SURVIVAL POSTURES: A COMMUNITY EXPERIMENT IN LEARNING HOW TO LIVE
During the dead of winter, 2011, 20 people in Cleveland, OH took part in a group experiment. Each chose a task essential to their survival or well-being that they didn't know how to do. Then, over the course of February, they learned how to do it: how to build a cook stove out of soup cans, how to process wool and weave with it, how to sew homemade menstrual pads...
Survival Postures took a cue from feminist performance artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, who, since the late 1960's has used her art to make visible a hidden, stigmatized world of maintenance work that shores up our whole society. She's said that her work is a conscious attempt to re-link cultural practice with how we practice our own survival.
Cleveland has seen huge growth in interest in re-localizing the work that provides for our community's basic needs. As more people engage in fundamental work like food production, it's becoming more and more clear that as a culture, we are very much in our infancy when it comes to being actors in our own survival. Many basic skills are no longer in our vocabulary, and we rarely flex the muscles that make us producers (rather than consumers) of what we need. At this moment of cultural atrophy, re-learning practical skills takes practice, and in that practice, we have to allow ourselves to be tentative, uncomfortable and inexperienced.
Survival Postures was about practicing a culture that can take care of itself, re-linking culture and survival deep within our own bodies.