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Part of the series #matteroffuck

Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch

May 13, 2016

(Inside a temporary shelter, set up on the slab of the last EKO gas station in Greece, just before the border with Macedonia.)

We’re invited into a tent for coffee. The ritual begins.

Us and them, sitting in a circle, we begin looking softly into each other’s eyes, asking trivial questions, to ease the exchange. The coffee, meanwhile, waits for the acknowledgments to end so the festivity of exchange can begin.


Lola, Ana, Me.


Father of the family, strong mother, absent son, wounded daughter, young son, happy daughter, others have been lost along the road.


Dark times.

Confidential space.

Paralytic language.

Emotions traced across surfaces.

Clumsiness as nearness.

Movement without abuse.

The imagined real.

A lot of protection.


The exchange is the result of two displacements. On the one hand, the family’s displacement leads to movement and the search for a future of survival. On the other hand, the guests’ movement is reactive; it is directed at the past and its nature is not rooted in survival, but in redemption.


Emotion creates a feeling of freedom in the exchange, nothing to lose; faced with a feeling of stress, nothing can be done. Conviction lets us feel an animal strength set apart from the ecstatic stress of the social and political individual, toward a dynamic action that resituates us as civil individuals with human capacities.


The coffee is made, the exchange begins, hands move, voices fall silent, cups are filled, arms reach out, gestures are crossed, bodies touch, eyes are watching, the movement of the dance has brought us into the future.


Hands continue moving across the digital keys that translate from Arabic into Spanish, looking for Facebook friendship with the emotional arrow that has shot through their bodies.


The hand, now warm and nervous, writes down the translations to end the night after the gesture of hitting “like”, as the public recognition of a coming together, which will keep both parties eternally in suspense.

(It’s nothing more than a cliché formality that opens up a space of hope, with the potential to turn desire into an obsessive nightmare. An alienating act, which transports both parties to a third time where improbability, the absence of matter, and abstraction dematerialize the emotional component of presences.)


There are no questions, just answers.


They trade Facebook IDs.


KEEP IN CONTACT AS KEEP IN TOUCH from Irma Arribas on Vimeo.

Between us there is the act of drawing. My hands move, leaving traces on a piece of paper, hoping to situate the exchange; touching their faces as I draw them, dedicating time to observing their bodies and listening to their gestures, looks of complicity between them, toward me, with the drawing, in the act of drawing.


The act begins from the need to draw as a way of recognizing the exchange, the figures, situating them, getting my own bearings and understanding the relationships that form the space of coexistence during that night. Involuntarily, my gestures flow into a drawing for them. Layered onto the first drawing are the graphic representations of the hope in this meeting, the faith in the future, human friendship, the feeling of keeping others company, unconditional bravery, promise; and me, with them.


They shift from being models for my drawing, to receiving my act of drawing.

They keep a drawing that portrays a hope in which I appear. I become the model for hope through the act of drawing.


End of the exchange.

Beginning of the contact.





Part of the series #matteroffuck

urbanNext (May 21, 2024) Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch. Retrieved from
Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch.” urbanNext – May 21, 2024,
urbanNext January 16, 2017 Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch., viewed May 21, 2024,<>
urbanNext – Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch. [Internet]. [Accessed May 21, 2024]. Available from:
Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch.” urbanNext – Accessed May 21, 2024.
Keep in Contact as Keep in Touch.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: May 21, 2024]

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