DAS TALKS REPORT

NOVEMBER LAB 1

(scroll down to view all reports)


WEEK 1 TALK 0, 03-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTE: THEATRE VIDY-LAUSANNE (Switzerland)

GUESTS:

CAROLINE BARNEAUD & TRISTAN PANNATIER

MODERATORS: ASA HORVITZ & ANDREJ NOSOV

REPORTER: MARIANA SENNE

photo-2020-11-07-18-30-58.jpg

To get some context of the conversation please access https://vidy.ch/no-travel with material about the project No Travel

- A full scale exercise to rase questions about the future of institutions

- How can a show tour without travelling?

- How to still maintain international characteristics?

- How to deepen the relations between Locally and internationally

- They are working with an idea of a Regiebuch, a Script

- It is not only what is going to happen on stage

- Its about creating and finding practices that can be developed by local artists

- A script that would bring questions (philosophical ones) to be answered locally

- In the end Mitchel and Jerome are initiators and not exactly directors

- NO TRAVEL PROJECT: to spend less carbon, to create sustained activities

Questions that were brought by the audience participants:

- Isn't important to acknowledge that the choice of not travelling is a choice that privileged people can make?

- Why the project decided to invite a white male artist to be in the power position of coordinating the project?

- How to deal with the idea of authorship in a project like that?

- Wouldn't be interesting if the project could be reshaped as a self exposure act? We expose the traditional ways in which this institution works in an attempt to change ways of working and ways of relating.

Some of the answers that came from Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

The project started with the reflection that we are all white, we are mostly male, we travel a lot, we are privileged, we have power (considering the institute that we are), and therefore we decided to invite these super powerful directors to try to provoke a change. The wish is to give agency to locality.

Some reflections from Lab 1 participants:

This space that we are proposing in Das Talks is a space that brings somehow a room for discussions on a public sphere level. It's an open space where participants from Das Theater, invited guests and normal audience are free to access and act. The NO TRAVEL project brings lots of polemics around its objectives and therefore the discussion upon it yesterday evening, was also quite proactive. We reflect on the importance of having open spaces like that where conflict can emerge. We claim the importance of spaces for conflicts without the need of neutralizing polemics. How can we moderate debates that bring burning issues without throwing cold water on the arena, when the temperature goes high? And how to find the ethics of polemic?


WEEK 1 TALK 1, 04-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTES: GRAND THEATRE GRONINGEN & NOORDERZON FESTIVAL (The Netherlands)

GUESTS:

JUDITH BLANKENBERG & MARK YEOMAN

MODERATORS: ASA HORVITZ & ANDREJ NOSOV

REPORTER: CAROLINA BIANCHI

Positions of institutions in COVID times, Positioning in reality Perspectives in a sense of present, past

Perspective of two institutions

Mark “ Traumatized by Shakespeare” So welcome, in this traumatized moment

( Andrej)

How they are dealing with this moment fo cancelations, and pandemic situation?

What do we want to keep for the past years, What do we want to change?

(Judith)

What is the optic of COVID? Disrupter Disrupting our energie, our feelings

Under pression

How to see beyond COVID?

What other optics to look trough

(Mark)

What can be told, about the festival ? (Mark, Groningen)

The festival become more ambitious Try to repensar o festival nos últimos 10 anos Become less middle class, less white, less dutch speaking Open Festival 2 ideas :

Social coming together

International work

Desafiador

Less ambition (and fun)

How can we imagine the festival, if we can go

Not be stuck on what they are doing, rethink Festivals are good forms for reflect changes of society

“shared mirror”

Programming, what choses are make

Relations between performing arts, and society

The bubble

who is not in a bubble?

Judith’s:

( national scene theater, performing arts and dance) suport residences

Try to connect with the neighbours

About the future

The trajectory with local artists and the impact that this can produce, for start end making possibilities to look at the future.

Experimentation, pragmatic terms

What is a narrative of a festival?

If this narrative is not the narrative of the artists?

WHO IS THIS FOR? (A FESTIVAL)

The impact of several international students coming to the city impact in the city

There is no space infinite

What is programmed - and why?

How does that work?

How do institutions program?

Programming in a ”selfish way”

How to let other people reveal to us, people that we don’t know.

How we imagine people and places?

The institutions are moving with the times?

