THE VITAL EXODUS* | ÉXODO VITAL
About the authors
Judith Alalú L.
For several years Judith has been experimenting with painting and has created three exhibitions. She is an expressive arts therapist and has been working with children, adolescents and adults from 1998. In addition, she is co-founder of TAE** Peru, co-director at TAE Barcelona, and a teacher on the Expressive Arts Training Program that these institutions. She holds a degree in Psychology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and is currently a PhD candidate in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Odette A. Vélez V.
Odette enjoys exploring the fields of art, health and spirituality. She is the author of two books of poetry and co-author of several books on education. She facilitates learning, creation and healing processes through the expressive arts. She teaches on the Expressive Arts Training Program of TAE Peru, in the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas and on the Bach International Education Program. She is a psychologist with a degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a consultant in Bach Flower remedies, registered by the Bach Center of England. She obtained a Diploma of Advanced Studies from the Doctorate Program “Education and Democracy” of the Universidad de Barcelona. She is currently completing doctoral studies in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
*First published as Alalú, J y Velez, O. ( 2018). Éxodo Vital. Lima: Editorial Tae Perú.
**TAE Peru offers an expressive arts study program in Peru and in some other Latin American countries. Since 2004, this study program, therapeutic treatment, various courses and workshops have been spreading the theory and practice of the expressive arts in therapeutic, educational, organizational and social change contexts. TAE Perú is affiliated to the European Graduate School (EGS). www.taeperu.org
This multi-arts project arose from the encounter between the painting of Judith and the poetry of Odette. Inspired by the intermodal aspect of the expressive arts, which promotes the practice of diverse artistic languages, Judith invited Odette to get to know her paintings and explore the possibility of creating poems in response to them. The verses arrived and this is how Vital Exodus came about, a meeting of visual and poetic images.
Urban life today, particularly in Latin American cities like Lima (Peru), is a little bit like living lost among the dead. De-natured, polluted and soulless landscapes dominate. Violent scenes, accelerated rhythm, chaos, vertigo, vortex, strident sounds, overcrowding, psychedelia and fulminating epidemic (like the one we are currently experiencing all over the planet) govern many capitals. In this pandemic scenario (or "desert of modernity," as Hillman calls it, [2, p. 41]) we live: human beings, animals, plants, insects and thousands of unclassifiable beings and objects. There, exposed to infinite difficulties, we try to adapt and find sense in life. Sometimes we make it, but sometimes we don't. So, we get tired, we get sick, we feel stunned, trapped; survivors of terrified cities. We regret, we question what are we doing here, we want another life, we claim another place, we beg for a change and, finally, we scream at the top of our lungs: "Enough!" It is time to move, to leave and to find a way out. Fed up, we set off for somewhere else; we flee into the cosmic void. It is time to appeal to our resources, ancestral memory, creative capacity, ecopoiesis, hope and the possibility of resisting. Something begins to crumble, deform, and die as it meets new life. We return to water, to the sea, to connection with the body, nature and origin. Silence begins to arise. We are alive. We are still swimming.
This is an outline of the pictorial and poetic story that this article discusses. Images that scream as the only possibility to respond aesthetically. They shout to rebel because "Beauty must be raged, or outraged into life." [2, p.42] Beings affected by the contaminated life in the city. Beings who are confused and forced to leave their natural habitats, turned into unlivable places. Beings who initiate an exodus, a migration, looking for other spaces where vitality can resurface. The search for a new planetary, sensory consciousness arrives that nourishes the soul of the world, so technologically hyperconnected and so disconnected from life. Each one of my pores has become an ear and I am deaf / skinless skeleton is my being. These animals are all living beings on the planet that already collapsed long ago due to the irresponsibility of human actions.
This two-handed work (painting and poetry) is an expression of resistance. We make art as a way of being and being-in-the-world, because, as the expressive arts perspective reminds us, the arts allow people to connect with their creative capacity, to reactivate their capacity for poiesis ('making art', ‘creating’ in Greek), and to respond creatively to difficulties and challenges . The arts, in the ancient shamanic tradition, are a way of recovering the soul: "When illness is associated with loss of the soul, the arts spontaneously emerge as remedies, medicine of the soul" [4, p. 1]; they are a way of soul-making, that is, a way of recovering passion, vitality and a sense of existence . Vital Exodus is a book in which, over and over again, the images achieve dialogue through the force of their lively strokes, full of color and play, and also through the voices of their characters full of pain and despair. The possibility of deforming impotence inhabits the lines, gestures and poetic words of the paintings. The ability to transform experience, to exaggerate its shapes and take them into fantastic realms is present in the works, strengthening the potential that we human beings have to shape the situations we face. A tree has been falling...thefishflythebirdsswim.
