LifeStrings Screendance Film

LifeStrings
 
Director and Choreographer: Rosa Cisneros  from RosaSenCis Film Productions
Dancers:  Rosa Cisneros,  Leyla and Yasemin Cisneros-Sengun 
Filmed and edited: Maria Polodeanu from Reel Master Productions
Music: Hania Rani & Dobrawa Czocher - Śmierć na pięć [Republika]
 
Flamenco is born from the Spanish Roma community and traditional work often includes a singer, guitar player and dancer.  LifeStrings  is a screendance film that investigates climate justice, violins and  motherhood using a contemporary flamenco dance vocabulary. Reflecting on traditional Flamenco dance rhythms, techniques, gestures and modes of transmission,  the work asks questions about what we copy and imitate and what we disrupt and let go of in terms of traditions. The film is using a choreographic lens to navigate cultural and generational trauma while also relying on the dancing body to reveal embodied histories and practices. Romani Violin played by the Lautari musicians have a great tradition of violin playing, with virtuosos frequently embroidering their music with extreme amounts of ornamentation. Within Flamenco, the violin is often used to replace the singer and becomes the voice within an accompaniment. LifeStrings examines this notion of voice and disrupting traditions while drawing on Roman Krznaric’s thinking of the “the good ancestor”.  Reflecting on The Vaia, a violent storm that tore through the historic Val di Fiemme forest (Italy) in late 2018 and left a trail of devastation, LifeStrings is dedicated to intergenerational justice and long-term thinking. The Vaia storm in 2018, a great atmospheric depression with strong winds, turned Stradivari's forest into a landscape of destruction.  Vaia had a dramatic impact in the whole area of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It caused almost $3.5 billion worth of damage and knocked down entire forests, destroying 8.5 million cubic meters of wood.  
 
LifeStrings asks….What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

The Roma originated in India

Several scholars debate the historical journey of the Roma community. Linguistic analysis suggests that the Roma are originally a Hindi people from northern India, and that "Rom" means human.  Many of the words and grammatical rules of the Romani language are virtually identical to those of the Hindi language. The international flag of the Romani people was agreed and approved by the representatives from the various Romani communities at the first World Romani Congress (WRC), held in Orpington in 1971 in the UK. The flag has a background of blue and green, representing the heavens and earth, respectively and in the centre it also contains a 16-spoke red chakra, or cartwheel, in the center. The latter element stands for the itinerant tradition of the Romani people and is also an homage to the flag of India, added to the flag by scholar Weer Rajendra Rishi.

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is pleased to announce our new funding award from the Arts Council of Wales to continue the trailblazing Gypsy Maker project in Wales.

Arts Council of Wales funds exciting Gypsy Maker 5 Project

The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is pleased to announce our new funding award from the Arts Council of Wales to continue the trailblazing Gypsy Maker project in Wales.

‘Gypsy Maker 5’ is a development of the highly successful ‘Gypsy Maker’ project . As with previous editions, Gypsy Maker 5 will commission Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) artists to produce new work to add to the growing bank of Gypsy, Roma & Traveller art, knowledge and culture in Wales and beyond. 

Gypsy Maker 5 offers a key development from previous projects by including performance in our range of arts disciplines this year. This reflects the increasing enthusiasm expressed over the course of the Gypsy Maker initiative from community members and partners to experience more GRT artistic practice in all its forms.  

Gypsy Maker 5 will provide a platform for three GRT artists, Imogen Bright Moon, Corrina Eastwood and Rosamaria Kostic Cisneros, to develop their art practice, resulting in new bodies of work that showcase their professional and artistic development as facilitated by the Gypsy Maker project. Each artist employs a variety of media to offer unique and exciting propositions within the contemporary art field and GRT cultural discourse. Daniel Baker will be Artist Mentor and Audience Development Officer.

The Gypsy Maker 5 exhibitions will tour to the wider public during 2022 accompanied by open-access workshops and forums to allow the public to gain deeper understanding of the processes and themes that underpin the artworks and the Gypsy Maker initiative.

Exhibition launches will be open to the public with the RCAC supporting venues with any bilingual and accessibility issues to secure the widest audience possible. There will be a talk at each of the three tour venues to launch the exhibitions.

There remains a regrettable shortage of knowledge about this exciting community. The further showcasing of its artistic heritage and current cultural innovation will benefit greatly both members of GRT communities and the wider population. 

Isaac Blake; Director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company, said “We are so proud to secure further funding from the Arts Council of Wales to continue our ground-breaking work with GRT artists. This project will strengthen the role of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers on the arts scene in Wales, the UK and beyond.”

