it/EQ is a community based collaborative in NYC, working to promote arts/artists in a community exchange through showcasing vital unknown artists, providing multicultural exchanges, and visibility to minority or underrepresented people. it/EQ’s debut project, “The Emperor’s Premiere,” opened in July 2005, which showcased underground local artists/activists in a multimedia fashion show performance with current political subtexts @ Le Petit Versailles, a community garden (www.alliedproductions.org). Subsequent works include a sci-fi transgendered opera at Dixon Place (NYC 2006), a surrealist cabaret dance at Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (NYC 2006), and a month long series of workshops and performances related to political contexts surrounding secret societies, corporations, and information technologies (SF 2006), anthropological survey of Uranus (NYC 2010). Videos on these performances have been screened in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, CA, and Houston, TX. Funding for projects have been sponsored by private individuals, MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival, and a grant from the Puffin Foundation.
The inspiration for this project/collaborative, is one out of love. Carlo and I met early 2005 and we started working together on various projects. The dynamic and the creativity brought to various political and artistic projects was so intense and wonderful that I can’t help but want to create something beautiful with him.
The story of it/EQ is based on one of the principles of Shamanism, and that is imbuing meaning (personal, spiritual, social) onto things; that objects, people, places have special powers – living symbols of power, and to reach beyond the ego into a realm where we are all deeply connected…
In the very earliest of times, men lived in the dark and had no animals to hunt. They were poor, ignorant people, far inferior to those living nowadays. They traveled about in search of food, they lived on journeys as we do now, but in a very different way. When they halted and camped, they worked at the soil with picks of a kind we no longer know. They got their food from the earth, they lived on the soil. They knew nothing of all the game we now have, and had therefore no need to be ever on guard against all those perils which arise from the fact that we, hunting animals as we do, live by slaying other souls. Therefore, they had no shamans, but they knew sickness, and it was fear of sickness and suffering that led to the coming of the first shamans. The ancients relate as follows concerning this:
Human beings have always been afraid of sickness, and far back in the very earliest times there arose wise men who tried to find out about all the things none could understand. There were no shamans in those days, and men were ignorant of all those rules of life which has since taught them to be on their guard against danger and wickedness. The first amulet that ever existed was the shell portion of a sea-urchin. It has a hole through it, and is hence called itEQ (anus) and the fact of its being made the first amulet was due to its being associated with a particular power of healing. When a man fell ill, one would go and sit by him, and, pointing to the diseased part, break wind behind. Then one went outside, while another held one hand hollowed over the diseased part, breathing at the same time out over the palm of his other hand in a direction away from the person to be cured. It was believed that wind and breath together combined all the power emanating from within the human body, a power so mysterious and strong that it was able to cure disease.
In that way everyone was a physician, and there was no need of any shamans. But then it happened that a time of hardship and famine set in around Iglulik. Many died of starvation, and all were greatly perplexed, not knowing what to do. Then one day when a number of people were assembled in a house, a man demanded to be allowed to go behind the skin hangings at the back of the sleeping place, no one knew why. He said he was going to travel down to the Mother of the Sea Beasts. No one in the house understood him, and no one believed in him. He had his way, and passed in behind the hangings. Here he declared that he would exercise an art which should afterwards prove of great value to mankind; but no one must look at him. It was not long, however, before the unbelieving and inquisitive drew aside the hangings, and to their astonishment perceived that he was diving down into the earth; he had already got so far down that only the soles of his feet could be seen. How the man ever hit on this idea no one knows; he himself said that it was the spirits that had helped him; spirits had entered into contact with out in the great solitude. Thus the first shaman appeared among men. He went down to the Mother of the Sea Beasts and brought back game to men, and the famine gave place to plenty, and all were happy and joyful once more.
Afterwards, the shamans extended their knowledge of hidden things, and helped mankind in various ways. They also developed their sacred language, which was once only used for communicating with the spirits and not in everyday speech.
– Rasmussen, Knud. Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos translated by William Worster. Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924 vol 8 no.1-2 Copenhagen.
There is no turning back, like the indigenous tribes of America; we have to adapt to survive to the changes we see around and find a balance of our own identities and meanings.
And it was out of these ideas we formed. Maybe we can get back to our roots, to search for meanings which make life so powerful, so moving, so inspiring.