Sexuality Policy Watch

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Short film “The power of ‘body movements’”

Interviewing Angela Collet, Aline Valentim and Valentina Homem

site-oficina-4During the 11th AWID International Forum, in the workshop The power of ‘body movements’ participants were invited to explore  their bodily perceptions, feelings and potentialities, as to go beyond the conventional approach of exclusively relying on discourse and theoretical debates.  A video was shown, with same name as the workshop, which explores the images of bodies as sites of violence and pleasure and also as tools of empowerment, exchange and social transformation. The workshop was conceived by three young Brazilians (respectively in the picture): Angela Collet, a social scientist engaged in debates about the body and human development; Aline Valentim, a social scientist who researches Brazilian popular and ethnic dance; and Valentina Homem, a documentary video maker who works on feminist issues. The video was produced in partnership with Ricardo d’Aguiar. Aline, Angela and Valentina were interviewed by SPW. See the film and read the interview below.

SPW – Can you tell us a bit about the objectives of the workshop “The power of ‘body movements’”?
Since the beginning our aim was to create an alternative space in the Forum in which people could do something different from what usually happens at this type of meeting, such as panels, oral debates and theoretical discussions. We wanted to concentrate attention on audiovisual stimuli and body work to explore new languages. Though the “body” is a core theme of feminism it is rarely used in meetings like AWID. People talk a lot about the body but pay little attention to their own bodies and the bodies of others. We wanted to create a space where the body would really be at the center, as both a means and an end, and as a powerful tool. The resources we have used in the session — video, audio, incense, candy, food — were intended to stimulate sensitivity and to strengthen the senses. In the video we used strong images combined with short and clear sentences to highlight and underline some ideas that could potentially find resonance in body work, which followed the video exhibition.

SPW – What do you think is the body’s role in the process of empowering and recognizing women’s rights?
We need to open a space for new ways of thinking and living in the world because, even within the feminist movement, we tend to reproduce conventional organizational structures and points of view. The challenge is to start processes that may have a distinct quality in terms of opening new channels of understanding, not only inside the movements, but in the flow of our lives and in our views of the world. To do that we must situate the body as a locus where many different processes come together. The body is situated at the intersection of the person, the world and history. As Foucault says, the body is a “surface where events are inscribed”. Its role is fundamental for empowerment. The body is not only a site of violence and violation, as experienced by all people — women, men, transgender people and intersex people — it is as also a crucial tool to overcome violence and violation. Importantly, it is also a site of pleasure, as well as a means, a way, a vehicle and an end.

SPW – What are the challenges for the body to be recognized as a tool of empowerment within social movements?
It is fundamental to see the body as a tool, as a space and as a vehicle to share knowledge, power and social transformation. People should not only talk about the body but also experience it. There is tremendous stigma that acts as a barrier for this to happen, even inside the feminist movement itself. We believe that feminists and activists at large should use and experience their bodies in a more “proactive” way and try moving beyond the realm of words and discourses as the exclusive arena of social transformation. They should learn to touch each other, to look at themselves, to dance, to eat better, and work out, In other words, to become more connected with themselves and experience their own bodies as tools of transformation.

See the short film The power of ‘body movements’

:: Posted in 01/26/2009 ::

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