Walking Slowly

July 30th 2022
South India
With Shabari Rao, Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, Manush John & Navya Sah - Filmed & Edited by Manush John - Special Thanks to Arya & Malvika
Open Invitation
Archive of the future
Conscious movement
Field research
Human footprint
Listening as activism
Time scales

Reflection on Open Invitation events by Shabari Rao

I was chatting to someone about my interest in slowness and stillness. When she asked how I began this journey, I told her about a meditation retreat that I had gone to in 2018 and how that experience sparked my fascination with stillness. A professor of math who was walking alongside us said to me “if there was any mention of meditation, I would definitely not have come”. Later he said to me “I don’t know what it was but it was really nice”. I think this is the reason that in my work I frame slowness not in meditation but in performance. But, what is this mysterious IT? What exactly happens at an event like this? Is it even art? I find it hard to say. I honestly don’t know what to call it. But recently, I find myself designing, creating, and curating experiences that elevate the sensorial, that prioritise slowing down, that in some way trains or tunes our attention and what we are then able to attend to. There is no pedagogical imperative, so I hesitate to call it a workshop. There is no recognisable form, so is it art? We had with us as participants a ten year old and his grandfather who was 72 years old. The 72 year old told us that he had worked at seaports most of his life and after spending a lifetime with the sea he was now interested in meeting rocks! We also had a shy woman who had seen the article in the newspaper and decided to sign up. She has a dentist practice in the city but was curious about this excursion. She told me, before she left, that the image of the rocks is going to stay with her and when she closes her eyes at night, she will see the rocks. The fact that all these people had chosen to give 8 hours on a Sunday to come here and spend this time with us was heart-warming! Not only does it feel like I am not alone in my fascination with these rocks, it feels like there is a need for experiences like this; experiences that encourage or invite a way of being, not a skill, or an achievement, but something far subtler. And I think we were able to offer an open invitation to explore a way of being that was accessible and meaningful to a whole range of people.