Invitation to Participate: The Conference of the Birds – our journey through the year of the pandemic

What is The Conference of the Birds Project?

“The Conference of the Birds project is an invitation to create 7 events in 7 countries across the world to capture our journey through the year of the pandemic.

The Conference of the Birds is an ancient epic poem by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar from Persia. It tells the story of the assembly of the birds and their search for the “Simorgh,” a mythical majestic bird which has been likened to the phoenix. They are led by the wisest bird through seven valleys to find the Simorgh. Each Valley has a challenge and an exploration into who we are and what can become.

This project is a collective participatory arts project, led by Simon Sharkey (Scotland) and Erica May Wood (Canada) that will have a global reach in the form of events, installations, publications, exhibitions, performance, and online content. Ultimately it will become an illustrated book that will live online and in print.

Why this and Why Now?

Now, more than ever – we need community. We need to connect, share stories, experiences, and wisdom.

Now, more than ever – we need to learn from each other, across the globe, and to ensure that
what we have learned will not be lost.

Now more than ever we must turn from our screens and reach safely and creatively across the social distancing to connect as one world.

Now more than ever we must transcend our fears and limitations to look inward and outward to find truth beyond what is fed to us through media and dogma.

Now more than ever we must strive, to connect when everything is pushing us away from unity and harmony.

As teaching artists and participatory arts facilitators from around the world, we will gather from a distance to chronicle this experience through artistic expression, through unique lenses and by awakening the creativity of the communities we connect with.

Seven countries will journey through the seven valleys depicted in the poem -the quest, love, knowledge, detachment, unity, eradication, and enlightenment. Using creative expression – whether that be song, art, food, poetry, theatre, film, dance and more, we will explore our respective journeys through this moment in history. The results will be captured so that they can be curated into a digital book for all participants and the world at large. As time allows citizens to assemble once again, the digital book will provide the framework for participatory arts and theatrical presentations.

This project is a reminder that we are not alone. This project is a call to adventure.”

For more information, please read the full invitation available here:

-submitted by The Conference of the Birds Project

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