Image:  Romani Cultural and Arts Company

Ideas for the residency: Thinking about creating two screendance films that explores climate justice, violins, generations using a flamenco vocabulary.

Want to use my Flamenco and contemporary dance technique and create a vocabulary that can be captured via a screendance film. 

Research on violins, textures and shapes as choreographic inspiration.

Spent some time watching old films that include violins, reading about how violins are made and hope to now look into the importance of violins in Roma music.  The image is a collage exploring the different aspects of the violin that I want to explore with movement. 

Maria's mood board- looking at tones, textures and shapes made with the body

Maria Polodeanu, my long time collaborator and friend, who also is the director of Reel Master Productions, will be helping with the filming of the project. She has expertise in capturing visuals from a bird's eye view and is highly skilled in drone photography and editing.  Want to explore these angles within the film. This was her mood board for the project.

shots/details/gesture

Keen to look at generations and how we think about being a "good ancestor".  Drawing on thinking and conversation with dear colleague from C-DaRE, Simon Ellis.  Finishing the book by Roman Krznaric. 

Mannequins// Shawls//Rows

Thinking about how dresses fall and flow

Romani Gypsy Violin History and documenting practice

Thinking about and researching Romani Violin playing and music I was struck by this writers description of some of the early days of formally documenting and capturing Romani Gypsy violin playing. 

"The Romani people (commonly known as Gypsies) and their musicians (properly known as Lautari) have a great tradition of violin playing, with virtuosos frequently embroidering their music with extreme amounts of ornamentation. In his work as an ethnomusicologist before the field really existed, the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók lugged heavy recording equipment around the region of Transylvania to record how Gypsy violinists practiced their trade. His Romanian colleague George Enescu went one better, spending a significant portion of his childhood in that area when it was part of his country, listening to the rhythms of folk dances and the sounds of the unusual instruments the Romani used. Eventually, Bartók wrote his swaggering Violin Rhapsody No. 1 and Enescu his Violin Sonata No. 3 by drawing on the sounds they heard among these country folks." ( exceprt from

Music....Disrupt disrupt disrupt

I know I will be using Flamenco dance movement, gestures, rhythms but feel drawn to a classical piece of music with lots of string insturments. There is a lovely piece I have in mind that I have meditated on for years and always knew I wanted to use this arrangement at some point.... feels like I will start choreographing to this work and see what comes up. 

Final thoughts

In summary, it emerged that there is significant interest in this area and a desire for conceptual and thematic discussion, as well as action. The data and feedback reveal there is a lot to learn from each other and that listening to international and intercultural case studies and first-hand experiences of archivists are essential to transformation. Advancing ethics and archives depends on operating from a place of respect, within inclusive conversations, where such spaces provide archivists with different lived experiences the opportunity to explore and offer provocations on ethics and archives.

Burning//Disrupting//Ashes

We are a resilient people and can spin and rise from ashes.... want to see how we can play with visuals alongside the ephemerality of dance. 

English LabDays (1st March & 25th March, 2022)

The first LabDay for the English-speaking community was held March 2nd, 2022 online via Zoom. Cisneros was supported by her colleague Kauser Husain from C-DaRE and the two hosted the event that welcomed Gabriele Mohale, Ranjani Prasad, Venkat Srinivasan and Faisal Rehman. The guests were nominated by the team and Cisneros engaged with each to explain the concept of the LabDay. The first event was a non-public event which allowed for an initial exploration of the three themes with a small number of participants who would then go on to help facilitate the subsequent public LabDay.    

The guests invited were:
 
Gabriele MOHALE[1] (South Africa)-  is the Acting Head and Archivist at the Historical Papers Researcher Archive, University of the Witwatersrand, which is instrumental in accentuating the role and status of archives in civil society, with events and initiatives around Archives and Democracy.

Ranjani Prasad[2] (India) has been involved with archival practice, research and curation over the last decade. Her interests are at the intersections of histories, communities, technologies. She is presently part of the People and Nature Collectives at Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, Nilgiris.
 
Faisal Rehman[3] (India) is a researcher at Keystone Foundation, working with the People and Nature Collectives at Kotagiri, Nilgiris; with interests in public history, community representation, and the politics of knowledge flows and ownership.
 
Venkat Srinivasan[4] (India) is an archivist at the Archives at NCBS (Bangalore, India), a public collecting centre for the history of contemporary biology in India.

The four individuals presented themselves and framed their perspective and archival practice and then offered provocations. 

