Sheila shared new work, spoke on a panel and led a workshop in Brussels 21 -24 September 2016 as part of Signal #5 - Art Facing Terror.
Art Facing Terror was a programme of talks, workshops and interventions in the city responding to the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels and elsewhere in the world, as well as different forms of violence experienced in the public space, or at the frontiers of Europe with the refugee crisis.
As part of the programme Sheila was commissioned to make new work responding to the theme of care. Sheila made We Picked You Up Carried You Like A Feather Like A Shell, a mobile performance which travelled around Dansaert, Molenbeek, Canal and Sainte-Catherine.
The idea for this ‘action in public space’ emerged when she discovered that the the humanitarian organisation The Red Cross were one of the first groups on the scene after the attacks had taken place. On considering the different kinds of support such organisations and people provide in times of need (physical, psychological and social), and inspired by the book on nursing "Tenderly, lift me" by Jeanne Bryner, Sheila imagined walks or moments in which passers-by were invited to be carried or carry others on a chair, palanquin or stretcher in the city… a chance to physically experience taking the weight of another, or sense the feeling of being held aloft, a symbolic act of care, made visible in public, whilst also gently nodding towards the complex history of the Palanquin and Sedan Chair, which takes in the battlefield, colonialism, royalty and tourism.
As part of the project Sheila invited a local branch of the Red Cross to be part of her research (they ran a workshop with Sheila and discussed the idea of taking another’s body weight with her). Neighbours living opposite the branch also helped her to decorate the Chair.
The Sedan chair itself was built by Cloud & Horse in London as a true replica of a Georgian style-chair. The hood of the chair was then cut off in Brussels to make it lighter and easier to lift by anyone who happened across it in the streets.
Details of the talk and workshop Sheila gave as part of Art Facing Terror are below:
TALK - WED 21.09 - 10:00 > 13:00 Violence
How do we think about the violence which is now part of our daily lives, but which is also used against the Stranger at the borders of Europe (sometimes in the head of the citizens themselves), "to protect us"? What does this violence change in our perception? What is our responsibility as artists or cultural operators in this situation?
Enlightener: Laurent Licata (B)
Speakers : Tom Sellar (US), Sheila Ghelani (UK)
WORKSHOP - WED 21.09.16 - 14.00 > 17.30 Taking Care, Holding others, with the Red Cross
The concept of “care” manifests a lot in Sheila Ghelani’s practice, sometimes leading her towards working alongside the caring professions in hospitals and day centres. For this workshop, Sheila invites Belgian Red Cross workers to discuss how they think about and use the word “care” within their organisation and how they “hold” others. There will be some practical exercises on holding/taking the weight of one another and some discussion about these. The Red Cross will also share some First Aid for emergency situations.