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Carolyn Deby - urbanflows: immersed in worlds

cdeby_2014lcds.jpgCarolyn is an artist/choreographer who creates site-based performance work internationally under the name sirenscrossing – examining the lived experience of humans in cities — situating the human body/psyche within landscape.

Her practice-led research articulates a phenomenological, embodied theatre of human life in cities as: ontologically organic and wild; ecologically / socially / technologically networked; and shaped within a time-space field of affects, meaning and sensory inputs. Building on her interests in in revealing the urban as a place of wild nature, of animal and elemental movement and urban space as social space and as technologically reconstructed nature: a field of interlinking systems and energies that shape our lived experience.

urbanflows: immersed in worlds started as a pilot project in 2016, supported by Warwick Creative Exchange and Coventry Artspace Partnerships. sirenscrossing artists Carolyn and Jia-Yu met with several local people to experience their favourite city location(s) and impressions. Research material was captured from this and other encounters using reflective writing, interview recordings, photos, video and bodily re-performances. The pilot project culminated in a public 'audience experience' and artist's talk in November 2016.

You can read Carolyn's blog series and find out more about the project on the sirenscrossing website. We have published just one of the blogs below but recommend you scroll through the archive.

The world in one city

Overwhelmingly, it is clear that Coventry is a city of people with many nationalities, originating from all over the British Isles and indeed the world. The streets throng with faces, clothing and habits forged elsewhere. Several of our local collaborators confirmed this, each coming from a different perspective.

There was the woman whose job it is to welcome and work with refugees. She met us at Priory Place, near Lady Herbert’s Garden, which she described as a quiet place amongst the hubbub, where old and new, past and present, history and future, children and elderly, wealthy and destitute, spend time, co-exist, or pass by. She talked about her need for such places of refuge – an interesting thought given that her work involves creating that very thing for others. She described the sound of Coventry as layers and layers of conversations in all languages, one atop the other.

Another person who met with me was a young man from Syria. The whole of his five years so far in Coventry had been spent as a university student. He took me to the rooftop terrace outside his university study space. We stared out over his favourite view as he recounted memories of his hometown Damascus where his childhood home clung to the mountainside overlooking the ancient city centre. His family are scattered...one in the UK, parents in Saudi Arabia. They cannot return home. He was conscious of himself having two different sets of friends – muslim and non-muslim – friends who don’t know each other, nor do they talk to people who are different to themselves (language/culture/religion). He is aware that he travels between two worlds, neither of which is truly or completely his world. He talked about the bubbles in the city, where people stay with others who share their ideas and language – most visible between different nationality groups but something that exists more invisibly (such as the Brexiters vs the Remainers). He mentioned the sadness of his home city being flattened by war, and then questioned also why we feel sad about these material structures, pointing out that poetry, language, and words can last far longer than structures. For him, words can be more permanent even than stone.