Artistic Explorations in Cultural Memory

Research workshop
Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University
Scheltema, Leiden, 3-4 November 2006
A Report by dr. Mariangela Lavanga


Artistic Explorations in Cultural Memory was a very intensive workshop on the interdependences and interrelations between contemporary creativity and cultural heritage, highlighting emblematic cases of confluence, interaction and mutual reinforcement between them. It explored the mechanisms that can be used to remember, the ways contemporary creativity uses to de-freeze and re-discover memories, to shape and alter cultural memory. The workshop, conceived and conveyed by dr. Dragan Klaic, sought to abridge the gap and compensate for a certain lack of mutual understanding between the professionals engaged in the contemporary creativity and those in the cultural heritage. This potential understanding and collaboration are to be anchored in the discovery and re-construction of a cultural memory that fuses memory sites and memory narratives (Klaic, 2005)1. Cultural heritage – in its material and immaterial forms - does not only need preservation and conservation, it also needs a process of de-freezing (Gottfried Wagner) and re-contextualization which only contemporary creativity could trigger.
1. Introduction
Through the centuries and also today cultural heritage has being irrevocably lost; this loss is caused by nature- and time-generated devastation as well as human deeds and neglect. Furthermore, in a context of increasing globalisation and commodification, the immaterial cultural heritage is especially vulnerable and at risk. Immaterial heritage concerns skills and cultural artefacts sustained in memory and thus is prone to fall out of use and disappear through collective amnesia (Klaic, 2005)2.
The workshop specifically addressed the interdependences and interrelations between contemporary creativity and cultural memory. As the visual artist Ritsaert ten Cate suggested in its exploration of circumstances under which creativity becomes heritage, it is better to talk about a traffic jam rather than a gap (‘At age 68 am I representing Creativity? Or Heritage?’). ‘They enjoy influence’ came out as one of the sentences from the poetic game of words invented by the stage director Kirsten Dehlholm and stage designer Ralf Richardt Strøbech (Hotel Pro Forma).
The core of the workshop consisted of short presentations by artists of their own practice and experts’ contributions on other cultural memory endeavours, followed by a discussion. The workshop, hosted by the Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts of Leiden University and supported by the European Cultural Foundation, has taken place in Leiden, a city of cultural memory, rich in art collections and architectural heritage. Scheltema was a perfect location for the workshop: a former blanket factory, abandoned more than 50 years ago and recently restored, a building made again alive by and for contemporary creativity. Scheltema is used today by the performing arts ensemble VeenFabriek, the municipal museum Lakenhal and Leiden University.
2. How artists deal with memory: provocation and paradox
During the workshop several scholars and artists from different disciplines – visual and performing arts, archaeology and film – have shown the rich range of contemporary artistic interventions that deal with memory and heritage, exploring and contemporising the perceptions of the past. The works of art are usually issue driven, derived from interviews, narratives, reminiscences, and oral and written sources of the local culture (Klaic, 20063). Artists have revealed various mechanisms to remember, to re-discover and destabilize identities, to make cultural memory come alive in the present.
The artistic interventions shown in the workshop have questioned some larger power struggles (Anne-Marie Autissier). Their aim is not to commemorate or to create consensus, but to trigger a process of struggle in order to create new memory and identity (Raj Isar). ‘You need art to deal with memory for its provocative and ironic distance, otherwise you just create a celebrative monument’ (Krzysztof Czyszewski). As Adrienne Goehler argued, one of the key words is taboo, so artists deal with taboos. Artists are trouble-makers. Only artists can tell the stories correctly, convincingly and autonomously (Tomislav Šola).
The works of the artists Želimir Žilnik, Michael Blum and Luca Ruzza would serve as an example of the importance of provocation and paradox in artist explorations in cultural memory.
Provocation and paradox in artistic explorations in cultural memory
The director Želimir Žilnik used documentary filming as a tool through which history and memory are better recalled than through official media materials. He developed in his films a virtual diary of the time in the country (Serbia) he has been living in. His films confirm the medium as an important historical source: not only the documentary method but also his fictionalization strategies provide evidence of the reality. In ‘Old Timer’ (1989) he filmed a fake drama in order to be able to shoot a huge turmoil taking place in reality, a mass rely of Milosevic’s supporters at the eve of disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. The film is a combination of fiction, in terms of a road-movie story of a rocker Igor, and documentary shots from autumn 1988. ‘Tito second time among the Serbs’ (1994) draws an impressive picture of Serbia and Serbs: an amateur actor, dressed in a marshal’s uniform and imitating Tito, appears in various parts of Belgrade and speaks and gesticulates as the late President, posing questions to the passers by about the catastrophes that have befallen the country. Immediately, small groups of people are gathering around ‘Tito’, passionately arguing with him. They spontaneously engage in the performance and accept the game, they complain about lost Yugoslavia, blame Tito. At the time when Tito was alive this movie would be impossible.
Through his ‘Monument of the Birth of the XX century’ - a speculation based on the common schooling of Hitler and Wittgenstein 100 years ago in Linz - artist Michael Blum critically and humorously re-read the production and construction of culture and history, the relevance of monuments and memorials, the role of memory in daily life. Astonished by this unknown and unnoticed coincidence, he wanted to investigate the ambiguos history of the place and stimulate debate around the common school year of Hitler and Wittgenstein (‘All started in Linz’). The project, consisting of a campaign, an exhibition and a book, provoked a lot of polemics in Linz and - what it’s more astonishing - a strong resentment of the local art and media world that feared controversy damaging the prestige of city.
The architect and set-designer Luca Ruzza realised the project ‘The Memory Arena’ within the Amsterdam Felix Meritis in 1998, in collaboration with the composer Arnold Dreyblatt. Black wooden platform, reading tables and archive area, four rear projection black plexiglass panels which continually display live software searches through the ‘Who’s Who in Central & East Europe in 1933’ databases. Nine plasma data displays show animated texts, chosen from Who’s Who, statements on memory and the nature of archiving, biographical fragments. The project stands as photographic and at the same time ritualistic, as the public was called to interact and read the biographies of prominent personalities that have mostly disappeared in the historic turmoil and oblivion of the region after 1933.
3. Memory, identity and place
In the workshop, various artists have revealed how theatre and performances projects exploring memory become instrumental in defining and re-inventing community, in helping citizens for a ‘re-constellation of identities’ (Chris Baldwin). As Boris Bakal claimed during the workshop, the question of memory should trigger the question of identity, memory becoming a partner of identity.
In a context of decline of collective forms of memory and rise of multiple identities (Raj Isar), projects dealing with memory have the potential to create inclusive communities and contemporary cultural heritage. They empower local people, facilitating the on-going process of cultural documentation and heritage reflection (Ong Keng Sen). They help communities re-interpret and explore the past, feel comfortable and ‘agile’ with it (Chris Baldwin). They are fundamental in re-inventing an agora, an emblematic public space of intensive civic interactions. (Krzysztof Czyszewski).
Projects dealing with memory have shown commitment and forms of social responsibility. Artists can provide space for comparison, they can raise questions and hopefully expose the local community to other possibilities (TheatreWorks, 2003)4. The artists’ works help strengthen the civil society and the quality of active, engaged and committed citizenship, locally and globally (Dragan Klaic).
Memory and community-based projects: the re-shaping of identities
In his projects in the villages of la Rioja, Spain, the performer Chris Baldwin brings together museum services, archaeologists, artists and theatre practitioners with those responsible for regional regeneration and tourism. Chris Baldwin and his Spiral company combine archaeological sites with performance, realising projects specifically designed for outdoor spaces and within a social development contexts. The combination of archaeology and performance generates projects rich of both meaning and pleasure, helping a wider community to become more ‘agile’ in handling definitions of cultural memory. Such ‘agility’ is of profound importance in a Europe convulsed with doubts about the efficacy of its integration project. The equation between people, cultural memory and land is therefore central to a time-space investigation.
The interdisciplinary performance practitioner Ong Keng Sen (TheatreWorks, Singapore) has shown through his projects dealing with Asian diasporas and memory how memory is malleable, how it can be processed, transformed and recreated from an enforced oblivion: memory is not just remembering, it is also a process of mythologising, it is fiction, it is hybridization. To remember is to re-tell: the making of cultural heritage occurs through the construction of new narratives, Dragan Klaic argued.
