The BC Files
We switch effortlessly between media and genres covering literature, cinema, music and almost any other form of human creativity. The core of our activity revolves around a monthly workshop called “Officina” (which is the italian for “workshop”): every year we choose a main theme (like “Colours”, “Environments”, “Actions”, “Binomials”) and each month we investigate one aspect of that theme using movies, novels, poetry, songs, paintings or whatever any of us comes up with to help the conversation (for Binomials we chose Light/Dark, Past/Future, Presence/Absence, Speed/Slowness… and so on). Having all different backgrounds (teachers, doctors, lawyers, architects, students, philosophers, plumbers or whatever), the result is always stimulating and often unexpected.
The comfort zone
After almost twenty years of uninterrupted activity, we felt like we were trapped inside a comfort zone only partially disguised by the fact that – to most of the people attending for the first time our workshops – what we do is still pretty amazing (shameless self-plug: it is).
We found ourselves repeating the same concepts again and again, using some cheap tricks to keep the interest high without spending too much energy: we have a busy life after all. We (thought we) knew the destination and we just got used to carry people there on our reliable old bus.
Few months ago, thanks to a completely unrelated event, we were requested to provide a series of workshops to a bunch (around 70) of seventeenish-year-old boys and girls: we decided to merge our traditional monthly meeting with this new project and – so far – it’s going very, very well. When you speak to people who has no idea of what you’ve been saying, writing or otherwise doing for the last twenty years you need to look again at your own basic processes with fresh eyes, stop giving them for granted, question your previous (slowly but rigidly built) assumptions and give up the cheap tricks.
In BC we cover the disciplines we are most fond of and there are not many photography lovers among us, which left this approach quite neglected. In the meantime, after a couple of small but relevant life-changing events, I was “rebooting” my photography (more shooting, more reading, new website, back to Instagram…).
I found myself in a peculiar spot: a reignited passion for photography, an association in need of a fresh start and a bunch of (very smart) kids ready to receive (and overwhelmingly ready to give) inspiration. Three different problems at the same time, in the same place, sharing the same solution. I decided to seize the opportunity and started a series of creative exercises in the form of monthly assignments.
The set of rules is pretty simple:
- Partecipation is on a voluntary basis.
- Even who partecipates has the freedom not to share his or her work, keeping it a personal experience.
- If anyone, because of these exercises, begins a personal project, drop-out is allowed to keep the personal project going.
- We provide two detailed paths for writing and photography, but any other approach is fine as long as the participant accepts the duty to “translate” autonomously the exercise in a way suitable for the discipline of choice.
Photography and trans-mediality
I’m not a writer and I consider myself to be less than an average reader; moreover, this is not intended to be a creative writing course. While planning the exercises, I decided to go my own way on the assumption that – regardless of the field – creativity largely follows overlapping paths and that one way to trigger it is using a less obvious angle. So – and this is the trans-medial experiment – I’m trying to translate some practices widely used by photographers into other forms of art. For example, the ability to “see” is quite clear in photography, but less so in writing (which can be easily mistaken with an act of mere creation of the mind).
This is an ongoing project: it started in October 2016 and will end some time around May or June 2017. I already have an outline of the whole process, but I readjust it after each workshop so it makes no sense to publish it beforehand (I think of it more as a safety net). I will share instead a summary of my experience along this year.
As an ongoing experience, I apologize for inconsistencies and changes that might occur in how this material will be organized before it reaches its final form.
Last update: 2017-01-17
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