European Graduate School EGS

Arts, Health and Society Division

Expressive Arts Blog

Religion?

by admin on November 27, 2017

by Martin Kunz

 

Ethik, also die Fragen des persönlichen und kollektiv gelingenden Lebens, seien ohne Religion nicht zu begründen, warf kürzlich jemand in einem Gespräch ein. Philosophie genüge nicht. Letzteres mag ja stimmen. Aber inwiefern helfen uns die etablierten Religionen, wenn uns existentielle Fragen bewegen?

Die ethische Mitte des Christentums ist die Botschaft der Liebe. Diese Botschaft ist so radikal, dass wir sie immer wieder relativieren müssen. Die Geschichte des Christentums, insofern sie eine Geschichte von mächtigen Institutionen und damit immer auch von Exklusion, Streit, Entwürdigung von Andersdenkenden und Mord ist, bietet Material genug, um diese Relativierungen zu studieren.

Die schlimmsten Schattenwürfe mögen hinter uns sein, doch nach wie vor trennen theologische Konstrukte und verdinglichte kirchliche Praktiken die unterschiedlich Glaubenden. Immer mehr aufgeklärte Menschen schütteln den Kopf über diese von Menschen gemachten Hindernisse. Viele bewegen die Spitzfindigkeiten der Herrschaftstheologie nicht mehr, und sie fühlen sich mit Andersgläubigen in versöhnter Verschiedenheit verbunden. Die Frage ist aber, inwiefern die Besinnung auf sogenannte christliche Werte die ethische, lebenspraktische oder auch politische Haltung eines Menschen bestimmen kann. Gibt es  d a s  Christentum überhaupt? In welchen uns aktuell bewegenden Fragen vertreten die Christen die gleichen Werte? Das Liebesgebot hilft offenbar lebenspraktisch kaum weiter, denn:

Es gibt Christen, die sprechen sich für die Möglichkeit der Abtreibung aus, andere Christen lehnen sie strikte ab. Es gibt Christen, die sind für die barmherzige Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen, andere nicht. Die einen Christen sind überzeugt, dass die unterschiedlichen sexuellen Ausrichtungen Gott wohlgefällig sind, andere glauben genau zu wissen, wie Gott unterscheidet und was Sünde ist. Viele Christen trennen klar zwischen wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisformen und religiösen Deutungen, andere vermengen Wissen und Glauben und lehnen zum Beispiel die Erkenntnisse der Evolutionsforschung ab usw. Und alle argumentieren mit der Bibel oder mit Argumenten, die sie für den Kern der christlichen Botschaft halten, oder fachtheologisch. Worin besteht nun also das Christliche? Offenbar gibt es gar keine klaren christlichen Werte.

Ob ich also in meinem Leben Weitherzigkeit, unkonventionelle Deutungen und Praktiken von Lebensgestaltung favorisiere oder ob ich eher dogmenhörig und autoritätsgläubig zu leben versuche oder Mischungen davon, wird nicht durch meine Zugehörigkeit zur christlichen Wertegemeinschaft, die es im Singular nicht gibt, bestimmt. Wodurch denn dann?

Es ist der Stand meiner Entwicklung, meine psychosoziale Einbettung, meine persönliche Mixtur von Bedingtheit und Freiheit und meine Bewusstseinsarbeit, die meine Entscheidungen lenken. Diese persönliche Gleichung schliesst nicht aus, dass jemand in wichtigen Entscheidungssituationen, in sogenannten Krisen, eine Art überpersönliche Erfahrung macht. Wer in ein existentiell bedeutsames Umdenken hineingerissen wird, erlebt diese Situation oft als unerhört, als wäre etwas Unbedingtes ins Spiel gekommen, als etwas Erhabenes, als würde ein grosses Ja gesprochen jenseits von Begründungen. Grosse Aha-Erlebnisse, die zu Weichenstellungen führen, sind so etwas wie Erleuchtungen. Ein Erwachen.