Krzysztof Czyszewski works with the memory of the space, with the memory of the language, with the memory of the neighbour, often absent or made distant. ‘The only tools we have belong to the craftsmen of art, word and thought’ (Krzysztof Czyszewski). He uses memory to re-create a commonly shared space, to re-invent an agora in a borderland community in Sejny, in NE Poland – a community divided by religion, nationality, language and new state borders. Setting a Borderland Centre in an abandoned synagogue and living within the borderland area of today’s Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Byelorussia allowed his team to find what was the common cultural capital of the area in the past and to seek to reinvest it in the present by connecting many of the fragmentized and dissipated memories. The project team gave back to the community a common memory, a common story, although very fragile and easy to destroy.
Paul Koek’s contemporary re-visitation of Euripides’s tragedy ‘The Suppliants’ involved a long investigation with local people; interviews were made with scientists, politicians and specially invited experts, linked to one of the themes or layers of the play. They were brought together in a series of evenings, where rehearsal, meals and discussions were combined. ‘The Suppliants’ were anchored in a new contemporary context of warfare, forced migration, refuge and acculturation. The production was performed in the Netherlands and then in the antique theatre of Epidaurus, Greece.
Artistic explorations in cultural memory have underlined not only a connection between memory and identity, but also a strong interrelation between memory and place. Community art and site-specific projects, the collection of local stories and of the atmosphere of a place highlight the role of the artist in contributing to the creation of a collective memory (Titia Bouwmeester). Some artists deal with the feeling of a place, the city as cultural phenomena; some others intervene within the urban place through the physical and cultural regeneration of the built heritage.
Memory and place
Through the use of old technique of chorography, Mike Person develops site-specific performances as a reminding tool. The performances are strictly related to a particular and specific place, highlighting its uniqueness. The use of performances becomes therefore a way to restore the feeling of a place, the memory directly connected to a place: performance and memory blend with the landscape.
Through her artists’ collective 5e kwartier in Haarlem, Titia Bouwmeester realises community documentaries, working in close collaboration with specific groups in places which badly need to be better represented. She prefers to work in places that are new to her, so that, as an outsider, she can offer a fresh look and a new perspective and where her work can become an added value. She involves the people who live there, making them co-owner of the production. She is staging invented rituals that stress participation and fuse individual efforts of remembrance.
As a participant of the Mobile Academy 2006 in Warsaw Lucia Babina presented her experience in the ‘City as Stage’ course, held by the artist Stefan Kaegi. The course focused on the exploration of the city through a custom-built Bulgarian truck. This mobile research unit, through a large side window, allowed an atypical gaze on the city, functioning as a unique observation point of the urban landscape. Every stop of the truck becomes the opportunity to transform the city into a stage, to focus on a spontaneous ongoing performance of the inhabitants, turned into ‘the patient on the couch of analysis, the topic of discussion, the subject of criticism’.
In ‘Re-collecting the city, re-collecting time’ Katarina Pejovic (Shadow Casters) deals with the immaterial traces left in the cultural, social and political history of Zagreb by ephemeral public events. The project leaders work on tracing documentation on artistic actions in the public space as well protests and public gatherings that took place in Zagreb since 1945, by contacting authors and participants of those events as well as the general public, assembling remembrances and material traces. Gradually, an alternative history of public life emerges in a grass-root manner, recalling many forgotten, ignored or suppressed episodes.
Cities are living organisms. Things do not die naturally but after power struggles (Asu Aksoy). In Zagreb, artists have stopped the process of deterioration, re-taking a piece of the history of the city. Boris Bakal (Shadow Casters) showed how art can physically intervene in the urban fabric and space, struggling against the time- and human-generated devastation and deterioration. ‘Man_is_Space: Vitić_Dances’ is a complex and interdisciplinary project with the main goal to save and restore one of the greatest achievements of Croatian (and then Yugoslav) modern architecture: the building designed in the late 1950s by the architect Ivo Vitić in Zagreb. The building is the material trace of the socialist model of self-sustainability, as it was conceived as a small society in its own. The project combines permanent artistic activities with constant social engagement. The building is the first post World War Two object to be enlisted for restoration by the local government. Both projects by Shadow Casters use ‘open offices’ as a way to gather documentation as well as interact and communicate with the public.
5. Memory and Museums
What is the role of the contemporary museum? How to reconcile cultural heritage and contemporary art practice? Unfortunately, many museums today cater to the needs of romantically recreating the past, becoming a powerful instrument in our ‘Culture of Spectacle’ (G. Debord, quoted by Janneke Wesseling) and tourism industry. The new Musée du quai Branly in Paris points out at the present danger of museums loosing their meaning and relevance for the contemporary art. Museums contribute to our collective amnesia by functioning as an anaesthetic tranquilizer and by limiting themselves to the role of storage place and show-case of cultural artefacts (Janneke Wesseling).
From the point of view of Tomislav Šola, museums suffer from their own official disease: institutional fatigue. They are often oversized, dull, pretentious, inapprehensible and foreign. They feel restricted by their highly specialist mandate or detached from mainstream cultural consumption, shaped by the cultural industry and its mass products (Klaic, 2005)5.
Referring to the exhibition dedicated to Thomas Hirschorn entitled Anschool, in Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, the art critic Janneke Wesseling argued that a genuinely contemporary museum should be an institution where different cultures collide, where there is space for heterogeneity. Museums should be a celebration of differences, helping shape memories of the spectator and a more positively engaged, affirmative vision of the future.
What is then the role of contemporary artists within the museums? Art can effectively contribute to the institutional communication through the use of play and dramaturgy, of unexpected and smart comparisons, through its fresh and creative language, its aesthetics and intuition (Tomislav Šola). Heritage communication is considered by Tomislav Šola an art: the art of memory communication. ‘Obscene and savage capitalism, assisted by politicians, is turning the world into a dangerous and ugly place for billions of helpless, neurotic humans. Collective memory is the chance. The only way to make collective memory effective is by understanding it as scientifically reliable communicational art form. That means curators and artists working together with a new professionalism in their heads and - importantly - in their hearts’ (Tomislav Šola). Artists and curators should be independent and autonomous, socially and community committed. Art should take responsibility for the human destiny and the declining human condition, Šola argues.
Against the instrumentalisation. In Europe, there is a feverish and controversial debate concerning memory. The re-discovery of European culture is invoked to sustain an emerging European citizenship (Otto von der Gablentz). However, the link between European culture and European citizenship is uncertain and questionable (Anne-Marie Autissier). Memory and politics are usually a problematic concoction (Gottfried Wagner). The risk of political instrumentalisation is high. During the workshop, artists have shown their ability to struggle against the political manipulation of memory, no matter which disciplines and which places of the world they were coming from. It’s a problem of massaging politicians, as Ong Keng Sen argued.
Networking, spreading information and increasing awareness. The artists present at the workshop came from different art disciplines but shared the same strong commitment and interest in exploring the cultural memory. They were highly interested in each others’ works. Some forms of cooperation and networking among them, and between them and other relevant stakeholders (from the cultural sector to the education sector and the policy-making) could be developed to raise awareness on the interdependences of contemporary creativity and cultural memory. The ‘Istanbul Biennale’ in September 2007 should be an ideal place to investigate different ways of looking at the memory-past issue, involving scholars and practitioners not only from Europe, but also from Asia, India, Turkey and Latin America, suggested Asu Aksoy. Another opportunity is the annual conference ‘The Best in Heritage’, held in Dubrovnik, organised by the European Heritage Association (Zagreb, Croatia) as a global and annual review of awarded museum and heritage projects.
