Narratives of Solidarity: Free Home University—Summer 2016

Alessandra Pomarico
Shawn Van Sluys
May 25, 2016

Narratives of Solidarity: From personal stories to a reflection on History for the invention of (our) Shestories

The summer session of Free Home University (June 13-July 4, 2016) will explore how to use personal narratives to reflect on History and imagine a new ‘SHEstory’—a term we coined as a way to queer the feminist concept of “herstory”—with an intersectional lens together with communities in struggle.

‘SHEstory’ is a term we coined as a way to queer the feminist concept of “herstory.”
Convivial and embodied research, collective dreaming, storytelling, writing and performing, bridging western and non-western systems of knowledge are some of the practices with which the group will experiment.

June 13 – Morning

As we gather with a new group, we will welcome each other to the Ammirato Culture House. Elwood Jimmy will introduce the four Rs of Indigenous protocols (Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility) to invite FHU participants to build a brave space together where everything is open for engaged discussion and debate.

At the conclusion of our last session, each of the participants put an object or message into a time capsule to be opened at the start of the next one, as a message for future FHU participants. The opening of the capsule is one way by which we carry forward the lines of inquiry from the last gatherings, and questions that the group felt should be further explored.

Artist Emilio Fantin will begin the session with a contemplation of dreams: Comune a tutti è sognare / Common to all is to dream. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” (William Shakespeare, The Tempest). The relationships between human beings continue when we sleep, since in our dreams and distant memories, the dead and surreal situations are intertwined with facts and people of daily life. The dream, through its subversive but pure content, reveals a sign, a detail of the fate/story of each person. In its purity, the dream is unavoidably a lie, as it is difficult to remember a dream exactly as it was. One recreates the dream by connecting and adding new details, a mix of dream-like images and visions. By listening to a dream being retold, a coincidence may arise: by working on those coincidences, one may succeed in perceiving common aspects among the dreamers’ souls.

June 13 – Afternoon

Participants are invited to think how they will introduce themselves, by offering a gift to the others. They can share in any form, bringing a video, a picture, a poem, a reading, a performance, music or anything else, made by them or by others. Contributions should last no longer than 15 minutes each.

June 14 – Morning

We continue to contemplate dreams. Guided by Emilio Fantin, participants tell their dreams. Later, we will work to expand and remember those dreams.

June 14 – Afternoon

Participants divide into smaller groups. Each group chooses freely an artistic process/medium to highlight their elective affinities during group presentations in the morning on June 15.

June 15 – Afternoon

The entire group weaves into a common work the different parts elaborated by the small groups. Each group will decide if to share/perform the outcome for others, merging this material together for the final Shestories Cabaret Night, intended to be a performative restitution of what we learned or worked on.

Tea Party at Free Home University on the terrace of the Ammirato Culture House. Photo by Nayari Castillo.

Tea Party at Free Home University on the terrace of the Ammirato Culture House, May 2016. Photo by Nayari Castillo.

June 16-17
The Eye of the Storm: Materialities, Immaterialities, Sense-making and Sense-sensing in Anti-colonial Socialities.
A Session with Vanessa Andreotti

Participants are invited to collectively create a space to dance with intellectual accountability, existential surrender, existential accountability, and intellectual surrender. The invitation involves decentring, disarming, and reflecting on the attachments we have with the stories we tell ourselves, our desires, fears and projections, our separabilities and entanglements, and experimenting with the possibilities for learning to breath under water.

June 18

17:00—Childrens’ Event: screening excerpts of Althea Thauberger’s Preuzmimo Benčić during a workshop inspired by the film; with Fermenti Lattici in collaboration with the Benčić Youth Council (Natali Bosić and Ivana Golob)

20:30—Public screening of Preuzmimo Benčić (Take Back Benčić), a project of Musagetes, directed by Althea Thauberger with co-directors, Nataša Antulov, Natali Bosić, Ivana Golob, Nataša Tepša, Zdravko Tovilović. Followed by a conversation with Althea, Natali, and Ivana, and the launch of the published monograph, Preuzmimo Benčić.

