Tribute to David Lynch

The duo-exhibition by the Sicilian illustrator Amalia Caratozzolo and the Roman writer Stefano Shone opened on Friday the second exhibition season at Inferno Store.  After the first round in Tuscany, ‘Tribute to David Lynch’ exhibition will stay in Rome until the 11th of January.

 

Between vynil discs, independent publication and music posters, Inferno Store opens with a homage to David Lynch combining the works of the Sicilian illustrator Amalia Caratozzolo and the Roman calligrapher and writer Stefano Shone. If Amalia Caratozzolo engraves the immortal expression of Lynch’s characters, Shone crystallises the essence of his movies in one significative quote. Curated by Rossana Calbi, the show plays with different backgrounds and artists to capture the iconic and mysterious world of Lynch’s characters and atmospheres.

Before Rome, the show was presented for the first time in Ambra, near Arezzo. Opening the Cinema season, the visual exhibition played with dynamic live performances and video-projections by Luca Zampi to explore the symbolic atmosphere created by the American director. Among screen projections, the burlesque performance by Elle Bottom Rouge, celebrating Mulholland Drive (2001), brought to life the artworks creating an invisible connection between the artworks and the screen.

This time, the artworks are combined with texts to open new interpretations of Lynch’s influence on our society. A fanzine completely dedicated to the director collects the artworks of the exhibition and a comic strip by Adriana Farina and Massimiliano Filandoro. The visual exploration of Lynch’s iconic world is framed by the essays of two film critics, Matteo Marino and Daniele Silipo, reflecting on the influence of the filmmaker on our generation and cinema production.

The combination of perspectives and artists offers the bottom line to interpret this variety of suggestions. As in Lynch’s work the plot and message are always hidden and transformed by the iconic elements, Strange Opera proposes a show in evolution that homage an artist to create new art. Without forcing a unique reading of Lynch, this tribute creates a ground to suggest an interpretation of our time through the surreal and iconic world of the director that most influence our generation.

 

 

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.

 

 

Betwixt and Between, CirqOn the Seam

 

“Betwixt and Between’ debuted on the 24thof February at Circomedia, presented by CirqOn the Seam. The story tells how two women, interpreted by Océane Sunniva Peillet and Alice Watson, learnt how to communicate crossing a linguistic, and cultural, divide. Directed by Gwen Hales, the show used an experimental mix of physical theatre and acrobatic techniques to tell us their story.

 

CirqOn the Seam is a rising company that investigates the boundaries between disciplines, mixing physical theatre and aerial techniques. Their debut show, “Betwixt and Between”, explored the power of physical communication working around the limits of verbal language.

The story was about two women that met in a world outside of space and time. One being Spanish and the other being French, the only thing we could recognise about them was their different languages. But this time the words could not create a bridge between them to start with; on the contrary, words created a barrier in the understanding, not only for the two characters but also for the public. However, even without understanding the spoken language, the personality of the two women was immediately delineated: the French character, interpreted by Océanne, is loud and a bit clumsy, firm and determinate in her intention while the Spanish character, interpreted by Alice, is carefree, playful, graceful and quite silent.

Their story began around crossed ropes and twinned trapeze bars. When the two-crossed trapezes separated, it became apparent that the ropes were attached to each other via pulleys. And that’s how the relationship between the two women started to develop authentically. Because of the connection between the two trapezes, they had to abandon the verbal communication to play together instead, interacting physically with each other’s movements and forms.

Through these games, also our impression of their relationship evolved throughout the piece, driven by the artistic interpretations of the two performers rather than the technical ability required to use the equipment. It is because of this “childish and playful” approach to the trapeze that the audience came to understand this silent conversation, breaking down the communication barrier created by the language.

 

I have interviewed Gwen Hales, the director, to find out about their company and their work behind the scenes.

1 – “Betwixt and Between” is your debut show as a company. What is the main interest that brought you to work together? And what are the future projects to further develop the physical research of your company?

I was brought in as a circus director to work with Alice & Oceane after they decided to apply for funding to make a show. They’d been experimenting together for a while before I got involved, and I was intrigued by their ideas. Both were experienced trapeze artists before working together on this new piece of equipment which was 2 trapezes with the ropes attached to each other via pulleys.

PersonalIy, I have spent lots of time working with pulley-based aerial equipment. I find myself fascinated by simple mechanics, and love to investigate how circus bodies can interact with ropes & pulleys to create height and interesting visuals. As a director I like to create as much of a 3D picture as possible.

