At the last minute I decided to attend ‘In-expert 2018’ hosted by Steve Chapman (Can Scorpions Smoke) and a team of co-collaborators who each wanted to explore and express their own experience of ‘not knowing.’
In his opening words Steve described the whole event as a social experiment and invited everyone present to just notice what happens when some of the formal structure and social rules around what we expect from individuals on a stage (at a conference) are removed. As instead of a gathering of experts we were treated to a group of people willing to share and be present to their own sense of in-expertise / inexpert and to be a participant in the whole experience.
As the event started to unfolded I noticed how one thing effortlessly flowed to another. An enabling atmosphere as each individual made space for the other to do what they needed to do. I was also intrigued by the creative space that emerged between the audience and the speakers with multiple moments of unplanned gesture and spontaneous response. These could have been real moments of unease but the intention throughout was collaborative not competitive. I was also aware of the different feel of the place (an arts college) and the little but perfectly formed theatre that was also enabling the creative energy to work its alchemy.
Together, but without a lengthy discussion or formal contract we naturally created a safe place that enabled the new, novel and innovative or just plain different to reveal itself. An emergence from the shadows that literally invited each generous speaker to stand in their spot light. In this exploratory space I experienced a real and uncensored celebration of self-expression in all its messy and glorious forms. Each speaker who so openly shared their unique experience of ‘not-knowing’ helped me to remember and feel OK that life is not a series of straight lines but actually meanders and detours. It is here as I linger on my own sense of not knowing how this piece will be received that I touch upon the undercurrent of a human desire to be our authentic self. To be accepted as such. Expressing a need to be seen and accepted as an individual whilst also being part of a collective fabric took root and became my connecting thread throughout the whole ‘In-expert 2018’ experiment.
Yet this thread was incredibly subtle in its form and this leads me to wonder what would happen if we could learn to embrace the subtlety of the form and let go of our built in need to know? Would we learn to see in-between and beyond the other and in doing so change the whole field of perception? What is actually possible for us? Untangling our self-imposed limitations and truly making contact with one another. Maybe it is the perspective of ‘not knowing’ that enables us to stay open and just notice our experience without judgement or concern. As ‘In-expert 2018’ demonstrated the act of breaking the rules can then be embraced with a genuine curiosity and good humour.
As I walked back to the station through the hustle and bustle of London, I noticed the mass of people busy getting on with their lives. I wondered if each one had their own hidden awareness of ‘not knowing.' In that moment I was struck by how I had just taken part in a beautiful experience of what is possible when we feel safe in the presence of another (in this case an audience of 100), to let down our guard and just be with what is. In so many ways the whole experience was a gift and I thank you all for that.