has provided a lively forum for academic and intellectual debate, and involved many leading academics, politicians, and intellectuals from all the Nordic Countries. The NSU has always been at the forefront of intellectual thinking, juxtaposing views from the international and Nordic academic arenas, and introducing new thinking and influences into the Nordic Countries.

Expectations are rising! It will be one week from July 24-31 and it will be in Iceland. I can’t wait to go back to the special landscape that has given me so much.

In top of all this, Secret Hotel has offered to cover half of my travel expenses.

All in all I will conclude that June 2014 has been a month of enourmous gifts. To give and recieve so much makes me feel as rich as ever.

May life affirming exchanges continue to flow, in Sensescapes as in the surrounding lives and atmospheres.

A great summer to all of you!

Lotus

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Euphoria, Hands, Landscape Dialogues, Secret Hotel, Short experiment, Trust, Workshop | Leave a comment

To re-sense the experience. Reactions from a participant.

This week I will give the words to Stephan Gustin, a talented architect who went with me on one of the walks in Aarhus. Ealier I have posted some photos from Stephans’ walk. A week after the walk he sent me a short recording of his impressions, based on the six key words (or key sentences) he had come up with in our feedback session. The highlighted key words indicate immidiate descriptions of the overall experience and on the landscape (see this post for a collection of key words from all the walks). I have translated Stephans’ impressions from Danish, and bring the translation here.

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Stephan and I in the middle of the road. Photo: Rasmus Skov

”This is Stephan’s impressions from the sensorial walk, which was a very good and strong experience. Something I noticed was atmospheres in spaces. Obviously that is also because I am an architect. But your senses became sharpened enormously in relation to the atmospheres. Both in relation to different spatiality, types of acoustics when walking in open space – nature has its own atmosphere in its own space – but also spaces in space. Though I knew we were in a park and a natural resort, then in some places there was a lot of traffic noise, in some places there was echo and in some places sound fell complete silent. That was a fairly intense experience to get. But also to enter rooms. I mean, the tunnel was a room. Or an inflatable room. Or a dome. To re-sense it. You can register it logically, but to be blindfolded, be guided around and feel for yourself. That was a nice experience! To re-sense the experience.

Something I also noticed was the closeness between people. You had someone who had your full attention. It is not so often you experience that, besides talking about girlfriends and love. Usually that is one person, but between foreign people, other people, it can happen that you experience flirt, poetry, dialogue, social contact or friendship. But to have a certain bond… Even though I was blindfolded I could feel there was one hundred percent contact and attention. And that part is terribly strong!! It was not until afterwards I discovered: oh my god, this is what I give my children. But how important it is to do this, because – wow! – how you lack this in real life! So, that was a pretty impressive experience.

Some of the sensations that also lingered afterwards were sounds and light. When you are blindfolded, you obviously listen more that you see. But actually light was the stronger of the two, because it was such a thing that came sneaking in silently. You started outside, but even in the outside space – as with the sense of space – it varied. There were nuances, lots of nuances! To feel, before going into the tunnel, that now you approached another kind of light, another lightning, to suddenly walk under a bush and become confused – I did not know we were under a bush, I just knew we were outside in open air – and still there was a roof. Things like this that “stumbled”, and were light was tricking in some way. One moment all the light was… what I later found out was frosted glass, but I could not perceive that. It sharpens the senses to become a little confused. When your logical sense cannot register things precisely, then you kind of let the imagination rule. That is interesting.

Then I have written a note on urban nature. I am interested in the way we register nature. At one point I was standing, embracing a tree I the middle of a routing of a road, with cars rushing on both sides, and I experienced the bark smelling extremely of particles, that is, petrol fumes. And this gave way to mixed emotions; because the structure of wood is old and here, you were suddenly given hundred years of history from a person that was a tree… a personality… a personal tree… who has a huge history. But we shower it in fumes, and that was… that was damn unpleasant, actually! I like the urban nature, it is a breathing hole, and the place we were in was magical and enchanting. But it was also enormously forlorn. It gives some sense of being out in wild nature, but it is also a little difficult for me. That was my sense of the urban nature. Still I believe that the sensations you get are completely real and can be compared to wild nature. Of course there is no difference, because the body makes registrations in a way. But I do not think the body becomes relaxed the same way as if you were in a place with no sound of birds escaping from traffic, children playing, a lawn that needs mowing or a bed that needs to be leveled. I also experienced the area as very hilly. It is in reality, of course, but especially you feel it when you are blindfolded and have to feel your way around.  It too gives a new and quite peculiar experience of the landscape. Several times since then, I have driven by and looked at that landscape. Even though I see a lot of landscapes as a part of my job, this sharpened my senses enormously. Very well done! I called it semi-dramatic. On the border between… To rediscover that even little things in the landscape can be dramatic.

