In this blog post, PhD student, Ambra Gatto Bergamasco, who is completing a PhD in NIRSA, describes her new project that uses dance as a vehicle for exploring issues about bodies, places and racism. She recently won an Artist in the Community Research and Development award from Create (the National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts). The award will fund Ambra to work as a Butoh dance artist alongside the Anti Racism Network on a project called Questioning Racism that examines “internal and external forms of racism” and draws attention to the racism that is “generate[d] within us as humans (internal landscapes) and that which is performed in urban settings (external landscapes).” In exploring the settings of racism, the project asks: “Is racism really only a skin issue?” Ambra is also a collaborator on the project, The Geographical Turn.
The collaboration between ARN – Anti Racism Network Ireland and I, as a Butoh practitioner artist researcher, aims to address and focus on the following theme and question: “Locations of racism in the body and in the urban landscape. What and where is racism within my internal lanscape and the outer landscape?” Internal and outer landscapes are viewed as possibilities to urnavel the question “what is racism?” both through an introspective understanding of racism above race, and through the narratives stemming from ARN experience.
Through the use of Butoh dance theatre and the experiences provided by ARN, this project wants to delve into what appears to be embodied and reinforced within the self and the urban, in regards to access/denied-access within our own personal conception and perception of racism (internal landscape) and the outside use of space (outer landscape).
The aims are, firstly, those of collecting existing artistic and academic material in regards to understandings of racism within proprioperception and outer landscape. To create a map of methodologies that have used art-based research methods and created dialogue between activism and the arts.
Secondly, through focus groups and Butoh practice, ARN and I, wish to set the basis for the development of a performance that will bring to visibility the content generated within this space of dialogue and research; coming together to present a narrative of belonging to racism as much as belonging to a narrative that takes from racism an opportunity to exist in the margins. This narrative, stipped of stereoptypes and cliches, can take invisibility and create new ways to exist.
The objectives of this project also touch on the possibility of providing a deeper understanding of artistic and activist work. Both require creative and research methods to become visible to the world in order to highlight issues and bring attention to what the sensibility of the artist and the needs of the activitst think important. In particular, with respect to the artform chosen as medium for this project, Butoh is still regarded as a minority art, if set within the general performative art world. In some parts of the world it is still unknown and in Ireland, I, Ambra, am the only practitioner and developer offering a stable regular platform for it to develop and be made visible.
Ambra Bergamasco, 21 September 2015