Other Futures Festival was a wonderful, colourful, thought-provoking and inspiring event. I’m glad I was able to attend both days and go to a number of sessions. While we had to leave by 11 pm (or else we wouldn’t make it to the parking garage on time), the sessions I was able to go to blew my mind in lots of good ways.
I want to take the time to write about my impressions, but my mind tends to fire off dozens of things on the day after an event. So, I’ll start by reflecting a bit on the Hybrid workshop which I presented together with Ellen van Neerven and which we prepared together with Rafeif Ismail.
It felt rather serendipitous that the day of the workshop happened to be the day of the climate march in Amsterdam. Our discussion centred around environmental racism, who is most affected by it, and how groups and people most affected by climate change don’t have a seat at the table where decisions are being made. The issues emerging from environmental racism are multiple and it’s clear that something radical needs to happen. Whether leadership is ready to take radical steps and whether wealthy countries and wealthy communities are ready to be part of radical change is a big question mark.
The workshop itself was an intimate gathering with a small number of participants in conversation with each other. Ellen joined us online from Australia and the collective work done within the space and within the time that we had felt somehow magical. For the making part itself, I thought of using the liwliwan as a template from which to launch the doing part of the workshop. This paired with the idea of blurring the boundary between forms worked as I imagined it could work. I’m thinking about what I would like to do with this experience and how I want to experiment with creating sessions for collective story and story building. Would it then be something like a spontaneous play? Would it be in the form of a performance? I rather like the idea of sitting down together in a circle, with our musical instruments close to hand–a drum, a xylophone, a Kalimba, a rhythm egg–these combined together to form a background rhythm for the speculative and visionary stories that emerge from those seated in the circle.
What would you call that kind of doing or making? Would more people be willing to take part in such a creative making?
If this making involved a bigger group of participants, would it be possible to create this sense of connecting and understanding and coming to conversation and dialogue regardless of what side we sit on when it comes to politics and social issues?
I loved working with Ellen and Rafeif on this workshop and I wonder what it would be like if we could be present in the same space with the three of us being joined by other participants. What kinds of stories and conversations would we have? What kinds of worlds would we dream up?
Earlier this week, someone asked me what I thought would happen if the existing systems and institutions fell apart (as they’re inevitably bound to do). It’s a question I can’t answer, but I think that if we can create spaces and means for connecting and feeling connected, if we can shake off alienation which has been imposed on us, we can survive such a scenario without tearing each other apart.
In any case, I am thankful for spaces like Other Futures which provoke me to think deeper and reach for more understanding.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was the hybrid performances hosted by and coming from Kubra and Simon. I loved this exploration and celebration of queerness and of being trans. It felt so affirming and joyful and celebratory. And I am a fan of Miss BB whose joyful celebration of self made me want to shout: hurrah! Yes! More please.
Ah. I was so sorry to leave when we had to as I know there was going to be dancing as well. How many spaces are there in the world where one has the permission and the space to just be? To simply express your multi-selved you and not be looked at strangely? These kinds of spaces are precious and to my mind must be preserved just as we preserve spaces in the world which are sacred and precious because of what resides there.
I think of how we humans must change radically if we want to leave a good world for the next generation. Someone mentioned Ego during the Hybrid_Date circle talk and I think it’s a word we need to think about.
If someone is reading this blogpost, I want you to think about a number of things. Think about the things in your life that keep you from being present in the moment. Think about those things that give rise to alienation. Sometimes the change can be as simple as installing a filter on social media, dropping the habit of recording each moment as a thing to post on social media or share on your instagram or twitter. Take time to just be present in the moment, to reside within your body where it is in that space in time, to be silent in your head.
It can be as simple as looking at a familiar stranger and saying: we have passed each other a lot or lived on the same street for so long, so I want to introduce myself to you and I want to ask you about yourself. How is your day and how are you doing? It’s a risk because whether conversation happens or not depends on the person in front of you. But think about it this way: you make the choice to try and forge a connection. It may not happen right away, but these steps towards connection will inevitably bear fruit.