A Short Book
to An Anonymous

English / Spanish

Dear anonymous!

Telling the facts of a surprising, apparently negative situation may not be easy, but I can say that many times surprising situations come up with many lessons. This is one of those situations.

In February 2020 I took a trip to Colombia to visit my family. Suddenly the world was in chaos, the news spoke of a cold that could not be controlled and that came from a city in China called Wuhan. This “flu” apparently traveled from East to West in a very short time. Although there are many speculations of the reality of the facts. Some of us did not pay attention to it, others simply ignored it, and others entered a state of surprise that is still present. Today is the Pandemic called COVID-19…

— I was in Bogotá.
— My flight back to my home in Berlin was suddenly canceled.
— Quickly new decisions: we were going to buy food supplies, withdraw some money from the bank, it may be necessary…
— It seems that the oldest are dying! Don’t let mom and dad come out, who are now 70 years old. Grandma… suddenly alarm!
— The company business of my parents must be closed.
— Does the government give any help?
— Am I or am I not traveling on the last flight back to Germany?
— Where do you have the safest health?
— What if someone in my family dies?
— What if I can’t see them again?
— What if I die?

In a matter of days I decided to stay in Colombia.
Two weeks later, Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport was closed. My journey that began in the Barranquilla carnivals and a visit to the sea with my mother, ended in 4.5 months in the house where I grew up with 4 people in quarantine…

My time in Colombia during the first quarantine of COVID-19, was a discovery of many things. Some situations are intimate and others go to social reality, reflected in a small group of middle-class people in the city of Bogotá.

A Short Book To An Anonymous

Me reading parts of it on 29. December 2020
(in Spanish)

Chapter 1

MY FAMILY:
THE REPRESENTATION OF A PART
OF THE COMPANY IN COLOMBIA
And the reflection of a part of me.

Part 1.

We debugged many things between us, we were talking about things from the past and cleaning every corner of my parents’ house. We also try the emotional corners, this takes more time and work.

I see my family about once a year. But I have not been with them 24 hours a day for 14 years and less in such long periods. Which brought us to other concrete confrontations with issues such as: gender, and beliefs regarding ways of life. From the positives to the negatives. We are 6 children of the same father and mother. And a 7 sister only on daddy’s side. That she is 6 or 7 years old and I still do not know her. It is difficult for my father to understand that there is no problem and that integrating things through communication is easier and more loving.

Within my family nucleus, according to what I heard from one of my sisters in this “visit” we are 17 people. Their activities are intense on a weekly basis, as they participate in many individual and social activities together. On one hand I am the most isolated because I live in another country, on the other hand I find it suffocating many times. Other times I miss it.

Of these 17 people there are 4 girls under 10 years old (adorable), two newly adults with 20 to 22 years old (growing I see) and the rest older than 31 to 70 years old (constantly growing and silent too).

We never speak openly about gender identity, social needs, and the results that our little-thought-out beliefs bring. On this occasion and as I stayed longer, I felt affected by their ways of seeing some social situations. I am a 38-year-old gay man, I grew up in a fairly familiar context. Situation that today is still repeated in many families in Colombia, however there is much progress on this issue. It is an intimate part, which in the end is public and is a reflection of the society in which I grew up and visit annually.

Contradictory:
Most of my family accepts the “gay”, but because they seem “cool” according to their description and fun.

I called a meeting with my family group. When confronting them because I did not feel accepted at all in some issues, in addition to their position in front of groups to which I belong, such as LGTB, or other minorities. These were some of their responses:

— Most of my relatives agree that minorities do not exist, they believe that it is a personal belief that those who are part of a group are black, LGBT, feminists… My perspective is that in order not to accept it and not accept their ignorance faced with the issue, they put it in those terms.

— A brother-in-law said that of course, they love me, accept me and respect me, which I have no doubt. But they educate their daughters under the philosophy of the Catholic religion. And that they would like to stay that way, in their words: “we respect, and we even have a lesbian mayor in Bogotá. We have even discussed it with my daughters. But seeing two men holding hands… then silence”. Which clearly shows a double standard and a complete uprooting for understanding the situation of another human being who experiences discrimination, rejection, non-acceptance for who she/he/they is/are.

I personally wondered if he expects me to not show affection with a partner in front of them, because this would affect his philosophy rooted in the Catholic institution, but not the god who accepts everyone equally? Or If with this comment he hopes that his daughters will never see something so normal in their closest environment as holding hands with two people of the same sex?

— Another of my sisters faithfully supports that people reject themselves alone and that is why minorities exist. From the psychological side, perhaps she is right, some individual part of every human being goes through moments of rejection. And where is the collective part? To which it has no support because it is not in contact with any minority and has never cared about knowing exactly what it is or they are, or rather who we are? Then, I can say of her that I understand her, a woman who seeks success in her work and family, but burdened with workload, and little time for herself. 

