connect
2 minute extract -'What are you scared of?' from 'connect' by Sylvia Schwenk
2 minute extract -'gestures' from 'connect' by Sylvia Schwenk

connect’ presents stories and interactions that build intrigue about who we are and how we relate to one another. The project includes multi-channel films showing a social and visual portrait of over 160 people – from local communities in Germany (Schöppingen and Berlin),  Spain (Blanca) and the USA (New York City) – sharing their private stories and thoughts as they answer 5 universal questions asked by the artist.

Each of these questions is the subject of its own film, with similar answers and counterpoints sewn together to build a narrative on humanity. These films are compelling and they draw us into the protagonists’ lives. Humans are curious by nature, so of course we’re interested in who these people are and what they do. We want to build a fuller picture for ourselves and the participants’ answers are so relatable or so unrelatable, that we can’t tear ourselves away. Watching and listening to other people allows us to see ourselves in others and by doing so offers us a way to start connecting.

Connection is a fundamental process of being human. It’s a real and tangible force that’s vital to our wellbeing and is necessary for a better world. ‘connect’ seeks to amplify life. It’s about not being afraid of making connections, of not building emotional and physical barriers, of not being afraid of being who we are, and of not being afraid to fully express who we want to be. The project celebrates what connects us – the same but different aspects of ourselves.

 Difference is something we all have in common, and ‘connect’ provides a space for people of different ages (3 to 94 years), gender, socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and religions (aethiesm to Islam) to be seen and heard. People are given a voice to tell their own story in the context of answering the 5 universal questions.

 The feelings driving the project are true connection and a universal love for others that is simply based upon our shared humanity. These feelings are present in all of the works by virtue of the protagonists’ generosity and honesty, and they are especially present in the film ‘gestures’, where each of us is unconditionally offered feelings of genuine warmth and love by over 160 strangers.

connect’ seeks to counter patterns of inward thinking and behaviour. We live in a time of reduced global interconnectivity, with ‘Brexit’, the USA’s ‘American first policy’, an uprising of populist alt-far-right governments and movements in Europe. There is an increasing fear of otherness that is leading a wave of self-focus, alienation, nationalism and violence. In these times the need for people to connect with one another is more relevant and greater than ever before.

The world is full of possibilities. ‘connect’ provides an optimistic possibility, a hope for creating a world of shared humanity.

This work is supported by: