Dancing Precarity: An Open Letter A Spam A Resistance

I just got this and it’s excellent!!

“Dear community & beyond,
This is,
A spam A letter A resistance A performance,
In dancing & despair & destitution,
To whom it regards, in solidarity.
Don’t be wary, I am not a fraudulent spam.
No money, no cheques, no hacking of bodily software.
Here is an Open Letter as video letter attached.
Youtube: 

I appreciate your listening.
Thanks in advance.
From Anonymous Artist in London”

Creative Profile: Jane Samuels

A fascinating ‪#‎CreativeProfile‬ on local Artist Jane Samuels: ‘Activist and vegan, psychogeographer, prolific drinker of cheap whiskeys. Inventive dancer.’ Basically, my kinda woman…

 

 

Terrain/Anatomical Landscapes: (Lungs) “Terrain/Anatomical Landscapes: Leighton Moss”

1.       First of all, thanks for being our Creative Profile! We love your work, but also your twitter description (especially the bits about prolific whiskey drinking and inventive dancing!) For now though, let’s stick to the art. You describe yourself as a Psychogeographer; what is Psychogeography, why do you do it, and what relationship does it have to your work?

Ha! The whiskey fuels the dancing! Psychogeography at its most fundamental is about connection. It stems from the work of Guy Debord and the Situationists, who felt that the city is alienating, and that new approaches were needed to fully connect with the environment and with life. It involves walking practice: the derive (‘walking’ is the used term, but it’s important to add that the derive can be done with assistive technologies like wheelchairs too: I’m keen for it to be an inclusive practice). By exploring the environment and really taking notice, or by using spectacle and intervention (unusual events in familiar places), we use space in new ways, and invite deeper engagement. It’s this connection with place I’m looking for in my own work: making little discoveries.

 

2.       Rewinding back a couple of years, what did The Abandoned Buildings Project involve?

The Abandoned Buildings Project is a long-term, ongoing part of my practice, though it’s on hiatus right now. It involves exploring abandoned buildings (houses, hospitals, factories, asylums…), and trying to find something of their former lives while also acknowledging their emptiness and the strangeness that takes over when places are left behind. I take a cast of people with me dressed as Pooka (an Irish sprite that comes out when people are absent), and we create scenes that respond to the space. Back in the studio I build the photographs up into three-dimensional models, recreating the spaces and inviting people to carry out an exploration of their own. The hope is that this offers the audience a glimpse into places that most of us don’t get to see.

23

 

3.      Can you tell us a little about the projects you’re currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on my drawing series Terrain: Anatomical Landscapes. It deals with the human body and our deep connection/conflict with the land, and combines human anatomy with elements of landscape. Each piece represents a single visit to a single location, so is narrative, and some also address bigger political and environmental debates (currently I’m working on Terrain/Anatomical Landscapes: Gloucester, which looks at the ongoing Badger Cull). It’s a return to my first and main love in that it’s graphite drawing. That felt like an appropriately organic process.

 

4.       Terrain: Anatomical Landscapes sounds fascinating and is a departure from your previous work in terms of form and aesthetic. What is its relationship to your earlier works?

The main thread that runs through Terrain remains the same as runs through all my previous work: it’s about place and the deep and often difficult human relationship with it. The drawing, sculpture, photography and writing are all different ways of searching for that same understanding and connection. For the Abandoned Buildings Project, the photographic constructions give me the element of realism I wanted. This time the pencil work lets me really play with the space.

 

5.       The writing on your walking blog is starkly beautiful, and very poetic. Has writing always been a part of your practice?

There’s a long tradition of walking and writing, with writers like Will Self and Robert Macfarlane being particularly popular at the moment.  It’s a way of capturing and sharing experience in a way that photography and drawing maybe can’t, and it’s long been something that helps me understand the world. I’ve written and explored less this year (a broken leg has kept me indoors), so I’m really exited to be starting that process again.

 

6.       You’re both an artist and an activist – or an artivist, as they’re now calling it! What’s the relationship between art and activism to you, and how do you balance the two?,

Ha! I don’t know if I’m an artivist. Political ideas in my work are usually less overt than say Banksy, but my activism centers around rights and freedoms, and my work is a natural extension of that. I have a lot of thoughts about how we use urban and rural space, and for me, it would be impossible to explore those environments without those thought processes creeping through somewhere.  My work sometimes reflects my activism (and challenges it too), sometimes it forms part of it. Much art can in some way be read as political: even when not overt or even intended, it often speaks of the political contexts of its time.

There’s also a charge that psychogeography is too white, male, ableist and middle class. While I believe those male voices are important and welcome, I and other women from all backgrounds, belief systems, politics and disabilities are busy challenging that stereotype by just keeping working in the field.

 

7.       When I see your work I observe multiple paradoxes, between the natural world and the man-made or public and private space, for example. What are your thoughts on this?