[1] Gabriele Mohale: Function: Acting Head, Historical Papers Research Archive https://www.ica.org/en/member/12297
[2] Ranjani Prasad: ​​https://in.linkedin.com/in/ranjani-prasad-95b57637
[3] Faisal Rehman: https://keystone-foundation.org/team/
[4] Venkat Srinivasan: https://archives.ncbs.res.in/about

Privacy and the role of laws in relation to archives

Particularly when discussing the public sector, academics and communities, what role does privacy play in archives and what is the role of laws that are geared towards protecting people, how should archives consider this dimension? And particularly the role of digital technology and how data is managed and what could Archivists learn from library studies in terms of technology and interoperability? Might their digital frameworks help archivists answer some of these open questions regarding technology and privacy when considering and developing ethical archives? 

In summary, what emerged from the day was very similar to the English LabDay where privacy, resources, technology and the importance of networks in developing more ethical archives. 

Spanish LabDays (March 11th & 22nd 2022)

 
The guests were from varying archives and institutions and each was representing a unique perspective of the archival sector. For each LabDay we had three speakers. On the second LabDay we had the same three speakers and participants listening to the event from Jerusalem, the United States, Spain, Colombia and South Africa. 
 
The guests invited were:
 
Luisa Fernanda Mesa Aleman (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) is a professional in Information Science – library science with a specialization in Management and Information Technology; work experience in university teaching, administration of information units, creation and management of content for social networks, web page or other corporate digital media.
 
Maria Celina Flores  (Memoria Abierta, Argentina) is a historian and holds a Master's degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Buenos Aires. She has held coordination positions in documentary survey teams in the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina. She currently works as coordinator of the Documentary Heritage area of ​​Memoria Abierta, a coordinating association of historical Human Rights organizations in Argentina. 

Pepita Raventós from Archives and Records Management Service, at the University of Lleida in Lleida Catalonia (Spain). Her current position includes: Archivist and Records Manager at the Archives and Records Management Service of the University of Lleida (Catalonia. Spain). Since 2004 she has been responsible for the implementation of the archives and records management system in the University. She has been a member of the Bureau of the Section on University and Research Institution Archives (ICA/SUV), since 2015.

LabDays have a Global Reach

 
Underpinning the Ethics and Archives project, the team decided to curate four LabDays, two in English and two in Spanish. This approach allowed the team to reach across continents and invite multiple voices, opinions, and expertise, and also be inclusive and accessible to many.  

The LabDays had a global reach where the English LabDays had colleagues from India, South Africa, and Scotland present and participants joined from the UK, the USA,  Spain, Germany, Jerusalem, India, Nigeria, Canada, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. For the Spanish LabDay there were presentations from Colombia, Spain, Argentina and participants from Jerusalem, the UK, Portugal,  South Africa, Argentina, Spain and Colombia were in the audience. Links to recorded conversations, details on responses from padlets and also the feedback from participants are included in this document.  

Trust and Time were essential for producing ethical archives

A conversation on trust emerged that suggested that trust and time were essential for producing ethical archives. The final discussion session allowed for a “call to action” type of thinking to emerge that touched on language revitalisation, referencing radical practices and the importance of having spaces where archivists can connect on a regular basis. The ICA-SUV Reading Group was referenced by Mohale and Srinivasan and they both found those touchpoints as essential to knowledge sharing with the broader network and encouraged contestations and definitions to be revisited. 

Final Summary from English LabDays

In summary, the themes that emerged included the use of terminology and language, questions around the role the institution plays with supporting, developing and guiding the archive, the trust within the community towards the archive and those researchers negotiating those spaces, and the power language has when negotiating archival practices. Privacy and the right to be forgotten was also mentioned and safeguarding policies and humanising archives felt important to all involved. 

Raventós, Aleman and Flores each presented their institutions and described their positions within the organisations.  They each presented dilemmas and tensions that feel very relevant and timely to them. Those questions included questions around what are best practices and how can we include those voices that aren’t present? What mechanism needs to be considered to allow access of multiple voices? 

LabDay Methodology

The LabDay methodology has been used in several EU projects that engage key stakeholders directly into the research. This tested and proven method goes beyond transactional focus group methods as it engages and inspires participants to embed themselves in research, and this is important when trying to include youth and hard to reach communities and stakeholders often removed from the decision-making processes. This framework is underpinned by Communicative Methodology (CM), a sociological method that aims to cross social, cultural and linguistic boundaries. This framework enables an open, egalitarian dialogue between researchers and participants; it is a collaboratively-held space where all voices are acknowledged and valued and stakeholders can reflect together on their needs, desires and various forms of participation. This bottom-up approach enables cultural communities to themselves become a driver for the outputs.

