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  • Jamal Gerald

You See... A Reflection

I have realised that I have done reflections and written about my process for other pieces, ‘FADoubleGOT’ and ‘Dogmatic’, but not for my one-to-one ‘You See…’. So, here I am again, doing some lovely reflection. I’ve been performing this piece since 2016, throughout this time I have done 3 durational performance versions of it, from up to 6 hours for a day or 18 hours across 3 days. Then there are many one off occasions with people that I know. Some have even done the one-to-one more than once. 30 minutes or longer with each participant, talking about race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and religion. Is it a lot to handle? Yes! However, I do feel like these discussions are needed.


Throughout this time, people have responded positively, negatively, people have cried after the one-to-one, during the one-to-one, including myself. Some have shaked with nerves throughout the conversation. Some felt that I was personally attacking them. Some participants have made the one-to-one much more difficult for themselves than it needed to be. People have made assumptions about what they think I want them to say. Some have even snapped because they didn’t like a question. But, there are no right or wrong answers, just like there are no right or wrong questions. It’s all about whatever comes to mind within that moment of speaking with me. It doesn’t matter if a participant thinks a question is necessary or not. Each question is only there to keep the conversation going. All I’m interested in is understanding what people think and why they think it. That’s it. Everyone thinks the way they think for a reason and it’s something I’m interested in.


I decided to keep the conversations confidential, especially if someone has shared extremely personal things that they may have not shared with anyone else. I can say what has been said during a one-to-one, but I’ll always try my best to make sure not to say who has said it. But, traumatic things that someone has gone through are way off limits for me to share with anyone else. Yes, I’m holding onto a lot. I have realised that I’m so used to these conversations but a lot of people don’t ever get the chance to have them. It’s something I keep in mind whilst I continue to do this one-to-one. The thing I love most about this piece is that it’s timeless, these questions and conversations about these topics will always be relevant.


Something that I struggle with is what I do after doing the one-to-one. The truth is I don’t really do a thing. I may do some deep breaths afterwards but that’s about it. I feel rough for a few days and then I just carry on with my life. I could probably find someone to reflect with but at the moment, I’m good. I feel like this is what comes with doing an intense piece, especially when it’s in a durational context. I don’t like depending on people however, I don’t mind people depending on me. It works much better for me that way.


People have questioned what will I do with all the information that I’ve gathered from the conversations and the answer is absolutely nothing. I also find it amusing when people try and have a say in my process when I never asked for their opinions in the first place. Telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my own work. Haha! People make me laugh. There’s this assumption that me just having a one-to-one conversation about privilege isn’t enough, like it’s some sort of waste. But, it’s not a waste. A change starts with a conversation. I also don’t have any interest in telling people’s stories, especially since the conversations are confidential. No shade to anyone that interview people and then make material from it, but it’s not something that I’m personally interested in when it comes to my practice. For research? Absolutely. I would say that this one-to-one is an ongoing research because I’m interested in what people think. But, that doesn’t mean that this research has to go towards something bigger, or I have to share what I have come across throughout the process. People are just too damn farse!


For example, I’m interested in a lot of random topics, and I’ll go on to research deeply into them. There’s nothing wrong with interviewing people for research or even pissing them off a bit whilst doing some social experiments. Ha! But, I want people to tell their own stories, I don’t want to listen to people’s stories and then run off with them and then make a show about it. That’s not my style. If their opinions are already out there in public, I have no problem quoting them because they’ve already said it out loud. Yes, some people will give permission for someone to interview them and then they can do what they want with it. But, even if someone gave me permission, I still wouldn’t do it.


Like I said before, all I’m interested in is what people think and why they think it. In the one-to-one I say “I hope that after our conversation you’ll continue to have these types of conversations with others.” It’s really straight forward. I hope that if someone can have a conversation about privilege with me, a black, queer, working class man, then they can have a conversation about it with anyone. Is the conversation difficult? Of course. But, it’s the start of the conversation that should be easy.

© 2019 Jamal Gerald

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