Some ethno-national identities are driven by logics of ‘blood, soil and belonging’. This exercise offers a different relationship to the land in the hope of ‘distancing’ from familiar narratives and opening up new and more intimate stories. It takes up the image of the ‘parliament of things’ (Dingpolitik) of Iceland as imagined by Latour and Schneibel (2005).
Step 1: The Political and Ethical Imagination
Each person brings 2 things: A handful of soil from their place and a material object, or image or idea that in some way helps them to remember a significant moment in his or her past, collective or individual – however the person chooses.
Step 2: Dreaming: This Land as Witness:
a. If this land/island could speak what would it say about the myths and stories told about her? What stories have been occluded? How would it bear witness? Would its concerns be those of humans? Perhaps there would be no words, only images or poetic gestures. Map this as a small group activity.
A Walking Exercise: Experience the materiality and memory of this land, this place, thinking from the perspective of geological time and from the perspective of the entangled histories and stories of this island and one’s place in it and on it.
Enquiry: Why do we humans tell stories?
Crane Bag: Tell the myth of the Crane Bag. If you put your hand in the bag, and found what it is you need right now, what would that be? Crane Bag is another way of rethinking and retelling stories: identifying what we subjectively need – for protection, to be heard, to get a measure of power over things that cannot be controlled – it is very useful used with the idea of Storytelling as a way of saying what cannot be said directly.
Strange Futures: Museum on a Table/in a Rucksack
Gatherings: Thinking of democracy as a way of finding arrangements and institutions to help us to be able to bear to listen to the other, how can we create spaces where we can bear to listen to one another in which we also are open to changing our own stories and understandings? What are the limits of mutual understanding? What difference do they make? Discuss. Map. Draw.
Exercise 1. Stories of Political Shame and Surprising Solidarity.
Creating the Space: Place your chairs in a triangle facing one way, perhaps out a window.
Begin with an invitation to a story of Political Shame (not personal shame) and then half-way through turn to a story of Surprising Solidarity.
Exercise 2: Counter-Memorialisation
1.Think of a story that has been silenced or forgotten, be it one of political shame or one of surprising solidarity.
2.How might it be memorialised in a way that would do justice to it? Where and when do we memorialise? For whom do we memorialise? Perhaps it would imagine another story, a fiction or utopia. Perhaps it would involve a silent monument or a statement. Perhaps an event like Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument. Or a sound.
3.Draw a diagrammatic proposal stating the issue/problem and then imagining a form of memorialisation.Describe in as much detail as possible. (Pencil, black pen, and Brown Card)
– Share provisional thoughts and proposals.
– Silent Writing for 10 minutes
– Listen to Lubaina Himid’s Lecture “What are Monuments For?” https://vimeo.com/22938970
ii.Categorising and Classify
iv.Educating the Gaze
Think of Boal’s concept of the “Difficultator” (rather than Facilitator) or Dostoevsky’s Idiot.