Spreche ich jetzt nicht selber religiös? Doch. Aber dieses „Religiöse“ kommt letztlich nicht von Kirchen und formatierten Konfessionen und Bekenntnissen her. Es ist schwer zu benennen, was es ist. Fast nur abgedroschen lässt sich darüber reden. Was immer es ist: Es war vor allen ausgestalteten Religionen schon am Wirken. Die Religionsstifter waren Medien von etwas, das in der mentalen Evolution angelegt und zur Ausformulierung bereit war. Religionen sind Vehikel.

Was wir aus den heiligen Büchern herauslesen, lesen wir, so gesehen, in sie hinein. Jede Epoche, jeder einzelne favorisiert bestimmte Deutungsstränge. Wir hängen an jenen Mythen, Geschichten und Konstrukten, die uns ansprechen. Wir theologisieren uns das zusammen, was der Zeitgeist will und was uns in den Kram passt. Fragen und Antworten können ja gar nicht anders als in jenen sprachlichen Formen ausgedrückt werden, die in einem bestimmten Zeitraum zur Verfügung stehen. Trotzdem erscheint es uns oft so, dass wir in entscheidenden Momenten von etwas berührt werden, das quer zu dem spricht, was einfach nur der Fall ist. Der Grosse Hintergrund, das Umfassende (Karl Jaspers), das absolute Wissen des Unbewussten (C.G. Jung) offenbart sich nicht so, wie es unsere vorgefassten Meinungen und Moralvorstellungen gerne hätten. Deshalb faszinieren uns die Mystiker, die Ketzer, die aus Gehorsam Ungehorsamen, vielleicht sogar die grossen Verneiner. Hören nicht auch sie gelegentlich auf eine – für sie aus dem Nichts kommende – ichtransformierende Botschaft?

In den Religionen, ihren Bildern und Büchern und in der Tradition religiöser Reflexion sind – neben allerhand Unfug – Schätze zu finden, poetische Tiefe und Keime von Humanität, auf die einzulassen sich nach wie vor lohnt. Wo wir uns aber von diesen Geschichten, Überlieferungen und Ritualen nicht mehr verstanden fühlen, mag uns eine etwas gewagte Zuversicht beflügeln: Das Enttäuschende an Religion, ihre Torheiten werden eines Tages von der Vernunft überwunden werden und an die Stelle verkleideter Wahrheit werden Formen von noch ungeahnter Weisheit treten. Diese tanzt schon seit eh und je im Hintergrund, will uns öffnen für die Grazie eines immer und nie gelichteten Rätsels. Wer mich findet, findet das Leben, sagt sie (Sprüche 8, 35).

Ein Gesprächsteilnehmer, dem nicht mehr recht wohl war in der Runde, fragte überraschend: Was würde wohl Jesus Christus sagen, wenn er hier plötzlich einträte? Er würde uns möglicherweise ein Gleichnis der Liebe erzählen, eine humoristische, ironische oder paradoxe Geschichte, antwortete ich. Und wir müssten auslegen, deuten, unterscheiden und klären. Schon deshalb braucht es auch Philosophie.

 

Read more about Martin Kunz

{ 0 comments }

by Judith Greer Essex

bra-blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When is the beginning of womanhood? Unlike the biologically regulated event of menarche, the first bra fitting could be said to be one social rite of passage for a girl. In my day it was called a training bra, although who was being trained for what is still in question. I was taken by my Mother into a lingerie shop, a hushed, lavender scented temple of silken dainties, where a woman with a tape measure around her neck, like a doctor’s stethoscope, measured my budding breasts, and pronounced my development like a stockyard hand weighing a cow. From there forward, I was to be in harness. Although tales of bra burning are largely apocryphal, by the time I entered university in 1963, the bra, even at a conservative religious college, became a symbol of sexual politics, a symbol of oppression, and the fetishizing of the female breast. I came to value my foundation garments as allies in the battle against gravity. Having recently entered my 70’s, a good fitting bra is now one of my treasures.

How is this related to Expressive Arts Therapy? Intimately.

