Creative Process for December 6th, 2009 - 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre

Working with ROSE, artists Margaret Dragu and Haruko Okano plan to host gatherings where people can make props and art objects to contribute to the rituals and installations at the December 6th event site, Marker of Change, Vancouver, BC. Here we are hosting a dialogue to accompany these gatherings. We foresee discussing violence prevention strategies, what we have lost through the murder of women, and ways of working together in the future. For example, Haruko has wondered how we could conceptualize and represent the loss that has resulted because the fourteen women were killed twenty years ago. What community leaders have we lost? What inventions in engineering were not realized? What is missing from the world because of the loss of women and girls who have been murdered? What about their potential to be mothers, aunties, and the potential of life and all its reverberations?

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Shaping the Remembrance Ceremony... please respond by selecting "Reply to This"...

We have recently discussed a ceremony that would involve two walking meditation circles, one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. The artists are preparing coloured scarves - perhaps white and red - with significant messages imprinted on them (images and words). Haruko would also like to provide red felt hearts to all who attend, with pins so we can "wear our hearts on our sleeves" that day. Margaret Dragu would perform a remembrance ritual in the centre of the circles. The ceremony would lead to a minute of silence. Following the silence, the Solidarity Notes choir would sing. The scarves would be hung on a clothesline after the ceremony and left for visitors to read.
To those interested in this process here are a few thoughts that have begun the process of development. I think of the 20 years since the massacre and realize that many of these murdered women could have had teenage children by now. They could have set innovative trends in engineering, green technology and building or architectural design. I think of the father's who will never be able to walk these daughters down the aisle on their wedding day or of the husbands who will never be able to be there at the birthing of their
first born with these women as their wives. I think of aunties and uncles who will have been proud of their nieces' achievements in a field where so few women exist. I think of the missed wedding anniversaries that begin with paper and progress to diamonds. I think of the grandparents who have lost the opportunity for a first grandchild. I think of the loss to society of the potential enrichment culturally, socially and politically these women's lives could have provided. And of the role models they are for younger women in school. Because I believe we are all connected the loss of these women murdered by men has a ripple effect that touches all our relationships...women, children and men.
Haruko Okano November 3, 2009
As part of the process we also discussed making scarves in red and pink and white. Red and pink scarves were suggested to aid in organizing community participants in two circles one for inside the Marker of Change and one for just encompassing the monument outside. One circle would move clockwise while the other moved counterclockwise while Margaret performed in the centre. Red and pink was suggested by Margaret and then I went online and noted there is a white ribbon movement by men participating in anti violence campaign targeting men. I thought that as planning future visions of a world without violence that it is important to bring along male supporters who are working with men to stop violence against women. Thus I thought of white scarves worn by those in attendance so that they echoed the shape of the white ribbon campaign but would be pinned across the chest with a red or pink felt heart. Blank scarves would be sewn by myself and distributed to the various participating women's groups to write messages on or add mementoes or images significant to them. This can be done through a transfer paper that allows you to photoshop images that then can be ironed onto the cotton blend scarves. We thought that after the ceremony we could then ask the participants to clothespeg their scarves onto a special clothesline so that they hung like prayer flages. I could develop a template for the felt hearts which would be stuffed slightly with quilt stuffing and interested participants can add images, iron on appliques, lace trimming or rhinestones as they wished so that some of the hearts would reflect the focus of the individual. Others can be developed for general participants at the event. So what do you think about the development so far? Have you any additions or changes or input you would like to see?
Haruko November 5, 2009
To add to this, we thought the scarves could have images and statements imprinted on them that reflect what is missing from the world when a women or girl is murdered. She will never have the chance to experience joy, explore the world, develop a career, weave together a family, make friends... And her family suffers a devestating break, an unnatural loss, a terrible grief, a break in their collective memory, and so much more... Our world is altered forever for the worse, bringing us grief, possibilities ended and profound ruptures... Today, people individually and as a society must remember, we cannot forget our losses, or the circumstances of our losses, or we are condemned to repeat history, over and over...

Haruko Okano said:
As part of the process we also discussed making scarves in red and pink and white. Red and pink scarves were suggested to aid in organizing community participants in two circles one for inside the Marker of Change and one for just encompassing the monument outside. One circle would move clockwise while the other moved counterclockwise while Margaret performed in the centre. Red and pink was suggested by Margaret and then I went online and noted there is a white ribbon movement by men participating in anti violence campaign targeting men. I thought that as planning future visions of a world without violence that it is important to bring along male supporters who are working with men to stop violence against women. Thus I thought of white scarves worn by those in attendance so that they echoed the shape of the white ribbon campaign but would be pinned across the chest with a red or pink felt heart. Blank scarves would be sewn by myself and distributed to the various participating women's groups to write messages on or add mementoes or images significant to them. This can be done through a transfer paper that allows you to photoshop images that then can be ironed onto the cotton blend scarves. We thought that after the ceremony we could then ask the participants to clothespeg their scarves onto a special clothesline so that they hung like prayer flages. I could develop a template for the felt hearts which would be stuffed slightly with quilt stuffing and interested participants can add images, iron on appliques, lace trimming or rhinestones as they wished so that some of the hearts would reflect the focus of the individual. Others can be developed for general participants at the event. So what do you think about the development so far? Have you any additions or changes or input you would like to see?
Haruko November 5, 2009
ABOUT THE SCARVES -- a few thoughts --

just a reminder that 2 colours of scarves
was a weaving/extension from our talking/sharing
about the concept of crepe paper streamers in 2 colours
to simply differentiate 2 teams
so we can have a clockwise circle and a counterclockwise circle
and everyone knows where they are in space...

we can make the making, drawing, writing on the scarves
as complex or simple as we like or feel we have the enthusiasm of others working/playing with us
ie. it could happen in groups and gatherings prior and then those who make scarves will bring them with them to the event on december 6th.
ie. it could happen on site -- spontaneous writings/drawings, scarves starting and ending on clotheslines as prayer flags.

