Workshop 3

Queer Paris: day four

The forth day of our workshop, Rashid Owoyele led the workshop, using a dry-erase board he had design in the Transdisciplinary program, focusing more one the community’s vision of itself for the future. He writes:

“The prototype is a dry-erase board that seeks to distribute agency in the production of the artifacts generated in conversation around a dry-erase board during the design process or discussion.  For this context I asked participants to think about two timeframes.  The first exercise was intended to be generative of ideas about Argenteuil’s image in the past.  The second exercise asked participants to reflect on their dream for the perceptions of Argenteuil in the future.  Each participant generated 6 words and an image in each exercise.  These were then discussed and determined to either be a single persons perspective or one shared by multiple people.

My hope was that this would start a conversation in which we would develop better understandings of the group’s collective imaginary about their own urban context.  Everyone seemed engaged – despite the length of time the exercise took.  There was a also young person who drew their own ideal space for the future which included a skate park!  This demonstrated to me that this way of facilitating discussions about the individual imaginary could develop an expressed understanding of the shared view of places and spaces.

After the workshop we went out to shoot for my video project.  It was amazing how engaged and inspired the participants became.  Though I had envisioned this part of my work in France would be primarily performed separate and in solitude from the persons we had been working with at the cultural center, it became apparent that performing in a public space can not be done in private.  It was very inspiring to see the hidden talents of folks whom we had been interacting with as they danced after or with me.  Children from around Argenteuil that were passing by or visiting parents became performers in that moment.  One young woman danced and then sang a full pop song in English.  It’s interesting just how much time it takes to actually get to know someone – then you add language as a barrier and that time-to-understanding elongates dramatically.  I realize now that after those first to days, my comfort was assumptive – as designers we need to remain aware that there is always something lurking under the surface that is invisible to us that could provide the most insightful opportunity or experience that we need for our work. This is one moment of queering public space that I will not soon forget.”