i love to we

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.

spool of thread

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