Are the festivals in the last years, a way to see whats going on? Or just a replication of success, etc.

What should be seen?

What is the public esphera, in the arts context? How this esphera works in the Netherlands?

What can theater do?

How we change our work in another context?

What is useful?

Can we see COVID as a useful moment?


WEEK 1 TALK 2, 05-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTE: VOORUIT (Belgium)

GUEST:

KOPANO MAROGA

MODERATORS: VENURI PERERA & ASA HORVITZ

REPORTER: CLAUDIO RITFELD

TOP 10 QUOTES BY KOPANO MAROGA:

“ORIGINALLY THE OFFER WAS TO JUST BE A PROGRAMMER, BUT BECAUSE EUROPE HATES MIGRANTS FROM THE GLOBAL SOUTH THAT POSITION WOULD'NT ALLOW ME TO GET PAID TO THE DEGREE THAT I NEEDED TO BE, IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO IMMIGRATE AS A WORKER IN BELGIUM……”

“……I AM NOT THE RULE, I AM VERY MUCH THE EXCEPTION, AND I AM THE EXCEPTION NOT BECAUSE OF MY AMAZING ABILITIES, BUT BECAUSE OF THE STRUCTURES THAT MAKE IT SO DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT PROFILES TO BE ABLE TO DO THE WORK THAT I AM DOING, AND I FEEL LIKE IN THIS INSTANCE THERE WAS AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FROM THE INSTITUTION ABOUT THIS EQUILIBRIUM AND THEY WERE WILLING TO BE CREATIVE……”

“……THE FRAMEWORK OF EMBODIMENT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME ESPECIALLY IN A SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEXT WITH SO MUCH OF THE OPPRESSION THAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED HAVE BEEN RELATED TO THE BODY, AND OF COURSE THAT EXTENDS BEYOND BUT IN SOUTH AFRICA THE INTERSECTION OF RACIAL POLITICS, GENDER POLITICS AND QUEER POLITICS IS VERY VISIBLE, AND HAS A VERY VISIBLE IMPACT ON BODIES AND THEIR ABILITY TO MOVE TROUGH SPACE…..”

“……WITH INSTITUTIONS WHAT YOU WITNESS IS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HISTORY OF A PARTICULAR GEOLOCALITY…..”

“……EVERYTHING WE CAN WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH TO ENGAGE WITH THE SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION WE ARE LIVING UNDER…..”

“…..ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN ADDRESS WHAT HAS HAPPEND TO US IS TO PUT OURSELVES IN THE POSITION WHERE WE CAN BE INTERESTED IN WHAT IT IS THAT HAS HAPPEND TO US, AND TRY TO BE PRESENT FOR THE REALITY OF A SITUATION…..”

“…..THE WORK THAT WE ARE DOING IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IS THE WORK WE ARE DOING IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, IT'S NOT NECESSARILY IN ORDER TO SAVE THE WORLD, THAT CAN BE A FANTASTIC BIPRODUCT, BUT FOR ME IT'S NOT SUSTAINABLE TO SAY OR TO THINK, OR TO EMBED THIS IDEA OF LIKE BEING A MAGICAL NEGRO THAT WILL BRING THE EMPIRE DOWN…..”

“…..I DO NOT THINK THAT IT IS POSSIBLE OR LOGICAL TO SYSTEMATISE SOMETHING LIKE GRIEF OR ANY KIND OF EMOTION BECAUSE THEY HAVE SUCH AN INDIVIDUALLY SPECIFIC TIME LOGIC, AND GENERALLY SYSTEMS OPERATE IN KIND OF A LINEAR TIME LOGIC…..”

“……I JUST WANTED MY COMMUNITY TO COME AND WATCH ME DO THE MOST ON STAGE, IT WAS THAT, I’M AN EXHIBITIONIST, I JUST LOVED TO BARE MY PISCERIAN SOUL…..”

“…..THE ETHICS OF HITTING ARE IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COLLECTIVE LIBERATION….”


