Census of the Senses by Un Mundo

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When conducting an official census, what are the unofficial, unaccounted for questions of a community? Are some facts more significant than others? Who asks the questions and who gets to answer them? In this project, we set out to explore the questions that go unaccounted for in an official census by inaugurating a “census of the senses.”
The seed for the idea emerged from that fact that El Pital recently went through the census process to gather information and capture facts related to livestock, literacy, yearly income, number of people per family, etc. Rachel and I thought about how the official anything always omits the unofficial everything of life. We wanted to pose the idea of politicizing a census through a poetic investigation of it. Some might call this a kind of “mocking” of official census gathering, but we like to think of it more like a lovely counterpart to the official work of gathering community information.
In partnership with Un Mundo, the students of El Pital, and Break Arts, we designed a workshop that would encourage students ages 13-16 years old to investigate the hidden and layered feelings of a community. We knew we wanted to combine the power of text and image with the public performance of a cordel, based on the tradition of “string literature” hanging from ropes in the public squares of Brazil, dating back to the 1500’s (appendix A). Beyond that, we invited the students to guide the direction and scope of this project, asking the students to direct the content and questions (appendix B). We wanted teenagers in El Pital to consider the differences between qualititative and quantitative research, and to consider the poetics that exist behind census numbers. Finally, for ourselves and for our students, we wanted to use the arts as social practice to help us “make sense of a census” by playing with the notion of “official” when speaking about feeling. In this way, all of us were digging for and illuminating a kind of intelligence rooted in feeling.
We hoped that this project would instigate meaningful and otherwise muted conversation on a question of collective interest and significance. The project is multi-disciplinary to capture voices and perspectives. This was a four day project, limited by the fact that Honduran teachers had been on strike due to not being paid for over 6 months of work.
For more information on this workshop visit:
http://www.censusofthesenses.blogspot.com/
Written by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

When conducting an official census, what are the unofficial, unaccounted for questions of a community? Are some facts more significant than others? Who asks the questions and who gets to answer them? In this project, we set out to explore the questions that go unaccounted for in an official census by inaugurating a “census of the senses.”

The seed for the idea emerged from that fact that El Pital recently went through the census process to gather information and capture facts related to livestock, literacy, yearly income, number of people per family, etc. Rachel and I thought about how the official anything always omits the unofficial everything of life. We wanted to pose the idea of politicizing a census through a poetic investigation of it. Some might call this a kind of “mocking” of official census gathering, but we like to think of it more like a lovely counterpart to the official work of gathering community information.

In partnership with Un Mundo, the students of El Pital, and Break Arts, we designed a workshop that would encourage students ages 13-16 years old to investigate the hidden and layered feelings of a community. We knew we wanted to combine the power of text and image with the public performance of a cordel, based on the tradition of “string literature” hanging from ropes in the public squares of Brazil, dating back to the 1500’s (appendix A). Beyond that, we invited the students to guide the direction and scope of this project, asking the students to direct the content and questions (appendix B). We wanted teenagers in El Pital to consider the differences between qualititative and quantitative research, and to consider the poetics that exist behind census numbers. Finally, for ourselves and for our students, we wanted to use the arts as social practice to help us “make sense of a census” by playing with the notion of “official” when speaking about feeling. In this way, all of us were digging for and illuminating a kind of intelligence rooted in feeling.

We hoped that this project would instigate meaningful and otherwise muted conversation on a question of collective interest and significance. The project is multi-disciplinary to capture voices and perspectives. This was a four day project, limited by the fact that Honduran teachers had been on strike due to not being paid for over 6 months of work.

For more information on this workshop visit:
http://www.censusofthesenses.blogspot.com/
Written by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

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