There are a lot of those conflicts in there: the work often comes from the tension they create. What happens to the familiar when it’s fundamentally changed? How does the public live in an increasingly private city? What happens when you push the boundary a little? I see Urban and Rural as less of a paradox and more different sides of the same coin. On the face of it, nature is often the antithesis of the urban disconnect. We go to the wilds to ‘find ourselves’ when we’re lost in modern living. But in reality, the UK countryside is as carefully managed and constructed as the city. We’re there because we’re allowed to be, and there’s often some conflict there too. We’ve denuded our wilds and created monocultures in places that were once forested, and our development is stamped all over the hills. Just like the city, there are conflicts between man, the individual and the environment, so paradoxes yes, but profound similarities too.

 

8.       Looking back, how did you get to where you are now, artistically? What points on the map were instrumental in leading you to your current artistic incarnation?

My walking really started during my degree, not least because my partner and I were skint and living in a flat so dilapidated the internal walls collapsed. A local kid had started letting himself in through the bathroom window (which was funny because the front door didn’t lock): we started to spend our time outside, walking the city. We were just completely in love with the streets and the people we met. I started reading walking theory that fed into my work, and by the time I did my MA walking became practice and theory. Around that time, I was lucky enough to get involved with a Manchester Psychogeography festival called Terrains Reimagined: International Perspectives (or TR:IP), which allowed me to meet people working in the field, and lead to other exhibitions and TV and Radio coverage.

Since then, social media (especially Twitter and Instagram) has proved invaluable. It offers a community of artists and theorists, real world opportunities,  lots of new ideas, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been picked up by bloggers and writers. That led to my inclusion in “the Instagram Book” last year. It keeps me working too: there are people to talk to who keep you rolling.

 

9) What’s next?

Next year is looking busy. I’m continuing the Terrain: Anatomical Landscapes series, and beginning a new project called “The Year of Living”, which will begin in January and involves asking my social media followers to send me to their favorite places and creating works about them, once a month, for the year.

The Loitorers Resistance Movement is a fantastic Psychogeography group based in Manchester, lead by Morag Rose. I’m  working with them towards their retrospective next year at the Peoples History Museum, Manchester, for a three Month program of films, events, walks and gallery show. We’ll be selecting contributions in Jan, then curating the show next year. I’m incredibly excited about that: I’ve just begun looking at the proposals and there’s some great stuff in there.That’ll also be my first showing of Terrain/Anatomical Landscapes which is the realisation of a great deal of work. Finally I’m thinking about beginning some walks in Calderdale, for a new Calder Psychogeographic group. I’m hoping it’ll be the start of something interesting.

 

Visit Jane’s website http://www.milliondollaryack.com/GhostStations/

Follow Jane on Twitter @ JaneSamuels

black square of solidarity

black square solidarity

I’m having a little funeral in my bedroom tonight. In mourning and saturated with the world’s suffering, I thought I’d better take some moonlit, middle of the night moments to reflect, digest and process.

For Syria, Afghanistan, Paris, Beirut, South Sudan, Palestine, and all those in between which are too many to mention. For refugees and the violence of borders, including those many unnamed who are still drowning daily, or currently existing in miserable conditions on the Greek Islands and elsewhere. Or for those who have sewn shut their mouths and gone on hunger strike, in protest over being corralled at the Macedonian border. And let’s not forget the men, women, and yes, also kids, pepper-sprayed by the CRS recently at a peaceful protest over conditions and repeated police violence in ‘the Jungle’ in Calais. For all those who have been beaten or otherwise mistreated as they attempt to reach safety.

For displaced, disadvantaged, disaffected and dispossessed folks of all varieties everywhere, who are often almost invisible; whether they live down the road alone experiencing their own personal apocalypse, or on the other side of the world, like the indigenous First Nations peoples in Australia, Canada and elsewhere (whose ongoing struggles have often been effectively eclipsed from both the history books and contemporary coverage – see here and here for more).

Horrific as all this is, my mourning is not solely reserved for violent conflicts and the human implications of terrible governmental policy, but also for all ideological, class-based, race-based, gender-based, mind-body based, whatever-based borders – there are, again, too many to mention. So instead I’ll say, for insidious borders and separation of all kinds, which is the root of all violence. For the lack of love, from the tiniest insult to the most grandiose, worldwide, monumental fuck ups.

For forest fires in Indonesia as the price of palm oil. For the half of the world’s wildlife lost in the last 40 years. For oncoming eco-apocalypse. For David Cameron’s soul, and all the others, who probably aren’t even aware of how soiled their souls are, because we each tend to live in our own private universe of fortified personal borders, to greater or lesser extent. For the soul of our culture and the future of our children, and for all the Earth’s creatures. For this madhatter’s teaparty at the end of the world, which, as Stephen Jenkinson says “sometimes feels like dancing” (if dancing is possible or probable for you), “but it’s terminal alright”.

Here’s a black square of funereal solidarity with all of that vastness. Solidarity with sadness and sorrow. No flag-waving antics, just an expression of deep sadness, frustration, confusion and anger.

I read this thing, and the guy Parker Palmer wrote:

“I know many people whose own wounds — held in a broken-open heart — have made them “wounded healers.” Instead of growing bitter and brittle and passing their pain on to others, they’ve said, “this is where the pain stops and the love begins.” Not in spite of their suffering but because of it they’re better able to offer active forms of compassion to others who suffer…”.

