The event went so differently from what I expected. Being so wrapped up in the last minute changes that I was making to the entire structure of my own project. I missed out on witnessing the powerful strides everyone else was making on theirs. In terms of what I did: my job was to work on my own (two) projects and then planning and leading the socratic discussion. I did end up doing a few extra things, but I think we all did; it was such a group effort overall.
I was entranced by the physicality of it all, firstly. When I walked into the campus center just before we put up the projects on Wednesday, everyone was milling about, eagerly perusing other people’s projects, and helping each other put them up. There was so much love and anticipation in the air; the curation became a group effort as everyone ran around giving each other compliments and bouncing ideas off of one another. I got quick glimpses of each person’s work over the semester as I ran around trying to get my own up, and reassured myself that I would get a chance to check them all out later.
In my fourth class, we did a reading about every forms of kinship by Amrita Pande. She says, “kinship bonds are renewed and kept viable through a myriad of reciprocities: food, labor…and simply company. It is the work of being related rather than biology that marks out the kinship sphere…”(387). Going into this 360 exhibition with that reading fresh in my mind, I could not help but believe that there was a physicality in the bonds that we were forming in this campus center exhibition and also in our constant interactions throughout the semester. We resonate with one another’s vibrations in a form of queer kinship, in which a diverse group of students is brought together under one cause. This diversity was reflected in our projects, which portrayed physicality in different ways. Everything from Tong’s visual Prezi which was displayed on the big screen to Joie’s sculpture… it all required an artistic, constant, physical presence which connected to one another and bolstered our bonds.
During the three-day run, a lot of compelling conversations were begun. I was pleased to see that a good number of community members showed up and were asking pertinent questions. Later the next day, I felt like a spy sitting in the campus center studying and watching people meander by and experience the exhibit. A lot of people seemed very absorbed and left with perplexed looks on their faces, as if the entire thing had stirred them during the pre-finals haze. I am glad for the way that the exhibition was displayed and curated. My solo project and my joint project with Abby were at the very end, if one started from left to right (as most people did). It made a lot of sense because I think reflecting on and viewing my project required an understanding of the facts, which many of the other projects went in depth with and I did not. My project with Abby is a connection back to our own institution, and having that be the final thought, I think, would have pushed members of the community to enact change first starting at Bryn Mawr.
Finally, I had mixed feelings about the Socrates café. I felt that maybe we should have had it on Wednesday night despite our collective exhaustion, because then it might have gotten better attendance. Rhett, Abby, Sylvia and I “led” the conversation, which felt less like leading and more like simply dropping dropping broad, intense questions into the space and then stepping back to see what ripples would shake through it. We did come in with a much more structured plan than what actually happened, but that, like some of our lesson plans, had to be adapted to the space. Because there were so few people other than members of our 360 in that space, it felt like we were being asked to somehow sum up our entire semester of discussion on complex topics like freedom and silence into one hour. Of course, it only just scratched the surface. But I am still glad that it happened, because coming up with the questions and pondering them helped us see that this work and this thought is constant and never-ending, requires a commitment to question ourselves in every moment. It felt fitting that Friday group and the professors would go straight from that café into our final book group at the prison.
There was so much love and admiration for one another in that space. It felt like this entire exhibition - though it was aimed toward the community and hopefully did make some kind of shift in the community by bringing these difficult and complex topics to the forefront - was really just for us. To showcase to each other what we have each been reflecting on for so many months. I have said before that these courses are so different from others I have taken before because they do not always contain rapid epiphanies (though they sometimes do). Instead, while we have reflected and absorbed these intricate concepts, there was a deeper change happening within us, like magma underneath the earth, reshaping our most subliminal ideologies. It ended in an eruption, an explosion of our many-layered and diverse interpretations.