S Y N T H E S I S
SIGNAL #6 THE ART OF GATHERING
On 27th September, the Centre for Training in the Performing Arts (CIFAS), launched the 6th edition of its annual festival SIGNAL that gathers artists, cultural operators, thinkers, social workers, urban planners, cultural civil servants and political representatives from across the world to critically reflect on the complex relationship between art and the public space.
I was invited as speaker on the occasion and delivered a presentation & workshop “SYNTHESIS”, a process that make possible a collective artwork as well as the production of a grid of memory by narrative personal histories.
This year, SIGNAL invited us to reflect on the idea of the Commons and its relevance in our contemporary and ever-fragile societies.
SIGNAL, the meeting place in Brussels to discuss living art in the city, is back at the end of September to explore what brings us together and what makes us move. Us: family, pack, gang, group, clan, community, class or society, we are not the same as soon as we are many.
In order to think and heal the wounds of the City – the recent ones resulting of terrorism, leaving us in a security convalescence, the ones resulting of the social wrench, trying to divide us, the ones of the pollution peaks which spares no districts – the challenge must be taken up commonly, the common being itself one of the biggest challenge.
What do we share in common?
How do we act simultaneously?
How do we gather, together?
Wednesday 27.09 – 10:00 > 17:30
Thursday 28.09 – 10:00 > 17:30
Friday 29.09 - 10:00 > 17:30
Saturday 30.09 – 10:30 > 12:30
Three days to discuss and research, extended to Saturday morning to make prospective conslusions. This year, the format will be more collective in the morning, led by the activist and journalist Peggy Pierrot. Afternoon workshops will be moments to meet urban artistic practices from elsewhere – this year from Germany, Canada, Finland, Greece, India, Italy and Moldova.
Special Guests : The Yes Men
Wednesday 27.09 – 20:00
Out of our usual format, in collaboration with Fabrique de théâtre, we will host the American activists Yes Men who will also be leading a workshop of which the result will be presented during the Urban Interventions of SIGNAL, in front of La Bourse, on Saturday afternoon.
IN SITU Space
Since 2016, some of the activities proposed in SIGNAL present practices of certain members of the In SITU platform, network of which CIFAS is part of. Last year we invited PLACCC from Budapest, this year, we have the pleasure to invite Vladimir Us, leading Oberliht at Chisinau (Moldova), and Linda Di Pietro, director of Terni Festival (Italy).
Vassia A. Vanezi (CY/GR), Eero Yli-Vakkuri (FI), Brigitte Mounier (FR), Mammalian Diving Reflex (CA), Linda Di Pietro (IT), Lotte Lindner and Till Steinbrenner (DE), Vladimir Us (MD), Martina Angelotti (IT), Leandre D’Souza (IN)…
CIFAS is a program in collaboration with the Centre des Arts Scéniques, supported by the Service of the French speaking Government of Brussels, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and Actiris.
SIGNAL is supported by the City of Brussels, the Finnish Institute, the Art Promotion Centre Finland, Frame Contemporary Art Finland. Organised in collaboration with La Bellone, la Fabrique de Théâtre and Nuit Blanche. With the help of Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Far° (Nyon), Athénée Royal Serge Creuz, Galerie Horta, Ferme du Parc Maximilien, Horse department-Cleaning services and Green spaces of the Commune de Schaerbeek and Direction of Public Security of Federal Police.
Wednesday 27 September | Composing the Common
Those left-behind by universalism, by redrawing other maps, highlight this long-time blind spot: the common is effectively a space for thought and action still in need of construction. How do we go about creating the common today? What might it look like, given the constraints to which urban bodies are subjected? And, what can the performing arts in public space do to contribute to its creation? In which circumstances, and under what conditions?
