A case of containment – creating a safe space

“From an orange point of view” is a project  addressing the censorship and depersonalisation of women throughout human history. While the first work in the project is about censorship, in the second work, I wanted to express how women were disregarded throughout history. To underline the idea of lack of identity, I chose to display the woman with her back towards the viewer, hunched and with the head bent, so much that it was immersed in the background. She would have her arms raised, but not in surrender. I wanted the arms to convey an image of both strength and femininity, and while looking at various dances, I decided that flamenco would be the best choice for inspiration.

The search was made easy by the fact that the story behind this project evolved organically from a work that was inspired by a poem with oranges, to a friend’s recommendation of a novel whose action partly takes place in Seville, the city of oranges, and of which  she was reminded of when I told her about my last love. Furthermore, on a lot of flamenco posters, including that of the Jerez Flamenco Festival 2022, the dancer is depicted with the back to the viewer and her arms raised, almost in the same position that fitted my work.

When I chose flamenco as inspiration for this work , I thought that to understand the movement I needed to capture, I had to understand the dance. While documenting myself about the dance, I found out that flamenco is much more than dancing or even singing, it is a lifestyle. I also noticed the misogyny and marginalisation of women within the culture. 

After six months of documentation on the subject (watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, reading books, and a 10 days trip to Andalusia), I still feel like there is a lot more to discover. Although my interest was primarily the dance, the documentation was subsequently focused on female guitarists as I feel like there lies the core of the misogyny in flamenco nowadays, the guitar being the last pillar that men are holding on to for exclusivity.

You can find the documentation here.

When I started this documentation, I was preparing the second work in this project which I thought of as the last one. As I dug deeper with the documentation, the need for a third and even a forth work was evident as I realised that I would like to explore a way of healing and changing how things are in an empathetic and constructive way.

I recently found this idea that a man’s role in a woman’s life is to contain her, which is to provide a safe space for her to thrive. I thought then, and it became clearer during the last few months that a woman’s role in society is to contain her children, and with them the entire community they belong to. Personally, I do not agree with roles based on gender, but rather think that each should contain the other. We should all make sure that the environment is one in which others can thrive, which is to say become the best they can be or need to be.

In this regard, I decided that the third work will be made of two elements: a street in the background representing the community, and the woman turning around from the previous position depicted in the second work in which the hand that was behind was in such a tension that it only but turned her around. This way the woman gains her identity, and her arms will be containing the street in the background, her community.

This role of women to contain their children and community is something as old as time. It is also something taken for granted although it is the pillar of our humanity. There is this saying: “If you want to educate a community, educate the women”. Then they will educate their children and so on.

I feel that I need to underline the difference between protection from outside physical harm which is what men do, and containment, which is about allowing an individual to develop and become the best version of themselves. Both are important as you cannot have the second without the first, but they are different as you can have the first without the second, that is patriarchy.
The point of this third work will be that if women want a better world, they need to consciously contain their children and the people around them. Being raised in such an environment, girls and boys will follow suit when they grow up.

For this women have to be better. There are women who are feminists, but are raisists as well. Also, they do not accept misogynistic jokes or statements, but they make misandric jokes and statements. This is one of the reasons I am not a feminist and I do not like the movement. Not all feminists hate men, I get it, and I understand their mindset, but it isn’t the best even for women to have. We should work together for a better society, not devided. Men do not have to be forced to behave a certain way. It should come of its own out of the desire to have a better life for everyone. This cannot be imposed by force. That’s what patriarchy does.

I myself fight anger with anger. That does me a lot of harm regardless of any gains. It doesn’t seem worth it. I grew up like this because people do not hear you if you do not shout at them. That’s what my experiences so far thaugh me. I wish for something better. I do not believe violence can fight violence. We do not stand a chance against men when it comes to violence. We are not so. We may have become angry due to all the gaslighting society puts us through, but we haven’t been selected for violence since the begining of humanity so we could hunt, kill and defend our territory. That’s not our strength. And men don’t need to be that way anymore either, but they have very little choice in it. It’s not an easy change. Most women still select for this type of men and education still validates this type of macho behaviour. Changing is a slow process as things have went into this direction since forever. Moreover, I do not believe they should lose it all either, but that’s another discussion. You could try reading some Richard Dawkins for enlightenment on how selection works within other animal species, because wether you like it or not we are animals too.

There are also women who are misogynists. Most of them are unconscious of this. I was one of them until some years ago, and only decided to do something about that recently. It is very hard to change a pattern, and impossible if you are not aware that you fall into it too. You do not transmit it only to your children. You can also transmit these patterns and stereotypes to your friends or other members of your family, worst to people you do not know if you speak publicly. The language one uses is very revealing for their mindset, particularly what they wouldn’t admit to something like being racists even to themselves.

I am looking at the flamenco guitar right now like some sort of promise land. As women get into the field, they bring new energy. They say there will be no man as great as Paco de Lucía, for the guitar, or Camaron, for the cante. They are probably right, because the next revolution of this culture will be done by women. The thing is that they aren’t going to do it by trying to emulate the men, like women do in most societies and cultures, but by being themselves.

There is this pattern for successful women to be somewhat manly, to act like men, to think like them and to make more or less the same decisions men do. Only when we will allow ourselves to be who we are, will we be able to offer the containment necessary for others to be who they need to be as well.

This third work of the project will represent the process of healing through creating a mental safe space for onself and others.

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