ABOUT THE SALT

-- from Lady Justice rituals to date (rings of salt)
-- to demarcate, to clear, to cleanse, to preserve, to remember
-- reference to tears and rivers of tears; tears that have been shed; tears that were not shed

Looking forward to meeting on november 11th - it is rememberance day !!!

One can not remember enough!
xoxoxo
MD
To online followers The Rose team has purchased most of the materials for red scarves and white scarves and red felt hearts. I've got the scarves cut out and ready for sewing and the same with the felt hearts. Starting Saturday Nov 20 we will have our first sewing bee. How exciting!!

I can make up 2 kits of supplies for those teams wanting to then decorate, write on or add items to these
blanks with fabric markers, iron on transfers, sequins, ribbons and lace.
Haruko
Thank you to everyone who worked on the scarves! By Thursday evening all 100 scarves were ready, imprinted with people's thoughts, ideas for preventing violence, women's memorials across the country, and much more. We will wear them Sunday at the ceremony, and then hang them on a clothesline at the monument site for visitors to experience for the rest of the day. The 100 hearts were sewn by Haruko, and will be be there with pins so that we may wear our hearts on our sleeves.
Reflecting on yesterday's trip to Finn Slough where we viewed the beautiful and moving video piece Mo had so thoughtfully crafted from the footage captured on December 6th, and ironed and documented all the scarves, and grieved the impacts of violence against women. Need to find the New York Times magazine issue that Margaret referenced that focused on the loss we all suffer when women and girls are murdered.

Putting the finishing touches on the project's final report to capture the process, the challenges, the lessons learned, the nuances and poetry of the public experience, the contribution made by so many, and the legacy. How best to describe it so that others can learn and can take inspiration.

So many projects in the community are being completed with reduced resources - but we continue to persist because we believe in coming together in community to give expression to these issues and believe in the arts and creative process to add value and depth to it. Haruko spoke about how she and other artists are seeking opportunities outside of BC and Canada in places that respect and value the role of artists - very challenging times to be an artist in BC. (E.D. of PUSH festival, Norman Armour, speaks eloquently about art's place in society, and more, in http://pushfestival.ca/index.php?mpage=about&spage=message)
This was posted by Haruko Okano, November 11, 2009 at 7:13am. It is being added here to gather our process together in one discussion thread:

Hello all who are interested. We are looking at making up to a hundred scarves in two colours and a hundred felt hearts. Although I can make the templates and cut out the felt hearts and scarves we would like participants to kick in with helping hands and folks to come on board to decorate them with fabric markers, rhinestones, images that can be ironed on either with patterned pieces of iron on patches or photo transfers on Joto paper. We will need women/folks to iron scarves, Folks to decorate felt hearts with lace, rhinestones, ribbon etc.The hearts will have safety pins on the backs so participants at the gathering can wear them over their hearts, on their sleeves.

One idea I thought of was to have all the singers in the Solidarity Choir wear them as well as the participants in the two circles of Margaret's performance. What do you think? Any other suggestions as time is running out and we will need time for participants helping decorate and put the scarves and hearts together.
This was posted by Haruko Okano, November 25, 2009 at 11:23am. It is being added here to gather our process together in one discussion thread:

I'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THE QUESTION WHAT'S CHANGED AND HERE IS SOMETHING THAT HAS STUCK IN MY MIND.

Society is seeing more wars, cultural genocide and oppression then perhaps ever before in the 20th century.
We know the names of women murdered or missing here because of publicity that puts a human face to individual case numbers but in war, thousands of women and children are murdered in what the military calls collateral damage.

These women and children remain statistics, nameless to societies like ours. We raise the lantern to shine the light on mass murders in our own country, that is good in keeping their deaths in our memory. The power of those like "Remember Our Sisters Everywhere" is the good news along with Women/s Shelters and the changing role of men in sharing care for their children, but we are in a technological era that is presenting mass murder as a kind of cinematic form of media entertainment, complete with titles like Desert Storm.
Video games prime the taking of life as just a game. Violence is insinuated into our everyday life through television, media and the internet. All of these tools are just that - tools - so what needs to change is much deeper than remembering after the tragedy, for we have a tradition of public memorials such as Rememberance Day.

Subliminal seduction through technology is being used more today then ever before. So do we as activists need to think of a broader range of strategies? Do we need to look closer at the roots within our society and aim preventatively at those psychological mindsets?

When women change in a society or culture there is tremendous resistance as we can see today. This added to the number and kinds of wars means more women and children are paying with their lives and who will remember them. Where is the "Vietnam Wall" remembering them.

What has been lost?.....our humanity... society's desire to value and celebrate the power of yin as universal caring and the wisdom of the feminine. What has been lost? -the balance between yin and yang.

What has been gained? ...more resources through technology. a broader universal network of activists

What are the challenges? To take a break from running in the rat race - long enough to regain control over how we spend time and where we spend it. Advocating and Activism can consume us so that the quality of our lives is diminished. We must remember to nurture ourselves in order to refurbish the energy needed to sustain what we do.

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