10:00 > 13:00
Round table with Vassia A. Vanezi (CY/GR), Leandre D’Souza / ArtOxygen, Mumbai (IN), Peggy Pierrot (BE), Eero Yli-Vakkuri (FI)
14:00 > 17:00
Workshop led by Vassia A. Vanezi (CY/GR)
Workshop led by Leandre D’Souza / ArtOxygen, Mumbai (IN)
Workshop led by Eero Yli-Vakkuri & Pietari Kylmälä (FI)
17:30 > 19:30
“Where do you want to go from here?” / Eero Yli-Vakkuri & Pietari Kylmälä
10:00 > 18:00
“Impressions Palace #2″ / Chiara Colombi
Lecture by the Yes Men
Thursday 28 September | The Greatest Common Divisor ?
Symbolically, our collective universal identity lies in tatters. And yet alive, risen from its nationalist ashes, with barriers and barbed wire. Behind these walls, to which “we” do we belong? How can we jointly espouse hi/stories, struggles, and sometimes-contradictory trajectories? Irrespective of our origins, social or cultural trajectories, how can we legitimately take control of the common? How can the arts and culture be tools for the common good, and not divide those who can access them from others?
10:00 > 13:00
Round table with Linda Di Pietro / Festival di Terni (IT), Peggy Pierrot (BE), Lotte Lindner and Till Steinbrenner (DE), Eva Verity / Mammalian Diving Reflex (CA)
14:00 > 17:00
Workshop led by Linda Di Pietro / Festival di Terni (IT)
Workshop led by Lotte Lindner and Till Steinbrenner (DE)
Workshop led by Eva Verity / Mammalian Diving Reflex (CA)
10:00 > 18:00
“Impressions Palace #2″ / Chiara Colombi
Friday 29 September | Reclaim the Common !
Whenever human bodies assemble in public space so as to lay claim to it, the expression of the common to which we aspire asserts itself. From the streets at night to access to healthcare, from zones in need of protection to solar festivals, from civil disobedience to the “reaping” of GMOs, from our right to a roof over our heads to struggles for survival on our borders … What role do artists serve in these movements for the reappropriation of the common? What can the performing arts achieve, especially those that invest urban space, in response to the break-up of territories and the escalating privatization of public spaces? To better lay claim to the common, should we contribute to breakthrough actions, or take possession of the structures in place?
6:30 > 9:15
Party: Wake up Brussels!
10:00 > 13:00
Round table with Martina Angelotti / Careof (IT), Brigitte Mounier / Le Manifeste (FR), Peggy Pierrot (BE), Vladimir Us / Oberliht (MD)
14:00 > 17:00
Workshop led by Martina Angelotti / Careof (IT)
Workshop led by Brigitte Mounier / Le Manifeste (FR)
Workshop led by Vladimir Us / Oberliht (MD)
17:00 > 17:30
Summary of the day
10:00 > 18:00
“Impressions Palace #2″ / Chiara Colombi
17:00 > 20:00
“Home Sweet Home” / Subject to Change
19:00 > 20:00
“Home Sweet Home” / Subject to Change
Saturday 30 September
10:30 > 12:30
10:00 > 22:00
Sunday 1 October
11:00 > 20:00
1/ Workshop led by Vassia A. Vanezi
Synthesis is a process for creating together a collective/ common artwork and also sharing memories from one’s own childhood house. The first part of these recorded narratives began at Nicosia General Hospital in Cyprus, the second part continued as a project within the project of RickLowe’s Victoria Square at Documenta 14 in Athens, and the third part takes place at SIGNAL Urban Academy in Brussels.It is about coming together, it is about talking and making together, about sharing words and stories together, revealing fears and hopes. It is about gathering. It is about togetherness. It is about human condition.
