What’s happening here is an evaluation of + some thoughts about a project that took place August 22-24, 2014 in Denmark.
This weekend a small festival took place on an island in Southern Denmark – Burning Mön. I participated as part of the creative workspace (SPACE) and we were obliged to make something that everyone could join in on, some kind of event, game or whatever. Amongst other things, we decided on making a kind of confession booth – something I have wanted to do for a while because of two things: 1) To get further into the subject of religious symbols that do not necessarily have anything to do with religion. 2) To keep exploring the momentum of meetings and distance between people. I found it extraordinarily cool that my fellow spacers just grabbed the idea and together build that booth without my participation. That kind of taking action is the fuel for producing many projects and experiments fast. Look out for those people: they have energy, willpower, hearts and minds!
RELIGION – IT’S OK I do not care much for the concept of atheism because I find that most religions are founded on conceptualizing already existing social phenomena and in particular the fact that we need to look after one another. Muhammed said it, Jesus said it, Buddha said it: Take care of the weak and hungry, don’t kill each other and have respect for that which is greater than what we find on earth (God). In my opinion, the fact that someone will use religion as an excuse to kill and destroy does not necessarily have much to do with religion in itself. Anything can be used as an excuse for that, even Democracy. That being said, there are some messed up sexist and outdated stories in e.g. the Bible. But there are also interesting things. I am more interested in the phenomenological aspects of the relics, traditions and practices.
The polytheistic religions are particularly interesting for their human approach to being a god (greek, nordic and hindu gods are actually quite funny and tend to mess around and make mistakes all the time), but I am also fascinated with the idea of just one savior. One person to hug the shit out of you until you feel good again. One person, one meeting. In this sense, this booth is another exploration of the never-ending theme I work with in almost everything I call artwork: Loneliness and the Magic of Meetings.
THE RANDOM KINDNESS OF RANDOM STRANGERS My personal intend was thus experimenting with the concept of sharing something one-on-one, with the benefit of anonymity (well, almost). What could happen when you create a setting for this kind of interpersonal relation with an undertone of spirituality?
There were often two or three of us together in the booth listening and talking. As a “thank you for sharing your thoughts” we offered crisps through the glory hole in the box (yeah sorry, but it was that kind of festival) and played some tunes from the air piano to dramatize the conversations a bit.
We were particularly amazed by the honesty and quiet contemplating from the “confessors”. The moments were truly beautiful. As a listener, you really have to stretch your empathy muscle to understand every tone in the voice – it was hard work, but it was important work! And above all, it was quite beautiful when someone you could only sense on the other side of the “window” suddenly opened up and was interested in your advice or thoughts. Just as interested as we were in listening to someone else’s story and to take part in the trust relationship that all of a sudden happened. To put it short: the box became a flux of personal sharing in an almost-intimate setting; a staged atmosphere which relied entirely on the participation of people with thoughts and feelings.
Further experiments on the shape, size and design of the booth is still up for discussion to explore the physical setting that is the basis for creating atmosphere. And it is definitely not the last time we make a booth like that.