Poetry in action. Or some ways to go when something first starts
By Eva Marichalar-Freixa. Creator, arts based methods researcher@virginiafochs
Aquest text és una justificació i un document de partida del projecte internacional A Ferida / La Herida, coproduït entre el festival Imaginarius i FiraTàrrega que té una clara voluntat de diàleg artístic entre creadors catalans i portuguesos al voltant del concepte de la memòria. L’espectacle resultant s’exhibirà a l’edició 2017 de FiraTàrrega.
Here is some first data: City of Tàrrega, 2016/11/20 – 2016/11/23. During these days, Fira Tàrrega and Festival Imaginarius brought together a group of Catalan and Portuguese artists to set up the basis of a new project for research and co-creation between both countries; each artist was asked to create and perform a solo piece that would then be a part of a dialogue between them all. Some more data to continue: Our memories as a keystone to trigger conversations between two countries that have grown up turning their back on each other. Our memories as an opportunity for each artist to explore beyond his/her previous boundaries, simultaneously enhancing personal singularity. Our memories as a collective place where to dig into intimacy, so that we can then put them into conversation. This coproduction between both festivals will see its first premiere next spring at Festival Imaginarius, and then again in a new setting at FiraTàrrega in September. Confirmed artists are Rui Paixão, Catarina Campos, Alba Torres, Pau Masaló Llorà, Quim Giron Figuerola, and artistic director Julieta Aurora Santos.
On that first intensive meeting back in November, after being contacted by both festivals to outline and coach a methodology for this start-up encounter, I met the group with a very specific goal in mind: creating situations where active listening and favourable conditions for acknowledging one another could emerge. Each one should be introduced to the rest of the group by the means of the experience that was being shared by the whole group. Each one’s singularity should get the chance to be recognized at its right time during these first days, having also the opportunity to share previous personal creations and a professional profile that would then increase the possibilities of this collective project. Situations where outlined as in a three days dérive. I chased for those moments where to get lost and those where to be found, some moments to walk and some others to sit down around a table settled with some food and drinks, moments in solitude and moments to feel each other’s nearness, moments to talk to oneself and moments where to hold long and passionate conversations all together. Those where optimal moments to build up the foundational agreements of the whole process that was about to start: What was important for us to talk about? Which landscapes would take us and our stories in? What channels could facilitate growing up our conversations over the distance? How were we going to deal with production terms and conditions? It was important for me that each single decision to be made brought within the same melody, the same aesthetics that we could later on identify when enjoying the final performance first in Santa Maria da Feira and then in Tàrrega. During these days, I focused on those in-between spaces and times where nothing seems to happen, nevertheless, the most essential is being revealed. I cared for facilitating spaces and times where the group could build up a frame of mutual understanding where to go back to when feeling lost, a place where to feel at home quick after meeting again for intensive rehearsals before both premieres. After our kick-off encounter in Tàrrega, the team would be creating apart together; that is, they should start creating their solo pieces and the narrative that would join them all miles away from each other. Distance is a hard condition to play with; we knew that at some point, we would end up facing disenchantment. Therefore, building up a symbolic house which hosted the aesthetics of the relations braided on those first days was not only a key condition to overcome future concerns, but also the core of a previous need that would shift us from the pre-established idea of site-specific to that one of symbolic-specific, as I like to call it. It was during our stay in Tàrrega when we could feel the symbolic growing up strongly as a place, a house, a key idea, the heart of the creation. Translating that into words, the group decided to call it LA HERIDA / A FERIDA. Wounds came up as the formalization of all those agreements made during that first encounter, an appropriation of the concept that both festivals had asked us all to start up with, the official title and yet a symbolic space –that is, our home, our island, silence, a circle, a hole, flat and dimensional, a lived space, a space for deconstruction and construction, prohibition, omission, farce, disorder.
Poetry made itself present along all those first days that I also documented on video, photography and audio as an additional narrative I added later on to the booklet I wrote for the whole group as a foundational document they could work upon. Poetry and metaphors are not pure abstractions that lead us away from materialization, but even bring us all the answers in the most precise way, strong and clear, ready to go into action as soon as we are ready to comprehend them. That is how poetry has slowly stablished the relational and conceptual base for this project, fading in organically and leading us to all the resolutions we all were eager to find. It was with a poem by Octavio Paz that we started our journey on the very first morning.
Envoi / Imprisoned by four walls / (to the North, the crystal of non-knowledge / a landscape to be invented / to the South, reflective memory / to the East, the mirror / to the West, stone and the song of silence) / I wrote messages, but received no reply.
Now, after some months after that first meeting and not many weeks before the group meets again in Santa Maria da Feira, this poem has been a premonition for what it was yet to come and it is a reminder of all the deepness the group was (and still is) able to grasp without even being aware of it. I found the poem in Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space, one of the books I took with me to stroll through the streets of Tàrrega. It was soon enjoyed by other voices that the group brought along: Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. La memoria del futuro by Borges. Eugene T. Gendlin. Mail Art. Echos of our memories sang along our present and our future. Conversations flowed as the starling flock I observed for a long while on the very first moments of the Solitude Dérive I invited the group to go into on that morning as a very first way to break into action, research, transformation. That evocative image led me to conceive flocking behavior as a powerful metaphor for a methodology that I had been by then experiencing for long in many of my arts based proposals and that has now been enhanced by some of my most significant current engagements. A Ferida / La Herida is the yet to be told story of a dazzling cloud of acrobatic birds that keep turning and twisting over time and space changing patterns of light and darkness before they ever get to scatter. Learning this makes me conclude once more that facing processes from a poetics based perspective helps us out to break down borders and limitations of what we understand to be the institutionalized roles of an “artist”, a “researcher”, and a “facilitator”. As I see it, a way to go when something starts is walking along the set conditions and learning from them, embracing uncertainty and enjoying the beat of every second that goes by. A way to go is searching for the poetry, taking records of what it happens to emerge and searching ways to make all of this visible to the protagonists of that process. Being a facilitator of those processes is for me not different from what is does mean for me to learn, to create, to explore, to enjoy and to fall in love. However, we must bear in mind that all of this might also bring with it disappointments, frustrations, mistakes and difficulties to make ourselves understandable to others or to meet each other expectations. Poetry does not prevent us from facing usual challenges that this kind of projects imply, but it does offer us a solid base to grow upon. Do not miss the chance to find out the profundities that this flock of Catalan and Portuguese artists have succeeded to fly across, drawing what it seems to be a magic twist of that project they were firstly invited to join in.