Why did the LabDay lend itself to the ICA-SUV Ethics and Archives project?  Since the team was keen to include voices from across the globe, we needed to find a method that would be inclusive, and could allow for dialogical and egalitarian conversations to emerge while also being a call to action. The LabDay has a flexibility built into it as it allows individuals from multiple backgrounds to share their experiences and to offer solutions to a “problem” or gaps in understanding and brings forward case studies and other ways of knowing. The LabDay also relies on what has been termed as a provocation, which could be thought of as an open-ended invitation to explore, wonder, spark interest, stimulate thought and encourage questioning.  The aim of the provocation is to inspire and to encourage dialogue, share thoughts and ideas on a topic. 

The International Council on Archives - Section on University and Research Institution Archives (ICA-SUV) commissioned a three-month pilot project that was centered on Ethics and Archives, and  took place from January -March 2022. The project provided collegial conversation and discussion, followed by a digital resource made available via the ICA-SUV website. On the theme of ethics for archivists in university and research institutions, and building upon the vibrant conversation and successful 2021 ICA-SUV conference, “Archives, Ethics and Society”, the March 2022 conversations were held in both English and Spanish and centered on concepts, practices and the language we use within three themes: Archives, Ethics and Communities; Archives, Ethics and Civil Society; and Archives and Ethics in Practice.

Three  themes:
  • Archives, Ethics and Communities; 
  • Archives, Ethics and Civil Society;
  • Archives and Ethics in Practice.

ICA-SUV, with funding support from the ICA Programme Commission, welcomed Rosa Cisneros as a consultant to lead the discussions. Rosa Cisneros is a professional dancer, curator, dance historian, Romani studies scholar and peace activist.  She currently works at Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research where she is one of the ethics leads for the Centre. She has over 20 years experience as a professional  consultant and has experience in building archives. She brings conceptual grounding to debates around decolonising dance, archives and practice research and through her consultancy work she ensures ethical and equitable practices are maintained. 

Spanish LabDay Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCPbizapfwo&t=432s&ab_channel=RosaSenCisFilmProductions
English LabDay Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCyGhvZ_vg&t=4690s&ab_channel=RosaSenCisFilmProductions

Mohale was the first to present and anchored the conversation in terminology and questioned the role of empathy, custodians and the role terminology plays in uniting as well as in being a source of contestation.

Mohale also reflected on the point that language and terms should be diverse, honouring multiple perspectives and types of archival practices but the question about how to do so and the manner that we negotiate values remained a topic of discussion. After Mohale, Sirivansian presented and introduced the Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), a space for institutional records and a collecting public centre for the contemporary history of biology in India. 

Srinivasan's presentation focused on the role policies play within organisations and the importance or lack thereof,  and the role such documents have in developing ethical aspects of an archive. His offering reflected specifically on the tension in relation to knowledge sharing and the role digital technologies play in considering what is archived and how this is being described. His provocation also reflected on access, who owns the material and questions about audiences using the archive. 
 

Feedback on the Spanish LabDay

What did you enjoy about LabDay?
 
●      The very fact of the conversation with colleagues from other spheres and dimensions. Among others, the dialogue with Pepita and Rosa's moderation
●      Listen to different experiences and especially that it has been in Spanish
 
What three to five keywords could summarize your LabDay experience and the work presented?
●      knowledge, experience, innovations
●      Commitment - Sharing - Community - Learning
 
What was your main 'takeaway' from LabDay?
 
●      The contribution of the exchange of ideas
●      Knowing colleagues and, in general, people who work in and for archives enriches our work, contributes new ideas and imagines new things for our information units.
 
Has the LabDay changed your thinking about how we can contribute to or critically address "archives and ethics" online? If so, how?
 
●      It has not changed my basic ideas on the subject
●      Of course, there were several things and practices that the colleagues commented on and that I have incorporated for discussion with my colleagues in the office, one of them was obtaining files external to the U (personal, from other institutions) and how we should think about where they would be better those files, where they could be available to those who require them despite our "good intention2" of having them at the University.
 
If there was a follow-up event, expanding on the themes of the session, what would you like it to focus on?
●      Presentation of specific cases where ethics is at stake
●      Definitely in knowing more experiences, not necessarily big projects but initiatives like the ones I saw on your website with the Roma community.

Feedback English LabDay

Feedback was collected from participants for the English LabDay.

What did you enjoy about the LabDay?

