Formulations of Assembly, Workshop-as-Event

Formulations of Assembly, Workshop-as-Event is a collaborative group event to create and perform mutual understanding. These offerings in our programming are collaborative events which facilitate understandings of how artistic experiences offer creative tools to strengthen relationships between people. We use performance-based practices to explore ways of being socially responsive in a world where violence is an everyday reality. The goal is to empower participants to translate social theory of nonviolent practice in their own words while including multiple languages, not just English. We guide participants to map out their ideas during discussions, perform the translation of their conversation through physical movement, and use collective storytelling and illustration to document the process. This innovative approach to using artistic experiences as a practice of nonviolence cultivates collaborations across multiple identities. Collective participation as community building to shift ways we perform ethical relationships by forming assembly.

Clients may choose to purchase the workshop which includes both the workshop and social engagement event. Or they may choose only the workshop or only the social engagement event. Before the collaborative workshop, we stage an exhibition about ways dialogue, when merged with artistic practice, is an effort toward understanding. The facilitator/performer understands the backgrounds of the participants/performers in advance, in order to better facilitate a group structure where identities can be viewed as expansive. In this way, the performance facilitation can help the group start to identify the relations that constitute the social group. Starting with content that has already been created, rather than using models that evoke histories of suffering, the group will not be subject to victimization, blaming, and othering. In this way, the facilitator/performer can offer new roles to create a mapping for possible new relationships which are later applied through practice-as-research.

Formulations of Assembly is a response to a fear: in any event our lives are subject to precarity and violence. Through movement and speech acts, we demonstrate vulnerability in a world where being subject to violence and/or witnessing violence is an everyday reality. Participants are guided through a series of exercises, or non-repressive actions to sustain bodily awareness. They are invited to move and speak together to experience the limitations of being in solidarity as a way to embody impossibilities.

These explorations serve as a point of departure for discovering movements that exist between two states being, such as being together and separate. In a safe and inclusive space, strangers can express collective fears and hopes through movement and dialogue, in order to generate new forms of alliance and possibilities for assembly.

The event is a workshop, a hybrid form of community engagement, inspiring nonviolent realities that enact new ways of being culturally, socially and politically conscious. Interweaving methodologies as social practice in art contexts, it seeks to move away from performing choreography associated with iconic events that are also replicated during political demonstrations. Through practice-based research and performance making methodologies the parameters of Formulations of Assembly use intimacy, proximity, and polemics against delimitation of the body. The aesthetics of human interaction and collaboration not on spectatorship, but on participation is explored through integrating elements of autoethnography, urbanism, movement analysis, somatic practice, and performative writing. Collaboration is a process to better understand the subjective perspective of others. It is participatory and discursive. It is convivial and sensual. Inclusivity enacts the desire for a “we” that is multi-centered, embodied and performative. The notion of “we, the people”, changes each and every time we collaborate. During this exchange knowledge is produced in the space between people. The result is a situation where performative utterances and bodily actions collapse distance that is often experienced in relational, conceptual, and performance art.

On November 24th, 2018 Formulations of Assembly, concluded with a performative party facilitated by Zoya Sardashti, Margherita Landi, and Silvio Palladino at Mare Culturale Urbano.

We invited strangers into the theatre to taste a handcrafted drink and guess its contents. Then they were asked to share it with a stranger. Participants were invited to choose their favorite article of the constitution and read it with a microphone. Documentation from previous workshops were exhibited. Participants were given an opportunity to write and draw their notion of how assembly should be visualized on signs. Excerpts of Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly were read out loud as funk, jazz and hip-hop played in the background. We encouraged everyone to dance even if they felt shy. At the end someone sang a love song.