Words by Esther Callahan
To be connected and not alone is sacred. To invite others to push past fear and become a part of something bigger than themselves is a gift. Artists Vie Boheme, Ricki Monique and MMYYKK laid out a vision on the role that art, artists and exploration can have and what that process of making art and inviting others in can reveal through The Playground Experience. Through their work, waves of interconnection flowed through all who came hitting the very back of one’s soul.
From the beginning of the performance the audience was invited to laugh, move, breathe and explore without limits. And although invitations to play are not exactly groundbreaking, the offer to get away from the traditional mundanity of adulthood to look past the need to maximize every minute in managing societal expectations is. What was offered to the audience was a direct result of the shared visioning and transformative nature of artists building with each other, with themselves, and with their craft. That intention was obvious from how each artist showcased their flexibility and adaptability to the space, to the audience and to each other all while sitting in the wonder that is the seen and unseen.
To be a witness of three powerful artists in the areas of collaborative performance, social practice and archiving made The Playground Experience one of the most compelling art events of 2022. The music, the movement, the poetry of the lyrics, had an elegiac formulation to it, which felt linked to both personal and collective narratives. From one artist to the next, they each created space for preservation, dissemination and collective forms of knowledge to be built across objects, images, sounds, movements, and relationships.
As a participant invited to play, I recognized that there are unintended consequences when one excludes themselves from play. Art and play contribute to the richness of the person, the arts, and society as a whole. Each artist presented a shift from the individual to a collective impact through intentional exploration while guiding the audience to utilize the space as a site of experimentation. A part of this invitation was to challenge the viewers assumptions in order to develop a new roadmap that better reflects the collective creativity of ourselves and our community.
Discovering the self, the creative voice, the trust in the process is dope beyond measure. This thoughtful deed of inviting us all into the space, the art, the inspiration is the very definition of discovery. To sit in a space of discovery alongside the artists is a rarity. An uncharted sea of possibility offers a plethora of possibilities in how and where to navigate one’s physical self, one’s emotional self, and one’s transformative self. As the great Toni Morrison once said, “What’s the world for if you can’t make it up the way you want it?
Each artistic offering was a weaving of the bold with the soft, meshing detailed narratives with free, messy and wild wonder. A collage of movement, togetherness and ecstacy, alongside a sense of trepidation of being in a space in close proximity to others after many moons of pandemic cloistering. The distilling of past, present and invocation of the future in the performances offered a space of deep breathing with the reminder that play lets you start over.
One key takeaway from The Playground Experience was the permission to face our trauma – as individuals and as a collective community. The invocation of “SOMETHING MORE” sung 4 times, was a powerfully intimate vibration/invitation to our hearts, to ourselves, to nature. Permission to be ready, able and willing to find harmony in the chaos.
In small and large ways, The Playground Experience unfolded the beauty in each of us with its subtle and bold reminders to never forget the intentions behind simply being enough, anywhere and always. As MMYYKK says, “The sky is not the limit”