Re-defining the role of museums. Emblematic cases of confluence and mutual reinforcement have emerged between artists’ practices and cultural memory, while a fruitful relation among artists, museums and memory is still underdeveloped. In order to become intermediaries between the past and the present, the cultural memory and the contemporary creativity, museums should develop some forms of cooperation with artists, they need ‘the art of memory communication’ (T. Šola): projects dealing with cultural memory, artists-in-residence programmes, community art projects, artists’ involvement in educational programmes, and so on. Museums should play an active role within local communities. Today artists are more and more linked and related to regional and urban traditions rather than to the national ones (Raj Isar). All the projects presented during the workshop are deeply rooted in a local community and/or in a specific place. The seeds for a fertile cooperation are present. Today, artists and curators should take their responsibility (Taja Vovk), being community committed, socially minded, development oriented (Tomislav Šola).
Dialogue and interaction with the local community. The importance of communication and openness has emerged together with the significance of public spaces and public realms, in opposition to the privatisation process that endangers and diminishes the public sphere (Anne-Marie Autissier). Open performances and open offices have been used by artists to gather public reactions and comments, to acquire a grass root input in their creative process. Artists have stimulated and supported the local commitment and empowerment; the local community has actively contributed to the projects through its ideas, creativity, imagination. The continuous dialogue and interaction with the local community, its involvement in the art projects came out as fundamental to the artistic explorations in the cultural memory. The notion of active participation has been replacing the notion of access, which was determined more in consumption terms, and adding a dimension of expected empowerment (Klaic20066).
Contributing to a sustainable local development. The debate concerning memory transcends the national and European borders, it is increasingly related to the local. Rather than to nations, artists relate to regional and urban traditions (Janneke Wesseling). In the current international debate about creative cities, cultural industries and economic development, what is becoming clearer is that cities needs cultural investments aimed to strengthen local identity and social cohesion in order to be able to produce long term benefits and trigger a more sustainable urban development process. Several projects presented during the workshop are marked by the active involvement of the local community, reinforcement of the local identity and enhancement of social cohesion. They could therefore play a crucial role within local development strategies that go beyond the simple stimulation of cultural tourism. Further research and workshops should analyse the impacts of the artistic interventions in cultural memory within local territories and assess the long-term legacies in the social, cultural, economic and physical spheres. The Santral Istanbul project presented by Asu Aksoy could be considered as a test. It is an ambitious project to preserve and regenerate the first electricity power plant within the Ottoman Empire. Santral Istanbul wants to become an artistic hub, a generative, meeting and disseminating open space for education and arts: a huge area that will host a museum for contemporary arts, an energy museum, spaces for artists-in-residence, for cultural production and consumption, and provide university facilities of the Bilgi University (Asu Aksoy).
Securing financial sustainability. Numerous projects dealing with memory are usually long-term projects which require a constant flow of funding and subsidies – not always available in a time of frequent cuts in public funding. It is important to secure financial sustainability or at least establish a system of sustainability within the local community itself (TheatreWorks, 20037), giving opportunities for continuing development. The projects presented during the workshop have shown their significant potentials for urban regeneration and sustainable urban development strategies. Thus, linking cultural memory projects to urban/rural development strategies could ensure the mid-term funding which these projects require but this would require some adjustment of the habitual funding schemes of public authorities and private foundations (Adrienne Goehler).
During the workshop several scholars and artists from different disciplines have shown the rich range of contemporary artistic interventions that deal with memory and heritage, exploring and contemporising the perception of the past. The debate in this workshop was prompted by and articulated around the artists' words and works, affirming the singularity and diversity of their positions and the strength of their personal commitment as artists and as persons, without reducing them to a single attitude. They use various mechanisms to remember, to re-discover and destabilize identities, to make cultural memory come alive in the present. They work from different point of views, deconstructing clichés, raising debate and provocation, making use of paradoxes, struggling against the political manipulation of memory. Artistic explorations in cultural memory have underlined the fertile and rich connections among memory, identity and place. The projects are deeply rooted in a local community and/or in a specific place. The continuous dialogue and interaction with the local community, its involvement in the art projects came out as fundamental. The projects distinguished for being highly committed, as they empower local communities, helping them re-interpret and explore the past, contributing to the creation of a collective memory and to the reinforcement of the local identity. What is lacking is an active role of the museums, a fruitful relation among artists, museums and memory. Forms of cooperation and networking among artists, and between them and other relevant stakeholders should be developed to raise awareness and stimulate the debate on the interdependences of contemporary creativity and cultural memory, highlighting the contribution to a more sustainable local development and securing the necessary financial sustainability.
Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University
Artistic explorations in cultural memory
Research workshop program
Leiden, Friday-Saturday, 3-4 November 2006
With the kind support of the European Cultural Foundation
An intensive workshop on the interdependence and interaction between contemporary creativity and cultural heritage, generating ideas and approaches to be pursued in cultural policy discussions, integrated in the contemporary cultural heritage and artistic practice and disseminated via subsequent courses, events and publications.
The workshop seeks to abridge the gap and a certain lack of mutual understanding between professionals engaged in the contemporary creativity and those in the cultural heritage and highlight emblematic cases of confluence, interaction and mutual reinforcement, benefiting artists, experts, policy makers, cultural commentators, students and ultimately the audiences.
The workshop consists of short presentations of artistic practices and other cultural memory endeavors, followed by a discussion in which of all participants are expected to take part.
Participants: artists, architects and urban planners, heritage and cultural policy specialists, historians and critics.
Workshop conveyor: Dragan Klaic, theater scholar and cultural analyst (Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University).
Friday, 3 November 2006
2 pm: Welcome by Prof. Frans de Ruiter, Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University
Introduction and program review by Dragan Klaic, the workshop conveyor.
2:15 Speak memory! Grasping the past, reshaping memory
When does Creativity become Heritage? Let’s explore. Ritsaert ten Cate, visual artist, Amsterdam
One game, seven statements. Kirsten Dehlholm, theater director & Ralf Richardt Strøbech, architect and designer, Hotel Pro Forma, Copenhagen
Preparing The Suppliants. Paul Koek, theater director and composer, VeenFabriek, Leiden
Digital oral history. Zelimir Zilnik, film maker, Novi Sad
The Agile Citizen-Spectator. Chris Baldwin, performing artist, la Rioja
4.20 Break
4.40 Traumata
Of diasporas and memories. Two characters in search of memory. Ong Keng Sen, theater director, 72-13, Singapore
Monument to the birth of the 20th century. Michael Blum, visual artist, Vienna
The Memory of a vanished agora. Krzysztof Czyszewski, President, Borderland Foundation, Sejny
Closing remarks: Adrienne Goehler, curator and cultural policy expert, Berlin
6.30 Ends
7.30 Dinner in Scheltema
9.00 Film program
Seven Hungarian Ballads, dir. Zelimir Zilnik (1981, 29 min).
Rembrandt and Hitler or Me: an interpretation by Mike Figgis filmed from inside the Mickery production (1985, 29’45”).
Saturday, 4 November
10.00 Opening and program review: Dragan Klaic
Exploring urban textures and layers
Choreography tradition and site specific performance. Mike Pearson, theater scholar and performing artist, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Recollecting the city, recollecting time. Katarina Pejovic, dramaturg & intermedia artist, Shadow Casters, Zagreb
Man is Space. Vitić Dances. Boris Bakal, director and intermedia artist, Shadow Casters, Zagreb
Shared memories. Titia Bouwmeester, performing artist, 5e kwartier, Haarlem
11.30 Break
11.50 Mobile Horizons. Lucia Babina, cultural entrepreneur, iStrike Foundation, Rotterdam
Closing remarks: Anne-Marie Autissier, sociologist & cultural policy expert, Univ. Paris 8
12.45 Lunch
2.15 Museums and alternative memorials
The theft of the presence: the contemporary museum and cultural memory.
Janneke Wesseling, art critic, Amsterdam
Santralistanbul: From Electricity to Arts. Asu Aksoy, cultural researcher, Bilgi University, Istanbul
In the Memory Arena: Who is Who in Europe 1933. Luca Ruzza, architect and designer, Rome
The art of memory communication. Tomislav Šola, professor of heritology, Zagreb University
4.30 Break
4.45 Final discussion, Creativity, cultural memory and European citizenship. Introduction by Otto von der Gablentz, ret. diplomat, former Executive President of Europa Nostra