It’s an old tale which might sound cliche, and it’s probably much more difficult to put into practice if you’ve experienced really vicious wounds, such as the deaths of several family members and living through the reality of war. However, as PP puts it;

“In a world that can be as heedless and heartless as ours, kindness must grow from deep roots if it is to be strong and sustainable. As the Poet (Naomi Shihab Nye) says, “before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

Sorrow, like love, knows no bounds and no borders. Resilience to trauma is not a hardening of the heart, but a broken-open heart, and the healing of the world relies on our willingness to open ourselves to that brokenness, and to love it better through our learning and change-making. If we allow ourselves to feel beyond our personal borders, there is no way that we can avoid that black square of solidarity with suffering.

My weeping for the world tonight was followed by reading this article about breaking the cycle of violence. It’s written from more of a spiritual perspective, rather than political, which is probably more my own default setting. It made me aware that I’m now trying to break down the border between those two ways of seeing the world, in an attempt to disallow myself the potential of escapism from either! Multi-angles, varying perspectives. We all have our tendencies and blinkers, and those blind spots are where the miscommunication occurs. That very miscommunication is borne of borders and separation – it’s our great challenge when striving for community, and it’s how a million miniature violences are made. 

The article also brought back the memory of a quote from another article I read a few years back. This quote resonated with me due to it’s paradoxical and difficult simplicity, so I stuck it on the front of one of my notebooks, for the inevitable days when I’d forget.

The article was about a Palestinian father and an Israeli father, whose daughters had both been killed, and who later met at a meeting of ‘Combatants for Peace’ (an organisation through which former fighters unite in the search for peace, similar to this one which has sprung up in the US.) One of them was quoted as saying,

“In the end there will be a peace agreement, that is absolutely clear. it will happen at the moment when the price of not having peace exceeds the price of having peace.”

This statement is not only about acceptance, as it might sound to some (although  anyway, there is really no ‘only’ about acceptance). Instead, I hear action coarsing through this statement’s veins. It is exactly why we must now disrupt the peaceful sleep of ‘our’ politicians, and yet even more importantly, it suggests each personally moving towards a painful place – because we can’t move collectively towards peace without also disrupting our own personal peace.

 As we know, plenty of humanimals are already lacking that peace, but for those of us who aren’t living in war zones or are relatively unaccustomed to struggle, we might need to expand our personal borders a tad in order to see this madhatter’s teaparty as it really is. 

It will mean increasing resilience to go beyond our own comfort zone. It will mean educating ourselves on the specifics of situations which certain parties would prefer to hide from us, and it will ultimately mean taking action. It will mean a super noisy and disruptive gatecrashing of the filthy festival of capitalist interests currently dominating world events and wrecking the ecosystem, and it will mean working hard to not let a search for personal peace skew our perceptions.

Basically, I’ve come full circle back to the point that I always end up at, which is the understanding that “I am you, you are me, and the world is us”, just like Krishna-nonguru-murti always said. Life as relationship; a dynamic entanglement between self – environment – other. Living this truth is somewhat more problematic than just writing it or speaking it, however.

Peace for all begins with moving towards difficult truths, person by person. There really is no freedom until we are all free, and this is why the phrase ‘your liberation is bound up with mine‘ is taking on a new urgency for me. It’s also why frustration, sadness and anger is disrupting my peace tonight, and why I’m ranting and chanting and carrying on, on facearse and wordpress at 2 am. Perhaps this is not the most productive soapbox, but sod it… I’m trying, in my own way. Moving forwards towards further wholeness, integration, and all that jazz.

Which brings me nicely to the crux of the matter. What I’m wondering is, given current events, is there any chance we can all maybe speed things up a bit?! As in, BLOODY GET ON WITH IT, this moving towards the tipping point at which the price of not having peace exceeds the price of having peace? Pleeease?!

Gahhh. I’m tired of bad news – of staring this vast abyss of sadness and sorrow down in all it’s monstrosity – but I’ve lost some of my ability to look away, and I hope you do too, because there is a whole new peace in peacelessness. It’s complicated, messy and human. It’s real life man, shit happens! The way I see it, if you don’t feel the need to weep for the world sometimes, then we’ve all got a problem. Positive thinking is not the precursor to peace. Personal peace is not even the precursor to peace. Moving towards peace can only happen through a paradoxical process of simultanously holding peace and peacelessness.

As I quoted in an earlier post, but because it’s so excellent I will quote again;

“To act (where many others don’t) and yet to question that action – in the very name of that action – while acting, [which] is the sublime fulfillment of what it is to be human – to be in open conversation with one’s world at all times. It implies a sensibility that transcends itself, and that therefore has the possibility of acting as the seed of a more conscious future” (a delicate activism, davidoff & kaplan).

 

yorkshire till i die

My pal is in this video. I was almost in it, but I knew I was going on a bender the night before and would be sleep-deprived, so I ducked out of it. I’m a lightweight and not afraid to admit it. In all honesty, I was all set to hate it anyway – distasteful Devvo and his pisstake Chav-antics. No tar. Arty lover of subtlety over here, yada yada yada. Anyway, I’m a div. When I actually watched it, I found this video sad, touching and honest. It’s a pretty good depiction of a life, as experienced by some Yorkshire folk.

