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Home \ Актуальное \ Lau, Gracelynn. CORONAVIRUS AS A RITE OF PASSAGE: FINDING CURES FOR “COLONIALVIRUS” IN EXPRESSIVE ARTS BASED RESEARCH

Lau, Gracelynn. CORONAVIRUS AS A RITE OF PASSAGE: FINDING CURES FOR “COLONIALVIRUS” IN EXPRESSIVE ARTS BASED RESEARCH

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CORONAVIRUS AS A RITE OF PASSAGE: FINDING CURES FOR “COLONIALVIRUS” IN EXPRESSIVE ARTS BASED RESEARCH

Gracelynn Chung-Yan Lau
Expressive arts therapist, Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association
PhD Candidate, Queen's University Cultural Studies, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

 

Abstract

Might play and imagination inform us about decolonizing and healing the Earth as ourselves? This article contributes to the discussion on the functions of Expressive Arts-based research (EABR) for practitioners and researchers interested in cultivating ecological identity through embodied and lived experiences. Based on the basic tenets of EABR, the author conducted this intermodal expressive arts inquiry during the early outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in Canada, in accordance with the architecture of an expressive arts session: filling in from the habitual world experience, de-centering process and harvesting. On the foundation of this inquiry, the author concludes that the art-oriented de-centering process can 1) facilitate transpersonal ecological interaction with the more-than-human world, which provides relational nourishment for human individuals to grow their ability to identify ecologically; and 2) metabolize imagination and the act of poiesis in between the habitual and alternative world experiences as the embodiment of human participation with the Living Earth’s creative process.

Key words: expressive arts-based research, expressive arts therapy, ecological identity, embodied ecopsychology, imagination

 

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

– Arundhati Roy

Prologue

Once we cross the threshold, there is no going back.

The coronavirus arrived in Canada in mid-March of 2020. In a surge of cancellations, physical distancing, panic buying in grocery stores and death tolls in global news, I began to wonder: if the coronavirus is a rite of passage sent from the more-than-human world, guiding humanity into a collective future with the Living Gaia, what is it we are meant to understand in all this?

Pandemic narratives frame viruses as malevolent instead of integral to the interdependent web of life in which humans and viruses must co-exist. Charles Eisenstein noted, soon after the coronavirus began spreading in North America, that if there is one thing our civilization is good at, it is fighting an enemy: “we manufacture enemies, cast problems like crime, terrorism, and disease into us-versus-them terms, and mobilize our collective energies toward those endeavors that can be seen that way.” [6] Since European co-opting of North America, the colonial powers have introduced separation and control to indigenous lands and ways of being in the name of “security”, “progress” and “health”. Let’s just call it “Colonialvirus” for a thought experiment:

The Colonialvirus is a highly contagious virus that has been around for centuries. When conditions are right, the Colonialvirus multiplies in the host’s body, sometimes killing the host. The most common symptoms of Colonialvirus are the mindset of separation (us-versus-them), domination, control and desire to individualize; it affects the heart-spirit-mind connection, and causes difficulty in human being’s capacity to interrelate. Early symptoms also include a loss of imagination and sense of belonging in the larger-than-human world. Unlike the novel coronavirus, not much expertise has been put into containing and combating the Colonialvirus; and none of us has ever successfully flattened the curve. But we have seen cases of antibodies in recovered patients rooted in some indigenous and indigenous-led communities...

What does it mean to decolonize the Earth and how could this question be answered through expressive arts-based research (EABR)? Might the creative process in EABR help humanity to re-member ecological identity and to participate in the ongoing creative process of the Living Gaia? Might play and imagination inform us about decolonizing and healing ourselves as we heal the Earth?

In this paper, I will document a research process that took place from March 15th to May 30th, 2020, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The process started four days after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, and two days before the Ontario government declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

I will follow the basic tenets of EABR outlined by José Miguel Calderon [5] to structure this inquiry into three sections: “Filling in”, “In Studio” and “Harvesting”, in accordance with the “architecture” of an expressive arts session [11].

In “Filling in” I will elaborate the research questions in the context of the “habitual worlding”, i.e. everyday experiences around the individual researcher and their academic relationship with the research questions. “In Studio” is the transition wherein the researcher will leave the research questions temporarily to enter into an art-oriented de-centering process, in which the researcher will access the “alternative worlding” (imaginative experiences) by engaging in multi-sensory intermodal art-making. This de-centering process takes the inquiry into “liminality”, a state similar to a rite of passage process, where one is capable of receiving deep knowing that comes from an awareness of one’s limitations and possible resources [13]. “Harvesting” is the last section wherein the researcher will return to the research questions, and weave between the images, surprises and findings that emerge from the “Studio” in order to present the results.

