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Lesson 6: Giving Body to the Voices – the Importance of Documentation

Contributors: Ângela Saldanha, Raquel Balsa, Teresa Eça, Abel Andrade – Association of Teachers of Expression and Visual Communication APECV 

Description: The AMASS experiments aimed at listening to participants and use artistic skills to make their stories visible through texts, exhibitions, art and design collaborations. By doing so, the project brings self-recognition to each participant and the wider community.

The documenting of projects is based on artistic and activist processes developed with marginalised and disadvantaged communities, allowing project participants to revisit memories of their experiences as a form of social transformation and community empowerment.

The various possibilities of recording and storing each moment in the development of the projects can help the participants to reflect on the past, present and future, and disseminating their experiences through the projects. 

Learning outcomes:

Processes of storytelling, with the 5 senses, that facilitate knowledge and social exchange and recognition in an arts-based collaborative project with a community are the basis for reflection of this lesson. 

1. Learners will be taken on a journey through the documentation processes (with a metaphor of the making bread), recognising the artefacts, videos, photography and exhibitions, as key parts in the process: 

  1. as a memory holder 
  2. as a sharing tool 
  3. as a way to list 
  4. as an evaluation tool 
  5. as a way to bring us closer 
  6. exhibiting the work carried out – making voices heard inside and outside the community 

2. Utilise different forms of documentation with examples from the AMASS project in Portugal

3. Use the senses to communicate and understand people of different communities and co-create projects 

4. Recognise different languages as important data 

5. Enumerate some phases of a process with the community 


Unit 1. Giving body to the sense of sight

Unit 2. Giving body to the sense of hearing

Unit 3. Giving body to the sense of touch

Unit 4. Giving body to the sense of smell

Unit 5. Giving body to the sense of taste


The bread metaphor

Let’s start our work. We ask you to wake up your senses and after viewing the videos and reading the texts, try to find the hidden messages, those you can only find when you look closely, where your senses receive messages conveying different kinds of information. We all communicate using different forms and senses and when we work with communities who live on the margins, you must pay special attention to their countless forms of communication.

In shared work it is essential to feel and understand the other.

As from now on, let’s bake the bread together.

It is an ancestral encounter with a staple foodstuff where you find the four elements: the earth, with the grain (having the planting in mind), the water (with all its cycles), the fire (the alchemy of baking) and the air (the one that transforms and leavens).

This metaphor will be the basis for the whole lesson 6; therefore keep its importance in mind as it will help you understand the information and bring the different voices to life.  Many of those voices will only be perceived with sight, taste, touch, smell or hearing.

Do the exercises we propose and get ready to bake the bread in the communal oven!

Wake up your senses We are preparing and heating the oven!