Lately, I’ve started reading the comments section under articles and videos on the internet, in order to gauge a selection of folk’s true feelings, as expressed from a safely hidden spot behind their screens.  This can often be both disturbing and rage-inducing, but this time I spotted the below comment;

“If you look past the comedy there’s a pretty powerful social commentary that I feel will be lost on a lot of people. So weird to see the streets of Leeds again in a video like this.

Thanks for this video, I actually cried whilst watching to think of the times when I used to walk on those very streets and look about and think ‘this is my life, what do I really have? People don’t even know of the desperate state some of Yorkshire is in…”

I watched this a while back, when I’d only just decided to escape the big smoke, head for the hills and move back up North. I remember thinking, YES!! YORKSHIRE, I’M COMIN’ ‘OME!!! (coz there’s also green fields, rolling hills and my beloved dry stone walls, and it’s not called ‘God’s own Country’ for nowt.) It reminded me of some of the first lines of poetry I ever penned, of a street I used to live on, and of plenty of times, people and places from my life both past and present.

hull, hell and halifax, so the saying goes
a miserable elegy for my home, sweet home,
a place of pebble dash – and pubs,
some diamonds, lotsa rough…
but who can hate a place, i ask,
where everyone’s called love?

Yup, there’s no doubt about it. I am YORKSHIRE TILL I DIE !! xxx

THE ART OF ACTION (in the eye of the shitstorm)

winterrice

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/winterrice-helping-young-refugee-families-survive#/

CLICK ON THIS LINK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This may well not turn out to be the most coherent string of words I’ve ever sewn together (it’s late and I’m tired), but then again, that’s not the whole story. Coherence is like debate – it can sound convincing, but be simltaneously utterly devoid of humanity. This post is coming from a different place. I’m writing it, person to person, in the understanding that some things need to be felt in your bones, and that this, my friends, is one of ’em. Some stuff spews from the guts. It ain’t always pretty, but I’ve come to realise, nevertheless, that it’s totally fucking necessary.

If you’re connected to me already, whether by blood, friendship, hell or high water, you’ll no doubt already have encountered my ranting, chanting and carrying on regarding the refugee crisis in recent months. My obsessive-compulsive social media sharing, and general banging on about articles, blog posts and campaigns, have received less comments, shares and likes (!) than I might have hoped for. Perhaps I’ve even done everybody’s nut in and come across as holier than thou…?!

Anyhoo, in the end I would like to publicly say SOD IT, FUCK IT, and as girl after my own heart, Kate Brittain, recently put it …. #SORRYNOTSORRY !!! I’ll continue ranting, chanting and carrying on, with all the Yorkshire-rowdiness and flexing of the freedom of expression muscles that I can currently maneuver. Because whilst I love the dancing (ohhh yup I really love that dancing!), I have come to the stark and shocking realisation that protest-dance has a supremely limited ability to help the folk freezing, drowning, and having a totally bloody dire time as they attempt to reach the relative safety of ‘Fortress Europe’.

This blog is called izzabellanecessary for a reason. It’s about calling a spade a spade and an arse an arse. It’s about lessening the gap between what’s considered ‘necessary’ or ‘useful’, ‘intelligent’, ‘arty’ or ‘creative’. It’s something to do with expanding my mind-body matrix in order to see, be and do what’s appropriate. What is necessary in order to navigate the complexity of this world; how can I slowly weed out the ways in which I’ve been furtively trained to see, be and act by society?

I’m now beginning to realise that this new approach can really encompass anything. We don’t all have to specialise and separate, creating artificial borders between art, work, life, our ‘selves’ and all other assorted humans, creatures and earthly wonders. There are ways and means of expanding beyond the microcosm.

In recent years my life has revolved around the learning the embodied art of dancing, and practising the odd bit of poetry to go with it. Meanwhile, under the surface, several other concerns have been taking seed. I’ve been composting thoughts, germinating ideas, and more overtly direct practices of ordinary magic had begun to seem necessary. To translate this into less of a tongue twister, I’m beginning to dip my dancing feet and dainty mitts into the art of taking practical action – whether that means weaving willow into a garden fence with my pals, taking baby-steps towards learning about bees and growing food, or tentatively engaging in actual direct action (somewhat delicately, like this little book suggests).

I’ve made a new commitment to collaboration, collective creativity, and taking a pragmatic, integrative approach in helping to heal the problems facing our world. Gahhhh, it’s not like I’m on a crusade friends, but some kind of sea-change has undoubtedly begun.

This might all sound suspiciously like my own personal new-era manifesto, and I will get to the point eventually, promise… However, I’m mentioning all this because I do believe that personal pleas are important. Scrap that, they’re essential, vital, and again, totally fucking necessary!!! People to people solidarity and grassroots responses have provided much of the backbone of humanitarian support across Europe, throughout this all-encompassing, ongoing shitstorm of a very sorry situation.

With this in mind and body, I’m asking you to feel beyond the boundaries of your own situation, and think about sharing, supporting and engaging with this ‘ere little initiative (go back to that link at the top, click it, read, share, and donate if you can). It may seem small, a drop in the ocean even, but it all matters. 