 

Filling in

My personal and academic relationship with decolonizing the Earth is intertwined intimately with my faith, the evolution of my worldview and my career path for the last 13 years. As a child growing up in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong, I developed a severe animal phobia and a deep-seated aversion to most forms of activity in nature. In 2006, at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, I discovered ecofeminist theology. My Judeo-Christian religious foundation experienced an earthquake for the first time.

Ecofeminist theologians have challenged the predominant anthropocentric and androcentric tendency in Christian theology, in which human beings dominate the rest of Creation. The image of God, as well as humanity’s relational experience with the Divine, has been limited to a masculine father/son figure [8; 19]. Ecofeminist theologians have also criticized the Cartesian dualistic assumption in the formation of theology, which fundamentally polarizes chaos-order, nature-culture, body-mind, material world (earth)-metaphysicial world (heaven), contriving an ecologically disembodied Christianity that is “not earthly enough” [3]. The ecofeminist lens has opened up the perception of the Divine in biblical imagery as an on-going creative process, as mystery, as elements in creation and as non-masculine qualities [9]. This new approach has also proposed metaphors to experience God as mother, lover, and friend, and further, that the evolution of the Universe is the embodiment of God [18]. In Hebrew, Adamah means earth and is a feminine noun. While the biblical name for human beings, Adam, literally means earthling (one formed from the earth), the biblical name for the first woman Eve means “the mother of all living” [3, 12].

This reshaping of the human-divine relationship turned my biblical worldviews “downside up”, challenging me to reconsider the role of humans in relation to the rest of creatures that share the Earth, and in our participation in the creative process. The lack of Christian literature in deepening these questions has brought me toward deep ecology and Gaia theory. The work of Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry have offered an intellectual and scientific articulation to understand the 14 billion years of evolution of the Universe as a self-regulating complex system and a living process [21]. Berry proposes that the Universe should not be understood as a collection of objects, but as a communion of subjects [2]. Thomas Berry famously lamented humanity’s “autism towards the world”, the fact that we have lost “our great conversation” with the more-than-human world. The powerful metaphor of Gaia, the Greek goddess, employed by James Lovelock and other Earth system scientists to convey the scientific understanding of Earth as a living system with cultural understandings of human society as a continuation of that system, was helpful intellectually. But empirically, how is it possible to have “a great conversation” with Gaia the Living Earth? 

Joanna Macy has created “the work that reconnects” (WTR) [17], a participatory theoretical framework attempting to widen the sense of identity to planetary self through the “great turning” and “the greening of the self” [16]. Along similar lines, the work of ecopsychology pioneer Theodore Roszak calls for interdisciplinary collaboration between traditional psychology and environmental studies, and a holistic view of connection between the environment and the human soul. The Buddhist root of Macy’s model, and ecopsychology literature, have helped me to embrace the suffering of all living beings and to view environmental issues from the perspective of the more-than-human world. Since studying these works, I have become a facilitator for WTR and acquired professional training in horticultural therapy in 2014. And yet, as someone who grew up with animal phobia and has had symptoms of what Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder” [15], how could I embody this ecological identity in a felt sense and in my lived experience, let alone participate in and create with the Earth as God’s body?

Nine years after I first learned about ecofeminist theology, I became a permaculture teacher and nature-based therapist at an ecovillage on Vancouver Island. I immersed myself in the cycle of the seasons by tending seven acres of annual vegetable gardens and food forests, living with domestic and wild animals for almost 5 years. Pioneered by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 70s, “permaculture” is a set of ethical and design principles for whole system thinking and regenerative design, based on observing and mimicking the patterns found in nature. This was by far the most effective empirical practice to imbue my ecological identity with integrity, but nonetheless the ontological concept of human partnering with Gaia in co-creation remained, to some degree, disembodied and distanced.   

In the face of the global pandemic, climate disruption and looming ecological collapse, the question of decolonizing and healing the Earth as ourselves has become increasingly significant to our species and future generations. The question arose, might expressive arts-based inquiry illuminate a path to re-member our ecological membership in the interdependent web of life, so we as a species can participate differently in our embodiment on this shared Living Earth?