 

2- The equipment you used for the show, two trapezes with ropes attached to each other via pulleys, is particularly hard and required a lot of experience on areal equipment. However, the show focuses more on on the development of the two characters rather than on the experience of the two performers. How did these choices influence the personality of the two characters on the scene?

The equipment itself has it’s own character, and there was no way we could ignore that. We called it “The Beast” because, although quite exciting, it had a habit of pinching fingers and toes, and was quite unpredictable at times. The manner in which the two trapezes are connected means that weight must be balanced – and this lends itself to telling a story about balance. Oceane is slightly heavier than Alice, so there was an inherent inequality to their physical journeys on & around “The Beast”. These inescapable facts led us to playing with the differences between Oceane & Alice, physical differences and emotional differences. The development of the characters emerged slowly, as we explored the nature of “The Beast” further.

 

3- The two women of your story have learnt how to trust each other and cross their cultural divide only when they abandoned the verbal communication. On the other hand, the latest political developments are slowly bringing us to give more and more importance to our cultural origins and to the differences between us. How would you relate the meaning of your story with the global situation?

We knew the show was about miscommunication and during some of the rehearsal sessions, we talked about the refugee situation. We discussed a situation where you might find yourself in a place where you don’t speak the language or understand the cultural niceties of the land you end up in. Misunderstandings can occur through language, but also through not being able to ‘read’ the culturally-normalised physical actions of another person. For instance, when greeting someone, where you are normally ‘allowed’ to touch each other is different for different cultures – holding hands, touching noses, slapping someone on the shoulder.

I think that through the show, we are saying that acceptance & curiosity are useful tools if we are to understand another’s strangeness.

My own personal take on the current global situation is that problems are made worse when people stop trying to communicate. This is the same for close personal relationships as for nation-leaders.

Othello

It is the last night for the Othello directed by Richard Twyman, Artistic Director of English Touring Theatre. The show is a contemporary version of the Shakespearian tragedy for the 2017 season of Shakespeare and Classic Drama by Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory Theatres.

 

Since February is on the scene a contemporary version of Othello, interpreted by Abraham Popoola, Norah Lopez Holden, as Othello and Desdemona, just graduated to the RADA; Mark Lockyer, as Iago and Piers Hampton in Cassio’s role. In a minimal, modern and symbolist key, the cast tell is the sequence of events that will lead to Othello’s tragedy.

The performance offers us a demonstration of the actuality of the theme that crosses the story; but what we can learn from Othello’s story?

Othello was performed for the first time in 1604 in London. It is based on Un Capitano Moro(“A Moorish Captain”), a story written by Giovan Battista Giraldi Cinzio, a disciple of Boccaccio, in 1565. In the Italian version, the texture of the plot is already delineated, but it was Shakespeare who gave name and form to the immortal characters of the original tragedy. Othello, the Moorish, is strong and brave; Iago, jealous and mad; Cassio, loyal but too weak to help his friend, and Desdemona, whose innocence remained uncorrupted until the end.

The tragedy was already controversial at the time it was written, but it assumes even more relevance today. It deals with the familiar themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance. As in the original version, the tragedy as portrayed by Richard Twyman started in Venice, with Othello who secretly married Desdemona and pretended to be Christian to be accepted by others. The story moved to Cyprus when Othello was called to protect the island from a Turkish attack. Even today, a strong cultural divide between Greek and Turkish influences is still prevalent in Cyprus, meaning that there still exists a live debate about the identity of the island. In the background, the theme of religion silently crosses the whole performance, making us reflect on how religion, cultural origin and tradition still play a necessary role in our judgments and beliefs.

The peculiarity of this version of the play is, however, the presentation of human feelings alongside the race thematic. The characters achieve this by being relatable to a modern audience, allowing us to deeply empathise with their experiences. Presented with a casual and smart contemporary style of costume, Othello and Desdemona are two young people that we could meet in Bristol during a night out. Iago is older, however, his mannerisms make him seem like the grandfather you always wanted to tell you a story. Cassio could be your good friend who always ends up making a mess with his life, and being unreliable despite his good intentions.

