A month after… Noisily!

Last month, Noisily Festival opened its beautiful field on the 5thof July, lost in the deep Coney Wood in Leicestershire. Since its debut in 2012, the Festival keeps growing through a combination of music and arts to inspire passion, self-expression, a sense of community and connection with nature. 

For its seventh year, Noisily opened in the Soul, Mind and Body area with a small art gallery; a little tent to play with colours and drawing; a telescope to look at the stars; and a first taste of the amazing music set for the weekend.

The line-up for this year spanned techno, psy-trance and experimental bass, showing their intentions of offering a wider range of music to attract different people without losing the elements of originality and discovery. In the Noisily Stage, you could dance on the house-techno vibes of Solee, Louie Cut or James Monro, while the Liquid Stage dedicated its deconstructed geometrical shapes to psy-trance with the shows of 4D, Bad Tango or Symbolic. Almost hidden between the stands, the Leisure Centre was playing all kinds of music, from spoken word to dub, while the Three House Stage moved the dance floor with Ed Solo, Far Too Laud, The Chicken Brothers and Slug Wife.

The stages in the woods were spread around a central space in which everyone could enjoy artisan food, circus and fire performances, as well as simply talk about the night on the floor with someone you never met before. Or you could just get lost in the woods and follow the lights installation almost hidden in alternative paths between the stages, or discover paintings in progress, wooden constructions and hidden games, interacting not only with the festival but also with the peculiar atmosphere of the wood.

Two site-specific, interactive art installations were particular examples to see the proactive interaction between people and the external environment. Symbiosis is a dome-shaped installation that aims to combine technology and art in the peaceful environment of the wood. Created by the artist Kira Zhigalina, the sound designer Andrey Novikov and the engineer Adrian Godwin, the installation plays with sensors and LED lights, which move following the breath of the participants inside the intimate ‘igloo’, stimulating a deeper sense of connection with yourself, the others and the environment. The second installation Rebirth, by the artists collective Madin, is a giant egg made out of recycled pallet wood, which people could get in and feel intimately connected in this bubble that gave the illusion of floating in the wood.

These two installations are programmatic examples of the intention of offering a ground in which anyone is free to express him or her self, respecting the others and the environment outside the usual labels of our society. If, generally, festivals are seen as places in which to completely disconnect with reality and stop thinking about the contradictions of our time, in contrast Noisily proposes an alternative approach to the issues characterising our society. The program ‘looking after the wood’, for example, made people and traders think about how to avoid the overproduction of plastic and rubbish to respect the wood, while art and installation created alternative occasions for encounters with people outside your usual social circle.

 

In this sense, Rebirth and Symbiosis enclose this deep intention at the core of the Festival. Made out of recycled material, both installations proposed an alternative way to combine the importance of responding to the environmental issues with the necessity of stimulating an alternative understanding to connect to the diversity around us. Rather than playing with spectacular installations that can surprise for short time, the Noisily team is committed to leaving memories that you can bring with you to your everyday life.

That’s what makes this festival so unique. Noisily offers a peculiar example to think of the potential of festivals to suggest an individual sense of responsibility and critical reflection while having fun. The magic environment of the woods, in combination with music and art, stimulates this deep sense of connection, interaction and dialogue. It reflects the need to understand our complex and contradictory society through new schemes, rather than lazily relying on old mind structures. Wishing to see the festival on the edge of the mainstream dynamics again next year, we look forward to seeing how the decoration in the wood and the music will stimulate new connections and new approaches to proactively respond to our society, while having a lot of fun!

Beu-Beu Art Festival!!

Yesterday ended the first edition of Beu-Beu Art Festival in Badia di Ruoti, a small village in the heart of Tuscany. The festival has been organised by Schimen Onlus with the collaboration of the associations Eureka and Strange Opera to present the works of over 70 artists through exhibitions, workshops, music and talks.

This was the first time for the Beu-Beu festival, a mix of contemporary art, illustration, publishing industry and workshops. Placed in a small village near Arezzo, the festival offered an overview of Italian contemporary art performing in the unique landscape of Tuscany’s countryside. Playing with the traditional atmosphere of the location, the exhibitions were spread through the walls of the XI century Abbacy of Badia di Ruoti to create an innovative contrast between the art and the place.

Example of this combination are the skates painted by the roman artists for the exhibition SKATE HEART ROMA, an idea of Davide Orlando and Valentina Roccanuova; or Fabulae, a collection of 10 artists presenting the ancient tales of Fedro; or the first collection of woman illustrators in Graphiste. Curated by Rossana Calbi are also the solo shows of Francesco Viscuso, Folklore, and Sergio Marsala, Snaturar Corrivo, that presented their work to celebrate the first edition festival.