June 18-20
Tomson Highway and the Many Languages

Tomson is a performative storyteller, and through music-making, writing, and conversing, he will gift us with his experience (among other possibilities) of:

  • World mythology: The importance of mythology to the functioning and the health of societies world-wide—its place and role in the great scheme of things.
  • Aboriginal mythology: The place and the role of Aboriginal mythology within the context of world mythology, in particular its pivotal importance to the issues of environmental health, preservation, and survival.
  • Music: The remarkable (and unsung) importance of “musical literacy” in the life and work of anyone and everyone—be they doctor, lawyer, or Indian Chief—the visionary “boost” it can give to any and all careers.
  • Native residential schools: Effectively “Memoirs of a successful Native residential school survivor” or “How I learned to Stop Complaining and Celebrate My Life.”

June 21
History and Narratives in the Eastern bloc; New cultural Institutions for Civic-Public Partnership; and New Models for Governing the Commons
Conversation and dice game with Davor Misković

Considering narratives and initiatives from ex-socialist countries (they are not all post-soviet) that are trying to form resistance against anti-democratic politics, Misković offers several inputs. First, an historical one related to the lost narrative of self-management developed in ex-Yugoslavia. This narrative was integrated in a narrative called the Special Case of Yugoslav Socialism and as such is considered obsolete. However, this narrative has many positive features and in the ’60s and ’70s was explored by organizational theorists from the U.S., Scandinavia, and Asia and it is integrated in new management theories from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The political implications of such a model had never come into focus but it was studied in Yugoslavia. This model still echoes with importance from the perspective of political and organizational culture.

As well, we can relate to the question of the model of governing the commons and public goods, using and managing the cultural commons, spaces, knowledge, and arts. We are exploring several cases in the world that are trying to establish a new way of thinking in that relation, somewhere in between private appropriation and pure public governance. Here we are facing several difficult questions, from the perspectives of authorship, ownership, user-ship and so on.

FHU December 2015 — Tableau Vivant. Directed by Saùl Garcia Lopez. Photo Credit: Cass Gardner

FHU December 2015 — Tableau Vivant. Directed by Saùl Garcia Lopez. Photo Credit: Cass Gardner

June 22-26
Intensive seminar with Dani d’Emilia, an ambassador from La Pocha Nostra
Approximately 5 hours of work each day, from 3-8pm.

Dani d’Emilia writes to Free Home University:

“I am interested in exploring the co-production of critical knowledge, imagination and political agency through languages that go beyond rational and discursive realms. Making use of the potential of performance/art as an ’embodied mode of encounter. I combine performance-pedagogy (performance practice as a pedagogical process of unlearning), radical tenderness (a mode of political-poetic resistence inspired by La Pocha Nostra’s radical performance-pedagogy), transfeminist (intersectional and trans-inclusive feminism) and decolonial (interrogating corporeal colonial legacies) approaches to explore ways in which we can make visible, penetrate and re-signify different forms of violence inherent in our construction as political subjects.

“Working from the body, we enhance our ability to perceive others through our multiple senses, embracing our vulnerability as a place from which we can both affect and be affected, daring to cross borders between notions of identity and otherness, individual and collective, tension and trust. Some of the questions I am currently exploring through this work are the following:

  • How can we build unusual alliances for learning, supporting and taking action from a place where we acknowledge the desire and fears that arise from the encounter with ‘the other’?
  • Can radical tenderness serve us as a political and affective base from which to engage in the decolonisation of the body as an artistic and activist practice? Can radical be tender? How can tenderness be radical?

“Regarding the sessions, I imagine working closely through different exercises based on La Pocha Nostra’s radical performance-pedagogy, but also but also open to other influences of my own independent practice if/when they arise from the embodied dialogue with the group and site. The sessions would be physical. I would ask participants to bring a few objects/costumes related to their personal mythology/iconography for us to incorporate in the work.”

June 25, 17:00
Storytelling for and with children
With Coumba Touré

Visit from Fermenti Lattici’s group of children working on their Summer Book Program. The Senegalese community is invited and some stories will be told in the Wolof language.

Coumba will gather children around her to tell stories on the shadow of our imaginary baobab in Giardino Ammirato.

Throughout the Entire Session of FHU:
Sharing about Storytelling, Knowing Each Other Deeply, Listening to Each Other’s Story
With Coumba Touré

Participants will leave the gathering with a sense of connections with other participants and people from different places around the world, build friendships among each other, find commonalities and understand some core differences, and practice listening deeply.

We will be

  • Introducing ourselves through stories;
  • Telling a story about our names (What do our names mean? How did we get them? What do our names carry?);
  • Asking, Who are we? Where are we from? What do we do?;
  • Defining our identities through stories;
  • Exploring history and sharing stories of migrations —stories of the past and present—by asking, What happened to peoples’ names during the Atlantic slave trade? What happens to peoples’ names when they immigrate as refugees?
  • Practicing telling stories (from around the world, our favourite stories);
  • Discussing what makes a great and valuable story;
  • Collectively creating stories;
  • Using storytelling as tools for making changes, researching and sharing stories of change as individuals and as communities; and
  • Working with children and young people through storytelling to raise a new generation of change-makers (fiction, stories of motherhood);

Possible outcomes from these sessions include collective writing, self-made books with our stories, performing our stories, and improvised story telling in public space.

June 27 – July 4
What has gone missing? Comradesses and the women’s movement in socialist Yugoslavia
With WHW, a feminist curatorial collective from Zagreb, Croatia

The workshop “What has gone missing?” (4 hours each afternoon) will look into the history of women’s movements in socialist Yugoslavia to discuss questions raised by the need of feminist and historic self-awareness that could help us orient ourselves in the present. The workshop will start with discussion of the suppressed and largely forgotten, yet the most important and successful episode of women’s emancipation in Yugoslavia, the Anti-Fascist Front of Women (AFŽ), a mass organization established in 1942 during People’s Liberation Struggle, whose program of emancipation gave women a chance to overcome centuries of repression. It will focus on its glorious achievements, as well as on the reasons for its disbandment in 1953 and what it meant for the whole project of socialist emancipation enacted in Yugoslavia.

The workshop will follow through the history of women’s emancipation with special emphasis on the debates within the 1978 international feminist congress held in Belgrade under the title Comradess Woman, which clashed the concept of liberation with the concept of emancipation and ushered in the birth of so-called second-wave feminism, which since the 1990s largely reduced feminism to a form of identity politics stripped from broader demands for justice. By taking the history of women’s movement in socialist Yugoslavia as the starting point, and by reclaiming suppressed episodes of that history in order to decouple them from new normality in which gender equality and identity demands often serve to preclude demands for distributive justice, the workshop “What has gone missing?” will look into modes of political action and organization for the present determined by history as much as by the future.

The actual formats within the workshop will be determined together with participants, and could be initiated by collective readings, rehearsing and enacting the fragments from, among others, the following initial texts: Gordana Stojaković, Partisan Women in People’s Liberation Struggle (AKO, Novi Sad, 2010); Chiara Bonfiglioli, Belgrade, 1978. Remembering the conference “Drugarica žena. Žensko pitanje – novi pristup?” / “Comrade Woman. The Women’s Question: A New Approach?” thirty years after, Master’s thesis, Utrecht University, 2008; Nancy Fraser, Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History, New Left Review 56, March-April 2009; Ada Gobetti, Partisan Diary, A Woman’s Life in the Italian Resistance, Oxford University Press, 2014, Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings of Alexandra Kollontai, Lawrence Hill and Company, Westport, Conn., 1977.

