Urban life today, particularly in Latin American cities like Lima (Peru), is a little bit like living lost among the dead. De-natured, polluted and soulless landscapes dominate. Violent scenes, accelerated rhythm, chaos, vertigo, vortex, strident sounds, overcrowding, psychedelia and fulminating epidemic (like the one we are currently experiencing all over the planet) govern many capitals. In this pandemic scenario (or “desert of modernity,” as Hillman calls it, [2, p. 41]) we live: human beings, animals, plants, insects and thousands of unclassifiable beings and objects. There, exposed to infinite difficulties, we try to adapt and find sense in life. Sometimes we make it, but sometimes we don’t. So, we get tired, we get sick, we feel stunned, trapped; survivors of terrified cities. We regret, we question what are we doing here, we want another life, we claim another place, we beg for a change and, finally, we scream at the top of our lungs: “Enough!” It is time to move, to leave and to find a way out. Fed up, we set off for somewhere else; we flee into the cosmic void. It is time to appeal to our resources, ancestral memory, creative capacity, ecopoiesis, hope and the possibility of resisting. Something begins to crumble, deform, and die as it meets new life. We return to water, to the sea, to connection with the body, nature and origin. Silence begins to arise. We are alive. We are still swimming.
This is an outline of the pictorial and poetic story that this article discusses. Images that scream as the only possibility to respond aesthetically. They shout to rebel because “Beauty must be raged, or outraged into life.” [2, p.42] Beings affected by the contaminated life in the city. Beings who are confused and forced to leave their natural habitats, turned into unlivable places. Beings who initiate an exodus, a migration, looking for other spaces where vitality can resurface. The search for a new planetary, sensory consciousness arrives that nourishes the soul of the world, so technologically hyperconnected and so disconnected from life. Each one of my pores has become an ear and I am deaf / skinless skeleton is my being. These animals are all living beings on the planet that already collapsed long ago due to the irresponsibility of human actions.
This two-handed work (painting and poetry) is an expression of resistance. We make art as a way of being and being-in-the-world, because, as the expressive arts perspective reminds us, the arts allow people to connect with their creative capacity, to reactivate their capacity for poiesis (‘making art’, ‘creating’ in Greek), and to respond creatively to difficulties and challenges . The arts, in the ancient shamanic tradition, are a way of recovering the soul: “When illness is associated with loss of the soul, the arts spontaneously emerge as remedies, medicine of the soul” [4, p. 1]; they are a way of soul-making, that is, a way of recovering passion, vitality and a sense of existence . Vital Exodus is a book in which, over and over again, the images achieve dialogue through the force of their lively strokes, full of color and play, and also through the voices of their characters full of pain and despair. The possibility of deforming impotence inhabits the lines, gestures and poetic words of the paintings. The ability to transform experience, to exaggerate its shapes and take them into fantastic realms is present in the works, strengthening the potential that we human beings have to shape the situations we face. A tree has been falling…thefishflythebirdsswim.
Fortunately, from an ecopoietic perspective, not even the desert lacks heart because it is inhabited by the lion, and if we want to return to the sensitive heart, we must look for it there, provoke it and make it cry out: “The more our desert the more we must rage, which rage is love.” [2, p. 42] Thus, these images roar, howl, bark, shriek, squawk – they call us and ask us to appreciate their presence and will, to recognize their inherent value, to see and hear the world from their own point of view. Listening to them requires abandoning our egocentric vision and developing an ecocentric vision, interested “in the wild, undomesticated side of beauty” [6, p. 259]. The expressive arts invite us to live a more primordial and animistic perception. And it must be remembered that:
“Animism is not superstition or worship of nature. It is reverence for the created realm, for all life, it is a feeling of belonging, and of being an integral part of this vast and varied landscape. It is the full recognition that all things have spirit or soul, that all things are alive and aware.” [5, p.56]
Facing the anaesthetic mechanisms of the current times demands roaring to activate our senses and boost our sensory capacity, that is, to put into effect the political implications of our ability to respond aesthetically. That is the desire of this work: to inspire a way of being and being-in-the-world that is in connection with mystery, listening to the voice of the non-human, recognizing the soul of the world, far from our usual instrumental and technological attitude, allowing:
“…the body [to] explore again the speech of things and of the land. This brings with it the attitude of wildness: an attentive wonder that draws us into the mystery, the unpredictability, the many voices of the more-than-human world around us that have been silenced for too long.” [6, p.260]
It is about recovering the enchanted vision of the world, the one we lost with the Western predominance of the modern scientific vision and its mathematical understanding of nature, governed by various separations (subject/object, mind/body, self/world, nature/culture). It is time to rescue the sacred vision of the world of the original peoples, the anima mundi, where nothing is a different object and apart from us, where everything belongs to an interconnected network. The challenge of re-enchanting the world in the twenty first century lies in restoring the lost bond with the cosmos, and recovering the mythical and poetic dimension of existence. It is not a question of condemning modern scientific thought and idealizing the pre-industrial way of life and the animistic worldview of ancestral peoples. We have to rethink our relationship with nature and regenerate a more attentive and sensitive connection with it, in which modern technology and instrumental reason can occupy a generous place, far from hyper-individualism. It is the challenge of recreating a perspective of interdependence, reciprocity and cooperation where we treat others and nature in a different way from how we do so today.
It is surprising how the arts are in the vanguard and anticipate the facts. Artistic language is always in communion with the life of the world through the sensuality of its visual, sonorous, kinesthetic and olfactory images: “Art is not just a universal language for humans – it is the cosmological language of form, the sensory realm from which we construct our very thoughts” [5, p.58].
The creative project Vital Exodus arose several years before the planetary pandemic we are experiencing, and today more than ever its spread makes sense and is aligned with ecopoiesis. Its images not only scream but also speak of the need to hibernate, which is precisely what we are now doing out of necessity and obligation. Perhaps hibernation is a way to initiate the vital exodus of ecopoiesis. Stop, take distance, contemplate and pause to learn to breathe differently. We hibernate and the world seems to rest from us. Hopefully hibernation will allow us to sharpen our senses and dance again to the rhythm of the universe to which we belong.
In the Andean world each flower, each star, each stone, spider, bee,
each drop of dew, each human being … is a Universe – a Pacha -,
a perfect totality, which in turn is complemented by another Pacha
even bigger and more perfect, and this process never ends.
In the way that the rhythm and flow of fluids in a cell
embrace the same rhythm and flow of the liquids of the galaxy…
generating infinite movements of love and harmony
thus…if I touch a flower, I am touching a star. 
- Hillman, J. (1975). Re-visioning psychology. New York: Harper & Row.
- Hillman, J. (1981). The thought of the heart. Dallas, Texas: Spring Publications
- Levine, S. K. (1995). Poiesis. The language of psychology and the speech of the soul. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- McNiff, S. (1992). Art as medicine. Creating a therapy of the imagination. Boston, USA: Shambhala.
- Rugh, M. M. (2020). Sitting on the edge of wonder. Art and animism in the service of person and planet healing. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(1), 56-61. – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru
- Stoknes, P. (2017). Why eco-philosophy and expressive arts? In Levine, S. K and Levine, E. G. (Eds.), New developments in expressive arts therapy. The play of poiesis, pp. 258-260. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Vera, A. (2014). Kintu: ofrenda de flores sagradas a la divinidad, símbolo de unidad. Recuperado de http://ludoterapiaautocreadoragestalt.blogspot.com/2011/06/kintu-ofrenda-de-flores-sagradas-la.html