Night(s) of Philosophy @ MAMA – Small Miracles of Meeting (2020)

Small Miracles of Meeting, open door and performance ongoing inside, photo by Catherine Koekoek

Group Performance. Hosted within Gentle Strategising weeklong of activities at MAMA.

There is something in how difficult it is to meet. How hard it is to share moments of connection and matters of concern when all of us are distancing. People and things can easily feel distant. And time is a forward-flowing current.

What if we do not try to pursue as if the rules are already written, as if we are in a “new” “normal”, but instead acknowledge what is making it difficult for us to meet and celebrate the small miracles and moments where we manage to meet meaningfully? To make space for whatever that may happen. To allow our multiple timelines to synchronise momentarily – made possible by the agency of fleeting objects and invisible spectres such as voice messages, letters, the airborne particles between us, and shared memories, that we can never fully grasp?

We propose to have a complicated, diffracted, multidirectional conversation. We each start something – a question (how to gently strategise? how to use walks to … ) – and each contribute to everyone else’s beginning. Like the reflective collective writing exercises we used to do, but now in our own times and spaces, and with freedom of form. It can be a text, a clip, a dance, a postcard, a voice memo. Arriving instantly or traveling through time. During the event, the timeframe of the event synchronises with our multiple timeframes: at MAMA we draw together this complicated conversation about just trying to communicate and share the intimate spaces created. We invite the visitors of MAMA to take part and continue the thread of the exchange. We will do this by asking to synchronise momentarily, to have our and their questions and messages directed to the crowd and crew. We will plant a seed, a droplet, a fragment they will take along and encourage them to expand the network.

This multiplicitous conversation too flows in the ambiguous space of that which cannot be grasped, is difficult to archive, a collective endeavour pur-sang (for perhaps no objective at all), a multi-locational space, and an exercise in retooling collaboration in times A.C (After COVID).

Who are we?: As Night(s) of Philosophy we worked together during our shared time at TU Delft. During meetings we asked each other: how are you? We asked each other: how can we work together in a space of care, in a way that inspires us and relates to the reality of our lives, rather than adding another thing to our eternally growing to-do-lists? We did so by knitting together a shared matter of interest, a matter of concern: through walking practices exploring the (post)anthropocene. We walked in Polderwalk, at Nighthoek and Thinking with Tongues.

One year later, we have dispersed to various places. Synchronising our various flows so that we can work together is increasingly difficult. This call allowed us to connect several diffracted initiatives. We try to trace the moments of connections happening despite or because of this condition of distance.

Night(s) of Philosophy – Nicole Chmielinski, Catherine Koekoek, Setareh Noorani, Maarten Scherpenisse, Ruby Sleigh, Willie Vogel, Aska Welford, Daniël van der Woude

This event was part of MAMA’s Gentle Strategising, a full week of collective activities, organised by MAMA’s poule of programme makers (Angela Chan, Leana Boven, Arvand Pourabbasi, Golnar Abbasi, and Mary Ponomareva) in collaboration with local arts and activism groups. From 21-27 September 2020, the space within and outside MAMA’s showroom will become sites for open, creative, and reflective activities that confront today’s urgent global injustices – reinforced by the pandemic, climate, racial and socio-economic injustices – at a local level.