WEEK 1 TALK 3, 06-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTE: THEATER ROTTERDAM (The Netherlands)

GUEST:

MELIH GENCBOYANCI

MODERATORS: EBANA GARIN & CLAUDIO RITFELD

REPORTER: MARIANA SENNE

What happened? (title of this event)  

With COVID something shift. What did exactly shift? This past tense is still a past tense. It is still going on  

Looking at the Das Talk  press picture on the facebook, that you published for the event (I was provoked by this picture): Who has the power? Actually right now who has the power is nature. We are experiencing a kind of censorship towards the self, we censor our selves because of COVID, who we meet who we get close, the other. There is this othering happening as a phenomena  

Because of we are experiencing big shifts. At the moment because of all this context, I don't have the power. We need to take care of each other at this moment.  

What is the capacity of an institution to collaborate with nature?  

We are using the time differently. Even the ritual of going to theater is different. Disinfection, etc. Time to get on stage and sit down. And then rituals of leaving, of exit There are major differences in how we relate to each other now  

What are you attracted to as a curator?  

There are makers that are there already and new ones to arrive (we need to give space to happen) slow process of changing attitude transaction between people how do you say yes to a maker I am learning with different encounters I am avoiding drinking coffee with artists I prefer to walk long  paths I have now 40% of the budget (60% cuts) There are different forms of supporting artists , for exemplo coaching, helping artists to subscribe for public fundings How can we create new theater rituals? In relation to COVID We decided to invest more in artistic oriented practices How I can encourage the maker? To contribute really for the process? How are we going to deal with these facts in the coming years? Some need 2 weeks to make a performance, others 6 weeks, others 6 months Each maker has different approaches, different ways of working  

The task of institutions is to give space for new proposals I am not interested in criticizing again and again and again institutions because of COVID there will come more inequalities A reason to be super afraid of polarization  

non-European students will pay 3X more to study in a Dutch Educational platform, and I am afraid that will get more and more worst  

The identity politics in general and in micro perspective The Netherlands contribute very much for the international collaboration, international co-productions There is already a delay The locality gets more attention It is already a danger that international guests will bring the virus to the Netherlands, so I think is important to re-think how are we going to keep on going.  

It is a privilege to be in Das Arts now. It is somehow a community. I am interested in building a community around Theatre Rotterdam.  

We are becoming danger because of COVID.  

It is also within the institution that we re-think communities  

Othering in the pandemic  

This is a time now, to understand that there is also a window, a window for change  

to create a kind of  WE to expend the visions of the makers to find alternative ways of giving the money to makers


WEEK 2 TALK 4, 09-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTE: SEGAL CENTER (United States of America)

GUEST:

FRANK HENTSCHKER

MODERATORS: EBANA GARIN & ASA HORVITZ

REPORTER: CAROLINA BIANCHI

(zoom screenshot) :)

Fuck DAS K>I>R>A>C   Claudio proposal       What are the questions?  

New forms of theatre for new times  

My mission is to bridge academia, experimental theater, International  

(comparing EUA and Europe)—- What about the rest of the world?  

“Beauty is gonna take the beast down”  

Time to listening  

RADICAL LISTENING  

“is important to do things that nobody else does”  

What we do, is necessary?  

If I can’t live without theatre, I will go and if I die is just fine” Nature Theater Of Oklahoma  

Tania Bruguera- We should go to the houses of our community, instead going to the Louvre  

How are practices still reproducing old gestures of power?  

How theatres of the “first world” are looking at this moment  

EUA AND EUROPE solution to the corona apocalypse times is to do Theater like countries for the third world?  

True and beauty – side by side – E. Dickinson  

How can the privilegiado say what that one who never has the possibility of money – can dream – for they works?  

O que é exatamente uma nova forma?  

PARTICIPATORY INSTITUTION (mariana senne)    

Radical Host- can theatre do that> When we talk radicality – it always seems save


WEEK 2 TALK 5, 10-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTES: IETM & ON THE MOVE

GUEST:

BOJANA PANEVSKA

MODERATORS: MARIANA SENNE & ANDREJ NOSOV

REPORTER: CLAUDIO RITFELD

SEVEN QUOTES BY BOJANA PANEVSKA:

“……WE ARE HOSTING THE BIGGEST PLATFORM FOR ARTIST IN RESIDENCIES IN THE WHOLE WORLD….”

“……OUR DATABASE IS REALLY NOT A HUNDRED PROCENT UP TO DATE, NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE TRY, IT'S JUST NOT HUMANY EASY TO DO IT….”

“……IF THE RESIDENCY IS ASKING FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING FROM THE ARTIST, THEN WE TRY TO COMPARE THE COST OF THAT TO THE COST OF LIVING IN THAT PARTICULAR COUNTRY, IT HAS TO BE REALISTIC…..”

