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Think Tank | Artistic Acupuncture for Places in Europe

30 Apr 2018

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La Fabrique Royale - Zéro Degré

Art and Territories | Urban Renewal | Social Justice | Cultural Identity

Artistic Explorations in Europe

Nine Artistic Acupuncture Missions will take place within the scope of nine IN SITU partners’ locations between spring 2018 and end of 2019. The partners will invite foreign artists to spend up to six days in a local and specific context they will have identified in their own city. With a traveller’s eye, a fresh and perhaps slightly irreverent look, the artists in question will be challenged to come up with artistic responses to these local urban issues. They will receive insights from local politicians as well as activists and reply with a kind of “artistic acupuncture” after their visits: so to say, concisely formulated artistic proposals involving brief texts, images or audio.

Territorial Issues

The different settings represent a real balance of geo-cultural identity: Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Kosovo, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK and the Czech Republic. In each of these countries, IN SITU Think Tank stakeholders have focused on specific issues tied into three main themes:
Urban renewal - how can art in public space question or contribute to urban transformation?
Social justice - what role can art play in highlighting the tears in our social fabric, especially where this causes the exclusion of the most vulnerable or marginal members of society?
Cultural identity - how can art celebrate, spotlight and question the variety of our cultural identities, from the sometimes troublesome historical “Glorious Europe” past, up to the most recent developments that are turning us into a world-continent?

Proposition for the future
After up to six days of exploring and meetings with a civil servant or officer from a local authority and a local activist or member of the civil society, each artist will make a proposition for a future artistic intervention. The nine propositions will then be looked at by three experts of three different disciplines (members of the academic world or intellectuals): sociologist, urbanist, lawyer, etc. The suggestions may well be idealistic, and definitely artistic, but might just also be achievable, provoking new thinking and possibly forming new material for observation.

A cross-fertilisation between art and society
The material generated by these various players – the operators that host the missions, local leaders and activists, the artists and experts – will serve to build a transmedia narrative (writing, drawing, pictures or videos) and presented to European political figures concerned with art, culture and public space. A big conference will be held in Brussels in autumn 2020 to present the outputs.

The European territory of artistic creation in public space is very extensive and diverse. The practices of its artists and operators form a remarkable hotbed of expertise, which is too often seen as mere entertainment. Art at its best, however, especially when it is rooted in real life, is a form of diagnosis that all areas of society stand to benefit from. It can be a source of applications beyond its initial field – a genuine experimental tool in societal transformation.

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ZimmerFrei - Temporary 8th © ZimmerFrei

9 EXPLORATIONS

1) Oda / Pristina (Kosovo)
Cultural identity + Social Justice

Kosovo is geographically part of Europe, but politically kept apart from the continent. The country offers thousands of stories of families not being able to visit each other, of artists not being able to travel and take part in artistic exchanges, of missed life chance opportunities for basketball players due to the bureaucracy of visas and permits. How “European” is Kosovo?

2) Lieux Publics / Marseille (France)
Social Justice + Urban Renewal

The multicultural reality makes the position of young women and teenagers particularly problematic. The idea would be to focus on the various strategies that teenage girls are driven to put in practice in order to walk around in security and avoid street harassment. How does this modify the relation to the city? What is the place of women in the public space?

3) Artopolis / Budapest (Hungary)
Cultural Identity + Urban Renewal

In Budapest there is a lack of transparency and public debate in the decision making process. Hungarian people lost the belief that they can do something in the political life of their country. The idea is to work on the identity of a post-industrial district, and the civil participation in the redefinition of an urban environment.

4) Čtyri Dny / Prague (Czech Republic)
Cultural Identity

Through a Prague specific context, Ctyri Dny proposes to question cultural tradition, identity and future in Eastern Europe: after gaining freedom and consequently opening the borders, what remains as a « cultural original » message in the artistic works? To what extent are artists and institutions already influenced by the global arts market and where can something persist as a typical « East Europe expression »?

5) Østfold Kulturutvikling / Fredrikstad (Norway)
Urban Renewal + Social Justice

The town of Moss, Norway, will soon open a determinant transformation chapter of its history, with the building of a tunnel under the town for the train and a new train station complex, as well as the demolition of one of the town’s oldest neighbourhoods. This project raises social, ecoonomic and political questions in this industrialized town who’s redevelopment, in part, hinges upon its position as a key node in national and global transport of people and commodities.  

6) La Strada / Graz (Austria) 
Cultural Identity + Social Justice + Urban Renewal

Graz is now developing very fast in several specific districts. A « Smart city » has been developed in a part of the town, where it’s all about investment and who wins. To what extent can artistic activities contribute to the development of a new urban district, and still remain firmly lodged there?

7) Oerol / Terschelling (Netherlands)
Cultural Identity + Social Justice Oerol

Oreol takes place on the island of Terschelling, which has a typical as well as specific insular « identity », with strong sense of belonging, ownership, tradition and community. Each year, though, Oerol Festival brings together this local community and artists and audiences from the outside, creating a contrast between local community and a temporary society of over 50.000 people from elsewhere.This brings up the question : who owns the place?

8) Dommelhof / Neerpelt & Genk (Belgium)
Cultural Identity + Social Justice + Urban Renewal

Genk offers a very specific context with a long history of imported labour and more than 50% allochthons, many of them not being integrated and not speaking Dutch. Industrial/mining past, a very diverse population in terms of education, access to medication, as well as the necessity for the city to reinvent itself, allow to interrogate the three topics: Cultural Identity, Social Justice and Urban Renewal.

9) Freedom Festival / Hull (UK)
Social Justice + Urban Renewal

Freedom Festival started in 2007 as a commemoration of the Antislavery Act. The question of the impact the Festival really has on the city deserves to be raised: does it change anything? Does it really have a positive effect in Hull? Besides of this, as Hull has long since used culture as the driver for urban renewal, a lot of politicians, developers, investors, young entrepreneurs working with arts have come to the city to investigate on the impact the culture has had on the urban renewal there. The mission will be focusing on one of these two aspects.