Moderator: Raj Isar, Jean Monnet Professor of Cultural Policy Studies, American University Paris, President of EFAH Concluding words by Gottfried Wagner, Director of the European Cultural Foundation
6.15 Closing
6:30 Leiden cultural memory walk
7.30 Dinner in Scheltema 11
10.30 Judith Nab/Theatre Espace. No Talking, Theater performance (optional) in the LAKtheater. Visual theater about a critical parrot, a smoking automechanic and a dreamt about man-pig.
Workshop language: English
Reporter: Mariangela Lavanga
Location: Scheltema, a recently restored former blanket factory, whose joint tenants are the performing arts ensemble De VeenFabriek, the municipal museum Lakenhal and Leiden University. Address: Marktsteeg 1. ph. +31 71 331 8053.
Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, the host of the workshop, is the youngest faculty of the Leiden University (1575), connecting its eight faculties and other resources with the Royal Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague.The faculty offers master programs in photographic studies and media technology, major/minor combinations, optional and selective courses and prepares master programs in arts and science and in teaching of arts. docARTES is a PhD option offered in a consortium with selected Dutch and Flemish conservatories. The Faculty seeks to bridge the gap between the artistic ands scientific inquiry and experimentation and develops its own pedagogical philosophy, curriculum, degrees and collaborative engagements on their nexus.
European Cultural Foundation (ECF) is one of the leading independent organizations devoted to cultural development, and is a passionate advocate of cultural cooperation. ECF believes in the enriching experience of diversity, and in the power of culture to promote mutual understanding and respect. It therefore and strong cultural policies for Europe. The Foundation develops new cultural experiences and media activities by offering grants and by initiating and coordinating programs for organizations and individuals. Furthermore, ECF is actively involved in cultural policy development, particularly for the integration of European society. It strives to give culture a stronger voice and profile at all levels and works in partnership with other leading European cultural organizations (
The Workshop is open without charge to a limited number of observers, primarily from the Leiden University community and for the arts and culture professionals, upon prior registration
Further information: Rosalien van der Poel, Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts
Leiden University, Rapenburg 38. POB 9500 2300 RA Leiden (NL). Phone +31 71 527 1804 or +31 6 24711597. E-mail: Internet:,
Artistic Explorations in Cultural Memory
Research workshop
Leiden, 3-4 November 2006
Participants and presentations
Asu Aksoy: Santralistanbul: From Electricity to Arts
Santral Istanbul is a conservation and regeneration project involving Ottoman Empire’s first electricity power plant that was in operation from 1914 to 1983. The plant generated electricity which was then distributed widely to households, streets, trams and factories. Electricity had a radically transformative effect on the society, paradoxically though of an integrative kind, public spaces emerging as sites of modern identity-making for the disparate classes and different life styles. Now, with Santralistanbul, the power plant is set to become a generative force field, drawing in artistic and creative endeavors from around Istanbul and Turkey, serving as a contact and networking zone, a hub for the generation of new insights through the coming together of artists, thinkers, cultural practitioners and policy people. Santralistanbul aims to build on the radically transformative potential of arts; a powerful resource that is both subversive for its potential for introspection and shock, but also integrative (at a global scale) as it builds itself into the circuits of cultural (creative) economy.
Asu Aksoua researcher and project manager, focusing on urban and cultural transformation in the context of migrations, globalization and technological change in Turkey. Over the years of research, she has broadened this agenda to address the nature of social change in Europe and has carried out many research projects based in British universities, specifically looking at migrant identities and migration policies in Europe. She has published widely on these topics and has organized many events, festivals and conferences, both in Turkey and in Europe, bringing together artists, academics and cultural industry professionals, to open up these issues to the interest of a wider audience of arts and culture. She is presently in charge of the project development at Santralistanbul, a new international arts and culture initiative by Istanbul Bilgi University and serves on the advisory board of Istanbul 2010..
Anne-Marie Autissier (Commentator) teaches Sociology of Culture and Cultural Policies in Europe at the Institute of European Studies, University Paris 8. She has been a consultant for various European organizations since 1986. She is the President of Culture Europe International, a quarterly magazine and press review, dedicated to cultural policies and practices in Europe, appearing in French and English and distributed throughout Europe. Her most recent publications are: L’Europe culturelle en pratique, AFAA, Documentation française, Paris 1999; “ Cultural networking in Europe ”, in ECA Report, Copenhagen 2003 ; L’ Histoire de la Fondation Européenne de la Culture, Amsterdam 2004 ; L’Europe de la culture, Histoire(s) et enjeux, Actes-Sud, Arles 2005.
Lucia Babina: Mobile Horizons
Lucia Babina will present her experience as a participant of the Mobile Academy (MA) 2006 in Warsaw. Her presentation will focus on how the MA works as a tool for the comprehension of the cultural heritage and the emerging creativity of Warsaw. She will, in particular, deal with two activities organized by the MA: the “Black Market” event – a series of multidisciplinary exchange meetings that give participants the opportunity to confront themselves with local professionals in different fields – and “City as Stage,” one of the courses within the program held by the artist Stefan Kaegi, which was focusing on the exploration of the city through a custom-built Bulgarian truck. This mobile research unit, through a large side window, allows an atypical gaze on the city and functions as a unique observation point of the urban landscape. Every stop of the truck becomes the opportunity to transform the city in a “stage, a performance, the patient on the couch of analysis, the topic of discussion, the subject of criticism”. Through this experience Lucia Babina will disclose the positive and negative aspects of this methodology and will report experiences of local artists in relation with public space and cultural heritage.
Lucia Babina is a cultural entrepreneur, based in Rotterdam. She has a first class degree MSc in Modern Arts at the University of Bologna and a Masters Diploma in international cultural management from the University of Genova. Her main interest is in how culture and arts can affect urban areas and in processes aimed at producing unexpected visions of the urban environment. Since August 2005 she is the chairman and co-founder of iStrike Foundation, environmental organisation which aims at highlighting and surveying new dynamics of intercultural exchange and international cultural co-operation. She is currently working on several international projects, such as SUD 2007, a long-term programme of cultural events on the city of Douala (Cameroon), an attempt to understand and interfere with the urban and social realm; Moving in Free Zones, whose purpose is to experiment unconventional uses of the public space in Rotterdam; Space&Love, a research project that intends to look at the urban space from the height of human eyes and at the scale of affections and emotions. (
Chris Baldwin: The Agile Citizen-Spectator Combining archaeology with theatre has been one of Spirals´ major lines of enquiry over the last three years. The company is now actively managing three projects across Spain which bring together museum services, archaeologists, artists and theatre practitioners with those responsible for regional rejuvenation and tourism. The equation between people, cultural memory and land is central to a time-space investigation. Where theatre and archaeology combine it becomes clear that underpinning notions of Romantic nationalism are usually cultural attachment to land. As theatre practitioners and archaeologists we generate both meaning and pleasure in the way we can help a wider community become more agile in handling definitions of cultural memory. Such ‘agility’ is of profound importance in a Europe convulsed with doubts about the efficacy of its integration project. This presentation will offer one or two examples of the work in a community-based contexts in Spain.
Chris Baldwin is the founder and Artistic Director of Spiral, a theatre, performance and research project, based in La Rioja, Spain. The company develops long term, multi-lingual and multi disciplinary festival projects with local communities and with directors and performers from across the world. Such projects are specifically designed for outdoor spaces and within social development contexts and funded by Spanish and European sources. Baldwin has been artistic director and chief executive of various British theatre companies and has written award winning plays. He is a regular guest director for theatre companies in England, Germany, Spain and Poland and a teacher of theatre practice. His books on directing and devising are published in English and Spanish. He is presently Visiting Professor at Rose Bruford College in London.
Boris Bakal: Man is space: Vitic dances
