How will we rebuild contact and proximity?

I was restarting the practices of movement in Den Dolder when the coronavirus appeared as a reality in our lives. I was happy because together with the practitioners in Den Dolder we were about to start a new phase of encounters with the neighbors.

Suddenly it was no longer a good idea to be together, to be close, to touch each other. Each one of those elements that were a fundamental part of the practice I have been creating, appeared as a “risk factor”.

I’m in shock.

My first intuition: this moment is a breaking point, I don’t have to react fast.

I decided to go slowly, to take advantage of this state of suspension of what we conceive as “normality”, to try to understand what all this -that shakes the planet- means, at different levels.

I ask myself, what does it mean to humanity and its way of functioning? What allows us to think about the way we relate to others and to the world, to Nature? How does it challenge the field of art? What does it produce in the bodies? What does it imply in my practice as a choreographer?

Just a few hours after listening to the measures against the COVID-19 taken in the Netherlands and while I was receiving emails canceling activities, I also started receiving emails proposing the continuation of the activities virtually, “online”.

I think: What does virtuality imply in my practice? What does it imply in my practice, that is based on the presence of bodies, on shared perception and movement, on the relationship with others?

Second intuition: It is not about creating a world without physical contact, a virtual world… Until we meet again, I will be cultivating the desire to be close.

I think: it is interesting how awareness of the risk of being close, of contact between bodies, is at the same time the evidence of its power and potentiality as a field of affection. It is because it is so powerful what happens in the contact that it is also so dangerous!

When we are close we can feel the vibration of others, their temperature, their smell, their emotions. When we touch, there is something of the others that stays in our body and something of us that we leave imprinted on the other. There is very precious information that circulates in that space “in-between”. In proximity, the idea of “independence of individuals” is put into question. In proximity and in contact, the fact of been co-implicated with others becomes irrefutable.

Among the thousands of questions that this critical moment generates in me, I wonder:

How can we, in these times of distance (which I defend as a necessary measure right now,  I hope I’m not misunderstood!), not generate a phobia of contact?

How can we avoid increasing the fear of been close to others?

How can we avoid transforming care practices into measures of control and surveillance? How can we make sure that fear of present or future contagion does not lead to the closing of borders (personal, symbolic, geographical)?

Once we manage to overcome this health crisis,
How will we rebuild confidence in contact? How are we going to make proximity possible?

Third intuition: To take care, it is not about individual bodies. This moment opens the question about the collective (a collective in which each life matters).

This virus, which affects without asking nationality, gender or social class, is a clear example of the fact that we live in a common world, whether we want it or not, we are already interdependent: we affect and are affected (something that we practiced in our encounters when we moved and were moved at the same time).

This interruption of “normality” is provoking deep questioning and generating the reinvention of practices throughout the planet.

Probably some things will radically change, and it demands that we imagine other possible worlds.

I want to imagine a world in proximity. A world in contact, a world in which, assuming the state of co-implication in which we already are, we can practice bonds of reciprocity, solidarity, and care in proximity and in distance.

30 March 2020, Amparo González Sola