TrAIN Art Sociality and The Undercommons. What a revelation the last few days have been. If you missed these lectures it is a great shame. Thank you Paul and Pattie for putting this together for us. Today’s lectures made me aware of how privileged we are to have a house, be able to eat, and be disease free let alone spend a day discussing art and social issues as opposed to working 15 hours in a factory, living in slums on a swamp and dying of cholera.
On my way home I saw a group of men playing boules or petanque
Pétanque (French pronunciation: [petɑ̃k]; Occitan: petanca [peˈtaŋkɔ]) is a form of boules where the goal is to toss or roll hollow steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally “piglet”) or jack, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel. It can be played in public areas in parks, or in dedicated facilities called boulodromes. Similar games are bocce, bowls and (adapted to ice) curling.
The current form of the game originated in 1907 or 1910 in La Ciotat, in Provence, France. The French name pétanque (borrowed into English, with or without the acute accent) comes from petanca in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language, deriving from the expression pès tancats [ˈpɛs taŋˈkats], meaning ‘feet fixed’ or ‘feet planted’ (on the ground).
I sat watching from a bench. One of them noticed me and asked if I wanted to play. I joined their team and spent an hour or so helping in part to lose the game. I did have a wonderful time forming an alliance with strangers to enjoy a quiet space within the bustle of Vauxhall. I was struck by the gentle rhythm of the game, how little equipment was involved and how easily everyone interacted with each other regardless of race, profession or gender. We just enjoyed playing a simple game involving metal balls on an open piece of ground surrounded by trees.
Today we had discussed how to bring people together to share experiences and move from a place of past hurt and inherited resentments. Race, British colonialism, slavery, the class system, religion and sexism have all been used as reasons for abuse and still continue to be so unfortunately. Human beings are vile to each other. Today I felt hope that we could be able to pay homage to the past pain and move forward with sensitivity, learning to avoid the same traps of hierarchy and politics that lead to abuse of power. There will always be competition and disappointment just as in our game of petanque, but I distinctly get the impression it may be possible to do this and keep our feet on the ground.
During our conversation with Paul about the undercommons we discussed whether we are producing socially engaged practice. Performance that involves participation being ideal. I have asked my new friends, with their feet on the ground to work with me in presenting an opportunity to be in the moment, without prejudice once more.
I hope to be inviting you very soon…………