In April 2014, I was invited by the Escola Livre de Artes-Arena da Cultura ( read on this link about Arena da Cultura) from Belo Horizonte – Minas Gerais, Brazil, to offer a workshop in Listening to Intangible Cities. This workshop which I have offered previously in Veracruz – Mexico, has been designed to perceive the essence of cities through walking and listening deeply in silence, and to develop a collaborative process, involving creative practice and research.
Through the exploration of multisensory perceptions departing from listening, and recording of the experience in different media, along different areas of Belo Horizonte, I wanted to stimulate the generation of creative projects and transdisciplinary research. The practice of Deep Listening and energy body work was introduced to the participants everyday to open their ears and bodies to the full perception of the city.
Working in four teams during three days, cross-disciplinary artists perceived essences of the city which they named: ‘Só assim você me escuta!!! ‘ (Only in this way you can hear me!!!), ‘Organi-cidade Programada’ (Programmed Organic-City – play on words), ‘Mudança de olhar perspectiva açao e atuaçao’ (Change of seeing perspective, action, and performance). Departing from the essences they developed questions such as ‘Pra quê tanto barulho? Posso fazer un buraco no barulho?’ (Why so much noise? Could we make a hole in the noise?; ‘Qual a relação do nosso corpo com o corpo da cidade? Como você se desloca?’ (What is the relationship of our body with the body of the city? How you dislocate?); ‘Qual é o fazer passivo e ativo dessa relação urbana? Porque a cidade muitas vezes gera um sentimento de vazio, exclusão e solidão? Sente porque age ou age porque sente? Olha porque atua ou atua porque olha?’ (What is the passive and active making of this urban relationship? Why the city often generates a feeling of emptiness, exclusion and loneliness? Feeling because of acting or acting because you feel? Seeing because performing or performing because seeing?)
Triggered by the reflection on these profound questions, they developed creative invitations for listening that were offered to the other groups, through installations, and performance.
At the end of the workshop, we had an important reflection about the origins of violence and conflict originated in the lack of listening (individual and social). It was very nourishing for me to share this rich time with such an amazing group of artists and thinkers. The question of ‘barullo’ or ‘noise’ is not as simple as the number of decibels that a source of sound might produce. It is deeply ingrained in social and cultural forms of listening, and the need of being heard. The embodied practice of Deep Listening stimulates our awareness of sound and silence, of ourselves and others in a place, and has an incredible potential to permeate daily social and cultural interactions for conflict resolution.
I am grateful with Arena da Cultura for the invitation, and I hope that this work transcends in more developments in the future.