Thursday, 14 April 2016

#VideoCallSketching 047: Anonymous Who Requested To Be Described as A Muslim From An Asian Islamic Country

In February I started the #VideoCallSketching project: in 15 minutes, all whispered by my sand timers, I make a portray on a video call. To contact me, the best way is to add me on Skype as etaliparoti, or drop me an email at, or to message me on my Facebook page.
On my website I tell some more about this, and following me online you can see the collection growing. I would like to share more on my blog too, in my mind I type several posts meant for my blog, but I have very little time for this as I'm working a lot on many things and I have no time to follow all the social media, so here I'm reporting only some piece by piece. Also, in all these months I didn't really tell anything about what I'm mainly doing here in Budapest, and I think it's not time yet to do it, but I can tell I've been drawing maybe more than ever, and yet never enough. And that I'm very happy! Much magic, my dear beast, here too.

Anyway, I came back with passion on my lovely and beloved blog pages because I got a very meaningful story to share. Perhaps very little, but still very heartfelt and precious, and peculiar. It came with the 47th #VideoCallSketching; I'm going to copy after its drawing what I shared on Facebook too.

(It might be a story you'd like to share.)

#VCS 047: Anonymous Who Requested To Be Described as A Muslim From An Asian Islamic Country

Is your body the way you express yourself?
Do you feel like nudity is the only way you can actually be who you truly are? Some will think "not all", I suppose, but many may relate, I guess.
What if you live in a place where you might be "stoned to death" or "lynched by a mob" if you are seen even just in shorts?

The night after the attacks in Belgium, on the 23rd of March, I received a new request on Skype on my #VideoCallSketching account. That day, once again, I had spent some thoughts about art's potentiality in politics and ethics. I do believe strongly that as far as humanity tries to get better, we'll need art, and I decided to listen to my call, with all my heart. Yet, sometimes, although I know that's a way of healing too, I just stumble upon the idea that nursing might be something more directly effective, for example, and playing with pastels may be limiting. The attack in France, in November, scared me very much, not because of the physical danger it might represent for me and who I know directly, but because, unfortunately, I knew this can increase the fears that become racism, racism towards exactly those very same ones who are suffering more from the ones who are using a religion to kill and have power and money (and all this out of a situation that Western European Countries generated, from colonialism on). So that's what I was afraid of: observing more and more hate around me, instead of love, and openness. Luckily, I feel surrounded by intelligent people, who mostly share my same ideas, and many who volunteer and work, for real, very directly, to change this world; this help me to keep high the hopes, and makes me very thankful. Yet on that day I still had some extra thoughts about what I can do, and what I should do. And then I received this new request on Skype. "Can i ask something bluntly?", this person soon said. I said "Feel free", and I knew, already, this was going to be again someone looking for sex cam – which is something definitely okay and that calls my attention especially because of the vibrant battle for sex workers' rights, and much much more, but… that is not what my #VideoCallSketching project is about, simply. But then this person asked me instead if I could also draw bodies, or if I do only the face, and if in case I would upload this on Facebook. This, this seemed like something else. Also, I had been waiting for someone not posing with a close up, so I immediately answered appreciating the originality. Then this person asked me if somehow we could making the face not recognizable, and if it was okay if he wasn't wearing anything. He did all this very gently, and carefully. I was still wondering if somehow this was his way to arouse himself, but, even so, it looked like we were already in another kind of territory, respectful, positive and organic. Then we tried to figure out how and when we could do the portray, as he cannot stay naked normally where he lives, because nudity isn't accepted in the Country where he stays, and his family is mostly at home. It was late in the night, almost the morning, in his time zone, so we decided that he could hide in the bathroom and that we could work it out despite the not ideal light condition, because he could hardly find a moment with the sunshine anyway. In the meanwhile, he shared with me some more of his story; from now on I'll call him "my brother", because he is (as we all are) – and because he needs to stay anonymous. He also asked me not to tell the specific Country where he's from, because despite the incredibly small possibility for anyone to identify him, the serious risks in his Country are exaggeratedly high. So we decided to name his Country as an "Asian Islamic Country", hoping to bring some more narrative echoes in the title of what I was going to draw. He told me that he's in his 30s, that the political party he's active with is liberal and they are targeted as "terrorists", and that he feels like he cannot share his true self with almost no one, and that this way I was going to be about to 5th person to know him for real.
I had to share about how I feel that the opposite tendency of the society where I live is really bad too and that can be very much forcing people, especially women, to treat our bodies as commercial products and yet not accepting at all the freedom of nudity. But of course, well, fearing to be stoned to death is quite another thing. I had to think of all the situations where I can join the fight to set free our nature, I thought of my beautiful memories swimming naked in a river in Wales in a Rainbow Gathering, I thought of all the contemporary art, the performances, the Rock'n'Roll and all the fervent subcultures through which this f(l)ight took off in the 20th Century, and I got mesmerized by this specific intersection, where this need that I'm used to hear loud in the Feminist environment meets a man who considers himself a Muslim: such a different reality, still aiming for the same, for love and freedom, and peace. That very moment, realizing that, realizing how much we were just on the same track, felt absolutely essential, and it meant that we are just all going in the same direction: very different people from very different backgrounds are waking up, together, and messing up the world, in a way or another. We are doing that. This is happening. This is happening – so much.
I felt and I feel this connection with him on many details. When he got naked, he typed: "Do you see how hairy my body is? Would it be possible for you to capture this in the sketch? I say this because I feel our body types are our physical identifiers and there was a time when I’d shave my whole body but I’ve realized to own the natural character of my body which is it being this hairy because of me being from this part of the world."
And again, I felt stronger this brotherhood, and laughed cheering at the parallel paths: on the other side of the globe, with the pastels ready in my hand, this woman I happen to be is just through the years in which finally learnt how not to shave my armpits anymore, then not to have nightmares on my "unibrow" anymore, and to enjoy those kind of mustache sometimes darker, and then even not to shave anything else anymore below my belt.
(And enjoying also very very much how my Sicilian features do look from an Arabian Country, especially in Hungary, which reacted to the refugees emergency building a fence with concertina wire on its Southern borders.)
It is sometimes very hard to get people understanding my choice even between other women in Europe, and I got used to some shocked reactions (and to the louder winks and encouragements too, thankfully, or just to the most easy and tranquil indifference). So finding an ally on this in him, with such a different story, has been totally a gift, for me.
The connection that we found gives me many hopes. Ideas are everywhere, they run through the limits of our verbal communication, between all our consciousness. We laughed many times on how much our reactions to the cages make us behave oppositely and yet in the same way. Slowly, all the humanity is waking up. One might ignore how to share what is learning with someone very far, but these ideas will travel anyway, and we find ourselves speaking with the same words, in the same and different heart.

This is a story it had to be shared.

Thanks so much, Brother, for having given to my project an opportunity to be a messenger of something so fragile and important.

Hi, World, we're "Peace Architectures", and we keep dancing.

Thank you for reading.