2/ Workshop led by Leandre D’Souza
Aesthetics v/s Ethics in contemporary art practice: The Ultimate Challenge
ArtOxygen (ArtO2) is an independent contemporary art organization based out of Mumbai, India, since 2009. They curate, plan and produce art projects which challenge and question the idea of the “public”, in all its meanings and uses. Art02 look at art as a work. Art cannot be static. It must be living, breathing and shaping itself to the spaces that it inhabits and the people that it engages with. One of the most pressing questions Art02 seek to address, crucial to ArtO2’s hypothesis, is: could such a curatorial & artistic approach be the way forward for contemporary art practice? Where a work’s life is determined and stimulated by a complex system of externalities (the site, people occupying it) and where its form remains in a state of ‘openness’? How can we validate such a practice? How can we argue that this is when and where the value of a work truly happens?
Leandre D’Souza is ArtO2’s Director & Curator who will begin the session introducing a few concepts related to its practice-based art projects. This will open into a quiz, where participants are placed into 2 groups in a challenge of questions related to the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in public art practice. At the end of each question, contestants will be invited to a match that will determine the winning team. Following the challenge, a consolidated map will be prepared as a preliminary documentation of ideas, insights and new trajectories to be explored and expanded.
3/ Workshop led by Eero Yli-Vakkuri & Pietari Kylmälä
Trans-Horse workshops for Signal aim to discover contemporary alliances with animals. The majority of European cities have been build with the help of horses. The more developed we imagine ourselves to be, the more challenging the presence of animals has become. Instead of seeing horses as remnants of the past we should reach out to them as specialists in sustainable design. The workshops are hosted in collaboration with the Belgian Mounted Police. The police will give a detailed description of their work and share some of the tools they use. Their presentation is supported with light physical exercises, an overview of our history with horses and an analysis on challenges horses impose on concepts of modernity, efficiency and development.
1/ Workshop led by Till Steinbrenner & Lotte Lindner
To Act Site-Specific
We always act site-specific as sites produce specific behaviours or ways of acting. But could specific ways of acting also change sites or even create them? To what extent does this apply to shared public space?
In our own work we first intensively analyse given public spaces as well as art-institutions like museums and galleries. History, stories, architecture, the social movements of people and their rituals, their expectations and rules… all this interweaves to what we perceive as a site. And we ask: does it have to be that way? Would this be conceivable differently? Can we induce people, subtly or offensively, to act in different ways or to perceive differently? What happens if a thing flees our sight by means of its excessive brightness? What happens if the pews of a church turn to Mecca? What happens if a flattering voice courts me at a barren place in urban planning? Is everything that is guarded by a bouncer exciting?
Ranging the city, we want to discover and analyse places and rituals as well as build ones. How does a place influence us and how can we influence a place? And then we want to devise and try out excessive concepts and realistic interventions.
2/ Workshop led by Eva Verity
No awkwardness, no allies
In this workshop, Eva Verity will share some of the company’s social practice work, and how the company utilizes awkwardness and temporary discomfort as a tool for generating connection and trust-building with collaborators who don’t know one-another. Attendees will participate in interactive exercises and games that put ‘social acupuncture’ into action, and demonstrate that a little awkwardness can go a long way toward stimulating intimacy and engagement.
3/ Workshop led by Linda Di Pietro
Come Close – Practices of commonalities and co-creation
In 2016, the Ternifestival invited 4 artists to a residency within the project called ‘Foresta’. For this residency, Leonardo Delogu, Michele di Stefano, Friso Wiersum, Veridiana Zurita were asked to observe from an inspiring point of view a city (Terni) in transition and a festival questioning itself in regards to their territory. Aimed at rethinking the role of a festival in a city, and the role of artists in the making of a festival, their proposal to the festival direction was to co-create a program. Cultural institutions and festivals face complex changes and are rethinking constantly their relationships with artists and audiences.
Come close is an invitation, a prayer, and an advice.
The idea of shared decision-making was to give voice and be responsive to the needs and interests of local community members, to provide a place for community engagement and dialogue with artists, to help artists develop skills that support their own individual and community goals.
The workshop, after a presentation of the specific context of the Terni Festival and its realisations, will go through discussions and interactive dispositives highlighting questions of trust and power – which appear in a situation of co-creation between artists and organizers. Is co-creation really possible?
