War and revolution are two terms almost interchangeable. They appeared in the titles of the double bill on the inaugural night of the 2018 edition of the Bâtard Festival at Beursschouwburg. With no hierarchy suggested, the programming flexibly allowed the audience to start their evening with either Cezary goes to war by director Cezary Tomaszewksi or Tell me about the revolution by artist Farbod Fathinejadfard. Both are totally different in moods, but they set out for the same thing: politics.
In May NTGent published the Ghent Manifesto. Inspired by the groundbreaking Dogma 95-manifesto for film, it consists of ten rules the artists who’s work is produced by the city theatre, will have to follow -or at least relate to- from now on. NTGent-director Milo Rau and doctoral researcher Joachim Ben Yakoub discuss some of the restrictions mentioned in the manifesto. ’It’s like dancing with handcuffs.’
I’ll begin by way of a harsh preamble, a critical diagnosis. What has happened, in Europe today, to artists’ imaginary? Is the authority of philosophy and critical theory in matters of art crushing artists’ conceptual or poetic imagination, despite their developed linguistic sensibilities and practices of self-reflection? My provocative claim is that instrumental reason has privileged the efficacy of images above all else, that the words and procedures favored by art institutions respond to a growing expectation that they manage the audience’s experience.
At their first encounter with director Alice Bogaerts’s and dramaturg Marleen Ilg’s stage adaptation of Howard Buten’s When I was Five, I Killed Myself, spectators of the first part of Stadsnomaden2 are first put into disorientation. For those who already know the storyline of Buten’s novella on which the play is based, they might wonder how a lone tantalising adult male body and a minimalist scenography would spatially play out the story of Burt, a troubled eight-year-old boy who, while being placed in a mental institution, is caught having sex with Jessica, his fellow child patient from the same ward.
In Deutschland findet – wieder mal – ein Kulturkampf statt. Vielleicht ein Kämpfchen in falschen Kulissen und Kostümen, aber man muss es ernst nehmen, zumal auf den Theaterbühnen gerade verschiedene Richtungsstreite aufeinandertreffen. Natürlich ist auch hier jener „Kampf der Kulturen“ zu beobachten, der derzeit weltweit tobt, zwischen liberalen und humanistischen Positionen einerseits und konservativen und nationalistischen andererseits – mit einigen interessanten Mischungen, die die herkömmliche Unterscheidung von rechts und links als überholt erscheinen lassen.
The relationship between artist and curator has never been entirely without friction. In times where neoliberal working conditions put both sides under pressure, it can even go completely wrong. Based on her experience with Kunstencentrum Vooruit, Veridiana Zurita advocates in this opinion for a collaboration in which reciprocity and conversation play a central role. She puts the psychiatric clinic La Borde forward as a good practice.
This is the third letter in a cycle of Open Letters to the Circus. This letter is written in the context of ‘The Circus Dialogues’, a two-year research project led by Bauke Lievens, Quintijn Ketels and Sebastian Kann. ‘The Circus Dialogues’ expands on Bauke Lievens’ previous research project, ‘Between Being and Imagining: towards a methodology for artistic research in contemporary circus’. Both projects are financed by the Arts Research Fund of the University College Ghent (BE).