Débora Barrientos
4 min readNov 11, 2020

We have been wearing masks for a long time now.

Since we are going through the second wave in Europe, more and more “new” and “old” reflections about the impact of the pandemic are coming up. We are now in the second lockdown here, and our thoughts related to this are in a second-round too. The first time it felt like we were exploring the unknown, and there was a kind of hope of some system change and at the same time fear about changing too. The feeling of letting go and letting in, but there was a beacon of hope. For example, nature was able to restore, it looked like. We all approached the situation with hope. How are we going to face what is happening now?

Last Sunday, in a “new but different lockdown” in Spain, where I am right now, I had the first session of “Unlock the news” online facilitated by Uri Noy Meir. After an hour of practising improvisation and embodiment with the group, it was inevitable and expected that some reflections related to the virus came up. My first phrase was “We have been wearing masks for a long time now”. I did not really know where it came from, but it felt strong. It first came, then I went through, and I experienced the meaning. I am still sensing in my body, even now, a couple of days after.

When you are improvising, you connect to the freedom, nothing is wrong, nothing is bad, just whatever appears is great, even if it is ridiculous. SPT (Social presencing theater) practice is also about that. What does your body want to do?. Psychoanalysis also proposes that, free association with the mind, SPT or any embodiment work it is with the body. The same experience. To improvise with what is emerging and resonating at that very moment. Genuine things come up from there. It is a resource that in general is not used. Improvising or embodiment is not connected to success “formula” mostly in our culture. Yes, we have been wearing masks for a long time now. Maybe to all “look”the same?

The day after the first session of the course, Ilaria Olimpico shared with us “Lost in Narration, it was about her reflections related to the “truth”, fake news as single stories and how dangerous they could be at this moment in particular. The spread of fake news is as fast as the spread of the virus around the world, and as harmful too. It also resonated with me. Yes, we have been wearing masks for a long time, even before the ones that we are wearing now. The stories, the single stories that we tell are the masks that we wear, to defend ourselves, our ideas, our emotions, our vulnerability and stick to them,so as not to explore and accept the edges of the differences and the shadows of all of it. The risk of listening to all the stories is to jump into a different perspective, a much more complex and wider “world”. All stories matter.

Finally, at the end of the same day, I had a jam practice session with the SPT community. It was a session related to showing up to not knowing. In the end, it was a journey to showing up to the unknown of ourselves and others, especially to the things that others are holding back (and also us) and we don’t know. Things that we do not express or share. We have been wearing masks for a long time now. Knowledge or the feeling of knowing is a mask. It is also a trap.

I knew a lot of this, I had a clear idea, I agree with that, but I have never written about it. It is an entirely different understanding using the body as a bridge to experience and to embody knowledge. Everytime the understanding is at a different level, unfolding and unfolding what it is invisible. Also it is another round. Embodied wisdom.

We have wearing masks in our hearts, will and mind. The actual masks are maybe an embodiment of that. Do we need those masks in our hearts, minds and will?

Thanks for reading :)

Débora Barrientos

Ps: Together with Marina Seghetti and Uri Noy Meir, I am holding space for “Unfolding the invisible”, a Social Arts practice group, which meets weekly.

Unfolding the Invisible, explores creativity and the transdisciplinary vision towards the formation of a humane and ecologically sustainable society. It looks at the thought, work and intuitions of different cultural and disciplinary contexts. Together they inform the field of social arts and connective practice toward empowerment, imaginary thinking, and transformation.

A connective practice towards social and ecological ethics

By connecting artists, students, professionals, projects, citizens and researchers from diverse practices, thought spaces and regions of the world, we create spaces for dialogue, transdisciplinary research and connective practices that contribute to creative transformation, social and ecological ethics and training towards a more compassionate world.

Meetings are in English, Spanish and Italian.

Débora Barrientos

Social and organizational transformation. OD teacher. Social Presencing Theater facilitator. Vipassana practitioner. Researcher. EI. Narrative transformation.