What was it all about?

Like many things that I do with the Passion Project, I arrived enthusiastic and eager but unsure as to why. I’m not an artist in the technical sense of the word, and I’m concerned with only certain social issues, to a degree. A small group of 35 or so people, of various ages, gender and races sat in a circle in a circular room. The air was filled with anticipation – none of us were fully sure what we skills we’d learn, what knowledge we’d take away.  I had initially planned to give a run-down of the workshop, but quickly realized how virtually impossible that would be. Each person took different things from each activity. We had “aha” moments individually, we had them in groups, we had them much later, we had them in the shower. It would be very hard to break down and verbalize all these little breakthroughs.

But here are mine based on our recent dialogue and workshop with Judith Marcuse:
  1. Everything is a social issue. The severity of the issue may differ, but anything that involves human beings immediately becomes a social issue. Communication is needed in every single field. And usually, the lack of communication is synonymous to lack of understanding. This realization was a breakthrough for me because I was skeptical to using art as an approach to solve issues. How will art solve the war on resources? How will art solve global warming, the food security issue? Aren’t we being a little too naive and optimistic?
  2. You can’t be told what to think and feel. People know how to avoid mistakes; there are entire books on how to live your life. You can be influenced and inspired by other people, but realizations still need to come on their own. You need to make your own mistakes, take detours and eventually reach self-empowerment. The concept of a self is very much a process. And the journey of the self is the rewarding part to me, more than anything else.
  3. Social innovation comes from diversity – professional problem solving occurs by integration. This makes sense to me in terms of genetics. Natural selection occurs due to disturbances in the environment and competition between species. Due to this, species are forced to adapt new traits to be able to survive. Similarly, we have an idea pool, as opposed to a gene pool. Ideas from various sources, various backgrounds leads to diversity. If all the people in the health sciences attempt to solve a pragmatic problem, they will probably eventually reach a pragmatic solution. However, the solution is pragmatic, and not sustainable – it is limiting and will probably effect others in the community in various ways. How are new innovations supposed to come if they’re all from the same train of thought?
  4. Simple shapes can be rich, in terms of body language. This relates to a concept emphasized in the workshop – the connection between the mind and body. Or rather, in our current society, the lack of. We use our heads and minds to think.We begin to believe that our bodies only exist as a tool for movement, and isn’t part of our identity. We exercise it and feed it healthy just so that it appears to fit the modern standards – but forget that they are very much our identity.
  5. Labeling validates things, giving something a word to define it changes how it is perceived. This applies to many things – stereotypes, sexuality, identity, community, relationships. But the point is, we need to remember which words are used when, where, how, the context, the tone. We need to not forget the power they hold.
A lot of these breakthroughs are things we already know, things we’ve learnt before…..but saying them, and having them re-exposed, only reconfirms them. These big ideas aren’t easy to integrate into our daily actions, and in the community. The message needs to be reaffirmed, multiple times till it sticks – not just in our heads, but everything that we’re part of.
-Ritika
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