The story follows the original plot but, because of the simplicity of the presentation of the characters, you feel you could be in exactly the same position as them. The play reminds us how much we are conditioned by other people’s opinions, not only on how we think about racial issues, but also on our personal approach to relationships. Instead of believing in the words of Desdemona, who continually professed her love and never lied to him, Othello was contaminated by the opinions of others around him. Instead of trusting her, he chose the easier option of accepting the predictable story that was presented to him as the truth. And at the very end, when he finally discovered the true web of deceit that had been constructed around him, he asked to be remembered for who he really was, before the germ of jealousy had infected him.

But can we really cross this line between before and after? Can we distinguish the authentic ‘self’ from that which is corrupted by false ideas? Do these false ideas remove our responsibility for our actions?

 

We are influenced every day by other opinions, and we form our own one about politic, society, culture and relationship. However, even when we are hardly influenced by someone else, it is still our own “self” that makes judgments. We are still there, and our actions are still our own responsibility. This version of the tragedy made us reflect on our fragility: we live in a world of “social fear”, and we are so scared to be hurt or betrayed that we end up forgetting that trust is the only way to really get close to others and authentically get to know them. But trust means risk. It means to expose your self in a position where you are fragile, where you have any control on other people’s actions, but just hope and wait to see if your trust has been placed in the right hands.

 

The world we are living in is getting faster and smarter every day more. However, there is not a fixed time or an app we can use to classified human feelings or different personalities. Too often we forgot that the time and the “categories” we set up for our society it is our own structure, and this isn’t necessarily the world is supposed to be. Othello chooses to not wait and see with his own eyes if Desdemona was telling the truth; he couldn’t wait, he had to make a decision and determinate for her how it was supposed to be.

 

Probably, on a smaller and less dramatic scenario, we all act in the same way with the people around us. Maybe the strengths of this version of Othello is making us realise that often we were blind in our judgment because we can’t wait to see the whole scene or leave to the others the chance of showing how they really are. We focus only on details we feel relevant, on the characters we can easily recognise, like race, religion or background, constricting the people around us in a label that works for us. Because labels make us feel safe.

 

Maybe we can learn from Othello’s mistake and try to be braver. Try to trust the one that we have around, with their defect and beliefs, with their mistakes and imperfections, with the complexity due to different origins and backgrounds. And finally, accept that we are not perfect either. There is no path, religion or way of acting that will make us perfect, that will guarantee us always the right choice, as we are all human. Scared, imperfect, silly humans. Perhaps, it is indeed in this imperfection that we can find who we really are.

 

 

Free Falling – Hagit Yakira

For the last show of the season, Hagit Yakira Dance Company came to Bristol to present “Free Falling” after touring around England. The performance was an exploration of different anxieties based on the autobiographic experience of the choreographer, Hagit Yakira, as dance movement therapist.

 

The show began in silence. The two dancers on the scene started moving around, always connected, in a circle of movement without direction. Air Hunger, the opening section, was an exploration of an anxiety attack and how our body reacts to it. The absence of music amplified the sense of isolation and suffocating lack of air, the dizzying feeling of spinning around, being stuck in a cycle of confusion.

After the interval, all four of the dancers were on the scene. Even in the distance, the dancers were always connected to each other as they moved through space. Free Fallinginvestigated the fear of falling. This is a feeling that all of us have experienced at some time, as it is deeply connected with our everyday ambitions and challenges. It is a psychological fear, which in some scenarios can prevent people from moving forward, as any steps they attempt to make could result in a fatal fall without chance of recovery.

Both sections were characterized by repeated portrayals of the idea of falling and being rescued. This theme evolved throughout the show and the feeling of not seeing a way out developed, which intimately resonated with the audience. However, it is the redundancy of the very act of falling that can open up the possibility of a way out. We are constantly afraid of falling, and indeed of failure, but it is often this fear that allows us to appreciate the presence of those around us. The performance closed with a single performer who stopped dancing and walked away off the stage. The others followed behind him, leaving him the space to find his own path to recovery.

The exploration of these anxieties came from the choreographer’s experience as a dance movement therapist. Since she founded her company in 2007, Hagit Yakira has always focused her studies on autobiographic research, working on communicating the emotional aspects of the kinds of experiences that everyone can empathize with. The stories she illustrated to us deeply touched her as a human being. According to her philosophy, she mixed choreography with improvisation leaving the dancers free to choose how to interact with each other following her directions and produce physical displays of emotions and feelings natural for them. The freedom she left to her dancers has been also left to the audience. The structure of the choreography offered a key to empathize with your own sensibility and create your personal story, without being driven by an “easy interpretation” because of the nature of her experience.

