My first public performance

5 10 2012

This was the assignment:

Dear Class,

I would like to clarify what I expect as your assignment for Tuesday.

1. Please re-work, re-write your manifestos and have the in typed form and send them to me by email before class.

2. Along with your manifesto – please type up to 3 exercises similar to those we performed in class that best define your manifesto

3. Each of you please compose a musical anthem to be SUNG by those who will be following your Manifesto

4. Bring Props – objects – material – color pencils – crayons – paints – clay – etc that you wish to build a group art structure which will best define your Manifesto.

PLEASE DO NOT NEGLECT TO EACH GATHER ENOUGH MATERIAL TO BUILD YOUR ART SCULPTURE.

5. Identify a PUBLIC location in Amsterdam where you would like to perform your manifesto.

See you all on Tuesday!

Have fun!

Sophia

This is what I came up with:

I performed my manifesto last Thursday, September 27 at the World Trade Center in Zuidas, Amsterdam’s business district. I didn’t attract a big crowd, but it was a learning experience and it generated lots of ideas for the other public performances I’ll have to do this semester.

As typical Amsterdam weather would have it, it was cool and windy with patches of rain. As such, the audio quality isn’t top notch. So, here is the version I performed here:

The streets are busy. Filled with people, bicycles, cars. All moving about. Moving quickly. Too quickly for any interaction, except market-based interactions, of course.  

One beer, please. Here is your change. Would you like a bag? Would you like your receipt. Thank you. Polite, yet empty interactions. Buying, spending. Always buying more. Must buy more. Have more. Always inadequate. Must look better. Be better. 

Scurrying about like machines. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. We are nearly as mechanized as the machines we carry in our pockets – cell phones, smart phones, iPhones, iPads. Responding to every text message, iMessage, notification or email the moment we receive it. It is like another language.

By night, more of the same. Get drunk. Go to the club. A big party with hundreds of people. All strangers, except for a few friends. More drinks. Tequila shots. Music is playing. It’s loud. Suddenly, dancing with one stranger. A boy. Everything starts moving even faster. Kissing. Touching. And inevitably, sex. Small talk, no real conversation. The most intimate of human interaction, now commonplace. Sexuality defined by a sea of drunken experiences. Moving at the speed of sound. No time for romance. No time to think. No time to process.

Amidst the flurry of noise and speed, there’s loneliness. Far too often, depression. So many crowds, so much contact, but no connection. So occupied with trivial actions of daily life that any sight of who we are is lost. 

Who are we?

We are social beings. Our identity is a mosaic of the people we meet. The selection of each piece is influenced by our conversations. Listen and observe, and be transformed.

I am calling for a ruralization of the city. Slow down and create time and space to have these conversations that are in accordance with our social nature. 

We will reject mechanization. Refuse to be a machine. Use our portable electronic devices. But never let them use us. We won’t necessarily respond to every message right away. Instead, we will prioritize the friends who are with us right now.

We will seek smallness and community wherever we are. 

We will smile at the people we pass in the street, greet the people we ride with in the elevator, and learn the names of the people we meet. We will remember details they share with us and every once and awhile, ask them how their parents are doing. 

We will create meaningful friendships. Choose quality, over quantity. We will build a diverse social network. Not just virtual one, but a living one.  Make friends with people who we wouldn’t normally be friends with, and likely learn something new as a result.

We recognize social capital as real capital. And as such, we will appreciate its worth and invest in it extensively. 

Rediscover the beauty of post and write a letter to an old friend. 

Call our grandmother and listen to her stories of days gone by. 

We will never pass up a potluck. Eating alone doesn’t make much sense. 

We will embrace opportunities for group work, because collaboration is a gift. We will listen to our peers until they feel that they have been understood. 

 Yet, amidst this eruption of social interactions, we will also make time to have conversations with ourselves, to find our own quiet, calm space, and to relish these moments of solitude because they allow us time to contemplate and process our exchanges with others. 

We will engage in work that feels like play. Work that allows you to exercise our own unique creative faculties, work that we are passionate about, work that is meaningful to us.

Let us take back the streets.

Let us reclaim our identity as social beings.

Let us create connection where only contact existed before. 

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A manifesto for social creatures

11 09 2012

Last week, I received an unusual homework assignment unlike any before – write a manifesto. It was assigned at the end of my first class of a course called “From Dada to Hell’s Kitchen” which explores performance art. I read bits and pieces of other manifestos to try to gain some inspiration – the Communist Manifesto, the Anarchist Manifesto, the Cannibal Manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, the Futurist Manifesto and even the Lululemon manifesto. This is is a work in progress, but it’s what I’ve come up with so far. Critical feedback welcome.

We are social creatures. And as such, our identity is a mosaic of the people we meet. The selection of each piece is influenced by our conversations. We chose to include what we like, and leave the rest. 

In accordance with our social nature, we must slow down and create time and space to have these conversations. Listen and observe, and be transformed.

Create meaningful friendships. 

Learn the names of the people you meet. Remember details about them and every once and awhile, ask them how their parents are doing. 

Build a diverse social network. Not a virtual one, but a real one. 

Make friends with people who you wouldn’t normally be friends with. You might learn something new. 

Rediscover the beauty of post and write a letter to an old friend. 

Call your grandmother and listen to her stories of days gone by. 

Never pass up the opportunity to host or attend a potluck. Eating alone doesn’t make much sense. 

Embrace group work. It’s a learning experience and it builds character. Sometimes it is fun.

Social capital is real capital. Appreciate its worth and invest in it extensively.  

Governments are elected and defeated. Corporations eventually require bailouts. Cars break down. But people are consistent. Yet consistently changing, which allows for new conversations. 

We don’t have to respond to every text message, notification or email the moment you receive it. They will be there later. Instead, prioritize the friends who are with you right now.

Yet make time to have conversations also with yourself. Relish these moments of solitude because they allow us time to contemplate and process our exchanges with others. 

Don’t wait. Add some pieces to your mosaic today. And continue everyday. It will never be finished. 

Similar to the Lululemon, I came across another company called Holstee that also has a good manifesto. I like it.