This particular initiative, aiming to provide 100 families with emergency surival kits for starters, has been set up by a super inspiring group of artists in Greece. I spent time learning lots of wisdom and wonder-things with them this summer at The Ricean School of Dance, in relative luxury on an idyllic Greek Island, not far from where refugees are still arriving in their thousands. They are enduring horrendous hardships, inhumane conditions, and have far, far too slender a hope of some shelter from the storm. Whilst summertime RICE focused on creating a temporary, experimental space to explore non-hierarchical, binary-bending, boundary-breaking approaches to art + life, WINTERRICE is a pragmatic response to an urgent situation of epic proportions. It made me smile to see RICE described alternatively in the conext of WINTERRICE as standing for a ‘real institute of civic engagement’. The two initiatives are perfect companions in the book of balance 🙂

Donations to WINTERRICE began thick and fast. I got into my cosy bed one night, and arose to find $1000 more in generosity flowing straight towards some of the people who need it most. After sharing till our fingers bled, we reached our target in record time! Happy days! The decision was then made to increase our target in order to improve the quality of the kits, include longer-lasting food, and to buy and staff a tent for refugees in Mytilene, Lesvos with two volunteers, including a nurse, who would also distribute the emergency kits.  We were ‘featured’ and we were ‘trending’, at the peak of the appeal, but donations have, of course, now slowed.

And so it is. The time has come to rant some more in a bid to keep that trickle a-coming. There’s only six days left, so now is the time!

Consider this a call to action and a serious shout out for a show of solidarity, if you will. I am begging / pleading / requesting that you please please please support and share this initiative! If you feel disconnected from the reality of the refugees it aims to help, or perhaps not fully aware of the extent of the refugee crisis, I ask that you make it a priority to check out the many blogs and articles online (often written by grassroots volunteers who are currently working, organising and helping on the ground across Europe, see the bottom of this post for links).

We all have our own realities, and struggles and action comes in many different shapes, sizes and varieties. I want to emphasize that right now, a series of historical moments are occurring. The full weight of what’s happening in the world, from refugee crisis to climate change, encompassing the full kaleidoscopic multitude of madnesses and back again, will become wholly evident only in hindsight.

I’m asking you to help ensure RIGHT NOW that these people are not forgotten, that these stories are told, and that we make ourselves necessary to the softening of this particular problem.

If you can’t donate, I feel ya. Let’s face it, I’m totally and utterly shambolically skint myself. I recently extended my overdraft again in order to, firstly, eat, and also to give a mere $20 to the very campaign that I’m pleading for. It’s not all about the cash-money. There are many ways to get involved and show your solidarity. You can write letters, raise awareness, share stories, organise a fundraiser, or make links with organisations supporting asylum seekers in your local area. Just give a shit and do something, basically. Use your big mouth and your unique life, to whatever extent you’re able.

We desparately need to see this situation for what it is, and not merely how the limited vision of the usual media channels represent it.Our governments are not doing enough – almost bugger all in fact, for a bloody change! Border policy and nationalist self-protection, along with ‘economic imperatives’ come first for them. I write simply and from a place of common sense, as you can see. I’m no political commentator.

Even so, what I do know is that this form of knowledge is as valid as any. I don’t need to back up this post with theory and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the complex political maneuvers that have contributed to this crisis. I know enough. I know that we are capable of putting the pressure on those governments, and that we can certainly choose to open our own personal borders to let the compassion out. It might only be a trickle at first, but eventually it can build into a booming expression of the interconnectedness of all things.

We’re all deeply implicated, whether we know it or not. I feel this deep in my bones, in the gurgling processing-pit at the bottom of my belly, and in the blood that boils when I consider the state we’re in. I also experience it in the beauty of the rich and diverse pragmatic practices of ordinary magic ocurring moment to moment, all across the world. It’s in the intelligence of nature, the individuals and communities creating amazing things everywhere, and in the awe-inspiring, warmth-inducing possibilities of the things we might potentially create together. We are a collective of flawed and yet well-intentioned humans, who might just have the ability to see what needs doing, and to spontaneously do it. It’s an invitation innit 😉

Directly after my time at The Ricean School of Dance this summer, I got on a bike (having not cycled in two years, I was really just following an intuition that this was something I wanted / needed to do), and joined the Critical Mass to Calais in order to donate bikes to the people there. It was an experience which was both eye-opening and transformative, and you can read / watch more about it herehere and here. Confronted with the reality of the refugees there, I began to more fully understand the extent of the inherent violence of borders. Policy, policy, policy, but what about people? #noborders #yourborderskill #fucktheborders. That is all I have to say.

The trip to Calais was not without it’s challenges and complications, oh aye; co-ordination and cohesive action is a craft, an art and a lifelong learning curve in itself. However, the kindness and compassion in Calais and the experiments in disrupting the usual modes of communication at RSOD, both served to make it blindingly clear that everything begins with dialogue and connection. This communication between self – environment – other is occurring always, on multiple levels. Much of the act of meeting has occurred before physical touch or ‘action’, as we usually conceive of it, occurs. I came to observe that there is a delicate activism occurring in the communication between everything, all of the time.