 

In Studio

I. De-centering process – water: Lake Ontario

The world went somewhat mad within a few days. Classes were cancelled. Canadian dollars fell in value. Universities closed their campuses. Students were packing to go home. People were fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Everybody was ordered to stay at home. I did not know what to think about this pandemic. But I knew that water is my resource; I decided to turn to Lake Ontario.

I met an Anishinaabe woman in Peterborough at the Canadian Indigenous & Native Studies Conference in February, who told me that water is my helper and I should offer tobacco. Since nature pressed the pause button on our civilization, I began visiting the lake every other day, and recording the sound and shades of the water. Every time I offered tobacco, I felt a sense of “Listen, the water is speaking. Listen to what is.”

Sometimes I brought a book to read by the water. One day I came upon Craig Chalquist’s essay on terrapsychology and Lauren Schneider’s eco-dreamwork. Chalquist explains that by exploring a place’s myth, history, recurring motifs in the infrastructure, and by tracking our moods and dreams while there, we can hear the geographical “discourse” of the living landscapes we inhabit [4]. Schneider argues that attending to dreams collectively may help a society find a way through critical issues [4]. I began to wonder about dreams, ecological identity, and the pandemic.

I took this wondering to an expressive arts session. My supervisor Dr. Stephen Levine asked me to go to the kitchen sink. “Follow your impulse and see what comes.” I played with a bowl of water, the tap and a stainless steel pot, sliding water back and forth, drumming with water in the pot to create soundscapes. When the sound play came to a pause, I put some water on my face and stayed in stillness. A moment came wherein I felt strong impulses to shake first my hands then my whole body, as if I were a water droplet, an amoeba, or currents hidden in the water. The shaking turned into a slow dance, where my hands found their way to my womb, as if the source of water, the ocean in me, is where I am from and who I am. I placed my hands on my womb in silence. As my body gently swung, I heard my womb saying, “You are water, water is you. You are air, air is you. Don’t be afraid, all of creation is going through a birthing now.” The following poem emerged from this water dance:


The invitation


We are from the ocean

of our mothers’ womb;

to the earthy womb

of soil we shall return.

Nothing to be afraid of,

this is a birthing yet again.

Let us all take a deep breath

and return to the sacred.

The phenomenological relation between dreams, the pandemic and ecological identity began to be illuminated. The spaciousness and intimacy created by the simplicity of playing with the water in shaping soundscapes took me to a place of dreaminess, where I could “hear” differently. The creative process in the imaginal held that space, where there seem to be unrealities revealing and connecting themselves to the seemingly more real realities.

 

II. “The Third” - the ocean of mother’s womb

To deepen the exploration, I further shaped “the Third” - that is, according to EABR, the powerful images that arise in the creative process – by taking “the ocean of the mother’s womb” image into embodied sound and poetic inquiry.

In one such session, a sea creature, butterflies and a new born baby emerged from a 2-hour intermodal movement-soundscapes exploration. The movement brought me to the myth of “Lu Ting”, a half-fish half-human creature recorded in the legend of the Hong Kong indigenous Tanka people. I heard about “Lu Ting” during a family trip last year. According to oral history, this mermaid-like creature is the ancestor of the people of Hong Kong. With all the images arising from that process, I wrote this story:

Lu Ting wakes up from a dream. In the dream she was waiting to dance with the whales.

But she has forgotten that she is a horse. Can a horse dance in deep water? No.

She runs with the horses. A new herd isn’t her own. Lu Ting is a lone horse in this herd.

She doesn’t go as fast as the rest of them, because she loves watching butterflies. It’s the butterflies season now. Many leave their cocoons finally. Today when she stops to listen to the woodpecker and the decaying leaves, she hears a vague voice moving through the thin air in the dark soil.

She isn’t sure what it is. It sounds like a prayer but like electrical frequency;

something not of this planet, at least not of this era. It sounds like a muddy murmur,

as if someone was struggling to send a recuse message:

“Help... help us... we don’t want to be here. But they trap us here.

We aren’t from here. We want to go home...”

Lu Ting instinctively knows that this old voice is from the ancient viruses. As old as the voice of the roots, ancient in time. Lu Ting doesn’t know what to do, so she asks,

“Hey, I hear you. Can I do something to help?”

The voice responds, “Please, wake them up from the dream.