The last note I have made is a flood of emotions. No doubt an experience like this creates contact to ones’ emotions and emotional self. I do not know what words to put on it. You become grounded, you get yourself to the ground, you have time to breathe, you lower your shoulders and become less shifty-eyed, you are more focused, your breathing becomes deeper. Afterwards I instantly had the feeling that it is okay to just sit and look, to let the eyes drift and to get this calm feeling. It is okay to do it. There is something natural about it. But that is not the natural feeling you have with a deadline ahead of you, knowing that after deadline there are some kids that need to be picked up, and after picking up the kids there is a new deadline and a lot of things to be done. This here, it makes you get a more simple view of reality, and you see that “oh well”, at the same time as getting things done and do what you need to do, you can actually enjoy life and feel peace in your mind, your belly and your body. So thank you for this good experience”

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Feedback, Landscape Dialogues, Material, Thesis experiment, Touch, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensescapes in Aarhus#3

On a hot and sunny Saturday in April, Tanja and I set out to explore the Botanical Garden of Aarhus together.

She was the last blindfolded walker of the 15 that have participated in my thesis experiment.

There were A LOT of talking, walking, running, curiously observing, playing and sun bathing humans in the park that day.
And bird life.
And dogs.
Horse carriages, even.
Do you know how distinct a smell such a thing has?

We walked through them all in silence. And from the feedback afterwards, it appears we both had a great time, exploring the sensescape of the busy park.

Tanja even climbed a tree and unintentionally swung herself in a branch!

I will take this opportunity to give my deepest thanks to all the involved hands, bodies, brains and other landscapes that has been a part of the series of walks hosted by Secret Hotel.

Thanks to Christine Fentz, Line Rostrup Henningsen, Rasmus Skov, Birthe Krag, Søren Fiskaali Gammelmark, Martabolette Stecher, Annette Trap Friis, Helle Trap Friis, Jacob Vibe, Ada Holst Pallesen, Anette Kærgaard, Malene Dyrberg, Tanja Schmidt, Stephan Gustin, Lauge Rasmussen, Tanja Vestergaard and Trine Vestergaard.

Thanks to the wind, the sun, the farm, the hills and the park.

You have all been wonderful to work with.

May your days be drenched in sensorial encounters!

Peace and light,
Lotus

Participant: Tanja. Photographer: Trine Vestergaard

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Categories: Blindfolding, Cityscape, Closeness, Euphoria, Gratitude, Landscape Dialogues, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensescapes in Aarhus#2

May I present participant nr 4 in Aarhus this week. Stephan is a talented architect and it was a pleasure to investigate the different atmospheres, spaces, tactile surfaces and other sensory aspects of the urban-natural (or naturally urban) landscape with him today.

Mostly we just played around like curious kids.

One of the things I really love about the concept of Sensescapes, is that it creates a possibility for both the participant and me to be playful and enjoy our time together!

May all the pictures from Sensescapes be enjoyable for you and may they become an inspiration to sense, play and investigate more.

Participant: Stephan. Photographer: Rasmus Skov.

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Categories: Blindfolding, Cityscape, Closeness, Landscape Dialogues, Playfulness, Thesis experiment, Touch, Trust | 1 Comment

Sensescapes in Mols Bjerge#3

Today will be the last day in my experiment with sensorial walks in Mols Bjerge.

It has been magical.

Sensorial encounters everywhere.

Silence.

Streams and fields of emotions.

Playfulness.

Laugther.

Important states of exploring inner and outer landscapes.

Lovingly wonderful participants.

Today, in the last walk, I will be blindfolded myself. Christine will guide me.

Thanks to all of you: the participants, the photographers, the farm owners, the horses, the buildings, the land. You have made beautiful things happen, and for that I am grateful.

Here are some pictures from walk nr 4 out of 9 this week.

Participant: Martabolette. Photographer: Søren Gammelmark.

See you in two weeks for sensorial walks in Aarhus!

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Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Euphoria, Gratitude, Landscape Dialogues, Playfulness, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensescapes in Mols Bjerge#1

Yesterday I arrived at the farm.

Today I had the first two sensorial walks. On the first it rained.

Steady sounds of water drops on our hoods and boots and on the house and ground and everywhere.

Vertical landcape connections.

Soaked.

On the second walk photos were taken.

The participant’s name is Birthe. The photographer is Rasmus.

Here is a glimpse of the first part of the walk.

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Oh, and by the way, there are still two available walks in Mols this week. Friday and Saturday. Contact me at mielotus@gmail.com if you want to come on a walk.

Peace and light,

Lotus

 

 

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Landscape Dialogues, Silence, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensuous Knowlegde Production: or A Universe of Inspiration

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.

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The staff of Sisters Academy with The Sisters in the center

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Students in Sisters Academy. Photo: Diana Lindhart

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Sisters Hope. Photo: Julie Johansen

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A visit at the Sisters’ office. Photo: Diana Lindhart

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.

Categories: Closeness, Euphoria, Gratitude, Motivation, Silence | 1 Comment

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