This weekend, our video installation Truce opens at One Charles Center (at the corner of Charles and Fayette) as part of the 2019 Janet & Walter Sondheim Semifinalist Exhibition. The installation consists of many individual components that we use to prod at the frustration, processing, and introspection inherent in coming to a truce.
Each video is accompanied by a voiceover that reveals the internal perspective of one person in a conflict. In other words, it reveals only half of the story. Viewers experience one point of view and then the other. They hear the ways in which the two sides talk past each other, find points of agreement, disagree, and walk away.
For example, a few lines from POV 1 include:
I don’t know how they justify what they did.
I’m not trying to say that there is a right thing to do, but isn’t there?
It's not personal.
Meanwhile, POV 2 is saying:
They can explain anything away.
I’m not trying to say that everything is relative, but isn’t it?
Everything is personal.
The ambient audio in the space is both tracks playing at once, literally speaking over each other.
The show will be open Wednesday-Sunday, 12-6pm from now until August 18. Come stand on our astroturf and watch us move through conflict without finding resolution. After the installation closes, we will be posting the videos online.
On Sunday July 7th, our board member Joan Susie invited us to facilitate a workshop for her birthday. The workshop was a fundraiser for our current project, Say You’re Sorry. Many lovely people attended and donated to our project. After some mingling and snacks, we lead the attendees in a workshop around our Forgivability Scale.
The activity was similar to the performance experiment we conducted at FORCE in January 2019. Once again, we read a series of wrongs and had participants walk a quilted scale from "Easily Atoned" to "Unforgivable." We adjusted some of the content for our new audience based on what we observed in January.
The second iteration of the Forgivability Scale generated some very interesting discussion. This time we added one or two “caveats” to each scenario, in order to clarify/complicate the scenario and give it context. We talked about intention vs. action and the importance of context when wrongdoings are committed. The most compelling part of facilitating this activity for a second time was that the same prompts with small changes often warranted vastly different responses.
One notable moment was a discussion about how people neglect/care for their kids and pets. This brought up how vulnerable it can be to ask for help caring for someone and how certain types of care are inadequate. Is it harder to forgive someone who hurts a loved one than it is to forgive someone who hurts you? This all came from the prompt “They lied about caring for your pet.” Almost everyone found this nearly unforgivable.
The fundraiser had many cool moments. To name a few:
We are so grateful our generous and enthusiastic participants and contributors. The conversations we had gave us much to think about. We are excited to continue pursuing responses to these big questions and developing thought-provoking content around those responses!
Last week, Call Your Mom set out on a weekend retreat to film our newest screen dance, Truce, which is set to premiere at the Janet and Walter Sondheim Semifinalist Exhibition. The piece will show alongside the 17 other semifinalists for the Sondheim Prize at Artscape.
Over the course of the retreat, we spent time choreographing, writing dialogue, and filming outdoors. We worked with videographer Nate Gregorio to gather shots, which we will edit into a 2-channel visual and auditory installation. The dialogue and accompanying visuals will mimic two people's internal dialogues in conflict. We want it to feel a bit one-sided, as though the participants aren’t truly listening to one another. We are interested in exploring how people and groups of people come to compromises in the face of complex conflict. The installation will invite viewers to sit and listen to the two audio channels through two separate sets of headphones, placed diagonally across from one another. The two speakers will have a few repeated lines between them, but most of the things they say will contradict the other. For example, one person says “They’re putting their feelings before a solution,” while the other says “They’re putting words in my mouth.” Or, “We both made mistakes. We did this together,” vs. “This isn’t bringing out the best in me.”
These statements are meant to highlight how difficult it can be to come to a consensus that accounts for all perspectives within a conflict. The show will be open July 18-August 17 (with a reception August 1, 5-9pm) at One Charles Center, located at 100 N. Charles St. We hope to see you there!
Call Your Mom's first forgiveness experiment took place in January 2019 at the studios of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture in Baltimore, MD. For the first part of the experiment, we performed public apologies by nameless public figures and had participants hold up YES/NO paddles based on whether a given apology warranted forgiveness. For the second part, we read a series of wrongs and had participants walk a quilted Forgivability Scale from "Easily Atoned" to "Unforgivable." Each participant was given 4 slips of fabric to write specific responses to any of the prompts and pin them on the scale.
Some responses to prompts on the Forgivability Scale: “I’ve done that + haven’t forgiven myself, but would forgive others” / "Too emotional to be ideological about it” / “Gaslighting!” / “Would take time + healing + an effort to love (after time)”
After the two activities, the participants sat down with us to discuss the experience. Here are some notes we wrote down from the discussion:
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)