“……ON THE MOVE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A WEBSITE, IT'S AN INFORMATION PORTAL…..”

“……IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO PREDICT THIS SITUATION AS WE ALL KNOW, WE CAN BE OPTIMISTIC, WE CAN BE PESSIMISTIC, AND I BELIEVE THERE ARE GOOD ARGUMENTS FOR BOTH OF THESE APPROACHES, AND IT'S A MATTER OF WHAT EXACTLY DO WE WANT TO DO AND WHAT EXACTLY DO WE WANT TO BELIEVE AT THIS POINT OF TIME…..”

“……NOW WE ARE COMING BACK TO SCARE ONE AGAIN, BUT THEN ALSO NOTICE PEOPLE ARE NOT SO OBEDIENT ANYMORE AS THEY WERE IN MARCH OR WITH THE FIRST WAVE, THIS IS MAYBE GOOD, THIS IS MAYBE BAD…..”

“……CULTURE CAN PINPOINT TO PROBLEMS AND CULTURE CAN SHOW AN ISSUE, AND THEN THE BEST THING WE CAN HOPE AS ARTISTS OR AS CREATORS IS THAT THIS WILL COME TO THE MIND OF SOME HIGHER FORCES…..”

LINKS SHARED BY BOJANA: http://on-the-move.org/funding/https://www.i-portunus.eu/ https://www.ietm.org/en/publications/beyond-curiosity-and-desire-towards-fairer-international-collaborations-in-the-arts https://www.transartists.org https://www.transartists.org/call-for-artistshttps://www.transartists.org/place-your-ad https://www.beroepkunstenaar.nl/en/ https://www.creativeeuropedesk.nl/nl


WEEK 2 TALK 6, 11-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTE: SPRING FESTIVAL

GUEST:

RAINER HOFMANN

MODERATORS: ASA HORVITZ & CLAUDIO RITFELD

REPORTER: CAROLINA BIANCHI

Fuck DAS by Daniel Vorthuys

Rainer doesn’t see his festival as mainstream space

How can a festival open real possibilities for new artists/

How do you balance the role of international collaborations? In a context of festival What is the relation with the community around? What happens now? With the corona context?

“ pressure of this crisis”

The DILEMA of the mobility

( if the festivals are thinking about the dificulties of traveling, I think is a huge problem for the artist community) – especially for the less privilegiados - this is not Rainer note, but mine

The urgency

Mix audiences How to connect diversity debate with international debate?

How does diversity look on an international level?

Program something for the fog theatre

Use fiction to think about other possibilities of theatre can still happens in a encounter

How can we change the structure?

How to empower the public esphera? ( Mariana)


WEEK 2 TALK 7, 12-11-2020 AMSTERDAM

INSTITUTES: UNDA & RESHAPE NETWORK

GUEST:

MILICA ILIC

MODERATORS: CAROLINA BIANCHI & ANDREJ NOSOV

REPORTER: ASA HORVITZ

Performance from Bacteria and Mariana

Green body Sine tones Green body in space in market Electronic music Green body on onions Green body in cages On onions On red onions Red onions in bags On blue carts With angry banana Mariana in and out From luxury to waste If there is a future If there would be Upside down green person After winter and summer MODERNA A decay a generation Centuries and millennia later we will be part A boat near a boat Near a boat near a boat Ignored our existence until 1674 Antibiotics Lime On lime Bacteria you can be proud Manifesto of the micro-organism (Bacteria is everywhere) Bacteria is on you touching you Close your eyes Swallowing and licking bacteria CLOSE YOUR DAMN EYES PEOPLE Traveling through space We are tired and exhausted But we will survive always Sisters brothers Nonhumans of all kinds Denied access to life (?) No backbones no clothes to carry us through the world Don’t we have body parts Humans on floaty things on the sea We will outlive you Next zillion years (she waves her arms to emphasize bacteria’s breadth and width of scope in time) Knowledge The voice of the bacteria The past and the future A manifesto, A poem

PINK BACTERIA FOR A WHILE HERE NOT GREEN SOME PICTURES OF ACTUAL BACTERIA SOME TREES N STUFF SOME CHARTS of some KIND “the frenzy of inflammation”

Red, longer costumes.

