Monday 14 March 2011

Kalk Bay Cape Town South Africa December 2010 COP ART group

Thank you to Lara Kruger for navigating this AOC intervention! All photographs were taken by Lara too.

As a facilitator of the process I found the following things challenging:
·         Working with such a diverse group – diverse in terms of cultural background, age (ranging between about 17 and 50), language (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa and also the type of language/ vocabulary used) and amount of experience in working with artistic process (some of the participators are practicing visual artists and designers, some have a very traditional understanding of what may me considered as art, some were very open to new ideas around conversation and art(full) processes and others had difficulty in understanding concepts/ ideas that are imaginal, metaphorical, non-physical).
·         It was hard to facilitate the process, but also be fully present in the dynamics of what was happening in the group.
·         I was at times unsure if the process was really “working’ or being useful to the participants. At these times, I was not sure if I should intervene, do more explaining, ask more questions, or just give the process a little more time and space so that it may unfold between and within participants.
·         There were no cheque books or notebooks in the kits/box. I only discovered this just before the process started, so had to improvise very quickly. I made makeshift booklets for the conversation maps and the exchange of cheques were cut from the process. Participants still had there questions in tangible forms (written in the booklets) and were able to take it home with them, but exchanges with members of the public was only done verbally.
·         One artist in the group reacted very strongly on the suggestion that all of us have the potential to act as artists in this world. This reaction came in the form of an email after the process. I will forward this email to you, for your interest. I found the strong (in some ways very protective of the term artist) response quite interesting and It made me think about the power and difficulties of language and the way in which we work with words, a lot.

Things I found interesting/ stuck with me:
from the responses in the second group conversation it was evident that there was a big need in the group to know more about climate change. They mostly realised their own need to know more, when confronted with questions by the public. So in this way the experienced help participants to shape new questions and to identify a need for knowing/ knowledge. We were able to in some way address this need in the days following at the CFE were we had informative talks and processes regarding the facts of climate change.
It seemed that the public appreciated the interaction with the participants even more so because they realized that the participant were using the kits and working with their own questions and concerns as apposed to a standardized version of climate activism/ awareness/ action.
The above mentioned challenges were very useful in my own process of developing ways in which to be the “responsible participant” in processes. Lara Kruger

Participating in the agents of Change process opened up various aspects of my understanding of Social Sculpture. Curious of it for some time before hand, actually participating at the Kalk Bay event last year revealed something I did not expect. What I appreciated most about the event, was that I had a new legitimate space in society, even for just a short while, where I could publicly work on a particular question, that I had swimming around in my head for some time. This was valuable to me, as while I stood there I was not standing there with a particular context, background, or role, but instead standing there with a single question, this was very empowering, and allowed me the room and freedom to explore my own inner world, with the help of those near me. It was a truly intimate experience that was sincere and embodied. I also had an amazing conversation with a father and his 5year old son. They and had come to Kalk bay for the day and were enjoying the sea and the space. His son asked his dad what we where doing, and his dad gave his explanation, which was very close to our intention to dealing with questions surrounding rising sea levels. Afterward we started a conversation, the three of us, and I shared the question I was working with, which was refined and deepened from this interaction. It seemed to me that most people I interacted with, and the other participants I spoke to who used the kits, shared this experience, that being, the value of being involved with the question, working inwardly in a public space, it made the event not an installation or a performance, but a deeply personal process that relied both on introspective work, and interactive work. Also it allowed us to carry our questions around climate change, and not be "know-it-all's" about the issue. There are so many questions floating around the challenges of environmental decline, and climate change, and it seemed that this was a valuable space to work with these questions. In the discussions after working with the kits, those who were not that familiar with climate change, felt that the kits and the space, allowed them to work with others, to deepen their understanding, revealing the valuable social learning capabilities of the the Agents of Change process.
By Dylan McGarry

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