On Comms



Odd discussion at lunch: KS brought up communication flow amongst ourselves; we expressed concern that we don’t know the Alter U participants properly yet; that both Ko Tar and Ju had chosen to address us in English without translation, never mind the fact that at least half the people in the room spoke Burmese as their first language. Deal sealed: from now on, there’ll be interpreting all the way.

Then we started looking at the photo documentation of our Myanmar citizen journalist, Sithu Zeya. He’s been shooting and videoing everything we’ve been doing. Yep: I’m not the only one at work here – in fact, KS hopes Zeya might even set up a blog once he’s done.
KS: We all document very differently. And many of us are involved in documentation, citizen journalism. The whole project that we’re inside is this whole question of memory. How we remember, how the Burmese remember.
It’s the first time FCP’s commissioned a local documenter-blogger for the country we’re visiting. This is meant to complement my blog, your blog, everyone’s blogs and Facebook walls that record the course of these two weeks – no monolithic archive but a fretwork of contradictory accounts.

However, Zeya’s shots of yesterday – body postures of us gazing at the feet of the Buddha, precious arrangements of flowers on a temple altar – provoked some friction from the participants.
Wu Wenguang: These are just tourist photos. It’s not about trying to understand the people here. I want to transfer some information to people who want to know what’s about Myanmar. Because for me, it’s not just coming here for myself. It’s for my people. To China, Myanmar is a small country, but we have always had a story of each other. People are talking too much about Aung San Suu Kyi, but what about ordinary people and social movements?

KS: It’s a provocation right now, this discussion. Wenguang’s point is quite worth interpreting: what is the information about Myanmar that needs to go out to your spaces?
Adriaan leapt in here to point out the irony of this situation: we were telling a Myanmar person that what was important to him wasn’t important enough for our reports on Myanmar. Everyone must have his/her own story to tell.
Julie: I’m not an uploader. To me it makes me feel nervous to think that things are being uploaded. It makes me feel strange. Maybe I’ll be interested in the future, what everyone said. I’m sure I’ll be interested. But this just reminded me how we have to negotiate ego around ethics.

KS: The space of the Flying Circus is not a didactic space. It’s not a school for ourselves. It’s a space where we have different concerns around us. That’s why it’s not really essential to find a group response. It’s all in the air and these sessions bring these up within our space. We are not involved in a union discussion.

The Flying Circus was always conceived as an open space and we struggle to find that open space every time.


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