A beat. “Encontro amigos” Mariana dancing in her room. Raising her arms. Close up on the quicktime thing.

Stinky armpits and dirty clothes – 16th century something… Half naked body on half broken building Mask Rubber More shots of people outside

Sugar, mariana is asking Bacteria what they want? Or asking Dutch people what they want? When they arrived in Brazil?

In old Dutch?

MILICA:

ONDA

Office National Diffusion Artistique

Supports:

Touring within a pre-existing mobility based structure Inter-France collaboration and international collaboration Brings more people from outside to inside France Supports venues not artists Who want to expand programming efforts into more experimental areas and take certain financial and artistic risks Trying to open up possibilities for international artists who are less represented on French stages to be more represented Decomposing and unlocking different contexts Inward mobility is very strong in France, a lot of international projects are shown Statistics of ONDA’s support, you see a large number – 50% of international work that ONDA supports is coming from countries directly around France, often Belgium, Flanders and Wallonia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the further east you go and the further south you go the less artists are being brought in. Milica has tried to break those codes of behavior and shift perspectives towards elsewhere. Towards less known contexts, she has worked with Arab speaking world, Southeast Europe, other geographies that are hard to connect to from France.

ONDA also looks at how this perspective of the art market, focus on coproduction and touring, how can we reimagine our role in that. How can we give ourselves in ONDA space to reimagine those relations, create spaces for another kind of imagination to step in.

This is how RESHAPE happened. RESHAPE is a 3 year R&D project that is looking at imagining and maybe creating alternative organizational models for the art sector. It does that through a bottom-up approach, a specific methodology that they are developing. Started with a group of intermediary structures, structures working in a national environment that have to respond and react to national policies. Some of them are very large, British Council, Goethe Institute, some smaller, like Bunker in Slovenia or Act in Bulgaria. Initial spark came from that group, to start a conversation, to provide tools and time necessary to discuss and come up with possibilities for solutions, not from the place of an institution but in conversation with people who are experimenting with alternative models already.

RESHAPE is now a community of people who are extremely diverse, from very different territories and contexts, looking roughly at Europe and South Mediterranean, looking at actors and agents between Reykjavik and Baku, St Petersburg and Marakkesch. Idea is to be aware of this very large space, which of course has huge differences in life and work experiences.

We do that out of a conviction that this space is a common space, whatever misbalances are we are sharing a common socio-political-economic space, any change HAS to happen on this scale, not on a national scale, or not only on a national scale.

Intermediate structures and 40 RESHAPERS who are working with them, re-thinkers from the inside, plus advisors and facilitators of the process, 60+ people, basically rethinking how we can create a sector and what would be the tools for the arts sector that would be much more in tune with the values for the sector and in tune with the values of society.

How to create a space for people with totally different backgrounds to speak to each other. There’s a LOT of mistrust. That issue with trust comes from differences in power and privilege and we’re not always good at sharing power and privileges. If you want to open a conversation between various actors that are acting on various scales in this landscape, the thing that you have to concentrate on most of the time is “how can we speak to each other?” “How do we make it possible to speak to one another while we’re still in this position of hierarchies?”

As an artist you occupy a place in this chess game which is not the same as that of a programmer, relation to time, work and life conditions, money, is totally different. If there is any kind of change that is going to happen in this respect, which IS A NECESSITY FOR THIS SECTOR TO SURVIVE, in a formal and organized way, then this conversation needs to happen. And for this to happen TRUST needs to be built, and to do this, some people need to use their power in a more generous way or give up on their power.

ANDREJ:

When you speak about trust, and building it, how to you imagine this process? What is its urgency at the moment, having in mind covid situation, etc.? Many people are really in a bad position right now, how do you see this building of trust right now?

MILICA:

Covid has accelerated and accentuated processes that were already there, accentuated imbalances in power, authoritarian governments have used this pandemic to consolidate power, etc. Relative power in art scene has also changed – artist who loses opportunity to work and someone getting a salary in an institution are not in the same situation. There ARE still places where things are possible, that means places where the art sector is still relatively strong institutionally, financially, intellectually, and can therefore, these places, where it’s still possible, these places have more responsibility to act than other places.

What is interesting for me in France is not the French sector but what is possible from a place like France where there are strong institutions and a relatively okay cultural budget. What can one do from this place to support a territory and community that is much broader than my immediate surrounding?

