to the telepathing talking circle,
In accordance with the geographic collapse of our contemporary world, we
ought to be creating a territory for trust and love. We come together to voice
and share thoughts. The reality is a circle of sincere respectful relationships.
Since some time now I’ve been spending time as a foreigner in the US and
my thoughts have been wandering around today’s human interactions in
various cultures and environments. I’ve been bothered about finding
interactions less gentle and more robotic. The manner is script-like, as actors
performing a collective choreography specific to a commercial culture. In my
opinion this behavior seldom includes a gesture of the personal or the caring.
I am concerned with caring and loving human interaction. What is anything
worth if this is not how we exist together, with love, sincerity and respect?
Where and how does it exist more or less in various environments?
What must be done in order to fulfill what seems to be a missing need? I
want to think that this is not a pathetic narcissistic question, as I hear others
also desiring loving interactions and sincere conversations. I also see artists
expressing this in contemporary art, particularly within the social practice
context. An artist I admire does this unconsciously by just being caring. He
creates lugars – rooms for people to feel welcome and comfortable, through his
tender presence and the aesthetics of music and movement.
Following two invitations in California last spring (1), and wanting to
connect to a local culture of caring I initiated a “Talking Circle,” as an
investigation into the meaning of social practice in America today.
Setting up platforms for interdisciplinary practices to build and talk as
the common foundation and method in my practice, the Talking Circle was a
curious and naïve investigation and invitation to participants of these events.
A Native American tradition, the Talking Circle has a history and a contemporary
meaning. When I was talking to people of varied ages, disciplines and
upbringings, I was intrigued that most of them had an idea of a Talking Circle.
We spoke about these experiences, about the objects that had been used as
a talking stick, and the context in which the Talking Circle had come about.
Personally I am impressed by this tradition – offering a format for what I wish
were the norm for communication among people, for “the art of communication.”
The tradition gives a structure and ethical agenda to a situation when a
community or community member has a concern to be heard and discussed.
As the ritual goes, each person who speaks is given the talking stick, which
might be a feather or a piece of wood, and full attention. In comparison to
other types of communication, here listening is the mode rather than delivering.
This seems to be quite a radical act today.
The Telepathic Talking Circle involved JOA&P and Routes and Methods
in Los Angeles and conference participants in Santa Cruz. Several participants
in Santa Cruz expressed how much they appreciated taking part by listening.
Between a circle of persons on a private lawn in Echo Park and another in
the red woods of University of Santa Cruz nature campus, listening became
a mode of interaction.
Together with artist Hope Hilton in Santa Cruz, we opened up a Talking
Circle by circulating a spool of grey thread around, to build a community and
then letting it stop in the middle to be picked up by a spokesperson. I spoke
first, introducing the idea of the Talking Circle and sharing my feelings about
the lack of loving and sincere human interactions. It was clearly an uncomfortable
and tense situation, artists and members of the conference who
participated expressed their feelings of unease. How can we suggest being
sincere and caring if we don’t know each other. This naturally leads to the
question of what it means to be sincere, the idea of how personal that insinuatesone to be. For many in the circle it seemed that sincerity meant unfolding the
private sphere. After some time, Hope took the spool and suggested that if
anyone wanted to leave the circle, it was perfectly fine to do so. When talking
to JOAAP after the Telepathic Talking Circle had come to an end, we found
that the two hours had unfolded in a similar structure, when people left the
circle in the red woods in Santa Cruz there were changes and incidents on
the lawn in Echo Park. Subjects and concerns that were raised in the two
circles, showed being closely related.
Moving on from my own wanders I would like to give an imaginary
spool to JOAAP and Routes and Methods to share some thoughts from the
Telepathic Circle and also the concern how to create a culture of caring.