Participatory workshops in Warsaw and Madrid

Friday July 29th, 2022

In EmCliC, we are interested in embodiment of heat and heatwaves. But studying embodiment is a very difficult process that cannot be reduced only to verbal means. That is why during our ethnographic research we engage with various methods, including participant observation, making photographs, drawings and maps. We have also organized interactive workshops that specifically focused on the body and embodiment of heat.

From the end of June until mid-July we organized four meetings in Warsaw. We collaborated with a psychotherapist, Kamila Drążek, an expert in dance and movement therapy. The four consecutive meetings brought together from 8 to 12 participants, including some of our ethnographic research participants. We engaged with discussions, movement, role-playing, drawing and dance to unpack what heat means to older adults, how it affects their daily lives and what does it do to their bodies. For instance, participants reflected on how different degrees of temperature made them feel and what kinds of memories did they bring; reacted to varied visual and sound representations of heat (sunny beach and a crowded hot city); drew how heat affected their bodies and as a group enacted a heatwave.

From July 5th to 7th, EmCliC invited La Rueda Theatre company to organize a theater workshop about the heatwave for adults over 65 in Madrid, including the ethnographic study participants. During the workshop participants mapped their heat experiences on drawings of their bodies; they improvised how daily life scenes change when the heat factor is introduced; they recreated a moving heatwave with their bodies, and wrote and performed monologues written as if they were a heatwave. The participants also engaged in a process of participatory ethnography whereby they went out to ask people in the street about their heat experiences, in Vallecas, the hottest neighbourhood in Madrid, gathering testimonies to recreate distinct visions of heat through character improvisations. Finally, participants engaged with the sensory dimension of heat and created a heatwave sound atmosphere. You can see the video of the workshop and listen to the ‘sound atmosphere’ of a heatwave the participants created below.

Both in Warsaw and Madrid the workshops were a creative addition to our ethnographic research that enabled us to better understand different aspects of embodying heat. But they also proved to be highly appreciated by the participants who all mentioned that they would have loved to participate in more of such events.