So I’ve been thinking about these things. Such as: what is the art of hosting conversations that matter? How does change happen? Does it start with a tiny seed and expand outwards, in a mycellium-like structure, just as mushrooms communicate underground? Is it essentially an organic process? Leading questions, I know, but both Critical Mass Calais and RSOD emphasized and developed further in me the necessity of standing in solidarity with fellow humans, other animals, and also the earth (which is also a part of us, not just another, separate story).

Recent experiences have demonstrated to me that we can develop the resilience that allows us to see these things, and not turn away. It is possible to learn the art of open dialogue and to translate that into the art of action. We can call a spade a spade, an arse an arse, and take on the eye of the shitstorm, in which spades and arses can often become confused and convoluted things, mutated beyond all original intention… You only need to read the news to see that.

We can do all this, amongst other, necessary stories… and fuckshitswine, I’m going to sound like a crappy motivational speaker (pfft, again #SORRYNOTSORRY) … but what I’m trying to spit out is that WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER.

#winterrice #danceswithoutborders #artofaction #yourborderskill

See below for some related articles, videos and blog posts from recent months…. it’s like a weird little link diary via my social media over-share  and the bookmarks folder that I ironically, originally labelled ‘going home‘. This whole thing began for me by cycling to Calais to donate bikes and other supplies, as research for a DIY 12 Live Art Development Agency workshop, which I never even made it to in the end. Art sent me to action, and action sent me back to art, and I realised that there need be no difference between the two.

Before I sign off… WINTERRICE! WINTERRICE! WINTERRICE! Please be part of this real institute of civic engagement, or start your own … like my hi-vis jacket says on the back, DON’T JUST WALK ON BY! DO SUMMAT!*

*Yorkshire-speak for ‘something’.

TA FOR READING. OVER AND OUT XXX

http://www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/reportage-2/life-inside-calais-notorious-jungle-refugee-camp/

http://www.weareplanc.org/blog/channelling-compassion-calais-solidarity-and-where-we-go-from-here/

http://mashable.com/2015/09/10/calais-camp-jungle-aid/#RE42PMX96uqR

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/morocco-no-borders-the-forgotten-refugee-crisis/x/12605954#/story

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/16/first-refugees-head-for-croatia-after-hungarys-border-crackdown-live-updates?CMP=share_btn_fb

https://www.facebook.com/clare.moseley.98/videos/144114715937682/?pnref=story

https://www.facebook.com/theworldwidetribe/photos/a.1613492195603208.1073741829.1526014994350929/1626569714295456/?type=3&fref=nf&pnref=story

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/zero-refugees-guess-which-countries-have-taken-not-one-of-the-60-million-fleeing-war/#_=_

https://twitter.com/calaisolidarity/status/646331196700553216

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2015/september/dougal-wilson-reports-on-secret-cinemas-secret-protest-at-the-calais-jungle-camp/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2015/sep/22/kiss-knows-no-borders-photographing-refugee-couple-budapest

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-crisis-the-true-extent-of-the-british-publics-extraordinary-response-revealed-10514341.html

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/five-explanations-to-why-the-majority-of-refugees/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/banksys-dismaland-moves-to-calais-to-provide-shelter-for-refugees-a6669156.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/27/un-official-asylum-assessment-centre-calais-france-britain?CMP=twt_gu

https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-alliance-for-a-safe-world/urgent-france-to-deport-asylum-seekers-to-sudan-on-thursday-four-young-men-from-/764462416996440?pnref=story

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/29/magistrate-nigel-allcoat-resigns-after-paying-destitute-asylum-seekers-court-fine

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/british-artists-launch-theatre-in-calais-migrant-camp/

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/29/magistrate-nigel-allcoat-resigns-after-paying-destitute-asylum-seekers-court-fine

https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/tatiana-garavito/migrants-rights-protest-st-pancras-ticket-barrier-shut-down-eurostar

http://time.com/4077370/refugee-crisis-calais-death/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lliana-bird/refugee-crisis-lesbos_b_8388988.html

http://mariennapw.com/2015/10/29/entry-iii-the-sinking-of-the-nameless-recollections-of-a-volunteerjournalist/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/yvette-cooper/refugee-crisis-lesbos_b_8418988.html

http://gauge-mag.com/

http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2015-10-30/otley-aid-worker-could-face-jail-for-smuggling-4-year-old-back-to-family/

http://balkanist.net/guardians-of-the-frontier-migration-racism-solidarities-balkan-corridor/ 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/07/europe-refugees-david-cameron-united-nations-warning?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/11/09/whos-in-charge-of-the-migrants-arriving-in-greece-the-answer-will-surprise-you/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/22/greek-concerns-mount-refugees-balkan-countries-restrict-entry

