It is impossible to list the multitude of experiences and assumptions that each of us brings to every action and interaction. In our current state of affairs, it is ever more crucial to find ways of understanding our multi-faceted selves, and ways of connecting across perceived or actual difference.
Can artistic practice create spaces for these connections while allowing exploration of varied lenses of identity?
“Where do you come from?”, a question visual artist Edgar Calel was frequently asked during his time in residency in São Paulo, challenged him to think about what it means to “be (or not be) from a place.” Calel integrated himself and his practice in the community/communities in which he lived by participating in and leading ritual, ceremony, and discussion. In this sense, an embrace of (varied) ritual and ancestral knowledge provides a pathway to embracing identity and collectivity beyond the crossing of geographical borders; “…this work is about the spirit.”
A roundtable meant to explore co-created projects among immigrant artists and elders quickly turned to discussion around the artists’ own multiple identities, and how these informed their work and relationships with the elders. By ultimately building trust and organic connections without a creative “agenda,” the co-creative process opened a space to share common experiences as immigrants, across generations.
Trust, vulnerability and compassion are hallmarks of improvisation and the musical practice “deep listening” as demonstrated by a diverse gathering of music makers of varied levels of experience, language, and geographical origin that came together to explore and experience sound in new ways, creating human connection across difference in the process.