“Man_is_Space: Vitic_Dances” began three years ago as an investigation of the reasons why a 10-storey condominium building in Zagreb by the architect Ivo Vitic – a masterpiece of Modernistic architecture of the late 50’s and a designated cultural monument under the municipal protection - is in a ghastly deteriorating state, a danger for its 256 inhabitants, its extraordinariness and beauty practically indiscernible. With the authors moving into the building and becoming deeply acquainted with its history, its tenants and their everyday hardship (coming out not only of the building’s state but also out of the lack of the tenants’ knowledge on the importance of the building and the house management), the project grew into a complex interdisciplinary endeavour that combines permanent artistic interventions and programmes in and around the building with consistent social engagement, with the goal to raise the public awareness and eventually restore this jewel of Croatian (and the-then Yugoslav) modern architecture. On the other hand, with its motley crew of different classes, generations, professions, interests and aspirations, the building witnesses the decline of the notion and practice of solidarity from the times of Socialism up to today’s life on the dreary lane of Transition – a story that is crucial for the understanding of the dynamics of transformation of the Croatian society. At this point in time, “Man_is_Space: Vitic_Dances” has already instigated some significant changes: evoking the memory of the building through intensive artistic presence and critical reflection has brought about the unification of the tenants to work for the common goal; as a result, the city authorities have allocated means for the restoration of the building’s façade.
Boris Bakal, theatre director and actor, intermedia artist, writer and macrobiotic cook. Throughout his versatile career, he founded three groups (Theatre of Obvious Phenomena, Orchestra Stolpnik, Shadow Casters), launched a festival (Stagione di Caccia, Bologna, Italy), authored numerous projects spanning from theatre performances to installations, multimedia and cultural-social-political initiatives (most notably Stolpnik, Cathedral, The Order of Bank and Money Worshippers, B.E.N.E., Mi ami ancora?, XXX Documento No. 2, Hotel Europa, Un'Italia tutta per me, Shadow Casters, all projects by Shadow Casters group); took part in initiatives and platforms; wrote for magazines and newspapers. His work is marked with pronounced exploration of the site-specific and the interactive elements of arts. Although working in various places he produced most of his pieaces in Croatia, Italy and Belgium. His works have been presented and/or produced at festivals and manifestations in Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, France, Senegal, Macedonia, Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Luxembug, Belgium and the USA.
Michael Blum: Monument to the birth of the 20th century
The Monument to the Birth of the 20th Century is not a monument. It is an art project initiated by Michael Blum upon invitation of Stella Rollig for the O.K Centrum für Gegenwartskunst in Linz, Austria. It intended to use the idea of a monument to address the uncanny common school year of Wittgenstein and Hitler and all speculations that might arise from it: like the construction of history, the relevance of monuments and memorials and the role of memory in daily life. The letter which marked the starting point of the project, was sent to 400 people in Linz, the rest of Austria and worldwide in January 2004. Its aim was to inform and collect ideas, and above all start a discussion, provoke reactions etc. Even though the prime focus of the project was ultra-local (the school which Wittgenstein and Hitler were attending was 100m away from the art center), it had to endorse a worldwide scope, as the consequences of the encounter were global. Following an intense correspondence, the second phase of the project occurred as an exhibition, part of Open House, O.K Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz, 12.03-02.05 2004. The exhibition was an attempt to provide available yet contradictory sources and discourses to a local audience swinging between denial and ignorance. Because of the debatable facts and problematic occurrences related to the common school year of Wittgenstein and Hitler and the wide range of debate it caused in the end, the main part of the exhibition was devoted to a critical re-reading of Blum’s initial letter. The second part was a full display of all the responses received before the exhibition and an invitation to all visitors of the show to further add their proposals and comments to the existing contributions. Eventually, a book brings together all material generated by the project and render it legible through an almost narrative guideline. It handles several levels of information and many discourses, their multiplicity and variety constituting its very value. In the end, the book itself, with all its focuses and themes triggered, is the monument itself. In July 2006, the project was showed in Galerija Nova, Zagreb, as a conceptual framework for WHW’s project on Nikola Tesla. The book has been published by Revolver-Archiv für aktuelle Kunst (Frankfurt), 2005.,
Michael Blum is an artist currently based in Vienna. After studying history in Paris and photography at Ecole Nationale de la Photographie, Arles (F), he developed a body of work - videos, publications, installations... - that aims at critically and humorously re-reading the production of culture and history. Some works attempted to find contemporary resonances for Marx (Wandering Marxwards, 1999), Adam Smith (Homo Eoconomicus, 2000) or Marcel Mauss, Georges Bataille and the economy of gift (potlatch.doc, 2002). Blum also attempted to confront theory with very personal situations in a global context, ie. learning Spanish from ex-street kids in Mexico City (The Language Course, collaboration w. Carlos Amorales and NGO El Caracol, 2000-01), traveling his Nike sneakers back to Indonesia (My Sneakers, 2001) or collecting stories related to his house in Cape Town (17 Aandbloem Street, 2003). More recently, his work has been focusing on 20th century European history: a speculation based on the common schooling of Hitler and Wittgenstein 100 years ago (The Monument to the Birth of the 20th Century, 2004-05), a museum dedicated to the Marxist-feminist woman who influenced Atatürk’s reforms in the 1920’s (A Tribute to Safiye Behar, 2005) and an exploration of ideas of real and fake along a murky layer of Dutch history (Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co., 2006). Blum’s latest publication La dernière brève (Centre d’art la Synagogue de Delme/Revolver Verlag) has been released in September 2005.
Titia Bouwmeester: Shared memories
Can we contribute to the creation of collective memory by sharing stories in local communities? Titia Bouwmeester collects en represents such stories. She will show fragments of different productions and explain her work and method. The following projects will be highlighted: Rent a Granny (2003), grandmothers and young kids living in Amsterdam Southeast shared stories about “being at home”. Verhalen op Sterk Water (2005), stories of elderly men and women about their adolescence in a small village on the island of Terschelling, Allerzielen Allicht (2005)”, stories in a graveyard, Het Dolhuys (2005), stories of psychiatric patients represented in an old hospital. All original stories are in Dutch.
Titia Bouwmeester studied visual arts on the Art Academy in Amsterdam (1983-1988). Directly after her study she started to work with Dogtroep, a theatre company making at the time visual and musical site-specific productions all over the world, in collaboration with the local people. In 2003 Bouwmeester started her own company 5ekwartier, oriented towards the community art. The company prefers to dwell in spaces with an outspoken social context in order to collect stories from people. For each site, Titia Bouwmeester develops new forms to share the stories with the community, combining her skills as a director and visual artist. The stories are presented in installations, theatre performances or exhibitions. 5ekwartier wants to create an awareness for the beauty of the daily,
Ritsaert ten Cate: When does Creativity become Heritage? Let’s explore. I want to offer 7 items and 2 DVD’s which may throw light upon the potential richness of this workshop. I will refute the existence of a gap and suggest its an inspiring traffic- jam.
Ritsaert ten Cate, visual artist with roots in film and a long record of involvement in the performing arts, as a producer, director, designer, festival programmer and thinker. His Mickery ( Loenersloot and Amsterdam) was between 1965 and 1991 a seminal place of international cultural cooperation and innovative performance, launching several generations of artists. In 1993 Ten Cate founded and led Dasarts , an iconoclastic postgraduate training place for theater makers in Amsterdam. After working as a gallerist, scriptwriter, publisher, actor, creative producer and pedagogue, Ten Cate turned fully to the visual arts in 2000, produced many installations, held exhibits, attended the Rijksacademie voor beldende kunsten in Amsterdam and spent a year in New York. His selected speeches and papers on the performing arts have been published in a volume Man Looking for Words (Amsterdam 1998). Recipient of many artistic prizes and a founding member of IETM.
Krzysztof Czyszewski: The Memory of a vanished agora
My story would be about the reinvention of agora in the borderland community. The memory is crucial for this and that's why I am saying re-invention rather than invention. What I understand by agora does not work with oblivion, moreover, it counters oblivion. To create a commonly shared space within the community you work with the memory of the space, with the memory of the language, with the memory of the neighbor. It is a cultural work. The only tools we have belong to the craftsmen of art, word and thought.
Krzysztof Czyżewski, practitioner of ideas. Poet, essayist. Culture animator. Editor.
Founder and President of the Borderland Foundation and Director of the Center Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations in Sejny, Poland, which he founded in 1991. In 1993 he became the editor-in-chief of the magazine Krasnogruda and of the Borderland Publishing House, both devoted to Central and Eastern European history, cultures and literature. In 2001 he published in Poland and USA a book The Path of the Borderland. kris@pogranicze.sejny

