In our CP residency as The Scarlett Cushion, we’ve been peeling back the layers and meanings associated with the term ‘resilience’. In our process, we’ve invited a number of partners to assist us with our investigation and research by participating in interviews and story sharing. These conversations help inform our work, and in some cases become integrated (via recorded clips) into the audio assemblages/collages we are developing. In addition to these partners, we will be integrating large-scale crochet works by visual artist Ramekon O’Arwisters. Ramekon’s social practice with facilitating “Crochet Jams,” (in which groups of strangers come together to crochet), in both the resulting pieces and the conversations we have had, have inspired a shared affinity between our projects. The interweave of people and histories, the sharing of stories, the need to creatively counter the forces of oppression that dominate our society, and the qualities of human connection that seem to emerge almost effortlessly when we get out of the way, all of these elements show up in our investigations.
Recognizing that resilience is a term that has received increased airplay over recent years, to the point of falling into the category of the latest trend, we have had to pick apart what it is we are specifically after with our investigation. As we began to encounter each other’s interpretations, we found the term ‘resilience’ to be increasingly problematic. As our investigation progressed, we refocused our inquiry by asking; what is the source of resilience? Meaning, rather than focus on outward expressions/manifestations of resilience, which are nearly limitless in number and kind, we wanted to get under the word/concept, to see if we could trace it back to its source. As a metaphor, we looked to the phenomena of evaporation.
Evaporation is a word used to describe a transformation that occurs under certain conditions. Evaporation itself is not a thing, but a concept. The thing that is involved, at the center of it, is H2O – water. So, looking at resilience through a similar lens, as a concept describing a particular phenomena that occurs in certain conditions, we asked ourselves, What is the Water that, under certain conditions, becomes resilience? What is this energy or feeling that takes shape as resilience and propels us or others into life-affirming actions? This metaphor helped us move away from concepts and associations surrounding resilience, to trying to identify the thing itself, and its qualities, that arises within us as an invigoration of life’s energy. In so doing, our inquiry led us into the body, to sense and feel what it is in our moment-to-moment lived experience that gives us a feeling of ‘resilience’. Just as we work to uncover resilience, we are also playing with ways to contrast it through the performance/invocation of other qualities that too often seem to obscure our access to, and/or understanding of, resilience.
Apart from the thematic exploration of resilience, we are enjoying the experience of being an eclectic group that brings together a skill set across disciplines: two of us with dance/movement as a primary discipline (with video and professional vocal training as secondary), another with an international career in music, and the fourth with an multidisciplinary practice (leaning heavily towards visual arts and concept development, with music and dance as secondary). As a newly formed ensemble, we are enjoying the shared discovery of learning from each other’s discipline and aesthetic, and slowly finding our way between them and how they might be integrated into a whole. This, in itself, becomes a practice to invoke resilience – to step into the current of discovery and experimentation with forms of which we are less familiar. With each rehearsal, we are reminding ourselves of the root and source of resilience that is available to us, aiding one another in allowing more space for it in our lives and work. Particularly at this time of sociopolitical upheaval, this feels critical to us as a life-sustaining practice.
~ Todd Thomas Brown
[Cover Photo by John Shamberg with crochet sculptures by Ramekon O’Arwisters]