Second-year students at the Expressive Arts Institute, are required to take a training course called Social and Political Responsibility. Many of our Expressive Arts Therapy and Education students will become helpers in underprivileged communities, and even conflict zones. All will practice in a world where inequity and hardship is increasingly the rule for the vast majority. One of our research projects is called the “Map of My Stuff.” Students and staff look at everything we are wearing, everything we carry with us, from combs to phones, and from flip-flops to laptops. Each student marks the place for each item on a large world map, seeing where the goods and clothing they are investing in come from. Usually they are surprised at how global their lifestyle has become, often struggling to find the countries on the map. We in-vestigate the environmental impact of the raw materials and the human cost and working conditions of those distant persons who make our things.

This year, I discovered that my beloved Wacoal bras, are actually sewn in the Dominican Republic or Thailand. Both countries have poor human rights records, and a prominence of low wages and unsafe working conditions. Most garment factory workers are women, and not well treated. Somehow the very common intimacy of this garment, so close to my heart and my femininity, leads me to consider the lives of the women who make them.

So I began the search for a bra that is ethically made.

I found wonderful looking bras “Made in France.” Upon digging, I discovered that while they were designed and cut in France, they were largely sewn and assembled in Tunisia, Madagascar, Portugal, China, Morocco, and Thailand. According to the company, thisqualifies under E.U. law for the Made in France label. I suppose in these days of this global economy, I shouldn’t be surprised that nothing is made in one place. We are all connected. Even so, the place matters.

Because I am connected to the woman who makes my bra, and I can’t forget her lifecircumstances. I think of her weary hands, her long days, her impoverished life, her kids. And I keep looking, for a better, more responsible company to do business with. I can’t participate in a system that enslaves her through low wages, even as it demeans her labor. This is part of the Expressive Arts philosophy – that our social and political environments affect us, and our simple actions can have far-reaching effects. If I am to take aesthetic responsi-bility, not only for my work, but also for my life, then I must respond to the conditions of others I am connect to.

As part of my aesthetic response I wrote his haiku to the woman who sews my brassiere in the Dominican Republic:

You labor long hours
Your skilled hands working for me
My secret sister.

I am still on a search for a ”perfect bra;” one that serves the women who make it as well as those who wear it. Although they call bras “intimates” I’ve come to recognize that my true intimates are the women whose handiwork crosses my heart each day.

 

Wanna Map Your Stuff?

You’ll need a world map and sticky notes, or pins etc. Check labels on everything you wear, carry, use, and eat. Put the name of the thing on a flag and put it on the country that claims its manufacture. Use internet-resources to learn more about the place your stuff is made, and what it’s made of.  Write a small poem to the person whose handiwork has become part of your life. Have a “Stuff Map’ gathering of friends. You’ll all learn something.

 

Author’s Bio:

Judith Greer Essex, PhD, is the founder and director of the Expressive Arts
Institute in San Diego, providing professional education in expressive arts therapy since 1998. Dr. Essex is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, and Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist. She is Adjunct Faculty at the European Graduate School and Alliant University. Trained as a dancer, she is also a published poet. Read her blog at www.expressiveartsinstitute.org.

 

{ 0 comments }

by Stephen K. Levine

flowing tao

The theme of this year’s International Expressive Arts Therapy Conference, befitting its location, was “The Flowing Tao of Expressive Arts.” Ellen Levine and I participated, along with other faculty from EGS (including Paolo Knill, Margo Fuchs-Knill and Sally Atkins (with her stellar team from Appalachian State University). Daria Halprin, Director of Tamalpa in Kentfield, California, and an erstwhile EGS teacher, gave the keynote address, focusing directly on the theme. She began by affirming the importance of flow in the creative process, but then questioned whether “flow” was an adequate term to describe that process. After all, what about breaks, stoppages, obstacles? Are they not as significant as flow? And isn’t much of contemporary art representative of such breaks, as our culture is far from a state of flow? Daria then proceeded to give a dynamic demonstration of the relation between flow and non-flow in movement, reflecting afterwards that while flow may perhaps be the goal of Expressive Arts, it can be reached only by going through the painful and discordant moments that arise in the therapeutic and artistic processes. It was an intense and moving (literally) presentation that, to my mind, set the tone for the Conference as a whole. The following is a personal report that sets my own experience in the light of the Conference theme.

