POLITICS

Who's Afraid of Ideology? (part 1) // Marwa Arsanios

A woman is standing in the middle of a valley, a brown landscape of mountains and rocks. She walks towards the camera and starts to talk. The camera retreats, slowly and continuously, keeping her in frame as we listen to her voice. But something seems to be off. The movement of her lips doesn’t match the voice we hear. There is a kind of displacement, something that we still cannot fully understand. By disconnecting the voice from the body in the image, Marwa Arsanios seems to suggest that we need to slow down a bit, to escape immediacy, to pay attention and listen carefully. 

The body will be later replaced by landscapes. Snowy mountains from elsewhere. The words reverberate in that space, and when they come back to us, they seemed to be charged with something else. The connections are there but we need to jump into a space of contemplation and reflection in order to find them. It’s as if it’s not necessary to find answers, but to inhabit the questions in-between the silence and the landscape. 

The film is built from material - images, interviews, conversations and thoughts - collected by Arsanios during a period in which she stayed with the Autonomous Women's Movement in Rojava in northern Iraq. It presents a series of stories and reflections that are linked to the experience of the Kurdish people’s resistance, and to the relationship between ecology and feminism within it. 

To think about ecology, especially about an ecological consciousness developed within the frame of war, makes me think about the very idea of protection, and the spaces of protection that we have left, or believe that we do. A later voice talks about a common understanding of the liberal system, that individuals and groups must surrender the means of protection to the State. The State, therefore, has the monopoly of violence as the only one authorized to exercise it. It reinforces that the use of force is most frequently a tool for the maintenance and the support of the established geometries of power. That is still constituted today by the definition of the bodies that must live and of those who can die, an idea that the philosopher Achille Mbeme has developed under the concept of necropolitics. 

When the state no longer defends us, what kind of strategies can we use in order to defend ourselves? Where do we flee and where could we find protection when the experience of life itself cannot be separated from the mediation of the state? 

The idea of protection as a right granted to a citizen of a certain state becomes especially problematic when the very notion of nation-state is falling apart, and if we take into consideration the huge amounts of individuals that are continuously pushed out of this system. In the same way, the idea of peace, or of living in peace, has become a strategy of governance in the systems that we live in. To live in peace means not only that we should surrender the fight but also to accept the conflict that is imposed on us by others. This dynamic might also be what allows the transfer of violence to the red zone of the world, far away from the centers of power. Violence became then a distant idea, something that happens outside of the safety of the west, making invisible the mechanisms of control that operate or our societies.

When the idea of peace became a strategy to govern bodies within certain geographies, how can we understand resistance and radicality? Is it possible to operate under a different paradigm? 

A voice from the screen talks about how the state works to break the relationship of the individual with nature, as the only possible way to legitimise its power. And I’m led to think that this is no longer just about safety or protection, but about the individual's ability to establish relationships of survival without the State as their intermediary: “existence is based on the ability to defend yourself”.

Who is afraid of ideology? opens space for us think about ecology, not only in relation to nature, but in the very set of relations that individuals establish with all their surroundings, with communities, knowledge and territories. And the question that remains is, as artists and individuals, how can we learn from the experiences of those who live in different communities, under different paradigms, to build strategies of resistance? When difference is continuously threatened, can art still be a space of protection?

- Túlio Rosa

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Ecofeminist Practices Between Internationalism and Globalism - E-Flux Journal

Kdo se boji ideologije? / Who is afraid of Ideology?

Thinking Projects - Marwa Arsanios

NECROPOLITICS - Warwick University

Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian and Wrangler // Cotton Panic!

A dramatic soundscape that mixes enigmatic synth, eerie folk music and the percussive thunkings of factory machinery and cotton weavers’ clogs – Cotton Panic! is more of a narrative concert than traditional theatre – a concept album with integrity.

Cotton Panic! tells the story of the 1861 Cotton Famine that struck Manchester during the American Civil War. Manchester at the time was a major manufacturer of cotton garments, and the majority of the cotton came from American plantations. As slaves were emancipated and plantations in the northern states were shut down, Manchester began to starve.

Crucial to the show’s emotional power is the moment when the citizens of Manchester signed a declaration in support of the emancipated slaves, despite the famine. The declaration ends with the words “Onward, ye free men of the north and downward you southern men who want slavery.” In the current climate, there is a temptation to hear the chant as the cry of modern north of England against the Westminster powers that have ignored it for so long. The end of Cotton Panic! even draws parallels with the modern day Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of Donald Trump.