Kirsten Dehlholm (with Ralf Richardt Strøbech): One Game, seven statements
Within 15 minutes we would like to present 1 game and 7 statements. We will do this with a lap top and a beamer / power point, and a small performative presentation. The presentation is a poetic game of words that are part of daily life and society. Words that give various meanings according to the way they are composed. The game we invented in order to bypass readymade meanings when we think of artistic exploration in cultural memory. The statements will be short sentences that we compose specifically for the theme, accompanied by images.
Kirsten Dehlholm’s background is in the visual arts but she has been working in the performing arts since 1977. She is the founder and artistic director of Hotel Pro Forma (1985), Copenhagen. Her performances fuse performing arts and architecture, involving visual arts, sound, language, movement, light design and digital media. Every production is a new experiment and contains a double staging: partly matching the content and the space, partly questioning the notion of theater itself. The architecture and the tradition of the space become part of the performance, the space becomes a co-player. Hotel Pro Forma has created productions for theater venues as well as for museums, town halls and public buildings of special character and history. Kirsten’s productions toured extensively across the world and were featured at many international festivals. Her recent productions include Theremin (2004), about the elusive life of the Soviet inventor, I only appear to be dead (2005), a special commission by the Andersen Bicentennial, based on his diaries, and most recently The Algebra of Place (2006).
Otto von der Gablentz (Commentator) grew up in Berlin and trained as a jurist and political scientist before following a diplomatic career, serving ultimately as the German ambassador in The Hague, Tel Aviv and Moscow. On retiring from the foreign service, he became the Rector of the College of Europe in Bruge and Natolin and served as the Executive President of the Europa Nostra, the cultural heritage federation. He lives in Amsterdam.
Adrienne Goehler (Commentator) studied German and Romanic languages and graduated in psychology. Active in the feminist movement and for a while in the Green Party, she became the President of the Hamburg Academy of the Visual Arts, served shortly as the Berlin Senator for science, research and culture in the short-lived red-green coalition and worked as the Curator of the Cultural Fund of the Berlin the Capital City. An advisor, curator and public speaker, member of several foundation boards and commissions, she published in 2006 a book Verflüssigungen. Wege und Umwege vom Sozialstaat zur Kulturgesellschaft (Frankfurt/N. York:Campus).
Yudhishthir Raj Isar (Commentator) is the Jean Monnet Professor of Cultural Policy Studies at The American University of Paris; Maître de Conférences at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) and a visiting professor at various universities in Europe and the USA. Managing Editor of the Cultures and Globalization Series, a publishing project launched in cooperation with Prof. Helmut K. Anheier, Director of the Center for Civil Society at UCLA. Currently, President of the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH). Member of the Board of the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), London; of the International Board of the Forum Cultural Mundial (Rio de Janeiro) and of the Advisory Board of the Fitzcarraldo Foundation, Turin. Special Advisor to the World Monuments Fund (New York) and the Sanskriti Foundation (New Delhi); International Advisor to Aid to Artisans (ATA) and to the World Bank’s Development Gateway. Consultant to the European Commission, the Organization of American States and the European Cultural Foundation. Member of the International Council of Museums, the International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD), CIRCLE and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Michele Jacobs (Invited Observer) studied history and museology. She is a journalist and program maker in various cultural centers. She collaborates with Historic Café and is on the board of Myseology Salon and Onfile. She publishes articles on museums, art and culture and is the co-author (with Ineke van Hamersveld) of Schoonheid of herinnering: vragen over de presentatie van geschiedenis in musea (Boekmanstichting 2001).
Dragan Klaic (Conveyer), a Permanent Fellow of Felix Meritis in Amsterdam, teaches arts and cultural policies at Leiden University. Educated in Belgrade and at Yale, he held professorships in Belgrade, Amsterdam and the US, led the Theater Instituut Nederland, co-founded the European Theater Quarterly Euromaske, and led European cultural networks ENICPA and EFAH. He is the initiator of the European Festival Research Project and active across Europe as writer, lecturer, researcher and advisor. Publications include several books in the former Yugoslavia as well as Terrorism and Modern Drama (co-edited with J. Orr, Edinburgh Univ. Press 1990, paperback 1992), The Plot of The Future: Utopia and Dystopia in Modern Drama (Michigan Univ. Press 1991), Shifting Gears/ Changer de vitesse (co-edited with R. Englander, TIN Amsterdam 1998), an exile memoir, Exercises in Exile, in Dutch and Croatian (2004 and 2006), Europe as a Cultural Project (Amsterdam: ECF 2005) and many articles and contributions to over 40 edited books. Contributing Editor of the Theater magazine (USA), member of various advisory boards.
Paul Koek: Preparing The Suppliants
In 2006 we developed Euripides’ tragedy Smekelingen (The Suppliants), through a long investigation that included talks and interviews with a lot of interesting people. We invited scientists, politicians and special people, linked to one of the themes or layers of the play, to share their experiences and thoughts with us and even with a small public. This process shaped a contemporary take on this ancient Greek tragedy. I will analyse the process and its outcomes and show some fragments from those preparatory events which we called ‘VeenProefavonden’ and from the production itself, performed this summer in Greece.
Paul Koek studied percussion at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. His main interest lies in modern and contemporary music. He was closely involved in the formation and development of several Dutch ensembles and collaborated with Peter Greenaway, Heiner Goebbels, Bob Wilson, Fred Frith and Karl-Heinz Stockhausen. Since 1991 Paul Koek has been teaching at the Image and Sound department (now: ArtScience) of the Royal Conservatoire. In 1987 he started working for the Theatergroep Hollandia (founded in 1985 by Johan Simons) of which he became co-artistic director in 1993, with special interest in the development of a contemporary musical theatre of a non-anecdotical type, where image, light, text, music and projection are all equal and have a meaning on their own, hence never illustrate one another. From 1997 till 2005 Paul Koek was in charge of the Veenstudio, as a part of Hollandia, to further explore and stimulate this line. In 2001 Theatergroep Hollandia and Het Zuidelijk Toneel merged into ZT Hollandia. Johan Simons and Paul Koek were the co-artistic directors of the new company, located in Eindhoven. The Veenstudio continued to initiate its own music theatre productions and to enable other productions by the company to benefit from its musical know-how and creativity. In 2005 ZT Hollandia ceased to exist. Paul Koek founded his new ensemble de VeenFabriek in the former Scheltema factory in Leiden, where artists and scientists work together. De VeenFabriek focuses on the confrontation of music, visual arts, theatre, film and science.
Mariangela Lavanga (Reporter) is a researcher in cultural and urban economics with a strong interest in topics related to cities and culture, their interrelations and dynamics (urban regeneration, cultural impacts, cultural planning, creative clusters, sustainable urban development, etc.). After a MA in Economics (Bocconi University – Milan) and a Master in Urban Management (Erasmus University Rotterdam), she recently obtained a Ph.D in Cultural Economics (IULM University – Milan). She worked as a researcher for Euricur (European Institute for Comparative Urban Research – Erasmus University Rotterdam) and various Italian organizations, while teaching in several Italian universities and publishing articles in journals and chapters in several books. After living in Milan and Rotterdam, she recently moved to Leiden. E-mail: , Profile:
Ong Keng Sen: Of diasporas and memories. 2 characters in search of memory
First: When we see something, it registers in our memory; it merges with other memories to create a landscape that is neither fact nor fiction. Our memory is never as concrete as we think it is, it’s always malleable. It is being manipulated by the media, by us. We make decisions, conscious or unconscious about what we want to remember, what we want to forget. Second: If we want to see something, we can see it. As children of the Diaspora, if we want to validate our origins, we only have to invent them. Everything is there, waiting to be found. Of Diasporas and Memories. Ong Keng Sen discusses the research with Asians of diasporas amassed over 9 cities in 6 months of research in 2006. The beginning of a larger project tracking diasporas in the diverse continents.
Ong Keng Sen, interdisciplinary performance practitioner, curator, artistic process researcher. Artistic Director of TheatreWorks since 1988, now artistic director of the newest space in Singapore, 72-13. Ong graduated from the National University of Singapore in law in 1988 and went with a Fulbright scholarship to post-graduate studies on intercultural performance at the Performance Studies Dept, Tisch School of Arts, New York University. Ong’s productions have toured cities in Asia, Europe, Australia and the US. They mostly emerge from long and complex collaborative processes, bringing Asian artists of various backgrounds and orientations together (The Flying Circus Project) and expanding to include Asian, Arab, European artists, various generations of masters, professionals, urban orphans and terror victims (The Continuum : Beyond the Killing Fields). Founder of Arts Network Asia (ANA). Initiator of the DVD series, Roots, Re-invention and Continuity in Changing Times, the first being about Burma. As curator made programs in Berlin (the in-transit festival), Vienna and London, taught in Singapore, Amsterdam, New York City, Melbourne and lectured all over the world.
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Mike Pearson: The Choreography tradition and site specific performance
The nature of choreography is to distinguish and represent the unique character of individual places; above all, it is a specific scale of geographical study that serves to identify and differentiate sites of significance as potential places to visit within a given region. Choreography espouses the local: it concerns specificities, particularities and peculiarities. In so doing, it disattends, ignores or chooses not to acknowledge other places that fall outside its sphere of interest. Seventeenth century English choreographies collected and arranged natural, historical and antiquarian information topographically in a specific area, place-by-place, village-by-village, without necessarily relating it to larger spatial frames. In the form of a gazetteer, they involved the systematic description of a region’s natural features; its inhabitants; their histories, laws and traditions; antiquities including church monuments; ecclesiastical and manorial customs, property ownership, and the etymology of names. They incorporated elements of historical narrative, biography, pictorial maps and architectural sketches; they had political intent in legitimizing claims to title and land. In their inclusion of details of flora and fauna, choreographies presage the development of both archaeology and natural history. And whilst they distinguish place from place, they also serve to draw them together, creating an impression of the essential nature of that region: to create region itself. This approach finds echoes in the German concept of Landschaft in attributing significance to community, custom and law as much as physical geographical characteristics. Within a given region and in a form of choreographic account, we might include performance and its places: modes of traditional practice; folk drama and calendar customs; and manifestations of contemporary devised theatre are thus co-present, in relation as much each other, to other modes of regional cultural production and to geophysical conditions there, as to instances of their generic type elsewhere. They become topographic phenomena of local history and natural history, related as much to conditions of geology or traditions of agricultural land-use as to parallels from elsewhere. There is a shift from nationality, period, genre, author, opus and company as orientating taxonomies of practice, to close examination of the immediate details of the ecology of exposition. And site-specific work is cast as just that: specific in form, content and function at a specific place, rather than as a local example of a widespread genre with common characteristics. It is manifest in direct relation to and arises from sets of local historical, social, cultural and environmental circumstance, and in juxtaposition with all else that constitutes the grain of the region, rather than as transferable techniques and technologies in search of a suitable location.
Mike Pearson trained as an archaeologist. For the past thirty years he has pioneered innovative approaches in the practice, theory, pedagogy and documentation of performance in Wales and further. From 1981-97 he was an artistic director of Welsh theatre company Brith Gof, known for its large-scale, site-specific productions. Since 1997 he has worked with artist and designer Mike Brookes in the Pearson/Brookes group, most recently concentrating upon multi-site, mediated works for the city. He is the co-author with Professor Michael Shanks (Stanford University) of Theatre/ Archaeology (Routledge 2001); his monograph In Comes I:Performance, Memory and Landscape is due in fall 2006 by the University of Exeter Press. In 1999 he was appointed Professor of Performance Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Katarina Pejovic: Recollecting the city, recollecting time
