Oct 08 2018

On the 8th of October, Fluffy welcomed, a lot of new friends; deaf students and their accompanying teachers from 5 different schools of 5 different countries, in the context of the European Programme Breaking the Silence, Erasmus +KA2 Project 2017-2019.

Breaking the Silence is a Programme about the empowerment of deaf students’ identity through artistic expression and aims the development of art forms of communication and individual expression of deaf children. The Programme includes the collaboration of Special Schools for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing from five different countries (Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia). Each country had taken on a specific artistic field; Visual Arts were chosen for Athens.

For their very first day, the 8th of October 2018, here, in Athens, was planned the realization of an emotive workshop at the cultural organization ATOPOS cvc and more specifically a workshop inside #TextMe_FluffyLibrary, which concluded with performative narrations in sign language and improvised happenings.

As far back as the initial idea of Fluffy Library, Tsagkaropoulou Antigoni and Anastasiadou Ourania, both artists, have visioned the conclusion of groups with different abilities, which will actively contribute to an ongoing unconventional narrative of an imaginary fairy tale. It was a delightful occasion, the arrival of those deaf children in Athens, which as a community had a unique specificity: each group of deaf children have used different sign language. Contrary to popular belief, sign language is not a universal language, and different sign languages are used in different countries, like the many spoken languages all over the world. It was a challenge, in an experimental level, the way in which the children would operate and succeed to communicate in order to achieve the creation of “fluffy” narrations.

Fluffy kept warm and comfort all the people who joined the meetings for the preparation of the workshop. During that time, a text – as an invitation/introduction – was sent to each country’s coordinators, in order for the children to be prepared for their visit at #TextMe_FluffyLibrary. It was chosen from the organizing team to send only a text with no additional material to unlock kids’ imaginations:

What is “Fluffy”?

Fluffy is a gigantic, hybrid creature that has occupied the rooms of ATOPOS cvc since the 23rd of April and lives inside the building. It steals and then eats the books of the library and digests knowledge through its fuzzy cavities. Don’t be afraid! It doesn’t eat humans cause it’s symbiotic; that means it needs to cohabitate with other people, to either read or play together.

We don’t know more about Fluffy, its origin and its age. We don’t have any information about its species. We don’t even know if it’s deaf, where was before or where it will go after. We would like to invite you to explore all of these aspects and to create together the story of this strange, but impressive creature.

After entering the building and after some exploration time that was given to them, the participant children were divided into groups composed of children from different countries in order to mix sign languages. The groups included deaf and hearing adult animators, teachers of deaf schools, actors, visual artists and others.

In about an hour, everyone gathered to see the different narratives of the different groups. The communication between the participating children was effortless and the creative process was dynamically as important as the creative outcome. There was no complementary artistic action as, firstly, a proposal to exempt from stereotypical beliefs about what art is and at the same time as a practical notion of what it means Visual Arts in contemporary art field.

All the participants had a great time during the workshop, where the deaf students interacted in the best way, creating their own alternative narratives about Fluffy.

After the presentations, a fantastic dinner was offered at ATOPOS’ yard.

The whole narrative event was filmed, in order to have significant documentary evidence in favor of the use of visual gestural languages. The produced video was projected at the Closing Ceremony of the Programme on Friday October 12, 2018.