In a way, it was a minor miracle that ultimately the Conference went well, with many fine presentations and satisfied participants, considering that there were over 400 participants, from 24 nations, with a diversity of languages and backgrounds. This was in no small part due to the hard work of the organizers and the IEATA Board. I was particularly struck by the enormous hospitality that all the organizers and volunteers showed to us. Expressive Arts is alive in Hong Kong, and the enthusiasm of the teachers and students who were there whenever we needed them demonstrated that.

My own participation began with Ellen Levine and I leading a pre-Conference workshop on “Aesthetic Responsibility: Expressive Arts and Social Change” The workshop challenged participants to find their own aesthetic response to the social situations in which they found themselves in their own countries. We worked mostly through movement, since all the participants were from Asian countries and many of them had little or no English. We used a movement structure that Ellen had developed in which, through a series of “takes,” each dancer found their own movement and then encountered the movement of the other, ending not in “mirroring” but in a mutual affirmation and acceptance of difference. The contrast is what makes the dance powerful.

Ellen and I also offered a “Pioneer” presentation on arts-based research in the Expressive Arts during which, after briefly lecturing on the topic, we gave an improvised demonstration, using the model of the “architecture of the session” outlined by Paolo Knill in Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy. In accordance with this “architecture,” I began by filling-in with a research question that was on my mind: What is the connection between the theme of relationship in therapy and other helping professions, and the arts-based character of the approach to Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School? This question has occupied me for some time, given the growing focus on the concept of relationship in contemporary psychotherapy on the one hand, and the development of an arts-based framework for Expressive Arts at EGS on the other.

Ellen acted as the guide or “companion” for me in this process, leading me through an intense movement exploration in front of the sixty-odd participants in the workshop. She noticed me “reaching” for an answer to my question, and therefore asked me to explore reaching through movement. She herself entered into the “decentering” (stepping into the alternative world of the imagination) by moving rapidly and forcefully across the space, colliding with me as I slowly reached up and out using t’ai chi-like movements. Our process became a struggle, perhaps even a conflict, as we held on to our different movement styles. We then paused to reflect on the process, asking ourselves what we liked about it and what we wished for in the next take. Like the members of our pre-Conference workshop, we each wanted to stay true to our own styles yet find a way to connect across our differences. The second take was as intense as the first, but somehow ended with a connection at the end, as her forcefulness and my gentle movements met and found a tender place of connection, each of us letting go of trying to “win,” and each accepting the other while meeting in a genuine encounter. In my reflections afterwards (in what we call the “aesthetic analysis” and “harvesting” parts of the session), what came to me was the thought that “art is the connection,” i.e., that in Expressive Arts work, the participants form a relationship through the art-making itself, thereby overcoming the polarity between a relational and an aesthetic approach to the work.

I believe the demonstration was effective, since afterwards we asked the workshop members to do their own explorations, and a veritable explosion of creativity took place all over the room. I was particularly pleased to see Paolo Knill down on all fours in his small group, moving around vigorously and obviously enjoying himself immensely. Perhaps the effectiveness of the demonstration was due in no small part to the “break” in the flow between Ellen and myself, a break that probably made the ultimate connection all the more significant. Art cannot just flow. Like a river, its force increases when it meets obstacles and finds a new way to surmount them. This may perhaps be true for life itself.

At the end of the Conference I led a closing ceremony for all 400 of the participants. I was rather apprehensive beforehand: how to find a good ending for such a large and diverse group? After a brief poetic introduction by Margo, I began with a brief reflection on the theme of diversity, which Maria Gonzalez-Blue had raised in her acceptance speech upon receiving the Shining Star award from IEATA. In my talk, I stressed the importance of diversity while at the same time emphasizing the need to reach across our differences and connect, thereby finding a new way of being together. In the end, I let go of all attempts at having people reflect on the Conference individually, as I had planned. Instead I took advantage of the wonderful musicians at the Conference (including EGS doctoral student Carrie Herbert on saxophone, Harold McKinney from Appalachian State playing the trombone, and Ashok from India providing a strong drum beat). Starting with slow and melodious music, during which time the different participants silently moved around the room making eye contact while being aware of their impending separation, we then moving into an upbeat and rapid rhythm, while the sax and trombone wailed and everyone began to boogey. Again, I saw Paolo fully engaged and dancing madly in the group. If the arts don’t bring life to us all, then what good are they really?