This project, a three-year venture of Shadow Casters in collaboration with several artistic organizations and city and state institutions, detects, archives, studies and exhibits the documentation on artistic actions in public space as well protests and public gatherings that took place in Zagreb from 1945 to this day. It strives to capture the ephemeral events that left mainly immaterial traces in the cultural, social and political history of that city. The project traces documentation (film, video and sound recordings, photographic and written documents, testimonies, material traces etc.) by contacting authors, participants and witnesses. Yet, besides being a documentation process, «Re-Collecting City, Re-Collecting Time» also offers the artistic reflection of the phenomena it documents, mainly through two media. One is the so-called «open offices»: three times a year, the project is hosted by various Zagreb public spaces (galleries, bookstores, cultural clubs...) for a week during which a series of events unfolds, including exhibitions and screenings of collected material, round table discussions on topics relevant for the project and interviews with those who come to testify on the events. Another medium are the street display boxes of the temporarily closed Croatian Cinematheque that are currently at the project's disposal, where each month a new theme is explored through presenting collages of various visual and written materials – a sort of new-day «wall newspaper». In most cases, the presented past events are connected to the actual city locations of the display boxes. «Re-collecting City, Re-collecting Time» will conclude with the documentation (both on the past events and those coming out of the project itself) being handed over to the new Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, due to be open in 2007.
Katarina Pejovic is a dramaturg and intermedia artist. She has authored and co-authored theatre projects, intermedia projects, video works, documentary movies and experimental audio works that were presented at various festivals (Ars Electronica, Steierischer Herbst, Eurokaz, LIFT, Wiener Festwochen, BITEF etc.); initiated or took part in different cultural-political-social projects (Mobile Theatre Network, hEXPO, Zagreb Cultural Capital of Europe 3000 etc.); organized festivals and collaborated with numerous groups and platforms (Cosmo-Kinetical Theatre Red Pilot, KPGT, 42, Zeramulix etc.). Her texts and essays were published in various magazines and books at home and abroad (The Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria etc.) as well as her translations. Together with Boris Bakal, she is the co-founder of Bacaci Sjenki (Shadow Casters) as well as co-author of most of its projects. After ex-Yugoslavia, the USA, the Netherlands and Slovenia, she currently lives and works in Zagreb.
Luca Ruzza: In the Memory Arena. Who is Who in Europe 1933. I will present a project call The Memory Arena I realized with the Berlin composer Arnold Dreyblatt in Amsterdam Felix Meritis in 1998. I will also introduce and comment other site specific projects I have done in the last few year with my Company, the Open Lab. The Memory Hall. Data projection with plexiglass and wood structure, 1998. Data projection, plasma displays, wood construction, projection panels of black plexiglass, computer network. Black wooden platform, reading tables and archive area, four rear projection panels which continually display live software searches through the Who's Who in Central & East Europe in 1933 databases. The Memory Hall consisted of a large central monumental structure which was constructed on a black platform foundation, supporting 4 black transparent screens. This large rectangular structure represents a digital brain of the installation, containing 15 computers and the central server of the computer network as well as forming the large rear display panels which give a central focus to the hall. During the Installation Mode, these panels dynamically and continually display live searches through the ‘Who’s Who in Central & East Europe 1933’ databases. The panels are constructed of a black plexiglas material, so that the projected scrolling texts float is suspended in space. On three sides of the Brain are nine plasma data displays. Here were shown animated texts, chosen from Who’s Who, statements on memory and the nature of archiving, biographical fragments from the accumulating Amsterdam People Network, the T-Mail Communication Database. These texts are decomposed and transformed into one another continually during the opening hours, posing as a counterpoint to the large rear projection walls above. The Memory Hall was illuminated by a diffuse blue dark light that was repeated on the black PVC floor. During Installation Mode, guided tours to the interior of the brain were held at appointed times that were announced beforehand.
Luca Ruzza, architect & set designer. Drawing performance and architecture using high technology systems is the main focus of his interest and activities. He has been collaborating with national and international theatres and festivals for the creation of multimedia projects, dedicated to the examination of the relationship between the images and space of different identities. Ruzza lives in the "atelier house" designed by himself and built close to Rome, where he prepares the working drawings and the simulation of the final effect of the projects with 3D models. In the last ten years he has also been involved in educational activities as a professor at the University of Rome, in a course of digital set design. His projects have been realized in UK, Denmark, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Finland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Colombia, Brazil, Qatar and the United States.
Ralf Richardt Strøbech (with Kirsten Dehlholm): One Game, seven statements
Within 15 minutes we would like to present 1 game and 7 statements. We will do this with a lap top and a beamer / power point, and a small performative presentation. The presentation is a poetic game of words that are part of daily life and society. Words that give various meanings according to the way they are composed. The game we invented in order to bypass readymade meanings when we think of artistic exploration in cultural memory. The statements will be short sentences that we compose specifically for the theme, accompanied by images.
Ralf Richardt Strøbech, architect and designer, educated at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture as well as in music and film studies at the Copenhagen University. From these platforms he works at investigating the cultural mechanisms of his surroundings and to express them in the field between architecture, music and image. As an architect and artistic partner at Hotel Pro Forma he has been developing concepts for productions Theremin (2004), I only appear to be dead (2005) and The Algebra of Place (2006).
Tomislav Šola: The art of memory communication
In the world of diminishing quality, in which identities disappear daily, we need to know ourselves and be able to communicate this knowledge. That is the basis of survival. Academic institutions, priests, intellectuals and artists largely failed to fulfill their possible mission. Obscene and savage capitalism, assisted by politicians, is turning the world into a dangerous and ugly place for billions of helpless, neurotic humans. Collective memory is the chance. Remembering the dreams of mankind and retaining the fine tissue of quality, be it beauty or relations, may keep alive concepts and ideas that ameliorate human condition. Once beauty was confined to the pedestals and frames and stored into institutions it became the privilege and asset for the few. Art, like science, should stem from life and work for its quality: we have a Planet that offers in abundance all that we may even think of. Why are its riches unnoticed, hidden, manipulated, distorted and turned into commodity? Academics are rarely able to see what is truly important and largely unable to communicate even what they know. Their social autism is becoming proverbial. Artists are pushed and talked into the self-exclusion of the never-land, where tyranny of exalted innovation forces them to serve careless rich masters and worthless, false elites. About the collective memory: the only way to make it effective is by understanding it as scientifically reliable communicational art form. That means curators and artists working together with a new professionalism in their heads and - importantly - in their hearts.
Tomislav Šola studied art history, museology and journalism in Zagreb and Paris. PhD in museology, Univ. of Ljubljana; Curator and director in Zagreb, and since 1987 Professor at the Zagreb University, lecturing internationally (Ljubljana, Barcelona, Jyvaskyla, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Dubrovnik etc.). He wrote a few hundred articles on theory of heritage, some translated into eleven languages, chapters in five books abroad, one book on theory and other on marketing of heritage; formerly, a founder of International summer school for the heritage studies, Yvaskyla, Finland, a jury member of the European Museum of the Year Award (EMF-EMYA) etc. Founder of a NGO organising "The Best in 22
Heritage", the global, annual review of awarded museum and heritage projects (Dubrovnik, Cologne); Advisory Board member of the Association of Peace Museums.
Gottfried Wagner has been the Director of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) since 2002. Previously he was the Director of KulturKontakt Austria, a non-profit organisation for educational and cultural cooperation with Central, Eastern and South-East Europe. He has also worked for the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, with responsibility for educational cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe. A graduate in Philosophy and German Literature from the University of Vienna, he worked as a teacher and university lecturer, and subsequently specialised in management and organisational development. E-mail:,
Janneke Wesseling: The theft of the presence: the contemporary museum and cultural memory
We live in a time of collective amnesia. Museums take an active part in the creation of this amnesia, however paradoxical this may seem, by limiting themselves to the role of storage place and show case of cultural artifacts. It has become the most important task of the large museums as part of the tourist industry to present the public a nostalgic view of the past, either by exhibitions of “top art works” or in thematic exhibitions of some historic subject. They offer consolation and entertainment, a moment of rest in the midst of the daily tyranny of fast information technology. Museums contribute to our collective amnesia by functioning as an anaesthetic. In doing so, they are in danger of loosing their meaning and relevance for the contemporary art. Artists play an essential role in the construction of cultural memory. Is there a way in which museums and artists can cooperate in the task of understanding and interpreting the present, and in building out cultural memory?
Janneke Wesseling, art critic for the daily paper NRC Handelsblad since 1982. President of the Dutch section of the AICA, Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art (since 2002). Winner of the Jan Bart Klasterprize for art criticism in the Netherlands and Flanders 2003. Teaches at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague and at the Leiden University. Numerous publications on the contemporary art, and of articles in catalogues and magazines. Currently working on a study of “the history of the horizon”, to appear with the Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, in 2008.
Želimir Žilnik: Digital oral history
In my film work I am seeking to identify ordinary people with extraordinary experiences and create a social context and an atmosphere of encouragement and attention that enables them to recall their remembrances and act them out in front of camera. I shall explain the circumstances of such an approach, the use of ambiance, props and friends that all together make the protagonist plunge in the past and re-enact it.
Želimir Žilnik is a filmmaker and Professor of Documentary Film at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. From the late1960s, his socially engaged films and documentaries in former Yugoslavia and his unique visual style earned him critical accolade (The Unemployed, 1968, Best Documentary at the Oberhausen festival, 1968; Early Works,1969, Best Film at Berlin Film Festival), but also censorship in the 1970s for his unflinching criticism of the government apparatus. Low budget filmmaking and challenging political themes mark Zilnik’s prolific career that includes over 40 feature and documentary films and shorts. Since the 1980s, he has been developing his unique docu-drama language, which he used throughout 1990s to reflect on political tensions, including EU sanctions, the NATO bombings, and Milosevic’s regime. His power to observe and unleash compelling narratives out of the lives of ordinary people is the common thread throughout his documentary and docu-drama work, including 1994’s Tito's Second Time Amongst the Serbs. More recently, his focus has shifted beyond the divided Balkans to question its relationship with the tightening controls of European borders, delving into the heart of issues of refugees and migrants in Fortress Europe (2000), and Kenedi Goes back Home (2003) and Kenedi: Lost and Found (2005).See
Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University: Prof. Frans de Ruiter, Dean; dr. Korrie Korevaart, Director; Rosalien van der Poel, Communication.,
European Cultural Foundation: Gottfried Wagner, Director; Taja Vovk, Action Line Manager Support; Isabelle Schwarz, Cultural Policy Manager.
Stichting Praemium Erasmianum: Prof. Max Sparreboom, Director (also of the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University)



