“Narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of blood. Story
telling is intrinsic to biological time, which we cannot escape.”
(2002 – ) Pinker, S. The Blank Slate
It has been an honour to participate in the development and creation of Boychild. It has provided an opportunity to create a space in which to explore masculinity differently, to negotiate and renegotiate the parameters of maleness.
The workshops were robust, full of laughter, joy and surprise, they were often moving, and unflinching. Each workshop space has been defined by the character of the boy children in it via the attendant rituals of the art making process.The quality of engagement has been meaningful and fulfilling.
The performance on Father’s Day, like a scan, is a mere glimpse of the whole – it is incomplete.Yet I hope it provokes thought, feeling, memory, empathy. I hope it asks questions and acts as a provocation for discussion, for sharing, for debate. It is an honest glimpse, a fleeting moment of something that will continue to grow. Each tiny event, fragile or robust and resilient, is a marker; a signifier of the process. Many moments have not found their way into the performance, yet they too are significant. Much of the art has already happened, the dialogue continues.
The men, the boy children, we have met have been candid, courageous, unflinching in their honesty.
Traditional male domains where men gather often have frameworks around them which are not conducive to reflection.The interest and occasional controversy which has surrounded our work is a measure of how far removed society is from listening to men, or giving a platform for men to express themselves or to reveal who they are.The fear for me as artist was how to ask the right question to allow things to come to the surface, to have the courage to allow things to develop without knowing if what we were doing could be translated and shaped to communicate to an audience.
This is a genuine experiment.The terrain is new, the language is still forming on our lips, there are slips, mispronunciations, misunderstandings, a struggle to come into being. Boychild is one year old, attempting to walk freely, gabbling away with a rhythm and flow that you know makes sense, but isn’t always clear.Then suddenly, a whole phrase bursts forth, clear as a bell and we are all delighted and clap our encouragement.
It is difficult to believe that Boychild as originally conceived is nearly over. I am overwhelmed by a sense that we have begun something that needs to continue to develop and mature.The truth for me at the end of this process is that there is no crisis of masculinity and maleness, but rather a crisis in the society which perpetuates stereotypical myths about men.There needs to be an ongoing dialogue that gives men the opportunity to forge a different language, a language that comes into the public domain, to allow men to say how men are, to tell their stories.
‘The inspiration for Boychild grew out of Visiting Time. It is dedicated to Daniel,Lewis,Mark,Robert and boy children everywhere.’