Panama 2020 – Last Show On Earth Ep 6
The press went for the “nightmare in paradise” angle, which I was and am completely at odds with and disappointed by. I felt that people came together in an incredible way, the festival itself also doing everything they could to help people stranded with food and transport amidst constantly changing protocols and rules daily, sometimes hour by hour, checkpoint by checkpoint. All of this was overlooked by the general media. Coming back to make shows for the quarantined population after the festival closed officially was incredibly potent and moving, realising as we did the closing show, it could be the last live circus show to a large audience anywhere in the world for a long time, was an emotional moment.
The biased nature of the press in general toward the negative and sensational is an incredibly depressing fact, especially in a situation like this. It’s a key aspect in what is wrong with our society and becomes even more sinister in the internet age of misinformation – watch The Big Hack documentary for a disturbing further insight into this – it controls and manipulates every aspect of our modern age. And on this level, it is responsible for the death of democracy and in many ways has resulted in the climate crisis we are experiencing, owned and controlled as it is by the corporate 1%ers.
Its tendency to focus on the individual over the collective, and pigeon hole/stereotype any grassroots progressive social movement or cultural change is truly abhorrent, and it moves so fast, appropriating and regurgitating anything alternative, artistic or progressive and rebranding it into mainstream commercial culture. It is the most powerful weapon in the hands of corporate interests, and used ruthlessly to create division and disengagement in the masses. Weapons of mass distraction! Welcome to the happiness machine! Watch the Adam Curtis Century of the Self documentaries for more on this!
When my good friend Dan Kuper contacted me for a Guardian interview it was a breath of fresh air, still it had to be shaped to fit but it was refreshing to see a different side of the situation here. The real side of it if you will, portrayed in an honest and light hearted way, though the palm oil is not quite as prolific as it made out! It’s an intense environment, sand, dust, salt, heat, high winds (and yes, palm oil) was what I was trying to get across, paradise or not! Especially after 100 days.
There is also a certain inevitable drop in energy when you are taking a festival down, inescapable as by its nature the parties are over and it’s time to go home, oh except you can’t! The festival went to great effort and expense to keep people well provisioned, safe and guaranteed a way home when it became possible. The people came together as a community and birthdays/departures were celebrated (mine included), also as we were isolated way before it became compulsory, we were still able to mix freely, go swimming, hug each other and dance together, a rare thing in the world all of a sudden.
Not having a studio space was probably one of the hardest things personally, but more than that there was also a sense of being in this bubble of the old world, a beautiful bubble, the festival bubble, which you come to appreciate all over again when it’s kind of the last one in the world! But as the weeks passed and ever increasingly tight restrictions were implemented it had a profound effect, like living in the past, while the whole world experienced something so harsh and intense. It was a haven in so many ways, but also a mirage-like illusion at times, a most curious experience I wouldn’t swap for anything, but one I felt I had to change in the end. Even though it was destined to change as the site would be cleared shortly after, there was something about choosing to step away and start to engage with the bigger collective picture, but choice is key, and the need to step out of the collective and reflect on it all as individuals. We needed a bolt hole, we should go and see Jose!