Gender Lab response - Ilse Ghekiere

Isle Ghekiere by Geraldine Heaney

The experience of the PUSH-lab was manifold. I will remember it as a safe and warm hub where we discussed theory, life and art, played around with new idea's, came up with workshop for children and danced around with Scottish skirts to let out some cerebral steam. 

Looking back at those days, I can say that it was wonderful to meet people with common interests and agendas. People from different streams and background, trying to figure out different things about the same topic. In that sense it definitely enriched my approach to the topic. And because on our own we cannot address everything, all the time, it felt reassuring that now there is at least a group of artist that I know who are out there, trying to 'push' the gender/sexual identity agenda in the making of their works.

Personally I felt grateful that I was selected even though I had never made performances for young audiences. It was inspiring to meet people who have made work for kids and who are aware of the socio-political potential of the theatre. 

I also really took a lot from the discussions that revolved around the limits of 'what kids can take/handle'. At this point I have no idea what kids can take, but I feel that I became more aware of the importance of the intension of an art work. In that regard, Yvon's workshop was extremely relevant, as he stressed the importance of bringing the queerness into children's lives. 

When I now hear or read someone expressing doubts about gender equality, I refer to the lab. I have noticed people take the topic more seriously when it is called 'a lab' and when it involves '15 artists from 5 different countries' and was supported by the 'EU'. I don't even know if I get the numbers right, but as long as I can throw out some number, people seem to be more willing to listen. It takes away this idea of being this one person who seems to be obsessed with gender problems.

It was a pleasure to meet so many inspiring people and I was impressed by how everyone was committed to the lab, being engaged and present, putting the rest of their lives/work for a little while on a hold. This made it possible to get immersed into the discussion. The lab created an opportunity to practice different tools for discussing the subject. There is no doubt that i feel more confident about defending the importance of gender equality.

Of course, the week also felt way too short and even though we said we should not think of the lab as something that should bring immediate result, I do notice how this week has influenced my idea's, future projects and yes, also my day to day life. For example, I never thought I would want to make a piece for a young audience about gender, as workshops seemed to more direct. Now, I start to be more open about staging a work that has a clear commitment to pushing the gender boxes and have been thinking what that could mean in terms of a concept.  At the same time, I hope to see some collaborations between people from the lab. I believe in the people of the PUSH-lab and I would be happy to offer my support in any way I can.