An Exercise: The Surrender

This exercise of surrender was performed with SFAI Contemporary Practices students in the fall of 2014.

Our intention with this exercise was to have students question what they were participating in and to consider the idea of surrender and negotiation within collaboration.  Our belief is that collaboration can be sticky and it questions the authority and autonomy of an individual. This exercise with white flags was an attempt to encourage contemplation around concepts of surrender and negotiation. Some questions we wanted to provoke were: Within collaboration, is there a giving up of autonomy or an opening up to another’s perspective in the world? What can be accomplished with many bodies/minds as opposed to one body/mind? Can working with others sometimes create a larger impact?  Here specifically, we wanted to introduce the idea of marking space and drawing a line or action throughout the school.

The actions within the score for this exercise were to spend time outside of the lecture hall, to move differently than we normally do (bodily), to move through the space differently (architecturally), to communicate that difference to other members of the community that day (using the flag), and to use a symbol that has been deployed historically and today for what we consider to be important political, emotional, and social communication.

The negotiation with the object can’t be denied either as we all have different feelings related to the white flag. Historically, the white flag has had different meanings in different cultures but most of us in this place and time think about power struggles and war, a giving over to another power.

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