Today we decided to cut the final week off of our time in Cotacachi due to Coronavirus travel restrictions. We are disappointed and a little frantic, what with trying to finish our installation and reschedule our closing event. That said, many things have been going smoothly, so we’ll talk about one of those.
Last week, we spent a day at Colegio Americano de Quito, leading two forgive/forget themed workshops for high school students. The students were engaged and generous with their ideas. The workshop went like this:
Introductions (10 min) - who we are! who they are!
Forgive, Forget, Both, Neither (15 min) - we read off a series of wrongs and the students move to the corner of the room that corresponds with their opinion of the forgivability, forget-ability, or lack thereof of the wrong, then we discuss
Interviews (10 min) - students pair off and ask each other three simple questions about a memory of a specific experience forgiving or forgetting
Blocks (45 min) - students decorate the blocks for either the forgive or the forget side of the sculpture
The workshops resulted in many cool artworks, which we will incorporate into our interactive sculpture during our abbreviated time left in Ecuador. Here are some photos of the pieces made by the 11th graders at Colegio Americano de Quito.
Hello again from Cotacachi, where we have just 3 weeks left in our 2-month residency. This place keeps getting more interesting as we get more invested in our relationships here. We got a tad bit homesick (we miss you) and regular sick last week, but we are now healthy and back on track toward opening our project to people here in town. We want to take a break from Kickstarter asks and updates to tell you a bit about the specifics of what we are working on!
Throughout our year-or-so thinking on forgiveness, we find ourselves returning to the essential function of TIME in the process of forgiveness. The concept of time keeps showing up for us as one of the core working factors contributing to tangible healing and growth in relationships, societies, family structures, etc. It’s not that time heals all (or even necessarily any) wounds. We know forgiveness is nonlinear. But it seems that time itself keeps disputing the grander concepts of this project.
We don’t know. That’s the thing. This is life’s way of teetering between passive and active. Forgiveness, forgetting, time, and repentance operate so differently in actuality than the way we were taught to perform these things in school, with a distinct “I” statement, a spoken “I’m sorry for the way I…,” a very clear acknowledgement that cites a real wrongdoing. We find it difficult to pin down concrete confrontations, apologies, mitigations that have happened in our lives and seen follow through, but still we know these things happen. So, where do the memories and feelings go? Do they ever get officially processed, compartmentalized, and packed away in a safe memory attic? Maybe they all fizzle out and get lost behind more urgent emotional impulses. If we can’t forgive, the next best option, the involuntary option, might be to forget. We find the unknowable, the inconsistent, the missing piece of this equation lighting a fire under us. So we’ve decided to spend our time here in Cotacachi (notably our longest residency of the year) zooming in on the differences between forgiving and forgetting.
In order to express our thoughts on forgiveness and forgetting over time, we will be devoting large amounts of our own time here to gradually building a sculptural installation. We think, given the subject matter, it’s only appropriate that we take a time-sensitive, time-based approach to this portion of Say You’re Sorry. Here in Cotacachi, we have a garage that opens out to the street. Starting next week, each Call Your Mommer will spend one hour per day every day for 2 weeks in that garage space, working on chores that contribute to the growing visual installation. These chores will be repetitive and productive, while leaving room for creativity. We will be working on portions of the sculpture (wooden blocks connected by rope and fabric) ourselves. We will carve at them, write on them, and decorate them as we see fit, with respect to our experiences around forgiveness and forgetting. Other wood blocks that make up the sculpture will be decorated by people living here in Cotacachi. We are gathering these blocks from high school students, people on the street, ex-pats who hang out at our local cafe, and indigenous Ecuadorians. Over the two week duration of the performance, we will hang these blocks onto ropes—one rope designated for forgiving and one for forgetting. Blocks with two holes in them can also be hung on both ropes, signifying that the conflict at hand lies somewhere in between forgivable and forgettable. We will compile these creative responses together with our own, building them into an intimate display.
The soundtrack to the sculpture is a series of interviews that touches on forgiving and forgetting through the lens of individual experiences. So far, we have interviewed an ex-pat who has lived in town for four years, a German baker who’s two storefronts are community staples, and four members of the indigenous community in Tunibamba, including a community leader. The interview questions ask participants to examine a memory of wronging or being wronged and lay out the process (or lack thereof) of forgiving and/or forgetting. We initially intended to edit the interviews together but through the process of talking to people, we realized that each interview contains a powerful story that stands alone. We now plan to play them uninterrupted, back to back throughout the installation. The two-week build up will result in an opening process showing in the garage with food, music, and casual conversation on forgiveness and forgetting.
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)