What we need more now: the dialogue through difference.
As an Opera fan, I could not resist the opportunity to go and see the Peking Opera Company during last weekend. It was a ground-breaking experience.
We are so used to interpreting and understanding things through the same glass that every now and then we need to open our eyes and see things different. The language was different, the staging was different, the performing was different. A brand new experience, indeed. I was impressed with the way they use they long sleeves, the way they sing, the way they move with and through music, and of course –what I most wanted to see- with the way they mix the Chinese dances and athletic performances on the stage. All these together only helped me to conceptualize that we are so used to our culture and context that we sometimes forget there are plenty other ways out there to see the world. And in the bottom line it still is beauty, art, human expression, and a marvellous experience. Open our eyes and lives to these can surely amaze the world.
Koestler Trust, with the help of other organisations, hosts an annual art exhibition. But it is not the art we all are used to see. This is art done by offenders, secure patients and detainees. Sculptures, paintings, crafts, and poems all done with accessible material for their environment and with topics quite related to their lives: their daily matters, self-portraits, and world expectations. Overall, they show a dream of a different world.
A world full of magic, fantasy, and of course colours and art. But beyond that, a world where there are no cultural fights and dialogue is the way of going with differences, a world where people do not fight for ‘crumbs’ because they see the bigger vision, a world with freedom.
Beyond the art, the exhibition has its own social aim. All the exposed was on sale, 50% of earnings goesdirect to artists. Moreover, the exhibition has guided tours with former offenders. So, the art is not only an expression of a different perspective. The exhibition per se is an open door for new perspectives for offenders and hospital patients. In some way, it is the ‘Humanisation’ that Hofstede (1982) defends, the one that includes the voice of those who want to be humanized.
Definitely, one great lesson for the times we are leaving. It is time to create new ways to understand each other through dialogue. Always listen to the other side. Always knowing there is beauty and art on it: on the other side and its own perspectives.
HOFSTEDE, G. (1982) “Humanisation of Work: The Role of Values in a Third Industrial Revolution”. In ONDRACK, D. et TIMPERLEY, S. (1982) The Humanisation of Work, A European Perspective. London: Armstrong Publishing. pp. 215- 232