We are a group called Stair/Slide Space who will be asking the question “What does it mean to drop out?” through our peer learning group session.
The topic of dropping out is very timely, with many of us falling out of our usual patterns of life, work and health. Is there a space that has opened up to consider what can be learned from dropping outside of the mainstream, the ‘normal’ or the expected without romanticising a situation that has pushed many to the brink? For artists who ‘make change’ who are often working with a practice of participation, instead the question of what it means not to participate or to participate differently becomes more relevant. If dropping out is a choice, then can it be seen as a radical method of change-making? If dropping out is a decision forced upon us, then how can mutual support allow us to thrive none-the-less?
25 November 2020
Ranting, survival, health, trauma, recovery
Tentacles of enquiry
“I didn’t mean to start off with ranting”. Some of us needed to vent, to release energy and frustration.
..Processing is part of the process…
Coming back to the question: How to take care of ourselves within capitalism? Needing to look after ourselves, to slow down, eat well, move and rest… but we need to work. Can dropping out be seen as a kind of stasis? Some people had time to feel better, in a way going to work feels normal and motivating when things feel chaotic.
How does the body process trauma? As one of us undergoes PTSD therapy related to long term Covid we talked about muscle movement therapy whilst thinking about the trauma.
…activating long term memory sites in the brain…
We consider other kinds of rhythmic movement: walking, art, dancing, sport.
A member of the group sends us the words “I’ll share my memory as my body understands it”.
Movement, noise, ceremony, reminds us of church. The kinds of rituals we aren’t usually in touch with. For some of us, art is this thing that gives us a purpose to do something physical or repetitive … dropping out allows us to self-reflect whilst moving … gardening, painting a wall…
you don’t need long term memory in an emergency, you shut off those pathways so it bounces around and the body responds in the way it first experiences it …
In our collective practice we often do labour intensive pieces that involve hand traced words, poems, stories. Tracing the letters feels familiar as a kind of muscle memory. Many don’t even realise these pieces are hand drawn yet the act of making them feels grounding…
“you spend all day cooking it then you eat it in ten minutes”
Not being able to process injustice quickly enough…seeing behaviours that repeat but feeling unable to act quickly to intervene…bringing about change by addressing things in real time, how? How can we learn this? Feeling shame about inaction. Being heard doesn’t have to mean being aggressive, it can mean being vulnerable (as vulnerability defined as strength.) Considering this in relation to our method of conversation as collective research.
In relation to privilege: dropping out or unwillingness to drop out (or step out) or stand out?
Thinking of exercises in disrupting. It takes 300 times to repeat something to make a habit…if we lessen the steps to make it easier we remove the barriers…
“I can speak two languages, one is ours, one is dog. Can one of you speak two languages?”
Where do you hold tension in your body? Jaw, back, joints…(as much in the brain as the body) At what points can you intercept it? Human interdependencies … by asking for help we challenge this individualised problem. How to bring our commitments into every action we make, to exercise and practice?
Leap frogging resources
07 November 2020
Health, bodies, communities, expression, trauma, stress, somatics.
Tentacles of inquiry
Reflecting on first hand experience of Long COVID. Bodies go wrong because we’re human. Realities of body and brain exhaustion. Current situation means people are enduring more and more stress. Dropping out as a way to cope?
Connecting with international communities in the absence of an answer from pharmaceutical medicine. We are self-organising forming on-line long covid supports, sharing herbal remedies and recipes to for wellness. Attempting to find pleasure in nourishment.
Experience of pain and the pervasive desire to escape my body. Also the challenges of communicating and expressing myself through words, especially when spoken. Is language failing us? Simultaneously excavating and building, thinking about layers, what’s buried beneath the surface? What’s concealed? What can we share?
I have started testing abbreviated writing methods as a way to express thoughts and ideas honestly in the moment.
This time of collective embodied trauma, healing, somatics. Searching for strategies and coping mechanisms. Can we be open to the possibilities of dropping out? To opportunistically shift mindsets, rhythms, routines? Yet the uneven societal reality, is dropping out only available for the privileged? Emerging form of shared consciousness, through resonating collective feelings/experiences and coping resources. What about the spiritual? World view of panpsychism that the universe is alive and all things embody consciousness. Is it possible to be a gentle radical?
• Everything Is Connected, Billboard artwork by Saif Osmani
• Chapter from Pleasure Activism The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown
• The Prisoner’s Apothecary, a mobile healing unit “Plantbulance” that transforms the plants from The Solitary Gardens into medicine for communities most deeply impacted by the insidious reach of mass incarceration.
• In-conversation: Reimagining Futures and Creative Practice with Selina Thompson and Ama Josephine Budge by Season for Change
• Kai Syng Tan on Artful Leadership with Dr Michael Pinchbeck as part of Bunker Talks
• The Memory Field Musings on the Diné Perspective of Time, Memory, and Land by Jake Skeets
• Energizing Change: In conversation with Charlene Carruthers and adrienne maree brown via Chicago Humanities Festival
Throughout our sessions we will each bring something to share, be it observations, experiences or emerging strategies. These share’s will connect to the previous session, forming leap-frog flows of playful movement, allowing the conversations to evolve and expand our inquiries like tentacle limbs. We want to remember this process and continue building upon it with the aim of creating change, in ourselves, our individual practice’s and our shared collective practice and beyond.