 

“Free Falling’ will be again on tour in Autumn 2017. In the meantime, I had interviewed Hagit to know about her performance and work.

1 – The core of your work with your Dance Company is focused on sharing autobiographic stories and on the physical exploration of emotions and feelings. What inspired you to research and work in this direction?

The autobiographical aspects are there as a source for creating relationships between the dancers and me during the process. They are there to create a bond between the dancers and me, and build a trust – mental and physical trust, and in order to give the work the depth it needs, the honesty it needs, and the rawness. I truly believe that this kind of work, process and journey create depth, connection and ownership; it creates a real sense of care, thus the dancers care about the subject matter as much as I do, it makes the process about the dancers as much as it is about me or my ideas of the subject matter; it makes it about us, about our meeting points, our connections and affect on one another. What I mean is, is not that the work is about us, there is something bigger than that in the work, but the process is about the moment – or moments we meet – and how we meet and how we develop together – and this gives the work a real depth. This belief or even insight and understanding comes from my background as a therapist I think. I want to note that what we share in the studio stays in the studio. I don’t add it in the choreography itself, what we hear in the studio is not something the audience will hear, in that way it isn’t about sharing those personal stories on stage, not at all, but actually about something more abstract and poetic.

I am a great believer in emotions and feelings. The idea of what affects us sensually, physically, mentally. Our relationships with others, and how these relationships affect us and transform us as human being. I understand the world through my emotions, through my feelings. I first feel. And this is why my work is also and always about emotional journeys. My work is an extension of the woman I am.

 

2 –Free Falling particularly reflects your philosophy as choreographer and teacher. It is based on your memories, on your individual experience as a dance therapist. Because of this intimate connection, how did you feel working on this show? Has it been different comparing with your preview works?

My work is always personal and always emotional. I see emotions and the idea of creating an affective experience for the audience and the dancers as a concept, an intellectual concept and a sensual one, and this is something I always explore through the different subjects I look at in my choreographies. What is different in this work is the fact that I feel more secure in my practice, and therefore can take more risks and stretch my comfort zone, and the comfort zone of those who collaborate with me. I feel I can go deeper in my practice, go more into details, make it more profound and articulated.

 

3 – During the show, often the dancers helped each other using their bodies or using the clothes to suggest the right movement. How much your job as therapist influenced the quality of movement you have been worked on with your dancers?

It is more the way I wish to see the world, or the beauty I can sometimes see in the world – support, help, relationships, connections. This is something that the choreographer in me and the therapeutic interest I have mingled together. The movement quality is what interests me as a choreographer and not so much as a therapist. The therapeutic side in what convey the subject matter, the empathy, the emotional journey I want to choreograph. The movement material, quality and structure are my choreographic choices.

 

4 – The experience you had as a therapist is unique for you, and your dancers come from a different background. How have you worked together to translate your memories into dance and built a choreography readable by anyone?

I have to say that I am or at least I was a dancer/performer my self and I work as a dance teacher as well, in that way my dancers and myself have also a lot in common. My experience as a dance movement therapist was fairly short – and even though it does (and very much so) influence my work and the way I see the world, relationships, art, it isn’t the only thing that shape my work as a choreographer. On the contrary – my experience as a dancer/performer  and my experience as a teacher have a very big impact as well.

I never wanted my dancers to translate my memories – not at all! I wanted them to find their own sense of falling and recovering. I wanted to see where the subject matter meets them. Their physical and mental interpretations of the subject was much more important to me than my memories or their understanding of them.

As for my memories, I think I can answer it in this way: I wanted my choreography to convey something I find very humane: it is the subtlety in emotions, the complexity of feelings, and the way I perceive the notion of recovery: slow, detailed, comforting, supportive as well as chaotic, scary and desperate.

 

5 – Free Falling will be on tour again in Autumn 2017. There is anything you would like to change or investigate more deeply until then?

The evening keeps changing all the time. I have already changed the costume, I took the sounds away in Air Hunger, I changed the timing of the interval; it all happened during the tour.

I believe there will be more changes. I want to see how I feel when I see the piece again in the autumn; we are taking a short break now, and will be back to tour the piece in the autumn. I want to see how the works – the choreography ‘meets’ me and the dancers after that break; how I feel when I see the work again after the break. I think only then I’ll know what needs to be changed and rework. In that way it is a never ending story of choreographing; as long as I develop and change throughout the tour, so does the work…

 

 

 

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.