1/ Workshop led by Martina Angelotti
ON and around the square
Through an iconographic excursus, this workshop/lecture recounts the role of the square in Bologna, understood as a political and social space crossed by several generations of antagonistic and student movements, and documented in some counter-information medias that have been in place since the mid-1970s. The narration begins in the second half of the 1970s to explore the uses and connotations of the square until recent times, when, in 2007, in Bologna, ON project was activated, setting up its theoretical and art bases in Piazza Verdi. In this chronological genealogy, the focus outlines, through some productions and interventions, how the concept of public space has evolved over the years, not just generating new imaginations and ways of relationship between places and people but also promoting content that takes shape in other spaces and places in the social context.
2/ Workshop led by Brigitte Mounier
All, together, in the public space
Public space is in essence our common cultural democratic fund.
What happens in the public space today, what it tells us about our past, the multiple ways we can act in it, to transform it for the future, make public space the first free and living encyclopedic library we have at hand.
Taking this as a starting point, Brigitte Mounier will approach the question of gathering in the city by relating it to the history of live entertainment: theatre shares common roots with the exercise of democracy and the occupation of public space; then she will invite participants to share and revisit some tools of participatory democracy and its artistic expression in public space.
3/ Workshop led by Vladimir Us
Shared spaces (space for myself and for meeting the others)
If you had the chance to redesign the urban environment in which you live, how would it look like? How would your private space look like and what kind of public (shared) spaces for interacting with the others would you propose? Lets have a drawing session and imagine a neighbourhood of the future.
Most of us we have grown and developed in carefully planned (mainly urban) environment, without a real possibility to influence the way it is being designed, either with little possibility to change it. In the moments of crisis or during radical change, when the controlling system has failures, people would use this opportunity to take advantage for their own needs, often forgetting about the collective needs.
The workshop aims to provide space for an analysis of the standards in urban planning and architecture formed due to different traditions that appeared under various political and economic regimes, and in various contexts. This has also influenced the type of relations (the intensity and the openness, etc.) that people have developed inside their families, with friends and within the neighbourhoods.Beyond the differences that this activity will encourage us to identify, we shall pay attention to things we might have in common – the need to meet and interact with others being one of those needs.
Peggy Pierrot is involved in projects linking information, media, activism, radio art, and technology. She worked as a journalist and as a technical webmaster in media and non-profit projects. She lectures on writing, technology, African-American culture, science-fiction. She is working with A.Pass and Erg (École de Recherche Graphique) in Brussels and is rethinking les Ateliers des horizons (ex-école du Magasin, Grenoble, France) together with Le Magasin team. Her current project is named Maskenfreiheit.
Vassia A. Vanezi (CY/GR) is a Greek-Cypriot visual artist based in Athens. Her education includes interdisciplinary studies such as Fine Arts, Political Theory and Music. She is committed to a socially-engaged practice, which led her to run for 12 years the art studio in STROFI, a therapeutic community for young people addicted to drugs. Through her ongoing research she draws material from the study of Greek-Cypriot traditional folk art. In 2017 she developed the project Weaving together in the context of Documenta 14 in Athens, which was focused on the ways of creating knowledge through gathering, sharing memories as well as by developing an artwork in common. www.vanezi.com
Leandre D’Souza (IN) holds a Master in Arts Criticism from City University (London). She runs ArtOxygen (ArtO2) in Mumbai since 2009, aimed at curating and producing art projects in public, open spaces. Since 2010, she organizes [en]counters, a festival dealing with issues affecting the everyday life of Mumbai. She was invited to curate the participation of Indian and international artists at the biennial Haein Art Project in South Korea in 2013, and also curates independently, the Sensorium 2015/16 Art Festival for Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, among others. In 2014, she received an award for Culture and Change bestowed by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. www.artoxygen.org
Eero Yli-Vakkuri (FI) is a design orientated performance artist, who works primarily in public spaces. In the past he made annoying street interventions which made people uncomfortable. Pietari Kylmälä is a cultural journalist and a (non-)artist, who works as a writer and in the public radio. Together they form the core of the Trans-Horse working group which has explored the potential of horses as creative collaborators from 2014 onwards. They use performance art as a tool to affect the wellbeing of the environment and to experiment on how collaboration with animals affect our worldviews.
