It has almost been a month already since Chloe and I embarked on our second collaboration using painting, song and video. We were part of a festival called Mouv’art in Beziers. The idea of Mouv’art is to bring contemporary art out of galleries and into the street, to engage people who would not necessary visit galleries. Each artist had their own shipping container from which they displayed their works. Chloe and I were positioned in and outside of the container, with her short film being screened on the inside and a massive canvas ready to paint outside. The festival lasted five intense days and I have fond memories of all the people I met, shared stories, painted and sung with. One young girl who was about 7 sung me a song after I sung her one of mine. Pebeo kindly provided us with high quality paintbrushes, paint, and canvas which we hung attached to the the metal structure to create a space within a space. We were located under an old tree, next to a beautiful water fountain at the top of a beautiful park, just outside the city centre which was frequented by the public.
Throughout the five days we invited the public to watch Chloe’s short film ‘to the moon‘ with scenes from the sea, moon sky and nature created a meditative space for reflection as she sounded Tibetan bowls.
The public was also invited to come paint, leaving their mark, inspiration, a trace of their thoughts, being and expression. At intervals I sung with my ukulele. I was keen in sparking moments of ‘truth’ in learning through the work. Badiou talks about truth and being able to punch through situations into a new space to create ruptures or opportunities for greater understanding. In this way, I was interested in supporting moments where people could be moved and shifted in immaterial ways. In ways that cannot necessarily be measured or articulated but which are felt, as often this world focuses on what people think and not feel. These can be thought about in terms of moments for real learning, where individuals perhaps change, or people transform. People move as a result of something, it moves them, it alters them. They don’t just know more as a result of it but they are in someway different. Badiou writes of truth as ‘a process that builds upon an event occurring in a particular situation’ (Badiou, 2005). As the public painted, so did we, and this gave us a common ground for engagement, involvement and feeling part of something that is cooperative. It also sparked conversation which ranged from politics, to who they are, their thoughts on art and education to what they were up to that day. We also shared our stories and reasons for facilitating this piece. It was a unusual space to express oneself and given the minimal instruction. People’s reactions were varied. Some jumped at the opportunity whilst other remained much more reserved or even terrified at the idea. Some people were keen on painting but had no idea what to paint, and many painted their names. We helped them to feel free to paint whatever their instinct or intuition told them and we ended up with a beautiful humongous canvas.
We had two school groups come and visit, approximately 50 children in total. They were very keen, enthusiastic and chaotic. It was difficult to spend time with each of them especially as they had a little short amount of time with us. Just enough to watch the short film, listen to three songs and paint. But the short encounters were important nonetheless.
We were so pleased with how the project turned out, our collaboration together and all the interesting people we met. It was sad to leave and many asked us if we were there all summer or if we were coming back next year! Thank you Pebeo and thank you Emma!