Surprised by Joy

by Dinos Aristidou | 11 September 2018

I come away a different and a better person, artist, educator.

I don’t know if you’ve ever played Connect 4. It’s a popular game that’s been around for ages. The rules are straightforward. It’s a sort of variation of noughts and crosses. The winner is the first who manages to put a sequence of four identically coloured counters in a line. The line can be vertical, diagonal, horizontal – it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a line-up of identical counters.
The ISTA Connect festivals, founded like all ISTA events on the principle of play, are also about connection but they’re the opposite of the Connect 4 model. The ISTA Connect festival is about bringing together difference not about lining up the identical. The ISTA Connect is about celebrating both diversity and our common humanity. As a celebration it’s an experience of joy.

For those of you not familiar with it, the ISTA Connect festival takes the festival model, the ISTA mission, the ISTA values, the ISTA pedagogy and intensifies them in order to serve a particular community facing some sort of disadvantage or challenge. It’s a sort of crucible where our dreams and hopes – not just for the organisation but for the world – are reduced to their essence and intensified. It’s ISTA concentrated—powerful, rich and effective. But it’s also an event of challenge, of interrogation and dialogue – of inquiry, of responsibility. For me it’s an event where, to quote Wordsworth, I’m constantly and deeply surprised by joy and transformed by it. I don’t say this glibly. I come away a different and a better person, artist, educator.

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