July 2 or 3 – Public Program
Shestories Cabaret — one-night-only, for-the-many-heres-and-nows
With Aliosha Pantalone

A night to celebrate and share, to restitute our shestories and learnings, collectively and in many forms, with many of you bringing in your solos (you and the many selves you are), duos, trios or any other number! Readings, performing, showing, installing, music-making, dancing, food sharing, old rituals, new rituals, and cosmos-specific actions and questions, for our one-night-only Dada cabaret, for us and for the rest of our community in Lecce and around. Performance will be on July 2nd or 3rd. Preparations will take place throughout the 3-week residency.

July 4
Reflections and Time Capsule

Let’s take this last day to reflect on how we feel and what we have done. After discussion and chill out moments, let’s prepare a time capsule for the next FHU session so we can tell the next participants important information from our futures!

Summer Session Participants

Milijana Babić (Rijeka, Croatia) is a visual artist whose work is rooted in performative art practice and presented in the form of art documentation within museum/gallery contexts. Her projects are often developed as contextually specific long-term actions in public space.

Dina Bataineh (Jordan) recently received a Master’s degree in sustainable development. She came together with Reef Fakhouri to form Taghmees Social Kitchen, which mixes people, food and fabric to engage in community learning that honors people’s lived experiences.

Aleksei Borisionok (Stockholm and Minsk) is an independent curator and writer. His areas of curatorial and research inquiry include the postcolonial and post-Soviet condition, visual studies and the notion of self-exoticism, body and discipline as well as ‘peripheral’ art histories.

Natali Bosić (Rijeka, Croatia) is co-founder with Ivana Golob of the Benčić Youth Council, an initiative that delivers programs to youth to encourage artistic education, and develop creativity, critical thinking, cultural & aesthetic values, intercultural learning and learning through community service.

Marcella Butazzo (Lecce) was born in Monteroni, Lecce, and holds a degree in Pedagogy. She works for several cultural organizations, including the coordination of Ammirato Culture House and Free Home University.

Raphael Daibert (São Paulo) graduated in International Relations at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. He is a founding member of Lanchonete.org and Queer City.

Dani d’Emilia (Barcelona) is a transfeminist Italo-Brazilian performance artist and pedagogue. She is a core member of the trans-national performance collective La Pocha Nostra (USA/MX), the art-life performance duo Proyecto Inmiscuir (ES/MX) and the immersive theatre company Living Structures (UK).

Nika Dubrovsky (Berlin) was born in Leningrad, USSR. She works in various artistic media, has published seven children books, and regularly exhibits her work in art galleries and museums.

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti’s (Vancouver) teaching and research is focused on analyses of historical and systemic patterns of reproduction of knowledge and inequalities and how these limit or enable possibilities for collective existence. She also works with different communities in creative collaborative inquiries and cartographies related to ideals of globalism and global change.

Emilio Fantin (Bologna) is an artist working on dematerialization of art as his individual research and on the concept of organism in collective experiences. At present, he is working on multidisciplinary research which studies the relationship between art and agriculture, art and mathematical logic, art and dreams, and art and architecture. He is part of the collective Lu Cafausu.

Ivana Golob (Rijeka, Croatia) received her MSc degree in Art History and Informatics at the University of Rijeka, where she works today at the Center for Industrial Heritage. She co-founded with Natalie Bosic the Benčić Youth Council, a framework for non-formal education that balances research, work, play, and socializing.

Tomson Highway (everywhere) enjoys an international career as playwright, novelist, and pianist/songwriter, widely known for his plays The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Sushwap Gets Her Trout, and the best-selling novel Kiss of the Fur Queen.

Elwood Jimmy (Guelph, Canada) is originally from the Thunderchild First Nation, an Indigenous community in north-central Canada. He has played a leadership role in many community-engaged projects and organizations nationally, and is currently the program coordinator for Musagetes.

Pavlo Khailo’s interest lies in the field of communication/miscommunication and all kinds of small processes/rituals/social mechanisms that deal with it. This includes all kinds of spaces and situations of interaction between different people, all gaps, boundaries, misunderstandings that appear and split discourses, while forming the new ones.

Davor Mišković (Rijeka, Croatia) is a cultural worker and president of the association Drugo more (Other Sea). He is a researcher of the cultural sector focusing on organizational aspects of cultural life, and is an active participant in the creation of cultural policies involved in advocacy actions.

Kate Morales (Atlanta) is a (com)passionate agitator and visionary from Atlanta, Turtle Island (aka USA), currently leveraging her position as After School & Summer Camp Coordinator at the Atlanta International School to design learning-lab spaces that work to revive the joy of childhood. She is also re-designing grown-up education as a Learning Facilitator with the Mycelium School in Asheville, NC.

Terrific Aliosha Pantalonelives and works nearby. Half human, half mask, fabulous Aliosha Pantalone is irresponsible for several brutal interventions in few previous se(ce)ssions of the Free Home University and many other important things.

Alessandra Pomarico (Lecce & New York) holds a PhD in Sociology. Since 2000 she has been curating international and multidisciplinary artists’ residency programs at the intersection of arts, pedagogy, social issues, nano-politics, and the poetic of relationship in community building, including Ammirato Culture House and Free Home University.

Risha Rox (Seattle) is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College. Her practice is autoethnographical in nature seeking to exalt the base, temporal or ordinary, and redefine commonly held notions regarding the human body and the Black body in particular.

Olia Sosnovskaya (Minsk, Belarus) is a researcher and an artist who works with issues of gender, (female) body, the concept of “romantic love,” postcolonialism, identity politics, migration, self-exoticism, club (techno) culture, community, pleasure & violence, mass gymnastics, ideology and the notion of ‘Soviet’ heritage in contemporary Belarus.

Sharon Stein (Vancouver) is a PhD student in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. She studies higher education, examining the edges of what it is possible to imagine from within the modern/colonial university, and experimenting with what else might be possible if we disinvested from its institutional form.

Rene Suša (Finland) is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the Oulu University in Finland. His research focuses on post-colonial, de-colonial and psychoanalytical critiques of modern ways of knowing and being.

Althea Thauberger (Vancouver) is a photographer, filmmaker, and producer of performances and events. Her work involves negotiations, co-operations and collaborations with individuals, communities and institutions in processes of their own representation.

Coumba Touré was born and raised between Mali and Senegal, and is the coordinator for Ashoka Africa Empathy Initiative. She works on transforming education systems to raise a new generation of change-makers.

Shawn Van Sluys (Guelph & Toronto) is the Executive Director of Musagetes, an international organization that makes the arts more central and meaningful in peoples’ lives, their communities, and societies. He is the chief editor of ArtsEverywhere.ca, a program of Musagetes, and a co-curator with Alessandra Pomarico of the 2016 Free Home University sessions.

Mavi Veloso (São Paulo) is an artist, performer, dancer, designer. Mavi has a degree in Arts at the State University of Londrina, PR, Brazil (2009), as well as studying at Funcart School of Dance and Municipal School of Circus both in Londrina, PR.

What, How & for Whom (WHW) is a curatorial collective formed in 1999. WHW organizes a range of production, exhibition, and publishing projects, and since 2003, they have been directing city-owned Gallery Nova in Zagreb. The WHW members are Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović.

Shawn Van Sluys

Shawn Van Sluys

Shawn Van Sluys is the Editor-in-Chief of ArtsEverywhere and the Executive Director of Musagetes, a foundation that makes the arts more central and meaningful in people’s lives.

Alessandra Pomarico

Alessandra Pomarico

Alessandra, an editor for ArtsEverywhere, is interested in international and multidisciplinary curatorial projects and residency programs at the intersection of arts, pedagogy, social issues, nano-politics, and community building.

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