Another reflection of Latin American society, which in addition to all these things in the middle of a pandemic, has had to take care of its two daughters 24 hours at home, her husband does not take much part in it. And the schools in Colombia got close for this moment of the Pandemic. And were closed all year 2020. For 2021 they plan school in shifts.

Yes, this situation forced me to speak to them, to my family. I felt bad. But I realized that it is an issue that is still deeply rooted in the bowels of a society with few tools and manipulated by its government.

To shorten what I want to say, reaffirm that there is still much work to do to open hearts to true acceptance by the other.

This situation leads me to ratify and to a greater understanding of the society in which I grew up and its forms of evolution. The human being in order to share a space and a society, still needs more art, and less reproach. Changes are happening but there is still a lot of work. I see even more social need in my work as an artist.

The most important thing is that during this meeting the message for accepting the other reached my four little nieces, who are the ones who will form new societies. They were my main objective for this meeting.

With respect to adults, the things that resonate with them will be worked on in due course of this life or will be born again to be worked on. Or as adults we will have falls to reflect and internalize these issues.

What can I say…today I think that I lived some routines of the Latin American family again…sweet and bitter towards the acid side. I don’t like bitter. I love acid but it is not acidic enough…!

Regarding me:
— It was not easy, but it was loving.
— It was an uncomfortable situation, but a personal growth situation.
— It was sad to see such intelligent people, my family, close to a situation that affects the world today. But I see the new generations grow up with other tools. I can’t change everything. Acceptance.
— I understand that spiritual evolution goes through all this. And that is why the generations to come will take other actions.
— I lived and recognized my being in family love.
— I was grateful to spend 4.5 months with my parents.
— Enjoy 4 beautiful and “complex” girls in times of pandemic.

Part 2.

We were locked in the same house at first with 5 people. We lived in a certain “harmony”?

— My older brother refuses at 43 years of age to collaborate with the chores of the house, (washing, cooking, cleaning bathrooms) still old beliefs where the man does not do these jobs but the mother is in the “obligation.” Which generated a lot of complications in the first month. Until he decided to go home. I don’t know if it was the best, but living together was easier and less physically heavy on activities for everyone. We accept it with great love, although with great sadness, our attempts at agreement did not bring about continued coexistence.

Dear anonymous, do not forget that I am writing to you. And you can draw your own conclusions: my mom and dad are almost 70 years old and my older brother thinks mom’s should be taken care of him in all these activities.

This is what I called reflections of the society where I grew up, influences that still exist and get intensified in the midst of situations like this.

Colombia is a macho country, led by a matriarchy that supports it. 

Chapter 2

MISCELLANEOUS THINGS

— We chose a person to go out to buy food. This person had to take very specific care when returning home: all packages were taken to a space where they will last 24 hours. Then each item would be washed with soap and water no matter what.
— Alcohol sprayed bills and money.
— Dirty clothes in a bucket with soap and water, if you have gone out. And go to the shower directly before any activity.
— There was a lot of fear generated by the news, a lot of scandal by the media that this could be: what we have heard from other countries with manipulation, control and other things, also happened in Colombia.
— Families even 10 minutes away by car could not be seen. For my mother it was very painful not being able to see her mother. My grandmother.
More about Families.

Chapter 3

A VERY CORRUPT COUNTRY

— The government charged up to five times the price of a can of tuna to support families in greatest need. So with other products.
— The markets disappeared in the course of their destination.
— They killed social leaders in their homes, thanks to the quarantine they could find them easier.
— Locked up, and being forced to comply with rules by the presence of an “invisible enemy” as my father called him.
— Non-existent identification numbers appeared to claim the markets and / or the economic aid that came out for these needs.

Chapter 4

“ME”
AND MAYBE MANY

IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT MOMENT

— A very sexual person.
— I couldn’t touch me.
— We could not leave the house.
— Do not stop using the mask.
— Do not go out.
— Don’t buy this.
— I couldn’t talk about everything.
— I was not at my home.
— don’t do this or that
— no
— no
— don’t break down, stay strong
— don’t believe what they tell you
— no, it is not true what happens
— no pandemic
— no
— no
— no, there were many “no”, but there were also many “yes”.

— Yes to share with the family. In my case, it is not that difficult despite our differences. Love and always trying to understand others helps us overcome many things. We represent the united Latin American family. In the midst of national and global conflict. In the midst of the idea of getting ahead and growing as people, of being better and better human beings. Teachings of our parents and grandparents.

— Yes to paint, I share.
— Yes to clean, tiring.
— Yes to cook, new recipes.
— Yes, to exercise, I infected my brother to exercise a little.
— Yes to see documentaries on the history of human being.
— Yes to spiritual growth, meditation. I am immensely grateful for this time of light.
— Yes, to study online, Feldenkrais and other things.
— Yes to the study of the history of humanity with my younger brother. We understood that we still have many years of evolution left, but we see that there is evolution and we must not focus on the negative things.
— Yes, we generate changes in eating habits.
— Yes, the second operation in Berlin from a past accident. I was close to death.
— Yes, to finish a recovery from a past accident.

