“Paranoias of Paya” (payo or paya is how gypsies call to the white people) is a series of small actions with which I begin each of my sessions at IES Montes Orientales de Iznalloz (Granada), within the Mus-e program of the Yehudi Menuhin Spain Foundation (FYME). I am fortunate to work on this project and to share my way of understanding art with the girls and boys of 1st and 2nd year of High School, together with their visual arts teachers. The title is taken from the expression: “teacher, you are already with your payo paranoias!” that a student at this center said about a special proposal from a teacher, and which reflects the common practice of calling “paranoias” to the things that other people do and we don’t understand.
The initial goal of this series of small actions is none other than to get their attention for a few minutes. After the initial surprise, I am achieving my purpose, and even some days there is some expectation for the new action. Some groups silently watch and others excitedly comment on my movements. In any case, it seems that I manage to provoke some interest and curiosity.
Another purpose for carrying out these actions is to bring students closer to the language of performance art since the best way to understand, respect, and even feel interested in this artistic expression is by witnessing it live. And with each new action, I have observed how they have progressively integrated what I do and gradually understanding this language.
Finally, it is important to note that after living these experiences, I have understood together with the teachers, that the true value of these actions (as well as the related activities that we have carried out) is to show and invite to experience everything that comes out of what is considered “normal”. I am very interested that the girls and boys with whom I have the opportunity to work see and do “strange things”, “nonsensical things”, “follies” (as they say) … in fact, they have learned the meaning of ” the absurd ”, one of my favorite concepts both in art and in life, since what we do not understand from an intellectual point of view, often connects us with another part of us more related to the unconscious, to the emotional, with the sensory …
As an artist, to carry out these performances in front of such a spontaneous audience that they sometimes exclaim in full action “Teacher, you are crazy! What are you doing ?! ”It has been a difficult experience at times and always very enriching. These actions allow me to share my work and my way of understanding art and life beyond the circuits of art, in which one feels safe and protected. It is a challenge and at the same time a way to bring contemporary art closer to a population that hardly has access to this type of artistic manifestation.
Each action is carried out at the beginning of the session, without saying a word beforehand, after it, we comment on what has happened and what they have felt or thought when seeing it. I am very grateful to IES Montes Orientales and to the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation for trusting in my work and giving me the opportunity to carry out my “Paya Paranoias”.
Next, I will briefly describe the nine actions that I have carried out, of which you can see a photograph and a drawing of Antonio, a student who drew each action. These marvelous diagrams explain each step graphically and with annotations, thus becoming pieces of great documentary value.
You can see the Paranoias realized in 2020 HERE.
Action 9: Circle.
I build a circle using the length of my body as a measure, like a compass. We sit inside. It serves as an introduction to an activity in which we measure objects, spaces and other bodies using body parts as units of measurement.
Action 8: Nose.
I contour the tip of my nose with a cord. I hang a piece of paper on which I draw an arrow pointing to the nose. I stick a plastic eye on the tip.
Action 7: Mop.
I have an object inside a black cloth bag over my head that I put inside my sweater (turn 360º slowly). I take out the end of the object by the neck of the sweater and whistle inside (I turn again). I take out the object slowly (a mop) and move it in front of my face until I place it on my head (I turn again). Finally, I throw the mop to the floor with a shake of the head. (There is no drawing of Antonio today…)
Action 6: Postures.
I put myself in different positions in different places of the classroom, playing with the relationship of the body in space and with the elements. Then I speak to each boy and girl in their ear so that they also occupy the space, thus linking with the activity of that day.
Action 5: Keys.
I put keys on the floor forming a sort of mandala. I wrap around the waist transparent seal inside out. I lie on top of the keys and stick to the seal. I cut it from behind and put it on my face, as if it were a mask. Finally, I paste it on the blackboard.
Action 4: Heart.
I inflate a heart balloon to the maximum. I tie a knot. I hug him strong, strong until he explodes. I had to help myself with a pin because there was no way to exploit it. In a group they wanted to try it and they could not either.
Action 3: Precinct.
Short pieces of seal that I place over my mouth, my ears, and my eyes. Drawing on them a cut line, a spiral, and some crosses respectively. I take them off and stick them on the blackboard.
Action 2: Gloves.
I put one over another more than fifteen clear plastic gloves until the hand is not visible. After I approach each girl and boy and I give them my hand, looking at their eyes.
Action 1: Chair.
I sit on a chair and start to tie myself to her with a ball of yarn, slowly. I ask for help to help tie my arms. I talk to them from the chair.