mushrooming : dancing at the edge of my understanding

WP_20150817_013
by michael klien / steve valk / jeffrey gormley, from ‘the book of recommendations
I am in a discombobulating process of mind-body-bending, de-schooling, re-wilding, and imagineering. I am definitely dancing at the edge of my understanding !! Which can only be a good thing, or so I’ve come to believe. I have got this far, but it’s all still a bit blurry around the edges … you’re gonna need to just hold tight with me for a moment, the dancing part comes back later…
WHAT IF WE COULD LEARN: “to act (where many others don’t) and yet to question that action – in the very name of that action – while acting, [which] is the sublime fulfillment of what it is to be human – to be in open conversation with one’s world at all times. It implies a sensibility that transcends itself, and that therefore has the possibility of acting as the seed of a more conscious future” (a delicate activism, davidoff & kaplan).
WHAT IF WE COULD EXPERIENCE: “a felt shift from separation to connectedness. From being an individual somewhat isolated observer, looking for connectedness, to being essentially and intimately connected… Instead of being too busy to care, we notice what needs doing to look after the people and the environment around us, and you naturally do it” (guy claxton, on being touched and moved at the RSA).
I’ve long believed that change is only possible, firstly, through the revolution of individual consciousness. Any forced attempts at change merely echo the imperfect structures that bore the bullshit in the first place. At a micro-level, change happens first in the individual mind-body, and then via communication with others and our surroundings. What I didn’t realise was that my own understanding of consciousness, communication, and our relationship with the world, was still so limited… The phrase I have so often quoted from Krishnamuriti, that ‘I am you, you are me, and the world is us’, now takes on a fuller meaning.

HOW MIGHT WE FIRSTLY DEAL WITH THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF IDEAS, EMOTIONS AND EVENTS, IN ORDER TO PROMOTE SELF-HEALING IN OUR OWN DELICATE MINDY-BODY MATRIX? HOW MIGHT THIS EMANATE OUTWARDS INTO THE WIDER WORLD?
WHAT IF IMPROVED MIND-BODY INTEGRATION IS VITAL IN ALLOWING US TO ‘MEET’ THE WORLD MORE HOLISTICALLY, AS DESCRIBED ABOVE BY GUY CLAXTON?
WHAT IF THIS MEANS THAT THE SENSITIVE PROCESS OF EXPANDING SENSORIAL AWARENESS IS ACTUALLY BOTH PRAGMATIC AND PRACTICAL? WHAT IF IT’S NOT ‘JUST DANCING’?
WHAT IF I HAVE NOW HONED IN ON EXACTLY WHERE I NEED TO GO.
WHAT IF ANY ATTEMPT AT CHANGING OUR WORLD MUST ENTAIL A WIDER UNDERSTANDING OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW SUBTLE COMMUNICATION OCCURS?

*some thoughts*
the final act of meeting is the act of physical touch.
likewise, the final act of communication is the act of using symbolic language.
so much has already happened within you before you ‘decide’ to do something (new-wave science has proved it)
hence, conscious ‘free will’ is debatable, given the amount of unknowns…
which means that embodied intelligence, and other less appreciated ways of knowing (such as intuition), are REALLY BLOODY IMPORTANT! if we can cultivate the skills to ‘know’ in more ways than one, what might this mean for our way of living and being?

HOW MIGHT PRAGMATIC APPROACHES TO THIS SUBTLE ORDINARY MAGIC ENABLE US TO NAVIGATE EVER-INCREASING PARADOX? HOW MIGHT WE EXPAND OUR POTENTIAL AS HUMAN BEINGS THROUGH SUCH PRACTICES? HOW MIGHT THIS RADICALLY IMPROVE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER HUMANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT?

This is the mushrooming of my understanding of what dance is, and can be. We are deeply implicated, interconnected beings, engaged in a dynamic entanglement with self – environment – other. I thunk it, I felt it, but now I’m TOTALLY CONVINCED!!!

PS. I apologize for all the caps locks, italics, and strange formatting!! WordPress is giving me gip, hence the lines of separation between paragraphs… and my mind-body is struggling to digest / process / compost all these half-formed realisations. Danke for your patience, friends!

humanimals, and the art of empathy

“Animals are so much more empathic than humans. They feel everything and they’re with you, but not because they expect to get anything… it’s just the most primal form of nurture … a way of release and interaction” says Nai Palm…

Lately I’ve been thinking, not just with my conscious mind, but with my whole mind-body matrix thing. I’m realising that one way for humans to learn to be more empathic towards the earth, animals and each other – is by healing the mind-body split within their own bundle of cells/skin/soul/bones, expanding their sensorial connectedness, and developing the ability to sense each other rather than constantly making ideas about each other.

MUCH LIKE THIS FELLA IS DOING HERE … MAN COMFORTS GORILLA WHO JUST LOST HIS MOM

We just need a wider, deeper understanding of how communication occurs and what consciousness is (see my earlier thoughts here), in order to appreciate and utilise the many forms of knowing available to us. There’s so much going on at a subtle level, and I believe that we need to cultivate the skills to listen to it. 

Check out this dude and his Chimpanzee work, for a practical example of the kind of sensorial development that I’m talking about. After spending two months volunteering in a sanctuary in Cameroon, this fella decided to create a ‘movement-based workshop exploring trans-species kinship with our closest relatives’. Check out his blog here for more info.

PS. Body-based healing practices and dancing are both pragmatic and useful! So there… and logic and ‘rational’ thought aren’t always the best way to respond (Just sayin’ yo).