But these comparisons should not be invested in too heavily. The inequalities in our country and our own time, though very much real, are hardly comparable with the Atlantic slave trade. In exemplifying Manchester’s “sacrifice” during the war we risk asserting a narrative about the abolition of slavery in which the white man is the hero.

The message of the show is more egalitarian than heroic though, and by showing the correspondence between the citizens of Manchester and key figures in the abolitionist movement in America, it demonstrates how interconnected the world was, even two hundred years ago. Overall, it demonstrates the need for collective effort in the face of international dilemmas. No country is ever really an island, and society is only bettered by the hard work of soft hands.

- Ciaran Grace

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

The Lancashire Cotton Famine

The Lancashire Cotton Famine - Radio 4

The Haitian Revolution:

http://www.blackpast.org/gah/haitian-revolution-1791-1804

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcV6NTqoyAc

The Emancipation of Russian Serfs - History Today

HOW IS UNCLE JOHN? / Creative Garage

HOW IS UNCLE JOHN? / Creative Garage

Abuse often comes shrouded in code. It comes in signs. Physical marks and distress, eyes that won’t meet yours, garbled speech, a sort of radical shrinking. There’s the less obvious, mental iterations. Rapid and sudden introversion, anxiety, depression: another sort of radical diminishing.

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

Ten interlocking scenes present separate sets of lovers, each semi-ironically riffing on different ‘aspects’ of love. The platonic ideal. ‘Simple’ carnal lust. Tortured archetypes (‘Actor’ and ‘Journalist’) playing out and struggling with their desires, counter-desires and the simple physical fact of their bodies. 

FLESH / Poliana and Ugne

FLESH / Poliana and Ugne

The performance starts with twisting shapes, shadowed yet hyper-exposed under multi-angled lighting, that seek to start the audience into a conversation about the body, its place in the physical world and its essential rootlessness. Does the body have a place and a function outside of its ‘sensual nature’, and can we find it in the act of movement? Or- more specifically- dance?

TRIGGER / Christeene

TRIGGER / Christeene

Christeene comes riding in on an inner pony, an imaginary animal representing self-esteem and unapologetic sexuality. Each night, working whilst a shedload of explosives explodes from Edinburgh castle above her, Christeene is at work to create the ambience of the kind of sex disco that you always wished you were invited to but are not quite convinced you’d know what to do at if you were. The inner-pony is a my-little metaphor of freedom, a call to abandon proprieties and niceties in favour of a new kind of holistic sexual transcendence.

ALTERED MINDS, ALTERED REALITIES / Augustus Stephens

ALTERED MINDS, ALTERED REALITIES / Augustus Stephens

Altered Minds, Altered Realities is a one-act, one-man play in which the playwright and actor, Augustus Stephens, depicts six characters in turn in a series of monologues, poems and songs. Each named character is living with a different serious mental illness.

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

Stress-related mental health problems affect one in five primary care workers. Four in five have trouble sleeping. These are the realities of working in today’s NHS, according to mental health research by Mind, and they form the backdrop to Monologues of a Tired Nurse.

ANYTHING THAT GIVES OFF LIGHT / The TEAM & National Theatre of Scotland

ANYTHING THAT GIVES OFF LIGHT / The TEAM & National Theatre of Scotland

Two Scotsmen and an American woman walk into a bar and... The set-up for fringe stalwarts the TEAM's collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland might sound jokey, but that's not how the action or fiercely political argument plays out. All three characters are experiencing an identity crisis of sorts, and seek brittle refuge in each other as they attempt to navigate or make sense of their disquietude.

FINGERING A MINOR ON THE PIANO / Adam Kay

FINGERING A MINOR ON THE PIANO / Adam Kay

Adam Kay left a career as an obstetrician six years ago. In Fingering A Minor on the Piano, he shares observations about the realities of working as a doctor, creating a picture of the conditions and pressures that sit behind strike action.

BUBBLE REVOLUTION / Polish Theatre Ireland

BUBBLE REVOLUTION / Polish Theatre Ireland

Bubble Revolution describes itself as 'a one-woman revolutionary fairy tale about growing up during and after the fall of communism in Poland'. The bubble of the title refers to bubblegum, something that was once very hard to get hold of and treasured as a result.

THE ROOSTER AND PARTIAL MEMORY / El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe

THE ROOSTER AND PARTIAL MEMORY / El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe

There is a lot of dick-waving going on in The Rooster, most of it metaphorical, some of it actual. Based on the character of Al-Deek, the Rooster, in traditional Lebanese and Palestinian folk dance, this contemporary piece explores power and chauvinism through the medium of men acting like cocks.