From those institutions and that self-perceived center of the world, reach out and propose solutions to this. I feel that this responsibility is not obvious to people, this response is not happening.

Two days ago I was in an institution with two people from the cultural sector as part of a focus group informing the EU about the covid crisis hitting the cultural sector. The only way the EU is perceiving this is that we’re all a blank territory we’re all suffering the same, EU wide response, we’ll all completely ignore the specificities and problems that exist throughout this territory. These discrepancies exist and are far more nuanced than what we tend to think. We’re really working in a land of a lot of grey and not black and white.

I don’t have a direct answer, I’m testing it on a daily basis, I’m failing and trying again and failing again, but without these things, but without acting on this, without acknowledging this responsibility I don’t think anything will be possible.

ANDREJ:

I understand that totally but there is a perspective coming from institutions that artists are not using all the possibilities that are there. We are criticizing possibilities that institutions are potentially creating for us. I’m provoking with this question to be Devil’s Advocate – but I think artists have to do more in building this trust, it’s also on artists to learn institutional language, to be constructive, etc. I’m saying this because often there’s a strong critique on the artist side, how to work on this side without a pre-conditioned diagnosis, I don’t know how you build trust with a full bag of prejudice bringing to the room. Sometimes we reacted very directly to people to STOP communication because we have very clear opinions and ethic, which is totally FINE but how to work on this communication, really political, issue?

MILICA:

I don’t think artists need to do anything, those artists that want to engage with and work on how to evolve the context in which we are working and the artistic system, SHOULD get interested in how institutions are working. I like to think these artists … that there are institutions that are open enough to embrace this interest and intervention.

On the one hand I have a conviction that there is something in institutions, some core truth in the statement “institutions tend to exist in order to reproduce the problems they were made to solve”, there is something there, if the problem we are meant to solve would be solved we would cease to exist or wouldn’t be necessary anymore. There is a core truth in that.

What is interesting for me in this whole thinking process is how can we create different models for thinking in the arts sector. The only way for this to happen is for institutions to be on board. For true change to happen institutions have to change. It will not COME from institutions, the change will not, but they are a necessary step. You need people on the inside. That’s why I’m here in ONDA.

Again I’m generalizing, some institutions are much more open than others, we’d have to get into this whole discussion of what does it mean?

ANDREJ:

Changes in institutions will happen outside of institutions first. From where will the change come? What are those places which in your opinion can bring this whole thing in better shape?

MILICA:

There is also this perception of – well, we live in Hierarchical world, there is a center and a periphery, placing yourself in some part of this vision – an institution tends to see itself as the center of the world, especially in France or Belgium. I feel that in those places, and also in those structures, they are far too entrenched in a certain way of seeing the world and acting in it to be able to perform radical change. Those that are sitting in the perceived margins or peripheries are far more inspirational because they do not have the weight of the system in which they are working. I believe that certain places are particularly interesting to look at in this social and political context right now. Serbian historian (Dubravka Stojanovic) working on recent history of post-Yugoslav space, talking about how we perceive history, how do you classify events – usual way of looking at history in Europe is we had fall of the Berlin wall and then wars in the Balkans that are a kind of cancer or abnormality in this evolution of Europe which was going towards a bright future of love understanding etc. And that this new era was started in the 1990s, end of the 90s. Historians now and Dubravka certainly are saying Yugoslav wars were the beginning of an era, it was a precursor to what is happening elsewhere in the world – nationalism, populism – if you look at it from that perspective, from an institution in France, then who is more interesting to talk to, people in France and Belgium, or people who have worked with and actually dealt with people who have already been dealing with extreme nationalism that led to war years ago. We have to provoke that shift and we have to go and work for that. Artists and activists in the Balkans – we have to go and look for them, we need them more than they need us at this point. The responsibility has to lie within institutions. Question is will an arts sector exist in a place where nationalism and extremism are everywhere. We’d better get the right allies on board who know how to deal with this.

CAROLINA:

We’re going to open

MILICA:

Milica is open to being contacted, she can contact you to other people who are accompanying artists, she can share her email in the chat, also…

CLAUDIO:

Thank you Milica. What’s out there that we need? You said we need something what is it?

