It’s a sunny morning again. It’s luckily always sunny when a project starts. Sunny, but dusty. It is in the middle of a construction site. Participants have just met the day before. Just the time to share a name, a full background in ten words, a reason to be here. Maybe they had time to exchange on their vision, their ambition, before they go into the unknown. They certainly know what experience they want to have. At least, they have an idea of what to expect.
And that is revealed, while they are, on that very first morning, in front of the wall. It’s time to choose. In front of them, a giant table drawn on a wall will become crucial for the rest of the week. Their choice, at that moment will turn them into cooks, carpenters, singers or designers, at least for the next couple of days. The first ones get served, the next ones negotiate.
Soon enough, that choice that was so hard to make—Shall I stay with the new friends I met yesterday or shall I stick to what I wanted before?—will no longer matter. Soon enough, participants understand that there is more than just one decision. The energy is common. All are part of a bigger project—whether it is to build a mountain, a mill, a swimming pool, a city island, a metavilla or an arch—with a bigger ambition than one’s own, and all the pieces gathered here are essential for it to work. There the participants choose their level of engagement: some will choose to only help, others will choose to help and learn—and then maybe help and learn close to somebody else, by doing something else. Nobody needs to feel alone in his/her field. While exchanging, they get the help they want or need. It’s only a couple of days, the task is clear, the goal is known, the engagement voluntary. Even when it is about building six hundred pieces of the same part, it never lasts very long.
Again that time of the choice on the wall. The groups were made. Today, they dissolve again, and mingle another way. So, what this time? Do they choose something they already know? Or do they try something new? As in the Bauhaus preliminary course, the collaborative workshops give a glimpse of it all and a lesson for life. Beyond each discipline —wood working, graphics, video, furniture making, cooking, performing, everything—a master is in charge of the new group. Sometimes a new workshop is made; sometimes a participant becomes a master. Because sometimes, something is missing. The teaching starts again as an exquisite cadaver. One starts to work where somebody else’s work ended. Meanwhile, in the cooking workshop, the one that sustains the group, everything starts afresh everyday.
They come willing to learn a skill and gain experience. In fact, what they learn is intangible. They learn to become part of a group, they learn to negotiate with others, they learn to position themselves in a micro-society, they learn they can do crazy things, together. They learn to exchange and they exchange through experimentation, through making. Sometimes they reenact what they learn by talking to each other, and for that they also have the evenings, the dinners, the nights or the breakfasts. It is practical and theoretical, empirical and poetical. It’s special. Within the strong pedagogical methodology made up of rhythms, disciplines and missions, participants learn to negotiate freedom. There, they do not just experiment through collaborative work. They feel it. They get it. They come back again.
Extract of "How Together", 2019