In addition to the shows displayed in the Abbacy, the festival spread around the small town during the weekend interacting with the visitors with several activities. For the project WOODoo, following the idea of Marina Ronca, five artists invited the walkers to play with the big wooden man. Meantime, in Ambra, a small town next to Badia di Ruoti, the artists Nicola Alessandrini and Lisa Gelli live painted the first mural in the area of Bucine, inviting the visitor to discover the land while looking for the art.

The audience has been actively involved to be part of the festival during the whole weekend. The children could enjoy the editorial workshop Il Mondo Extra-Ordinario with Laura Caputo, while everyone could play with wood with Robox, or learn about serigraphy with Andrea Baldelli.

During the evening, you could enjoy a dinner made with local products waiting for the film projection of Virginia Mori or the independent music and DJ set. The artists Francesca Toscano e Francesco Viscuso framed the concerts with Il ramo d’oro, a floral site-specific installation created in harmony with the location and the atmosphere of the small village.

The artistic direction formed by the artist Marco About, the musician Luca Zampi and the curator Rossana Calbi gave space to independent art usually on the edge, offering a brilliant and variegated overview of contemporary art through music, visual art and talks with editors. The visitors weren’t only invited in discovering the art, but also the place.

And here I found the real peculiarity of this initiative.

Organized in a rural town of Tuscany, the festival kept is traditional background presenting avant-garde and cutting-edge art product of our time. The market and the food were local, offering the chance to small businesses to present their products, and their land. Rather than being stacked in saving a tradition that it is not going to be shown anywhere, the organisation of this festival illustrated us a concrete alternative to conserve our unique tradition through the pluralism characteristic of contemporary art, offering a new way to live our culture.

 

 

IBT/17: ‘STAND UP, STAND OUT!’

In Between Time 2017ended last week after five days of festival with dance, performances, music, live art and activism across theatres, galleries, city streets and outdoor spaces.

 

Since it started in 2001 as a part of a live project in Arnolfini, In Between Time became an independent organisation in 2009. From the beginning, the idea was to push out radical live performances from the usual art spaces to interact with people in alternative environments. According to this philosophy, 40 artists have been called to present cutting-edge pieces to involve visitors on a deeper, interactive level and challenge the canonical boundaries between disciplines.

 

The festival opened silently with Ghost Dance, a 12 hours dance by Lone Twin dressed as blindfolded cowboys. From Midday to Midnight the performers never stopped their dance, perfectly matching each other’s steps, with people joining them to dance against fatigue and pass time. Meanwhile, Lone Twin’s Beastie, created by children’s imagination, popped up unexpectedly to go around the city dancing with people and playing with children.

Arnolfini, the core of the festival, hosted talks, short films and participative performances. Some particularly interactive and innovative examples include Race Cards, a public forum project by Selina Thompson that exposed racial tension; Undress/Redress, a live performance by NoëmiLakmaier on the ambiguity between consent and tolerance in the act of being undressed and redressed by a man; and Vesper Time by Stacy Makishi offered an “evening prayer” to reflect on ageing and on acting before is too late. Finally, Triple Threat was a trash step-dubpunk morality play for the modern world by Lucy McCormick.

 

Various performances spread across other locations, like Workshyby Katy Baird, where the artist reflected on having, or not having, a job today and dealt with the relationship between labour, class and aspiration. A particularly interesting project was, that selected 45 Bristolians and individually coached them for this performance on stage, when the people met for the first time to dance together.

 

The performers also worked outdoors, on the city streets with Rita Marcalo’s project Dancing with Strangers: From Calais to England. Starting in the Calais”Jungle”, this project was the result of a workshop with refugees and it involved people on the street to dance with strangers. The festival went even further with Woodland, where the artist duo French & Mottershedcreated a meditative audio work in the woods with a self-portrait of the body after death.

The brave and risky programme reflected the mood of the work of the organisation over the years, focusing on the idea of making art to express meaning and actively involve people in the performance itself. However, the festival this year assumed a slightly different meaning. As the bravest festival yet, Stand up Stand out was not only a chance for the artists to present avant-garde pieces of work, but was also a call to take a position and stand up for what you believe regarding the global realities that we face as a society.

 

And this call to stand is not meant only for the artists, it is a call for everyone. Brexit, Trump, social injustice, gender, racism: these are important and unavoidable faces of the world we are living in. As much as our political situation is bringing us to reinforce the cultural and geographic boundaries, the art is blurring the boundaries between disciplines and art spaces to open up the possibility for taking art and culture in unexpected new directions.

 

It is hard, if not impossible, to provide a single solution to our global problems and change the world. However, the art can open a conversation between us, forcing us to reflect on our reality from unexpected angles. And, maybe, it can open our mind to the controversy that characterizes our society.