by Tash Cowley
“It’s often the case that people remember how you made them feel more than they remember what you say.”
In an explosive digital performance, Fehinti Balogun fuses personal experience, scientific fact and theatre to help us unearth and expose privilege within environmental activism.
Filmed production, Complicité’s Can I Live with Fehinti Balogun. Photography by Ali Wright
Filmed production, Complicité’s Can I Live with Fehinti Balogun. Photography by David Hewitt
Presents Can I Live?
What do you hope that your audiences, particularly BIPOC participants, took away from the scheduled online workshops, and from Can I Live? as a whole?
I think we exist in a culture of immediacy, and it encourages intense, narrow examination of the issues that end too quickly. They stop us being able to examine the root of our problems. For instance, when we talk about race, ableism, feminism, the safety of women, all these things that we should be addressing, the problem gets placed under a microscope for a short amount of time, and then we just move on. These issues deserve better than two minutes in the spotlight, before being forgotten.
The post-show discussions were always going to be part of the piece, even before it changed format. It was essential to me that this wasn’t another instance of performative activism. Theatre and entertainment are well practiced at going, “Look at this issue, isn’t that bad? Ok, peace out.” And that’s it. I just had no interest in doing that. From its inception, Can I live? needed to be a body of work that connected people, like a directory.
It’s about giving people the tools and the permission they need to begin, and that’s specifically why we did a digital tour of these UK venues. Each venue’s online event was facilitated by someone local to that area who is part of a grassroots group. We encouraged people to find confidence in their capability, and importantly, helped them to find kinfolk in those spaces. I encouraged people to swap details, to talk to each other, and to arm themselves, together.
We also fail to highlight the intersectionality between issues, which is a problem; they all seem like separate things, and as a result people feel overloaded by multiple issues, thinking they aren’t linked, when a lot of the time they are. We’re too quick to reward, and too quick to forget, and it leads nowhere. What we’re in desperate need of is a sense of community and guidance, spaces to keep the conversation flowing, and practical things to do. Slow, supported growth, with roots.
Find this, and more, in the forthcoming print edition of Issue No.8.
In the meantime, checkout Issue No.7.
Issue No.7 features in-depth interview with artists and arts organizations across 10 cities.