Although I myself aim for flow in my life and long for an end to conflict, the Conference made me realize once again that authentic flow contains breaks as part of its process, that connection does not mean the absence of conflict and that, as the Buddhists are said to do, we should say, “Welcome,” to the obstacles we meet. They are our material to work with, the gifts that life brings. Perhaps we can only genuinely celebrate when we accept these gifts. The Tao contains both male and female, hard and soft, forceful and yielding. It flows only when all opposites and oppositions and met and responded to. Only in this way can we live fully and bring the gift of increased vitality through the arts to those we try to help.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

By Stephen K. Levine

“The fist, too, was once the palm of an open hand.” Yehuda Amichai  

On July 24th, 2015, The European Graduate School celebrated 20 years of teaching and learning. As part of the occasion, Evarist Bartolo, the Minister of Education and Employment of the Republic of Malta, addressed the audience of faculty, students and honored guests. Malta, a member of the European Union, has recently accredited EGS as an institute of higher education – a long awaited milestone in the development of the school. All summer long, the faculty labored over the accreditation forms, in addition to our intensive teaching schedule. Now that a representative of Malta was here in Saas-Fee, I anticipated a bureaucratic presentation that would be exceedingly long and boring. Much to my surprise, Evarist, as he asked us to call him, began by talking about the World War I poetry of Wilfred Owen and the meaningless carnage of men from nations that were foreign to each other, a slaughter that took Owen’s life as well.

Read more here:

On Being Strange – The Encounter of EGS with Malta

{ 0 comments }

Workshop by EGS Alumni Alina Tomsa

by admin on Februar 6, 2015

Bildschirmfoto 2015-02-06 um 08.55.09

Open the PDF!

{ 0 comments }

EGS in Lima – A Tinquy of the Expressive Arts with the Peruvian Reality

Februar 5, 2015

by Stephen K. Levine Tinquy is a Quechua word which signifies a transformative encounter between two beings. It is also the word that José Miguel Calderon uses as the key word of his EGS dissertation, “Tinquy: The Encounter Between the Peruvian Imaginary and the Expressive Arts.” José and his partner, Judith Allalu, were doctoral students […]

Read the full article →

Call for proposal – IEATA Conference in Hong Kong

Februar 2, 2015

The 11th International Conference of IEATA – International Expressive Arts Therapy Association Proposal Submission Deadline: FEBRUARY 20, 2015 (Friday) Conference October 8-10, 2015 Hong Kong, China We are exciting to announce the “Call for Proposal” arrangement for the upcoming IEATA Conference in Hong Kong on 8-10 October this year. This conference will be a wonderful opportunity to […]

Read the full article →

Come and join Expressive Arts in Berlin!

Dezember 14, 2014

The Expressive Arts Institute Berlin offers a Certificate in Expressive Arts and a Master Program in Expressive Arts Therapy in Cooperation with the European Graduate School EGS: Bilingual Academic Program in Berlin

Read the full article →

Love Letters, Post Cards, and Post-it Notes

September 19, 2014

About Pedagogy, Ways of Knowing and Arts-Based Research by Vachel Miller, Katrina Plato, Kelly Clark, Keefe John Henson and Sally Atkins in POIESIS, Volume 15, 2013, EGS Press Find the PDF here: Love Letters

Read the full article →

Presence and Process in Expressive Arts Work – The new Book by Sally Atkins and Herbert Eberhart

September 16, 2014

Foreword by Paolo J. Knill Do you wonder why we need another book on presencing presence and processing process?  If you wonder, then read this surprisingly unique book, serving you timeless topics, freshly prepared “food” for professionals who are sick and tired of over-processed literature about expressive arts. This book offers nourishing food, timeless topics […]

Read the full article →