MILICA:

The system is deteriorating. It’s clear. Flanders institute made a study, “reframing the international”, they published an analysis of the number of co-productions necessary to support the flemish dance scene. The number of co-producers are growing exponentially, we will need 500,000 co-producers in a year to support flemish arts scene in 2050. The bubble will burst. Maybe sitting in France that burst of the bubble will be longer and softer but it’s happening. And it’s coming. For me the reason for RESHAPE and for the continuation of this kind of thinking in any institution is to look for alternatives that allow the sector to exist and creates connections between citizens and democratic processes and artists. What I think that institutions need, is to figure this out, with artists and citizens, not just in dialog with policy makers or with each other, but with artists and citizens. It’s much more relevant if it has alliances with people in contexts in places that are dealing with conditions like the one we’re heading to.

For example the Croatian independent scene. They have rethought their work to a really incredible degree, and it is unknown by Western professionals. It amazes me. How little western professionals want to learn from this. Actors in Arabic speaking world who are working in public spaces with the current Egyptian government, not people who are similar to us sitting in our neighborhood.

If we speak of covid, covid has made this more urgent and more difficult than it ever was. General tendency is not to open up to practices from people elsewhere, it’s more common to navel gaze and protect what you can within your own borders. Urgency is there but the response is not.

SILVIA:

Can we go back to something you talked about when talking about RESHAPE, a geographical dimension that also includes the South of the Mediterranean. One of the insights and inputs that you are bringing to us ––– people who organized the lab thought of focusing on Europe, and you’re showing how small Europe it is, RESHAPE is proposing an idea of Europe that cannot be conceived without the other countries that border the Mediterranean. As someone who grew up in Italy, when I moved to the Netherlands I lost this sense I always had of the Mediterranean being always present. So this faded. Can you go back to that idea, how did you make that decision, to include these countries, what are challenges you encountered in this decision and in the practice of speaking from the position of being a western European and speaking to others who share the border of the sea?

MILICA:

Of course we don’t enter this conversation from a neutral space. A lot of preconceptions going on, and the biggest, well one close to my heart, is what is Europe, and the EU promotes a certain vision of Europe, as someone from Belgrade which is Europe but not the EU. This mixup shows a tendency to reduce Europe into basically three countries, or three or four countries. To basically set aside a whole lot of different experiences, historical experiences, that half of the continent in Eastern Europe has been going through. Part of it is generalizing because it’s easier but there is more than that. These are the places of former colonial power and current economic power. Geopolitical processes are crystalized in this when we say Europe when we really just mean a few countries. People in Italy or Hungry say I have to go to Europe in two weeks. We put some value behind this term.

A lot of people in South Mediterranean are not aware also of the subtitles in Europe, that their realities are very similar to Eastern European or Balkan conditions for work, politically and materially.

Many layers of relations. Programmers from France or Belgium go to places like Turkey and commenting on performances like “this is so 90s” “don’t you have something that refers to your Ottoman heritage”, ignorance of the complexities of experience that we are living today. If you come from some other place it’s helpful, you don’t see the west as the center of the world.

These preconceptions are a big challenge in RESHAPE as well. Renegotiating everybody’s understanding of everything. Having very little to start from. In the process of RESHAPE we proposed people from radically diverse contacts should get together and write proposals, to produce. How do you do that if you don’t know the people around the table? You need some kind of common ground. It’s really hard with limited time, framework, European project, etc. We had to rush through conversations that should take years to happen. To actually understand what does it mean to work in the design world in Beruit and contemporary art galleries in St. Petersburg. All of these conversations have the duration of a whole life. It had to fit a framework that was not natural. How do you break that? These sets of preconceptions? I think we patched it, we didn’t do it, ran through it with enormous enthusiasm and goodwill. But they take far longer than we had.

Preconceptions towards institutions, also existed. A clear divide. Activists/artists on the one hand and institution people on the other. Black and white. Such and such an organization is independent, another is an institution. We are working on a huge spectrum of realities. Palette of grey. Independent institution in Belgium may be better supported than a state institution in Bulgaria. Tremendous need to contextualize but when rushing towards results you jump. A lifetime of conversations to do justice to these processes.

I’m working with programmers. Half of my time is with artists and half with programmers. I partly understand their struggles also. Having one foot in the marketplace and one in the noble cause of the art scene is hard. How can you even have a common ground of understanding if you do not at least acknowledge a certain set of codes you are applying to the work you are seeing?