PPS. I want to be the kind of artist that the Chimp workshop guy is – grounding my practice in the wider world. Facilitating experiences where change might happen, through this wider understanding of the relevance of movement/dance/whatever ya wanna call it. Trying not to compartmentalise so much and this is the point at which language starts to break down. My increasing over-sensitivity to this stuff makes it harder and harder to label, separate and symbolise.

PPS. I love nai palm !!!!!!!!!

poims @ parcel bar

Back at the start of August I was the visiting poet at Puzzle Poets up in Sowerby Bridge, in my hometown Halifax.

I’m fairly used to doing one or two poems, ten minutes of poetic ramble here or there … but this was a proper opportunity for some longer ranting, chanting and carrying on 😉 I had a super-good night, and folk there were very appreciative of my new poems, which is lovely and encouraging! After a year devoted entirely to the daaannce, it was a good while since I’d got my poetry on.

The compere, one John Foggin – well, I dunno how he does it. Flummoxes me how he comes up with those descriptions on the spot! And the open mic was just brimming with wordy goodness. I particularly loved ‘Barry The Bacteria’ and the one about public libraries – just ‘don’t mention the books’ these days – it’s all about new wave digital whatever communication… It was pretty spot on as an event, with poems covering folk festivals, the Trans-Siberian Express, dropping in splashes of haunting lyricism, ‘the sack of history’, and some Binyon and Hardy and Yeats to ‘remind us where we all come from’ (Foggin’s words!)

Afterwards, a lady grabbed me and asked me to do a gig at her bar in Hebden Bridge. Well shittin’ hell! That was my first request for a proper poetry gig by someone I’d never met before – not a group I’m involved with or a mate running an event or whatever… WOWZA. Exciting times. HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY !!!!

Feel free to have a gander at what I did…

Poim listing as follows…

once again, i find myself in a relationship with a character from the beat generation
mind-body remix
the white rug of love
night-bus
the battle
crap consciousness
i’m not a nun, but…
stop making sense song
the good life
the healing fields
fuckyoga.com

the meaning of death dance

my relaxed solo rave to stephen jenkinson’s meaning of death video. the topic might seem heavy for a tuesday morning, but it’s seriously worthwhile heavyweight wisdom! i promise 😉

it’s taken me many viewings of his video to capture the fullness of what he’s saying – i got the general gist but chunks of it eluded me… however i kept feeling drawn to returning to his words, and every time i watched the video again i started to understand a little bit more about what he was saying, and what it means for the way we live…

somehow after a while it all starts to get just a little bit less heavy.

anyway, i did a dance to it. will let his words do the rest of the talking. enjoy 🙂

dancing / borders / bicycles / crossings (and other matters)

People are on my mind. After the amazing, discombobulating and enlightening experiences of RICE on Hydra and Critical Mass to Calais with Bikes Beyond Borders… here are some words to get out of my head and into the world as soon as possible. It’s sort of an update / poem in progress / repetitive, related mashup of bits and bobs that I wrote here after the Climate March in September. More detailed write-ups to come on both experiences / events later, when the bladdy thesis is fnished… !!
11886175_10154226312832575_5784141183343789169_o 11949368_10207211001775910_4887703939505527844_n
photos by minou tsambika (the circle, my new non-dualistic symbol for love, the universe and everything), zoe tsaff (map of the sunrise to sunset dances on hydra for which i took on the role of nomadic care-giver), and two crappy phone shots by me (a bird flying free between dover and calais, and three well-intentioned pairs of cyclist’s feet, on their way to donate bikes to people in ‘the jungle’, calais).
what i am interested in is the borderline. the crossing. the communication between individuals and the whole. the tipping point. how the individuals make the whole. how change must, and can only happen organically. how everything is organic really. how each person does what he or she can, under their particular circumstances. how radical compassion must mean radical understanding. because i am you, you are me and the world is us, yes, but it’s all so easily misunderstood ! for years I was living with i am you, you are me and the world is us, so why can’t you be a little bit more like me, please? and i never even noticed. how anger and and action and force might be necessary, sometimes. how they open the way for the rest of us. but how not to forget the quiet ones, or the ones who compose thoughts more slowly and speak more carefully… and what are all the different ways of knowing anyway?

how to be a practical, pragmatic poet?

because, make no mistake about it,

i just love dancing and writing poems,

and whilst i’ve toyed with the idea

of becoming a full time activist and living in a tree –

for the moment, i’ve just got to accept that i’m me.

i can plant small seeds, help ideas germinate,

i can create. but i can also do flash mops

to the sound of 80s electro-punk

and make myself izzabella necessary on occasion.

how to be useful…

it’s all even more complicated than i thought.

how to build a boat. how to build bridges.

how to take bicycles beyond borders

and build radical dance schools of the future.

how to get clean water.

how to facilitate. how to have a different kind of conversation.

what is the art of hosting conversations that matter?

how to be tolerant but not be a dead fish…

how to live a good life but know that you’ll always

have to co-exist with the whole world and it’s plentiful shit?

how not to ignore it, but not sink in it either.

there is no shortcut through that shit! like my wise mum says.

how to just live well and be helpful, in a world as complicated as this?