Chapter 5

THE INFLUENCE
OF THIS TIME ON MY ARTWORK
AND MY TIME AFTER.

LA PANDEMIA, generated a very important ARTISTIC meeting with my classmates from the University of Arts in Bogotá where I studied. Students who graduated from the ASAB in 2007, an artistic extension of the Francisco José de Caldas University in Bogotá. After 13 years we developed an international project with Colombian women artists living today in India, Colombia, Sweden, the United States, Spain, Germany, which shows personal, family life in an autobiographical way through a video dance. A project that today takes 9 months with an artistic projection in the future and a work that has already been invited to present a couple of festivals.

Weekly meetings
Readings
Videos
Artists studio
Cultures found
Frustrations
Emotions
Meditations
Understanding
Love

Yes! To the development and listening of new dialogues.

And eternally grateful to this group of women artists who empower my choreographic work, my feminine part, my being as a guide in meditations and creativity.

Chapter 6

MY TIME IN BERLIN, MY HOME,
ART AND MY CITY

Suddenly I found myself developing new structures of pedagogy and knowledge transmission. I suffered a positive transformation in my educational pedagogical and emotional structure. Transmit dance, art, and creativity through seminars and online classes. This transformation was seen by my students and colleagues later also in person when I returned to Berlin.

A transformation of my inner being by the influence of a new environment and the social needs of the present world. The projection of other forms of dialogue genre, fuller classrooms, and more curious human beings. More aware.

THE TRILOGY…

Another artistic and creative result that brings as a consequence an expansion of my understanding of the universe I inhabit and the collective universe that we inhabit. The first part of a trilogy, “ASPHALT BODIES – Concrete Cities” as I called it, was presented in October 2020 at DOCK11, Berlin. A work still in process, which I think would not have been possible if this pandemic had not existed. The artistic, material and human resources were given for its development. This trilogy brings together Berlin artists in different fields, music, theater, dramaturgy, direction, design and other arts. Presented by a group of dancers on stage, all artists open to talk about changes and transformations on our planet and in our present.

On stage we put some forms of how we imagine the future, acceptance by others, what forms of communication we could develop. A utopia set in a material and imaginary world. Result of an investigation that showed its first phase not yet finished and that with few expectations already fulfilled a task: to show the same world in which we live in a positive way, to put on the balance of what we consume good perspectives of this world that we inhabit as a collective.

“ASPHALT BODIES – Concrete Cities

Concrete structures, black and dense in their fluidity, are very common in all the cities where we, the artists of this research, come from. The scars on the surfaces of those cities, the cracks in their asphalt, make us reflect on our understanding of what becomes habitual for us in contrast to what we consider as natural… Asphalt Bodies / Concrete Cities will be made thanks to the different cultural influences that marked the artists who investigate it. They have changed their place of origin and have adapted and transformed their learned codes from different cultural and social contexts to live now in Berlin, the place of this common creation. Directed by Alexander Carrillo as artistic director and choreographer, who aims to create aesthetic dialogues with the audience for an understanding of divers perceptions of life.

Choreography / Direction: Alexander Carrillo
Creation & Performance: Stella Zannou, Oktavia Zoë Vöhringer, Dominik Feistmantl, Maya Gomez, Alexander Carrillo
Dramaturgy: Phi Micheli
Graphic Designer: Tommes Armster
Music: Aérea Negrot
Camera / Video: Irene Izquierdo
Photographer: Sven Wolfgang, XXX
Advice: Fernando Derks, Rene Alejandro Huari
Stage, costume design & Production: Alexander Carrillo”

CHAPTER 7

TEACHINGS

Really understand the meaning of patience. From listening to the other as a reflection of my inner being.

Tolerate and accept the present moment as it is.

Letting go with the river in the middle of the stones is the representation of love in the middle of the storm.

Accept changes and live transformation as a natural fact that also shows us our spiritual path. 

The trip ended in a surprise way, the surprise farewell due to the chance of a humanitarian flight, the humanitarian things that had to be paid…the family’s confusion in case I leave and I don’t feel well!

Acceptance for life as it is.

The future is uncertain as we learned it. The present is what we have and times of uncertainty are just the internal things that we have not solved.

Live in gratitude for what we have lived, and always give the best.

Healing our roots, family, getting closer to our dark side, illuminates our fears and frustrations.

Today is December 29, 2020 and I wish you the best from Colombia for 2021. Recently I spent a two-month quarantine in Berlin, and I had the opportunity to return to Colombia for one month, perhaps to finish what we started with my family in the first quarantine. Or simply exist other days by their side. The “chaos” is not over yet.
I will surely tell you more…

Happy 2021 dear anonymous, latest teachings of this whole situation:
Trust yourself and listen to your intuition. It is always right.

Appendix

Me in Bogota

spontaneous recording, 01. April 2020
(in Spanish)

Me in Berlin

spontaneous recording, 30. October 2020
(in English)