Brussels yoga + shibari last four days & photoshoot

The absence of writing since Wednesday should indicate how involved the workshop was. Yes, finished, on to more rope things. It’s a pity I didn’t manage to keep writing each day, as much happened I thought worth remarking on.

Thursday and Friday were the last two days of the Yoga and Shibari week workshop. The weekend was for a more advanced rope techniques workshop culminating Sunday night in a photoshoot in Charleroi/Danses ground-floor workspace in La Raffinerie. Many of those who came during the week stayed on for the weekend, and we were joined by a few new arrivals also.

I’ll try to summarise a bit my memories and impressions of these days rather than any doomed-to-failure chronology. Perhaps to start by saying seven days of rope work usually stretching over eight hours for Dasniya and I left us both dead tired and exhilarated. I have a repeated feeling we are on to something really interesting (which I’ll write about more in the coming days for the other project which keeps me in Brussels). I think to say categorically what we are doing is both very much not shibari and also very much exactly this.

I was reading an interview by Osada Steve with Akechi Denki, where he says, “shibari is communication between two people using the medium of rope. It’s a connection made with rope between the hearts of two people.” While he also says this in the context of SM, and refers to traditional roles of dominance and submission in a heterosexual context, I think nonetheless this comes to a central aspect of shibari: it is a communication wherein the rope is the intermediary.

And so to find a language. Perhaps this is why there is a lot of shibari I can appreciate for certain individual aesthetic qualities, but as a whole find it not so engaging. There is an absence of communication. Instead there is representation, either of specific figures or of scenes and roles—fantasies which are preformed, or of mimicry. But this is not communication, or perhaps not a communication of an especially sophisticated kind.

It occurred to me that what happens in the workshops and classes is a method of teaching communication, drawing up of the grammar and semantics. It is a process of reiteration and refinement, that is as much for us as teachers as it is for those who attend, a project of learning.

One task on the weekend was attending to a grid/web of rope we had spread along one wall, through the frames around the heaters. Into this we worked ropes methodically, starting with the basic knot, then with blumen—flowers which any climber would recognise as a munter hitch, which can be done in several ways, each producing a different visual result as well as being suited for different circumstances. Then with the simple direction change, which is a half-hitch done along the length of a rope allowing the working rope to securely add tension to the bound rope as well as to change direction.

The familiarity that comes from repetition allows for complex figures to be verbally described, though what is interesting in such a simple exersise is the aesthetic values each person gives—some almost formal geometric patterns; others far into the wilds of chaos; still others balancing and weighting the workspace, resulting in something looking almost as if it had occurred naturally.

Sunday night we descended from the loft into the ground floor space—thick silver pillars two storeys high, windowless and dim, lit with a handful of stage lights on tripods that later would creep around the room, illuminating the goings-on. First though, a group dinner.

Around midnight, we left the venue after seven days for the last time, still thrilled from what had gone on. How can words or pictures imagine or explain it? Fourteen people in costumes on blankets, chairs, pallets, beneath a series of rings hung from the ceiling—some just for decoration, others put to use, warm light flooding the small area which we occupied, all with ropes. Unlike everyone else, I was outside photographing, though wishing I could be inside somewhere. Perhaps one or two of these photos will find their way here. If not, then it is nonetheless something for us.