When they wake up from this dream, we’ll be free.” Lu Ting replies, “But how? How can I wake them up?” The voice says, “Sing. Sing your songs with the ocean.

Sing the ocean songs. The water will teach you.”

In another session, I improvised a dance response to the 34 minute "Songs of the Humpback Whale"  album, and recorded a video. In the dance, a little floating transparent creature emerges from the movement sequence, like a delicate and flimsy new born of some sort, dancing with my hands. It seems expandable, light and intricate. After the movement, I wrote a dialogue with this emerging image:

Me: What’s your name?

Little creature: Fluffy Crystal. I am a flying creature that lives in the water too.

Me: Can you tell me more about you, Fluffy Crystal?

Fluffy: I am the air when I’m in the air, I am the water when I’m in the water.

I just move, expand or contract depending on more air or less air in me.

I’m transparent and I move between solids.

Me: Are you bacteria? Or a virus?

Fluffy: Yes, viruses are my relatives. Some of them aren’t like us floaty fairies. They are trapped. You have the word “genetic modified”, right? Some of our relatives are like that, having been mixed with something else in your world. They’re crying for help, because they don’t want to be trapped in human bodies. That’s not where they want to be.

Me: Fluffy Crystal, why do you come to me?

Fluffy: Because you listen. Because I am your relative?

Me: What? I’m a horse, how can you be my relative?

Fluffy: You are in this body, made out of us fluffy crystals. Learn the whale songs. Their songs communicate with all the microorganism in everybody. They will help you to remember your song.”     

These images and stories guided me to another spontaneous embodied inquiry, in response to the sound of a gong, with this poem arising as an ending:

Grandmother’s prayer

Become river

you’re the water

never ever really stop

folding

just illusion

unfolding

just illusion

you’re the water

step in

Later, I discovered that Lake Ontario is a proglacial lake. For thousands of years, most of Ontario was covered in ice. Ancient whale bones have been found in the Ottawa Valley [10]. At the end of the last ice age, the glaciers retreated, creating the Great Lakes in their wake. At this stage, Lake Ontario was known as “glacial Lake Iroquois”. Around 12,000 years ago, the waters receded significantly and fell back to sea level. Water from the upper Great Lakes bypassed Lake Ontario, heading directly to the St Lawrence river via the Ottawa Valley. 5,000 years ago, water flew through the lower Great Lakes, and Lake Ontario almost reached its current level, indicating that the earliest evidence of people in the area is now mostly underwater [7].     

 

III. Loom/Blanket – my aesthetic responsibility to the pandemic

In expressive arts theory, “Poiesis” entails poetry and art-making, but refers to a fundamentally human way of being-in-the-world. Poiesis is a sensitive, sensible and sense-making process of what has been given to us by making something new; our “aesthetic response-ability” in the world [11].

As I continue to weave these images and stories that emerged from the creative process, I ask myself: What do I do with this information? Does it inform me of my response to the pandemic? What is my poietic act and aesthetic response-ability to the pandemic?

“Listen, listen, don’t ask what you can bring, ask the water:

What is needed? What is asking to emerge?”

To my surprise, the weaving has resulted in a decision to offer multiple groups online. In spite of my resistance to and lack of confidence in online facilitation, I seemed to hear the call and went with it. The interrelated birthing of these online groups has come to be another “Third”, in which I have found myself witnessing groups unfolding, as I continuously shape and work with what was asking to come to life.  

Together with my colleague Sara Anderson, we decided to offer “expressive arts practices for holding turbulence,” a four-week online group beginning in early April. Neither of us had created online workshops before. We resolved the inevitable technology hiccups with clumsy grace. The group gathered for 1.5 hours each week; in between sessions, participants would engage with “Homeplay” to deepen their relationships with a “nature being” who chose and called to them. Here is an extract from the online group promotion: “In this four-week group we’ll hold space together by tapping into our innate creative, imaginal abilities. We will carry each other, while exploring being held by nature through this time of turbulence. We will draw from our capacity to recognize and witness beauty amid chaos...Deep connection is our resource. May we return to what is sacred.”

This initial impulse led us to hosting three online groups. The first group started on April 3rd, and the third group ended on May 29th. We were deeply surprised and moved by the spaciousness and sense of connection co-created by the participants and the natural elements participants brought to the work. The work went far beyond “therapy” in a limited sense, but was restorative to our creative beingness as human.

