As artist-facilitators we seek to create safe and brave spaces in our work with diverese communities. But what do we mean by safe and brave spaces? How do we navigate creating safe and brave spaces when often both figuratively and literally we dont share common language or expereinces? How can we hear, intertwine, and overlay the various diverse perceptions and questions we bring about safe and brave spaces?
There is a bonmot attributive to Karl Kraus, that he probably never has said. In my mind, it goes something like: “There is nothing more separating than a common language.” Versions of this saying by Karl Farkas, Ingeborg Bachmann or Oscar Wilde refer to differences between Germany-German and Austria-German or British English and American English. But what is really interesting, is the delusiveness of easily understanding each other, while overlooking the semantic gap that never allows perfect understanding. But luckily misunderstanding sometimes means understanding something else!
Through a collective drawing and free write exercise, we seek to build a process of listening, sharing and building on each others ideas as we bring diverse perspectives to what safe and brave spaces mean to us. The drawing exercise involves members of the group taking turns in verbally prompting a simultaneous drawing for each member of the group. The resulting drawing serves as a visual structure for our free writes. The writing exercise involves short stream-of-consciousness free writes, with pauses to share, and take ideas from each other. After a few rounds of this, participants stand in a circle and together read and layer the free writes with the group. The outcome is an auditory experience that shares multiple dimensions and perspectives from the entire group.
Questions that serves as a background to the exercise:
How do we facilitate difficult conversations about sensitive issues in multilingual contexts?
What are the ways art and embodied experiences can be used when verbal conversations break down?
Process documentation (to be printed for gallery walk):
Drawing exercise: In the beginning, every participant starts with an empty sheet of drawing paper. The group will take turns in prompting a line everyone is drawing simultaneously with eyes closed. This will result in several versions of the same line – and serve as a visual structure for our free write.
Writing exercise: Participants will then engage in short stream-of-consciousness free writes, then pause, share, and take ideas from each other. After a few rounds of this, participants stand in a circle and together read and layer the free writes with the group. The outcome is an auditory experience that shares multiple dimensions and perspectives from the entire group.