Linda Di Pietro (IT), is convinced that culture and art are the main tools for change. She has invested the last 8 years in the reconversion and management of CAOS arts centre, a 6,000 square meters multidisciplinary cultural centre born on the ashes of the former SIRI chemical plant. 12 years ago she conceived and nowadays is the artistic director of the Terni International Performing Arts Festival. She is visiting fellow at the SAIC in Chicago, advisor of @IETM international performing arts network, President of @ProgettoRena, and has developed in the past four years her most revolutionary action: “Pietro”. www.ternifestival.it
Lotte Lindner & Till Steinbrenner (DE) live and work in Hannover, Germany. They have studied performance with Marina Abramović at the School of Art Braunschweig, and work together since 2002. Lotte and Till often work in situ, where they refer to expectations attached to the place they perform in as well as to its functions or its particular utilisation. In their work they create situations where observers get to become participants who activate the work with their presence. Their work has been awarded many times in Germany. They have been teaching as guest-professors at the Academy of Arts Munich. www.lindner-steinbrenner.com
Eva Verity (CA) is Director of Creative Production & Artistic Associate at Mammalian Diving Reflex, a performance company and research-art atelier that creates site and social-specific work with local communities. Eva has directed and produced Mammalian’s collaborative performances with children, youth and seniors in cities all over the world. The company’s primary methodology, ’social acupuncture,’ is designed to dismantle barriers between individuals of all ages, cultural, economic and social backgrounds, triggering generosity in the social sphere. www.mammalian.ca
Curator, art writer, and lecturer at Università Cattolica, Martina Angelotti (IT) works on projects and exhibitions related to the disciplines of public and participatory art, moving images and performance. She is the artistic director of Careof, a non-profit organization for contemporary art based in Milan, and the founder and curator of ON, a public art project within which she currently develops a special edition on the connection between city, logistics and labour in the context of the expansion of the port in Genoa. She holds seminars and workshops, writes for Domus Magazine, and co-curated the Italian version of Grand Domestic Revolution in collaboration with Casco (Utrecht). www.careof.org
After more than 4000 performances on stage and in the air, from Théâtre National de l’Odéon to Cirque Jean Richard through iconic places of decentralisation, Brigitte Mounier (FR) has finally settled in the dunes of Côte d’Opale. She has created the Compagnie des Mers du Nord and set the History of Humans into a theatre play. In 2004 she invents an international meeting of living arts, “Le Manifeste”, during her residency in the city of Grande-Synthe, where actors, thinkers, jugglers of utopia, arts and humanity meet every summer since 14 years. www.compagniedesmersdunord.fr
Vladimir US (MD) is an artist and curator based in Chisinau, Moldova, founding member of Oberliht Young Artists Association. He studied art, curating, cultural management and cultural policy in Chisinau, Grenoble and Belgrade. Through his recent works and projects he examines the processes of transformation of the public space in post-Soviet cities along with the need for conceptualizing an alternative network of public spaces in Chisinau. www.oberliht.org
SIGNAL#6 COMPOSING THE COMMON ΣΥΝΘΕΣΙΣSYNTHESIS
Synthesis is a process that makes it possible to create a joint and collective work together and to share the memories of the house of its childhood. The project brings together recorded accounts, first at the general hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus, and a second part worked as a project within the Rick Lowe Victoria Square Project, à D14 in Athens. The third part will take place in Brussels as part of the Urban Academy of signal. It is about gathering, talking and doing together, sharing words, stories, revealing fears and hopes. It's about finding each other. It's about unity. This is the human condition.