This Spotlight on Faith is a Form of Activism / by Alexa Eisner

The notion of faith- and questioning what we place faith in- is material for activism. It is a way of loosening the beliefs we unconsciously hold onto so tightly.

I attended the performance FAITH MATERIAL: ACTIVISM created by Jesse Hewit / Strong Behavior showing at the performance art space, CounterPulse. The show title is both direct in its call and subtle in its suggestion. We are asked to explore faith in more complex terms- not just as the personal sphere and abstract, but also the public sphere and systems of knowledge.

“Faith” may be experienced as truth- and whether derived from intuitive learning or logical reasoning- it is helpful to reflect on faith as belief, and that this belief varies between people and context.

The performance was a conversation exposing the arbitrary nature of where we place faith. Throughout the piece the artists moved between action- setting the space with things; and interaction- moving between objects and engaging with their surroundings. From the viewer’s perspective, the gathering and dancing with material had moments of pattern, randomness, struggle, and curiosity. There was one section with language where direct commentary about ideas such as self, relationship, purpose, and desire, were woven with nonsensical dream-like emotions. As if yin and yang- the head and heart- are both spaces for us to explore our constructed notions of faith.

And in doing so, in questioning what we choose to believe, maybe we open the door to new perspectives and so new approaches for how to engage with the stuff of life.

Image after the show at CounterPulse, Alexa Eisner

Image after the show at CounterPulse, Alexa Eisner

In the West, scientific knowledge has been privileged as truth. Social traditions, such as marriage and family, viewed as pathways to happiness. And religious and spiritual practice, an answer to the meaning of life. These are examples of narratives we may unconsciously place faith in. But if we could step back and experience these acts of belief as changing and varied, how differently would we relate to our world and each other?