Some know each other, some don’t. They just arrived from different corners of Europe. They are hosted by the local team of the art center for sharing a common experience. Some know what the experience might be, some don’t. And some doubt. While arriving for the first gathering, they discover at the end of a parking lot a hidden small gate to the unknown. There, the hosts have set a series of long tables under the cover of the local public school so that everybody can meet and rest before it all starts. Maybe it had already been started as soon as they prepared their luggage to go. Maybe it had already started a year ago as the idea to gather around water came.
Some know each other, some don’t. Changing this situation becomes an urgent challenge. Tomorrow, they will all have to work together. How could they if they don’t know who is who? And what does define someone? Is it what they do, what they know, how old they are, where they grew up? Most importantly, it is not about knowing themselves, it is about getting to know the others. Somebody needs to take the lead. Somebody needs to propose something. How can they do it without mimicking a reunion of the Alcoholic Anonymous - « Hello, my name is XXX, and I am YYY » / « Hello XXX ».
Ding, ding, ding. Somebody grabs a glass to capture the group’s attention. « I would like to meet you all, I would like to propose something. » While explaining the process of its proposal, small groups are formed. They should be made of around five people, where no more than two to three people know each other within the group. As an act of collective memorization, each one will be given the task to present someone else. Within each group, they negotiate the aspects that seem important to present. Daily life, origin, specificities, oddities, childhood… Everything but what is already visible. Every group develops its own idea of what is important. They share secrets and unknown details, small parts of who they are, or small parts of what they do, what moves them, what they love, each one after the other. All together, they have five minutes. What will be left of it in someone else’s mind will be shared.
« Are you all ready? Now, we form a bigger circle! »
Presenting somebody else needs focused listening. One doesn’t want to misrepresent somebody. They want to show respect. Every detail matters. Every spoken word is a treasure to cherish as it is somebody else’s life. Every spoken word deserve to carry the respect that one gives to intimacy. Of course, there will be other moments to meet individually each persona. First, the encounter is made to the group. This is what this portrait is about. Picturing a group made of many heads, hands, stories, memories, cultures, languages, feelings.
« Let me introduce you to… ». One after the other, they successively take the central role in the middle of the big circle. Switching between presenter and presentee, they can collectively build a blurry picture of everybody’s path towards that one circle.
They have all landed here. Together, they make a new whole. At that point they share the same information. At least, tomorrow, they can name each other by saying « Good morning. »