Collaborative group behaviour was perhaps the most emphatic feature of the day. Dancers and non-dancers alike all danced around a cloud of punches and kicks, thrown at a variety of problems, in what constituted a true performative political act of participation.
In the morning I met Julia. The story gets old, but yes, she was the invigilator today. I took a while to figure out she was Italian. That came about clearer as she started menacing to solve the Italian political state of things with some physical violence! I learned that she is an actress who has been living here in London for fifteen years! [hence the pristine, neutral, yet slightly American, accent]. Again, lots of interesting conversations about music. Not exactly a reproduction of yesterday's examinative approach to the field as a whole, but similar in scope and focus.
Another Italian came straight away to solve "political problems". It was Denis, who was working today in "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", a show based on those amazingly illustrated books from when I was a child. Denis was not restrictively punching the Italian contemporary politics but the general rise of the far right globally. The conversation quickly turned to the act of voting (or of not doing so), political education, political responsibility, the culture of participation (or the lack of it).
In the meanwhile, Francesca, Alex and Becky formed a triadic coalition to oppose "body shaming". One of the most inspiring performances so far. The three were in dresses, kicking the damned real hard! Golda arrived, just a bit after, with "mental health" to take care of. She also had hearing problems, but those were not the concern at all, since I do speak quite loudly and gesticulate illustratively a lot. Mr Babinski, "the challenger", came again, aiming for the ten thousand, this time, with "terrorism" to deal with. He finally got what he wanted - to reach the absolute top - and told me afterwards: "what would my own installation be like…?" rubbing his chin. I told him that if someday his works be out there, I'll be the first one attending.
Ella, Talia, Emmy and Jess released a ton of stress accumulated throughout their last year at the dance college. Olivia, Lydia and Molly also had a roll of problems to solve in relation to that, but decided to conglomerate and synthesise them, ending up with "injustice in the musical theatre industry", which they told me, for them, included a whole deal of sexism and other forms of physical and sociocultural discrimination. Still around the same context, but coded not so overtly, Harriet and Molly wanted "fake people" to disappear from the surface of the earth. Similarly, Lauren, who was also helping me on the day, fought "people who cause unnecessary drama".
"When I don't get what I want" was a problem initiated by two three years-old kids. Their parents had to go, so the cause was partially abandoned midway gone, but to no loss, for Ilmė and Julia jumped in to adopt it as their own problem, and destroyed it! Andreus one of the (cutest) twin brothers of Nikia, does not like when the sister does not allow them to play in her room. Nikia, in turn, was amazingly agile and persistent with her aversion to home learning. To finish the day, little Ethan fought "all badies" (from all films ever), at once, and won!
A remark on having to think about "how the heck am I to verbalise this problem of mine?!?" Mainly with groups, I have been noticing that the exercise of having to transfer one's problems onto the screen in written form, produces an interesting incurrent teamwork effect. The excitement of being (or seeing) someone about to enter some vigorous physical (as well as symbolic) experience makes people palpitate and burst with suggestions of how to write it down. Eventually, a consequence of this organic communal involvement during the redaction phase of the participation is that, quite often, more people than the person whose problem appears on the screen end up beating the problem up. What happens is that a group gathers incidentally around the bag - even if ever so gradually - to gang-solve a problem, since by means of discussion and reflexive consideration on how to put it in words that decently represent people's relationships to it, the problem inevitably becomes of many others more than the initiator's alone. This is such a surprisingly nice thing to witness, for what at first seems to be a quite taunting, solitary experience, turns into no torturous path, but a collective effort to get rid of some more broadly recognisable nasties. This means that, with or without specificities in the description of what the problem is to someone - in their personal life, at a considerable micro-level - the fact that a collective discussion takes place in advance of the fight guarantees that a much higher number of different people will produce and keep a subjective relationship to the various dimensions of the same problem, thus granting several interpretative entry points to it and so securing more possible intellectual (as well as emotional) engagements with the activity.
When someone says that they have a problem, you imagine perhaps that they are stuck with a complicated situation, that something is tricky, sticky, or even 'funny'. We feel as though life stops before a problem, as things get entangled and cease to work. It is a blockage, a barrier, an insurmountable impossibility!
However, the idea of a problem is actually based on an action and, in fact, a quite physical one. The Greek verb probállō is composed by pro- (forwards) and bállō (to throw). So, in PROBLEM, Rodrigo challenges you to rescue the proactive nature of what problems should be. Throw some punches at your own problems! In this interactive audiovisual installation, name any problem you may have: "My tea is cold", "Brexit gives me headaches", "Loneliness", "Sneaky pesticides in my food", "I can't find my socks", "Social inequality" etc.
Problem is a call to action, and a reminder, for we often forget we have a body; one that is simultaneously physical, biological, animal, social, cultural, political… From the smallest to the biggest, from the simplest to the most complex, abstract or unfathomable, every problem is welcome to be thrown forwards, towards a sense of unity.