August 10, 2010
I know hundreds of performers-social change workers (and know of hundreds more). But I’d not heard of Hector Aristizabal until Amazon sent me an email (just for me of course!) recommending his book written with Diane Lefer, entitled, The Blessing and the Wound: A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation. Hector grew up in Colombia, where he faced hardshp, violence, repression and torture. He moved to the US and as an activist, performer and therapist, he uses his suffering and anger to help others grow through performance/therapy/conversation. The book chronicles events in his life and that of his country and the world, interwoven with how he approaches poverty, pain, people and performance.
I liked the book a lot; it’s completely engaging and unusually honest. Throughout the book, there were comments that so very close to my experiences and beliefs about performance and development. Here’s a few of them:
“Those of us who’ve survived torture or any other trauma need to see it as simply one event in our lives, not the definition of our identity. I don’t want to hold on to the trauma but rather to reimagine it, see it with new eyes. The wound can be both tomb and womb…”
In sharing some performance work he did with Israelis and Palestinians in Bethlehem, Hector tells us how performing together is a way people come to work together: “People are not forced to change who they are; they are invited to experience the Other, the unknown, through creating something together.”
“So I dance and I stumble; but there’s no such thing as a bad dance. The only thing that’s bad is not to dance at all.”