Behind the scenes: oral history workshops with schools are unfortunately suspended. We will meet again after Easter, but we don't know when yet.
I've always thought that workshops were places of contact, sharing and dialogue with others. The images in my mind are twofold: people standing in a circle sharing their experiences without judgment, and perhaps more simply researchers who, side by side, share a goal that is useful to everyone: creating vaccines, for example.
Oral history, on the other hand, comes from the meeting of two people. It deals with testimonies that take shape in the interaction of two individuals, two bodies that narrate themselves and that fix in a bubble of time the story through memory, remembrance, words, looks and silences.
With the workshops we wanted to create an antidote to the emptiness, the lack of verbal communication and encounters with the other.
These oral history workshops were therefore meant to be the maximum expression of the encounter and relationship with the other. Instead, they were born at a distance in the midst of a pandemic.
Pictures would have been more eloquent than words, but I was not given permission to make public the photos of the classes involved in the project. Too bad!
I found myself in front of a screen with lots of masked dots in a semi-deserted classroom. You notice a desk in the front row, isolated, with a microphone. It looks like the defendant's desk. There, students sit down to interact with me, who is an image on a screen. A microphone pointed at them and masked kids...it's funny, but not that funny.
Then there are the dots from home and often the camera stays off. Some overcome the distance: they smile, intervene and raise 'the virtual hand' by pushing a button. I don't think they like lecturing this way either.
The lockdown prevents kids from going to school, from doing workshops, from doing interviews, from meeting people, from learning a different way of doing history and learning about the memory of their city.
These are discouraging days... But then come the surprises. The message that confirms that there is hope and that makes you smile.
And you know that 'one thing leads to another'....
Valentina Lisi, Oral History Labs Tutor