Catarina Sales ISCTE-IUL/UBI/CIES
Sílvia Ferreira, Quarta Parede
Marisa Marques, Beira Serra
Alice Duarte, Cecília Zacarias, Célia Nunes, Dina Brito, Elisabete Gonçalves, Elsa Gonçalves, Hortense Trindade, Isabel Jesus, Isabel Rocha, Laura Garcia, Marisa Marques, Noura Yazié, Rosa Figueira, Sandra Silva, Sara Rito, Sílvia Pinto Ferreira, Tânia Simões, Verónica Gonzalez, Zita Pires
Scientific and Social Consultancy Catarina Sales
From May 2019 to March 2020 two groups of single mothers have regularly met. This activity is part of VELEDA project promoted by Beira Serra – an NGO for local development in partnership with the performing arts association Quarta Parede and University of Beira Interior, Municipalities of Belmonte, Covilha, Fundão and MDM (Democratic Movement of Women). These laboratories bring together participants of three nearby small cities located in the portuguese inner country which is shaped by aging, depopulation and economic vulnerability.
Gathering art with the social world, the groups have reflected about gender issues related to single parenting, labor rights and social intervention. The biweekly meetings organized in multidisciplinary laboratories, were space for experimentation of theater, and performance but also for collective reading, discussion and learning together. The embodiment of movement in stage was a central feature in the labs using performative techniques to empower participants’ self-consciousness and participation skills.
The announcement of the Covid 19 pandemic and the consequent state of emergency forced the lockdown of VELEDA laboratories. The confinement was a turning point in the lives of these women. They suddenly found themselves confined at home with their children and with new problems to solve. VELEDA’ participants face very different confinement realities: women who had to leave home to work, women who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, women in virtual work; almost all have lost income; others had to work harder, support their children at home with all these constraints. In addition to the more practical issues – like getting computers and internet access to everybody – which the project essayed to find solutions, VELEDA became an online support network through platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp but also regular phone. This happened due to the strong bonds and empathy (Stansfield, 2018) that one year of laboratories was able to create.
The sharing of sketches of their (new) daily routines in the group’s WhatsApp gave life to a quarantine notebook. This piece materialized VELEDA’ process of reconfiguration output. Life cuts of different women mixed up and giving continuity to the group creation started before the forced immobilization of the bodies and lives.
Discussing with the group the result we identified that the notebook is the sharing of immobility but also of the warm of home, of everyday spaces that have now become the only ones. Images of bodies and spaces of those who were in process of (re)discovering touch and to perform a collective. The sharing of the trivial with partners for a collective construction of intimacy. But also an open window for the future to come.