●      So many people from around the world attended!
●      The presentation of the Indian colleagues
●      A new experience of meeting and sharing with colleagues from far and wide in the digital space.
●      The diversity of the group/experiences
 
What three to five keywords might sum up your experience of the LabDay and the work presented?
●      Illuminating, fascinating, confirming, hopeful, inspired
●      Memory, Ethics, Communities, Mediator
●      Meeting -- Sharing -- Learning --
●      enlightening, interesting, solidarity, more questions
 
What was your main ‘takeaway’ from the LabDay?
●      That people in archives everywhere all struggle with issues around research ethics
●      Ethics in archives is a hot topic and it's very important in present time
●      To keep up the conversation about our different experiences as professionals in the various global regions.
●      To realise that there is a strong movement toward a new ethical archival practice
 
Has the LabDay changed your thinking about how we can contribute to or critically approach online ‘archives and ethics’? If so, in what way(s)?
 
●      Yes! I got some great insight and I feel like I am on the right track with my professional development training and bringing these larger questions and concerns around research ethics to my colleagues
●      Yes, specially the importance of taking in account the stakeholders of the archives, namely, the communities
●      It is important to realise that ethics is a noble concept, however a concept that does not necessarily work out the same way for everybody in their settings, exposures and understanding.
●      It confirmed the need to change
 
If there were to be a follow up event, extending the themes of the session, what would you like that to focus on?
●      More on research ethics.
●      Ethics in access and retrieval, in particular, colonial photographs
●      Changing the archival experience for communities and society in at times unconventional ways and examples of that.
●      Even more case studies, concrete actions to be taken. Thanks a lot.

PADLETS - English and Spanish Padlets

For each LabDay a Padlet was created that encouraged and allowed participants to contribute to the conversation and to offer thoughts on the following questions:
 
1)     What is an ethical archive? What does it look like in practice?
2)     When you think of Archives Ethics and communities- what comes to mind?
3)     When you think of Archives,  Ethics and Civil Society- what comes to mind?
4)     When you think of Archives and Ethics in practice- what comes to mind?
5)     What would a radical next step look like for archives?
 
Two Padlets were created, one in English and one in Spanish and are freely available online: English Padlet[1] and Spanish Padlet.[2] Below are the replies for each question.  We circulated the Padlet links ahead of time and encouraged individuals to use the Padlet during the second LabDay. Participants were also invited post-LabDay to contribute and continue the conversation. 

[1] English Padlet: https://padlet.com/ab4928Rosa/ojzks1fuhx98heyb
[2] Spanish Padlet: https://padlet.com/ab4928Rosa/ge3467h4pf57sf75

Dissemination

Dissemination was important to the project and the work was circulated via several networks.  The team prepared the poster below which contained the English and Spanish details. This was intentional as we wanted to ensure that the entire archival community receiving the invite to save the date was aware that English and Spanish sessions were being organised. Indeed, English is a dominant language, and we ensured we chose an hour that was convenient to many, but we also purposely created all materials in both languages. The Save the Date invites were circulated online, to the JISC-Mail list[1], hosted on the ICA-SUV website and also distributed widely on social media. 
 

[1] JISC-Mail list:  Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities 

Community Archives offer opportunities to reflect on Ethical Practices

The next and final intervention was a joint presentation by Prasad and Rehman. The duo were representing Keystone Foundation, today a hub of learning and creation. Prasad and Rehmam, also based in India, suggested that community archives offer opportunities to reflect on ethical practices. They presented three case studies from their local area and touched on the cultural geographies and questions around community archives and the oral histories that surround their projects. The two also suggested that safeguarding and policies were important and that knowledge sharing from diverse perspectives that honoured diverse language was key to developing an ethical archive.  The two rounded out the session by returning to Mohale’s questions on terminology and the role of the custodian. 

Project Team

ICA-SUV- Ethical Archives Project 
January- March 2022 
 
Prepared by: Caroline Brown (University of Dundee, Scotland, UK), 
Rosa Cisneros (Coventry University, UK), 
Ellen Engseth (University of Minnesota, USA), 
Gabriele Mohale (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) 

Patterns in space

Both Maria and I were drawn to this pattern.... feels like it must be further explored! 

Exploring textures, details and intricacy of fabrics

In doing research on elegant materials and dresses/gowns violinists use, I came across MET's Online collection. These 1910 slippers represented the textures I wanted to incorporate into my costuming. 

Flamenco footwork.... similar to 1910 slippers from Paris

Rehearsing my footwork

Costumes... flow and airy

Researching gowns and Flamenco dresses I toyed a lot with the colour scheme --- initially wanted to go with red but then after going to various locations and looking at options, I settled on mustard yellow.

Generations.... girls dresses

Collage clip from the stradivarius screendance film.

Stills from the film session.

Short clips from Stradivarius screendance film

This is not a final version- used to share with colleagues the work that Maria Polodeanu and I are working on as we edit the final version of the 8-10 min film. 

Met my mentor Ballet Cymru's assistant artistic director and we discussed the audio description options and aspects to consider.