This week we went to Quito for several days to follow up on an exciting potential collaboration with a feminist abolitionist group called Mujeres de Frente. We were connected to Mujeres de Frente through a mutual friend, whose work focuses on the decriminalization of drug use in Latin America. The group is made up formerly incarcerated women and artists/organizers, working towards “un mundo sin prisones para mujeres, ninas ni ninos”— a world without prisons for women and children. We deeply admire their work.
We all speak varying levels of Spanish, but we were able to communicate clearly for the most part throughout the meeting. When we entered the space, the group was gathered around a table, chopping some massive amount of carrots for a soup to feed the 20 or 30 kids who come to the space for 3 hours every M-Th.
After some back and forth, we landed on the idea of some sort of creative/work exchange, with each group suggesting ways the other could help with current projects and goals. The proposal evolved to look something like this: We arrive in Quito on a Thursday and help care for the children of Mujeres de Frente (colloquially known as “wawas” here, gotta love it). We do art projects with the wawas or just let them play in the space. The next day, Friday, is the weekly assembly meeting where the entire collective of adult members of Mujeres de Frente meets. We attend the meeting and have conversations around forgiveness as a larger group. During the Friday session, we facilitate forgiveness-related activities including art-making, prompts for our Forgivability Scale, and interviews with the women. On Saturday, we return to help paint a mural, do some light carpentry work, and any other housekeeping tasks that might need doing.
The meeting sparked some interesting informal conversations about forgiveness. One woman said that forgiveness brings her closer to her faith. Another said that she could forgive individuals but never politicians or governments. Tomorrow, the small group we met with will propose the exchange to the full assembly. So we will see what comes of it!
At the end of the meeting, Andrea gave us a tour of the new space, which the group moved into 6 months ago and are in the process of setting up. It occupies the top 3 floors of a building by the Plaza del Teatro near the historic center of Quito. The top two floors are devoted to the kids, offering places to play, make art, eat, etc. Regardless of if the collaboration pans out or not, it was an honor to get to spend an hour with people whose work is so aligned with our personal values and creative aspirations.
CYM spent the better part of January in Santiago, Chile at Centro NAVE! While at NAVE, Call Your Mom investigated our modes of making, incorporating new movement exercises, sound games, and even a day of American Idol style critiques courtesy of Sophie (who does a great Randy, in case you were curious).
In our previous shows and experiments in Say You’re Sorry, people’s inability or unwillingness to forgive themselves kept coming up. One reply on the Forgiveness Scale reads “would forgive someone else but can’t forgive myself.” So we decided to work on self-forgiveness and catharsis as our themes for the residency and subsequent showing, which we called Shadowboxing. The themes also felt pertinent to the kind of emotional exploration each of us wanted to do in Chile. What are our barriers to self-forgiveness? What does it feel like to carry around something you cannot forgive? When do we allow ourselves catharsis? When does that catharsis amount to meaningful internal change?
Shadowboxing‘s premiere consisted of interactive sculpture, sound composition, and dance. NAVE is founded on a reverence of physical experimentation, so it felt like the opportune place to create a work that mostly relied on embodied storytelling. To encourage immersion in the topic and a sense of personal buy in, Call Your Mom created a separate set of interactive prompts. The space (Sala Negra, Centro NAVE) contained two beet punching bags, the Forgiveness Scale (seen in Hard Feelings and Forgiveness Experiment), and four long cloth harnesses connecting each of us to the ceiling. Audiences entered the venue, and were asked to write something they have struggled or are struggling to forgive themselves for on a large canvas behind the second punching bag. Participants could punch, slam, or kick the bag into the canvas, creating magenta splatters. They then sat down for a 15-minute movement piece accompanied by original music and video. After the movement, audience members were asked to cut out their response from the canvas, and pin it on the Forgiveness Scale from Easily Atoned (Facil a Perdonar) to Unforgiveable (Imperdonable).
The experience of performing Shadowboxing was exhausting and rewarding. It was a physically and emotionally daunting piece that could not be practiced or anticipated. Loading giant punching bags with beets that dye our clothing and everything around us could only happen once. We felt immense pride over the performance, and are excited about the possibilities of future renditions to come.
NAVE hosted us in a grander manner than we could have ever imagined. They provided us with a beautiful apartment, usage of incredible rehearsal spaces, and support from a talented and hilarious production team. We are so grateful for the time, space, and resources to create Shadowboxing!
All photographs are courtesy of our dear friend, Fernanda Ruiz.
Say You're Sorry is a multimedia exploration of forgiveness and redemption. From September 2019 through May 2020, Call Your Mom will be developing various aspects of Say You're Sorry at residencies across the country and abroad. In the summer of 2020, we will return to the US to tour our performance and workshop series. Check back here for project updates throughout the year.
Call Your Mom (Emma Bergman, E Cadoux, Sophie Goldberg, Mia Massimino)