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 Instytucja współprowadzona przez Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego RP.

  Instytucja Kultury Województwa Podlaskiego



Szanowni Państwo, drodzy Przyjaciele, kochani Rodzice, Sąsiedzi, Goście Sejn i Krasnogrudy, 

Bardzo zachęcamy do wsparcia Fundacji Pogranicze 1%-em Waszego podatku. Pomoc taka dla nas w dzisiejszych czasach jest jedną z możliwych dróg utrzymania naszego miejsca.  

Jak można przekazać 1% swojego podatku dla Organizacji Pożytku Publicznego jaką jest Fundacja Pogranicze? W zeznaniu podatkowym należy wpisać KRS Fundacji Pogranicze: 0000178248.






Z rezydentką Hanną Jankute rozmawia Krzysztof Czyżewski.

  Krasnogruda 17 listopada 2020


  Krajka litewska. Od narodzin do śmierci


Dzięcięcy Uniwersytet Pogranicza

O projekcie rozmawiają Bożena Szroeder i Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska



Staroobrzędowcy Religia Ciszy


Człowiek Pogranicza 2019 - Irena Veisaitė


Spółdzielnia Jazzowa - Jan Młynarski / Piotr Zabrodzki

/ Orkiestra Klezmerska Teatru Sejneńskiego


Wspomnienie Misterium Mostu 2020




Oferta edukacyjna

Darowizny uzyskane przez Fundację Pogranicze

W związku z otrzymaniem darowizn, na podstawie art. 18 ust. 1f, pkt 2 ustawy z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych (Dz. U. z 2011 r. Nr 74, poz. 397, ze zmianami), Fundacja Pogranicze podaje do publicznej informacji, że łączna kwota uzyskana z tego tytułu w okresie od 01.01.2019 r. do 31.12.2019 r. wyniosła 58.155,28 zł.

W 2019 roku Fundacja uzyskała również kwotę 8.846,30 zł w formie wpłat z 1% podatku oraz 10.212,62 z tytułu zbiórki publicznej nr 2018/2901/OR.

Otrzymane darowizny Fundacja Pogranicze w całości przeznaczyła na realizację działań statutowych.

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