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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creative Communities and Active Culture: At the Crossroads of Performative Competence and Social Change (part 2). A public conversation

2/20

another song....


Finishing up the week with Pat O reviewing where we are on construction, contracts, proposals,etc.

Tony L, one of the organizers of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. march for Peace and Justice, is looking for space for a concert. We look in Mc Alpin. Nairobey’s getting  ready for her evening performance of Animals out of Paper. (https://www.facebook.com/animalsout)  Despite building related issues and an unfortunate theft, she’s had a good run and got a solid set of reviews for a fine performance. An exceptionally high quality of theatre. She and Tony get into a conversation and exchange information.

The man who gave us a korg last year kind of materializes out of thin air looking for Stephen.

Tonight’s part 2 of the conversation  begins again with the singing circle. But ends sooner. Tonight we have an actual focused conversation. There are questions about the choice of music. Many initially put off by the explicit Christian language of the music. But over time, accepting it. Feeling its vibration.

Mario responds to a dancer that if you are dancing Romeo and Juliet, Juliet doesn’t have to be in love with Romeo to dance  their pas de deux. I may actually challenge him on that analogy. Because it is about performance and what happens with the open choir is more experience.

I offer Katherine’s response that she can sing  things she could never say. I point out that the music comes from a particular place. That it emerged out of an experience of oppression and provided a liberatory experience of being together. It emerged from struggle. What does it mean removed from that struggle? Is it enough that we all have our own struggle to live through? And also the reality that the African diaspora, wrenched violently from their homes and cast into slavery, translated their own gods into this new language that was forced upon them creating a deeper reality than what was observable. I have to ask Mario how he avoids a sense of cross-cultural appropriation or colonial acquisition of culture. Good questions.

Many of those participating describe themselves as not religious. So we talk about what Kristen Leigh had reminded me, namely that the distinction between religious and secular comes late in human history and is a particularly western phenomenon. In much of the world, there is no distinction, it is just living. Likewise, art is not a separate category. There is no such thing as art as a separate category from daily living.

What’s missing is a discussion of how this leads to an engagement ion social justice action. Although I do have a fascinating discussion with a woman who’s part of Dzieci and activism and a real estate agent. Hmmmm…I could probably add fashion to that list as well.

Again, the conversations  could go on all night. One man  lived through and experienced the genocide of Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

One of the garifona women from St. Augustine's in the Bronx brings a man to me. Pastor give this man a blessing, she says, this man needs a blessing. So I place my hands on his  forehead and give the blessing. 

But it’s time for a pot luck feast..Anan has made a wonderful dahl. And so many neighborhood restaurants…Barney Greengrass, the Gate, the Meatball Shop, Flor de Mayo, the organic food place, the macaroon place, Bella Luna…amazing what this band of  neo-diggers was able to come up with.
The feasting and conversation continues until one final song is sung. As so many of our historic institutions have lived beyond their project, the  questions being asked here are the right ones.











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