Fortunately, from an ecopoietic perspective, not even the desert lacks heart because it is inhabited by the lion, and if we want to return to the sensitive heart, we must look for it there, provoke it and make it cry out: "The more our desert the more we must rage, which rage is love.” [2, p. 42] Thus, these images roar, howl, bark, shriek, squawk – they call us and ask us to appreciate their presence and will, to recognize their inherent value, to see and hear the world from their own point of view. Listening to them requires abandoning our egocentric vision and developing an ecocentric vision, interested “in the wild, undomesticated side of beauty” [6, p. 259]. The expressive arts invite us to live a more primordial and animistic perception. And it must be remembered that:
“Animism is not superstition or worship of nature. It is reverence for the created realm, for all life, it is a feeling of belonging, and of being an integral part of this vast and varied landscape. It is the full recognition that all things have spirit or soul, that all things are alive and aware.” [5, p.56]
Facing the anaesthetic mechanisms of the current times demands roaring to activate our senses and boost our sensory capacity, that is, to put into effect the political implications of our ability to respond aesthetically. That is the desire of this work: to inspire a way of being and being-in-the-world that is in connection with mystery, listening to the voice of the non-human, recognizing the soul of the world, far from our usual instrumental and technological attitude, allowing:
“...the body [to] explore again the speech of things and of the land. This brings with it the attitude of wildness: an attentive wonder that draws us into the mystery, the unpredictability, the many voices of the more-than-human world around us that have been silenced for too long.” [6, p.260]
It is about recovering the enchanted vision of the world, the one we lost with the Western predominance of the modern scientific vision and its mathematical understanding of nature, governed by various separations (subject/object, mind/body, self/world, nature/culture). It is time to rescue the sacred vision of the world of the original peoples, the anima mundi, where nothing is a different object and apart from us, where everything belongs to an interconnected network. The challenge of re-enchanting the world in the twenty first century lies in restoring the lost bond with the cosmos, and recovering the mythical and poetic dimension of existence. It is not a question of condemning modern scientific thought and idealizing the pre-industrial way of life and the animistic worldview of ancestral peoples. We have to rethink our relationship with nature and regenerate a more attentive and sensitive connection with it, in which modern technology and instrumental reason can occupy a generous place, far from hyper-individualism. It is the challenge of recreating a perspective of interdependence, reciprocity and cooperation where we treat others and nature in a different way from how we do so today.
It is surprising how the arts are in the vanguard and anticipate the facts. Artistic language is always in communion with the life of the world through the sensuality of its visual, sonorous, kinesthetic and olfactory images: “Art is not just a universal language for humans – it is the cosmological language of form, the sensory realm from which we construct our very thoughts” [5, p.58].
The creative project Vital Exodus arose several years before the planetary pandemic we are experiencing, and today more than ever its spread makes sense and is aligned with ecopoiesis. Its images not only scream but also speak of the need to hibernate, which is precisely what we are now doing out of necessity and obligation. Perhaps hibernation is a way to initiate the vital exodus of ecopoiesis. Stop, take distance, contemplate and pause to learn to breathe differently. We hibernate and the world seems to rest from us. Hopefully hibernation will allow us to sharpen our senses and dance again to the rhythm of the universe to which we belong.
In the Andean world each flower, each star, each stone, spider, bee,
each drop of dew, each human being ... is a Universe - a Pacha -,
a perfect totality, which in turn is complemented by another Pacha
even bigger and more perfect, and this process never ends.
In the way that the rhythm and flow of fluids in a cell
embrace the same rhythm and flow of the liquids of the galaxy...
generating infinite movements of love and harmony
thus...if I touch a flower, I am touching a star. 
here I am
among the dead
entre los muertos
they push me
excuse me, look out, coming through
disculpe, permiso, necesito pasar
I am still
in this city psychedelic and amorphous
en esta ciudad psicodélica y amorfa
in a fulminating epidemic
en una epidemia fulminante
I walk among tangled wires
I dance upon cement
here I play
between vertigo and vortex
camino entre alambres enredados
bailo sobre cemento
entre vértigo y vorágine
each one of my pores has become an ear and I am deaf
skinless skeleton is my being
cada uno de mis poros se ha vuelto oído y estoy sorda
esqueleto sin piel está mi ser
it would be better to go back
try it under the sea
mejor sería volver
intentarlo bajo el mar
may be I will have to leave them behind in this apocalypse
below the fish keep swimming
navigating on the asphalt is more difficult
the buildings are not easy to open
may be, it would be better to try it below
tal vez tendré que dejarlas en este apocalipsis
debajo los peces siguen nadando
navegar en el asfalto es más difícil
los edificios no son fáciles de abrir
acaso sería mejor probar debajo
it this urban settlement
we have grown spikes
my hairs prick me
hands stretch up from the subsoil
in a terrifying intention to continue
stunned trapped survivors of this terrified city
en este asentamiento citadino
nos han crecido púas
mis pelos hincan
se estiran manos del subsuelo
en una voluntad aterradora por seguir
aturdidos atra pados sobrevivientes en esta ciudad despavorida
will we return?
fed up they set off for somewhere else
I will flee into the cosmic void
a fugitive I am destined to escape in a thousand pieces
hartos parten a otros lares
yo huiré al vacío cósmico
prófuga he de escapar en mil pedazos
where has the sea gone to now so I can’t find it?
others search for their hills
It rains sky blue days that are nights
the whitewash reproduces swiftly
theresnoroom cellular chaos-mutation
a tree has been falling
¿dónde está el mar que no lo encuentro?
otros buscan sus cerros
días que son noches
la cal se reproduce raudamente
nohayespacio caos-mutación celular
viene cayendo un árbol
will we remember how to swim in this poisoned noise?
¿recordaremos cómo nadar en este ruido intoxicado?
may be, it’s time to hibernate
in a thousand colors
quizá sea momento de hibernar
en mil colores
I still am
crammed full I frolic
I look inside
There is my house
I can stay
and feed my hatchlings
fight, woman, fight
allí está mi casa
y dar de comer a mis polluelos
pelea, mujer, pelea
swim or die in stridency
the silence begins to arise
we’re still swimming
nadar o morir en la estridencia
el silencio empieza a surgir
Reference for citations
Alalú, J.L., and Vélez, O.A. (2020). The Vital Exodus. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(2). – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru
In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).
“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the 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.