In April 2019 Rhiannon went with a UK delegation to take part in the social transformation submit as part of the International Forum for Art and Social Change.
This trip was organised and supported by Battersea Arts Centre, Arts Council England and the British Council.
It begins with a memorial.
The disappearance of 500,000 people, men, women, children, unborn children – taken by state terrorism, thrown into the sea because of their beliefs.
Our trip begins with remembering those who lost their lives.
The Parque De La Memoria is on the edge of the sea where many people would have lost their lives as they were thrown into the Atlantic Ocean by the Oppressive State. The memorial holds the names of every person, their age and a marking to say whether they were pregnant. The names of 500,000 people. This memorial a project between artists, human rights organisations and the universities.This for me is the ultimate political co-creation. The act of a nation bringing together its artists, academics and activists in an act of remembrance. Thinking is a revolutionary act.
We play football
We visit Fundación Defensores del Chacoto a centre located in a small village, built by the community as a place to play sports and get creative. A space for young people built on a former rubbish tip that brings football and the arts together through shared values – what it means to be a community and build solidarity.
Through action families and kids transformed the rubbish tip, cleaning it up and building a building fit enough for young people to have a place. The mission to prevent kids from spending time on the streets, to activate the kids in realising that they are the protagonists of their own lives – showing them they don’t have to wait for things to happen. To shape leaders who will challenge social inequality who will encourage others to believe in what they have.
Football a competitive sport holding in its heart an invitation to its players for dialogue and acceptance. Using this methodology, they created a game of strategy where you score points not from goals, but on empathy and the way you treat others. This is what is meant by social transformation. Having a dream and seeing it through, beyond public policy, the question now is how to protect the dream from the state. They say ‘In our territories need is the mother of everything.’
The history of bread and theatre
Villa 31. The iconic barrio (favela) located blocks away from some of the wealthiest areas of the city.
We meet a group of grandmothers who’ve been working together in a church for most of their lives. Now they are making theatre together. Through their recipes, their histories, their bodies they share wisdom and a knowledge of the past. They invite us to think about our own histories, our own bodies and how we might like to honour the things of the past. We share our history.
They talk about their mothers, how they taught them to make bread and talk of loss. Losing family members, they ask you to think about someone you’ve lost and then give you some dough to shape an object in memory of that person. They ask you to think.
What would you offer that person as a gift?
What are the moments in your life where you’ve had to get to know someone.
The women one at a time describe a story from their lives – using the dough as a puppet to tell the story. Each time a woman returns to their seats they kissed the next one on the cheek. A small radical act of love, an act of solidarity.
The simplicity of this connection with us, with each other gave me everything I needed to consider my own life, relationships and ways of being. Through their wisdom and knowledge, you realise it pays to have courage, that being human cuts across power, we’re stronger than it all –and our strongest weapon is connection.
We live in extraordinary times.
What I learnt from my travels to Argentina is social transformation for us, for each other is key to us growing wiser, stronger and remembering what it is to be human. It doesn’t come without challenges, our political backdrop of neo liberalism, populism and the rise of fascism seek to build higher walls and borders. A global onslaught to the whole concept of community.
We live in extraordinary times, in an era fuelled by creativity with all the resources to connect with one another from around the world. And there is a need for us to be global. To connect, to remember, be together and to get wiser – stronger. How we connect is vital.
Remembrance Park – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_park
Fundación Defensores del Chaco – http://defensoresdelchaco.org.ar
Retiro 31 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retiro,_Buenos_Aires