Transition, transformation and not dwelling on the elections

I started reading Lucy Neal’s new book, Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered. How lovely!

For many people in the UK, it has been quite a depressing week. The ubiquity of coverage in the media, the constant flow of online petitions, the analysis, the fear, the gloom, the anger, the cynical jokes and the attempts to rationalise things builds up and becomes overwhelming. And I’m not even in the country.

So I started reading about ‘making art as if the world mattered’.

It is a relief reading words written with a belief in the possibility of change. The playfulness and hope of the transition movement reminded me that many things are possible. I also read a bit about Amy Sharrock’s work and, leaving the depressing election news behind for a while, I returned to more useful thoughts about art and the ‘architecture of a moment’ (Sharrock). It looks like she is planning another swim across the Thames and I began to consider how we approach building the architecture of any moment.

When we create an encounter as an aesthetic experience in performance, we approach its construction with extraordinary care. We give time to shape and reshape it, we immerse ourselves in exploring its dramaturgical possibilities, and once we have something, we question whether we are expressing what we intend and creating the shared experience that we hope for. We think about our spectator/participants, not just about our own experience of the moment we are creating. And we explore how to build and refine that encounter. I suspect I am still thinking about the elections.

We cannot build the architecture of every moment, its relationships and encounters in the sociopolitical sphere, with as much care as in the artistic one. But in the transition movement there is a sense of that care emerging and I am reading Playing for Time, looking for inspiration.

The idea of transformation, that I have been exploring in my writing and in my work as dramaturg with Medie Megas, is very much focused on presence, consciousness and intention in relation to the passing moment of being in transition – transformation as being in process, directing attention towards the latent potentialities of this moment rather than projecting forward an imagined and completed transformation. It is difficult. Difficult, even in the act of moving the body in dance improvisation, to really pay attention, to be conscious with an open intentionality.

The question is, how do we shift our thinking more widely to accept that we need to place our attention on moving somewhere from this moment we are living now, as well as unavoidably directing it towards an imagined future, either catastrophic or utopian.

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