Facilitation through Image, Word and Space / notes

Arts fit well with my work, which is that of the facilitator, the one that takes care of the process and of the group; Offering tools as channels to share, learn and become aware.

The facilitator is aware of his-her power and knows the difference of “power with”, “power on”, “power for”; he/she acts mostly to guarantee the participation-inclusion of everybody in the group, being conscious of gender, cultural, social, economic issues.

In my life and so in my work ARTS are a way of learning and connecting. Learning means to search about myself and the world around me; becoming aware of things but more over of connections, dynamics and patterns. Through Arts we can symbolize experiences and through symbolizing we can become more aware, and becoming more aware we can transform wounds in a learning opportunity and give them a precious meaning.  

I fell in love with Pina Bausch’s sentence: “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost”. “Dance, dance” can also be  “tell, write, sculpt, act, draw…”. And I cherish Augusto Boal’s sentence “Everybody can do theater, actors too” as well as his last book, “the Aesthetic of the Oppressed”. It is part of a movement of re-appropriation of arts as a practise of expression and freedom. Arts become a political act and a profound act of healing and salutogenesis.

Where we dance, not to become dancers, where we act not to become actors, where we write and tell not to become writers or storytellers, where we sculpt, draw, paint, not to become artist, we do all this, to be continuously connected to who we are and to life’s source.


The Word, the Image and the Space are the roots of our method of facilitation.


The Word is the power to name and to tell in order to recompose and to weave in meaning.

Telling stories is, in many cultures, a way of transmitting heritage and the sense of belonging to a community.

Telling stories is also a journey in the symbolic and analogical world where archetypal figures and places help the listeners to reflect upon themselves at a more profound level.

Telling our stories is a way to build our identity. Writing an autobiography give us the idea to recompose ourselves (Duccio Demetrio). Telling about our wounds in a larger story gives them meaning and make them more acceptable (Hannah Arendt).  

Telling an original story together gives us the chance to listen to each others in a co-creating experience, where everybody is a teller but not the only one.

The one that tells the story has a power. The power of representing the world, him/herself and the others. Stories matter. Many stories matter (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). It means that we need a plurality of stories and the awareness of the power of stories in creating or destroying ourselves and the others. Who tells the story matters, at a political level. Edward Said wrote that the fact that it does not exist a specular science of Orientalism (the Western scholarship about the Eastern World) shows that there is an unbalanced power of the narratives. The representation of the East by the West cuts off the complexity and plurality of the Other. How is it a story told by Crusaders and Arabs? European colonizers and African exclaves? ENI directors and Ogoni people?

We can tell stories in the safe land in between reality and imagination, symbols and facts, emotions and reflections. And learn about ourselves and the world around us.


The Image is connected to a polysemic and symbolic language. The image can be a landscape, an animal, a natural element, a mythological creature, a picture, a setting, a human face, just a detail… It comes to our eyes and immediately has the power to evoke something in us, it can be a memory, a sensation, an idea. We can use casual images in a narrative circle to give to ourselves an inspiration to tell an original story. The Image can also be a shape of the body, of our body and body of the others. The body always has a shape. What happens if we pay attention to our body? There is a basic language of standing, sitting, facing, and the more articulate and expressive language of using all the parts of our body to make visible something that is invisible. As we can see illness as something that we can’t say with words so the body takes responsibility to show us through it, so the use of non verbal language can make visible what is invisible.


The Space. Space is connected to possibility. Possibility to move, to change, to explore, to discover, to get free, to open up. So the body shapes can transform in space and time, they can breathe and become just the moment of pause of a dance. “Because there is always change, always movement” (Arawana Hayashi).

Space can be used as a setting of a microcosmus or a representation of a complex system. If space is charged with a simple but specific and clear intention opens a very interesting field of research. It is a theatrical space because it is a created situation of fiction but it is a laboratory where we can learn about the real. In that theatrical space of research we are 100% ourselves and 100% characters. We are not actors with a copion or a mime that is stereotyping, we are ourselves and more than just us, because we have in us all the possible behaviours of the human being that we can play in this theatrical space.


We dance not to become dancers, we act not to become actors, we write and tell not to become writers and storytellers, we do it to explore continuously who WE are.

Ilaria Olimpico

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