In addition, I have also created grief ritual online circles specifically for people in Hong Kong since early May. In one 2-hour ritual, I asked participants to prepare a bowl of water, a candle and some salt. As we lit the candle to begin, I asked them to connect with the fire in them to the fire burning in the forests, and to connect their tears to the rain. As each person held “the bowl of tears”, we took turn sharing our grief by saying: “My tears are for......” We paused to remind ourselves that we were witnessing the true condition of the human heart in the midst of political, economic and ecological crises, that our tears are Mother Earth’s tears.

As I am writing this paper now, these groups and circles are evolving. Invitations to facilitate other group experiences with this poietic approach are knocking at the door...

 

Harvesting

Are there cures for “Colonialvirus”? Expressive arts practices as treatment

Exiting the art-based de-centering “studio”, we will now return to the questions set forward in this paper: how do play and imagination inform us about decolonizing/healing the Earth as ourselves? Can Expressive Arts-based inquiry help us to re-member our ecological identity and to participate in the ongoing creative process of the Living Earth in embodied and lived experiences?

With centuries of Eurocentric colonization exploiting the rest of the world for economic gain, indigenous peoples across continents have to a great extent lost their lives, languages, sacred land and cultural practices. Non-indigenous peoples in industrial and globalized societies have been equally separated from their pre-modern ancestral cultures, traditional worldviews and their own imaginations. The colonial mindset of separation, domination and individualism has taken away our capacity to interrelate and our sense of belonging to the more-than-human world.

While decolonization should mean repatriation of indigenous land and ways of being to indigenous peoples [22], I propose that there should also be work done among non-indigenous peoples to reverse and heal the colonial way of being, and that expressive arts therapy practices could be treatments for this “Colonialvirus”.

 

Ecological identifying: relational nourishment as diet           

Sociological and psychological literature have long suggested that identity is fluid and negotiable, depending on interpersonal social interaction [20, 23]. I suggest that the same applies to ecological identifying and re-membering.      

Re-membering our human ecological identity is a process of rekindling our relationship with the living Earth. As in marriage, a marriage certificate identifying a married couple’s legal status does not promise an intimate and vital relationship. Claiming our ecological identity intellectually also does not guarantee a deep sense of belonging to and genuine connection with the more-than-human world. To grow an ecological identity, we need to engage in transpersonal ecological interaction, listening to and interacting with the more-than-human beings with our deeply felt sense.

In Expressive Arts-based inquiry, the de-centering process creates a waking-dream state through play and imagination. During the process described in this paper, I was able to encounter and “listen” more deeply to the nature beings that “showed up” in the art-making experiences. The deep listening has intuitively guided me to uncover prehistoric stories of the living landscape where I reside. When the Anishinaabe woman told me that “water is my helper”, it was a statement of intellect rather than of experience, but the arts-based exploration has deepened my relational experience with Lake Ontario on a transpersonal level. In this expressive arts-induced waking-dream state, our human “autism towards the world” finds healing, and our capacity to interrelate and to have a “great conversation with the more-than-human world” can be restored.         

 

Living eco-poietically: metabolizing imagination as medicine

Because of its art-oriented nature, the de-centering process is also about creating and shaping. In the “studio”, I worked with emerging images (such as “water creature”, “womb”, “new born”, “wake them up”, “learn your song”) through movement and poetry. This “alternative world experience” had also continuously informed my creating and shaping in the “habitual world experience” before and after the de-centering processes, resulting in a variety of online groups as my unforeseen and spontaneous aesthetic response to the pandemic.

The intersecting structural relationship between the habitual world and the alternative world blurred the distinction between realities and unrealities. In the phenomenological experience of shaping and creating, whether in poetry, movement or creating online groups, I have been able to play with imagination from a deep sense of listening and a wider sense of wellness for all beings, as if the everyday world is also the “studio” in which I can expand the act of poiesis into everyday experience. The stay-at-home order and social distancing have become situational restrictions that limit the range of play in my shaping, and invited me to create imaginative resilience and beauty. 

This poietic approach to the pandemic sheds light on human participation in partnership with the Living Earth. As mentioned, Poiesis in expressive arts therapy is the human innate creative response to shape what has been given to us and that equally shapes us. Widening the concept of “poiesis” to that of “eco-poiesis”, expressive arts theorists have proposed that the human poietic act is “embedded within the ongoing creative process of the living Earth” [1]. The concept of “aesthetic response-ability” is then expanded by questioning: what does the Earth need? What does a poietic approach to ecology look like? [19]

The act of eco-poietic shaping, in and in between the habitual and alternative world experiences, could metabolize in the embodiment of our participation in the world. Can we hear the sound of the E(art)h crying and rejoicing inside us? Can we not know about the Earth but know the E(art)h? Can we carry ourselves in the everyday world as artists shaping and nurturing the relationship between the E(art)h materials and our creation? Can we grow ourselves out of separated self, into a maturing aesthetic human shaping, one being shaped within the living shaping E(art)h? By living “eco-poietically”, we mature our ecological selves in transpersonal evolving relationships with the more-than-human world that continuously defines who we are as a species. We listen deeply to the creative process of life, and shape and play respectfully with what is given to us. 

 

Pandemic narrative: are we corona-ing?              

One of the concerns within this inquiry is the pandemic narrative, which frames the virus-human relationship as the enemy in us-versus-them terms, aligned with the colonial mindset of separation. After the de-centering process described in this paper, I realized that the pandemic itself is indeed a collective de-centering experience, and we were all put in a global liminal space to encounter our limitations as a species. 

The coronavirus causes us to leave the habitual world experience to enter an alternative world experience – one of seemingly unimaginable realities. In my de-centering process, the images of the water of mother’s womb and a newborn have shown up repeatedly. Serendipitously, in a community resilience training webinar with Daniel Greenberg, I learned that Corona means crown; and that “Crowning” is part of a birthing process referring to when the baby’s head becomes visible in the birth canal after the mother’s cervix is fully dilated. “Crowning” is often known as “the ring of fire”, because the mother experiences intense burning sensations as the baby stretches the cervical opening. It is the stage when the midwife would ask the mother to stop pushing, to allow the baby’s head to work at its own pace. The midwife would then guide the baby’s head through the birth canal, followed by one shoulder and then the other.

This image casts light on a different narrative: as a species, are we the mother “Corona-ing” to give birth to a new world? Are we the midwife witnessing the burning pain of climate disruption, worldwide sociopolitical and ecological collapse, while guiding the emerging life sustaining societies? Are we baby Gaia coming into human-ing? Or, are we the mother, the midwife and the baby, midwiving ourselves to our own birthing?

Coronavirus is a rough initiation and a painful birth indeed. We have lost many lives to this pandemic and we are still facing unprecedented challenges and injustice globally. Whether this “wounded” opening will be a breakthrough or breakdown is up to our imaginative shaping, together with Gaia.

  

Finale

In keeping with the tenets of EABR, the final form of presenting the research results is still a creative act [5]. This paper has documented the research process and findings in a written academic format, in some ways creatively challenging and playing with the traditional academic writing standard. But the creative act does not feel complete. In the spirit of living eco-poietically, I wonder if the eco-poietic act is birthing another group, perhaps prescribing the expressive arts to treat “Colonialvirus”?

One of the aforementioned opportunities to facilitate a group experience is to serve young adult activists in Hong Kong who are dealing with sociopolitical trauma. The creative challenges of this work lie in their tremendous distrust and suspiciousness of others and of online security. 

In an expressive arts session, my supervisor and I explored the possibility of facilitating expressive arts from a distance and in darkness. In an improvised movement-based mixed imaginative role-play, the images of mycelium network in the dark and a multicoloured boulder emerges, absorbing my laptop as part of them. The mycelium then turns into a web of landline telephone coil cords. The ancestors holding the handsets are dialing. Nobody has picked up the calls. Everybody is busy with other things. My supervisor asked, “Can you answer the phone?” I did, and this is what I heard:

“Thank you for answering the call.

We have been calling 24/7 trying to talk to some of you.

Listen, help them to remember who they are.

There is more to who they are than who they think they are, more than their passport identity.

Who they are is in their blood memories.

Help them to remember the minerals in their own earth.

Their tears and blood are the ocean in them.

Their anger and passion is their fire
also burning in the Amazons, burning underneath volcanoes...

The ancestors had been there, we understand.

Tell them that they are suffering together with the Earth.

Tell them it is the season of Winter now, the time when things go deep into darkness and die,

so they can be borne into something new in the Spring.”

And once we cross the threshold, there is no going back.

 

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Reference for citations

Lau, G. C.-Y. Coronavirus as a rite of passage: finding cures for “colonialvirus” in expressive arts-based research. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 2020, 1(2). [open access internet journal]. – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru (d/m/y)

 

 

About the journal

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.