Programmers say “this is not exotic enough” when they come to the Balkans. Or “this is so, old fashioned” or something. I’m supposed to be exotic but not too exotic… the ball is in the court of the programmers, what is the grid by which you are reading this performance, how do you comprehend and understand it…

I feel that unfortunately there are a lot of people who sit in the self-perceived center and don’t ask themselves this question and just assume these codes are universal codes, I don’t have an answer to that, my tools are like spend years understanding the work and the people and that’s not efficient at all.

But we need somehow to decompose these structures that support that, that make programmers think they know what is good and bad and what your audience will like and not like. OR we leave it as it is and we see a slow decomposition of the sector.

ANDREJ:

Question of accountability, I ask this every night. We have to acknowledge that we cannot expect art sector to be more accountable when there is no accountability in the general society, if you do something wrong you go to jail. You don’t have that in many European countries. How do you see this in longer term projects. Many of us see evaluations and ask question of “how we did it” as a ritual, we know how to do this, and in the end of what happened with that knowledge, do we learn from our mistakes?

MILICA:

What’s happening with the knowledge is a more interesting question than accountability. How not to reproduce the same thing over and over again. Responsibility. We’re about to publish RESHAPE things, one of them is about rituals, really exciting, creating or imagining rituals that would inspire a shift or paradigm in a way of working. Another is a proposal to create a solidarity tax. To create a coalition of Western institutions which are subsidized willing to give up a part of subsidy to an independent fund to support art scene in countries that have no access to public funds. Not only to make sure artists in other places can work but tackling the issue of responsibility, historical responsibility, of former colonies, if there is richness in France, overspilling into cultural institutions, it has something to do with the colonial past of France, spread the responsibility further… into countries.

How do you inscribe yourself in broader geopolitical processes that we are an actor of… We are political actors, to put a performance onstage is such a political act. Whatever we do it brings the responsibility of our political action no matter how broad it is.

Experimentation of different kinds of evaluation practices, can share material in different ways. Especially in Latin america, besides counting butts in seats and looking more deeply at processes or transfer practices further…

ASA:

Solidarity tax – how it works, like AF, Goethe, etc.?

MILICA:

Organized by the beneficiaries themselves, whoever applies decides on who gets the funding through consensus and discussion, they administer the funds, puts aside the filtering coming from the institutions that actually provides the funding, they take it out of their power, another idea is a lottery system, picked at random, without any kind of filter, would enable artists who are NOT well known, not in networks, in their local environment to get this funding.

Fundamental difference – – – I am critical of soft power institutions, gathering political power through culture, some artists have been enabled of course, which is good, but it’s also problematic that these institutions exist as ways of putting themselves in places they need to be geopolitically.

ANDREJ:

Creative Europe. Future opportunities? For DAS people etc.?

MILICA:

There is the promise which is beautiful and the reality of which I am not an optimist. There are outbursts of understand and willingness to adapt this machine to something else. Compromise so hard, is it even worth it? Creative Europe continues to be much more accessible to large scale orgs, small trickle down. Vision of the program is very related to making Europe stronger, geopolitical power, we are talking about empathy and solidarity, and the only thing we have as a serious transnational program is a program that wants to make sure we are a competitive society.

Western Balkan call – that call at least acknowledged that there is something specific about the context there, you cannot require the same conditions you would require in any other place in Europe. Sometimes things are heard and understood.

I trust much more some smaller scale and innovative and experimental stuff than I would creative Europe.

CAROLINA:

Very touched by using this word “imagination”, “imagining” – as someone from Brazil, my dreams my imagination, it’s part of traveling, collaborative encounters, festivals, etc., mobility, we talk a lot about how we can we can travel again and be physically with each other, so I want to ask you, what is your perspective …

MILICA:

I’m not craving travel but I’m craving to be with people, I cannot begin to explain to what extent this has been not a nice experience, I need to fall back into physical meetings. Zoom is great. But I really need this. We need for imagination to happen, we need to be together in person. Technology can be with our lives a good thing but we need to make this happen. Imagination is a good word but we need to be more playful. RESHAPE, looking at what ideas are coming out of it, one conclusion is that most of them are really playful, kind of invitations for a game, which is also an invitation for an encounter. That is something that I like to see after all this very serious talk. This makes me more optimistic.