Riddarhyttan/ Teatermaskinen / June 2014

On the last workshop of PACE Project, we were welcomed by the Swedish partners of Teatermaskinen at their Culture Reservation, within the woods of Riddarhyttan. A place for artists to meet and share their shows or works-in-progress , their knowledge, their ideas, their practices, their researches, their stories. Sharing and taking collective responsibility for a shared space are the two main pillars of this Culture Reservation.

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And this set the challenge for the two days of workshop: inspired by the example of Teatermaskinen, could we devise a network that would function as a global Culture Reservation, with artists empowering themselves and helping each other? How could it work? What sort of projects and initiatives could it encompass? How could it better respond to artists’ needs and desires, as well as propose a possible alternative model for potentiating resources and partnerships?

Day One

On the first day of the meeting, the participants got to know a bit better the story of the foundation of Teatermaskinen and the Culture Reservation. A place that was conceived and developed as an artistic project, not a mere working space, and driven by the desire to create a “good place”, ruled by friendship and open to anyone in the world, as long as they embrace the principles of sharing, respecting others and taking the responsibility that comes with freedom.

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The proposal of the Swedish collective for the two days of PACE’s workshop was the result of the wish to take the example of this particular experience and try to conceive a global network – that could take the symbolic form of a land or country, with no specific geographic site, with “citizens”, “consulates” and “embassies”. A place where European artists who share certain interests, concerns and an ethical empathy, some of them already linked or working together,  could gather in a more frequent and organized way, to start or further their collaborations, exchange their resources, experiences and competences, develop educational and research projects, and become less and less dependent on intermediary agents and entities.

To start debating the relevance and possible functioning of an artists’ network of this sort, the participants presented, at turns, projects each of them have – from just starting ideas to ongoing processes –which might need, be open to and/or benefit from new international partnerships or contributions. A synthesis of all projects was written down and posted on the wall, so that on day two the group could reflect and try to identify common themes and concerns. The participants then had some time to gather in smaller groups, to learn more about the projects that caught their attention and exchange comments and information.

Day one finished with a performance by our Italian partners of The International Theatre - a preview of an upcoming performance based on the life of Pier Paolo Pasolini – at the “Box”, the presentation room of the Reservation, which afterwards quickly transformed into “Teatermaskinen Disco”, with music and dancing throughout the night. 

Day Two

The second day of the meeting started with a revision of the projects presented by the participants the day before, and the identification of links between the themes or purposes of these projects. It was possible to group most projects into the following strands, some of then transversal to several subjects: Contemporary society (european geopolitical and social concerns); Natives and nature; Working with local communities and neighborhoods; Sharing of knowledge and resources; Development of educational initiatives.

The connections and shared interests revealed through these projects’ examples seemed to underline the relevance of the construction of a network that might potentiate dialogue, mobility and resource and competence exchange. But how could it be organized and ran throughout a long period of time, connecting a large number of artists all over Europe?

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The afternoon session was dedicated to the reflection on the more practical aspects of the functioning of a network. Five “stations” were created, each dedicated to one important aspect identified by the group: resources (mapping and sharing of partner’s spaces, equipments, etc), structural needs (for the network’s continual functioning), training and competences (workshops and ongoing training of the networks’ members), librarian work (archiving and making available all the relevant information and studies/research projects) and constitution (a set of principles and rules that the network should observe and try to keep).

The participants were divided into groups and “visited” each station for five minutes, brainstorming, suggesting and raising questions about each topic. A summary of all contributions was afterwards shared with the whole group.

PACE’s final workshop ended with the building of a bridge between the possibilities, questions and suggestions raised during these two days, and the actual creation of the new network – or rather, Land – with all the interested participants joining in a work team which, during the next weeks, will develop the plan and guidelines for transforming this imagined global Culture Reservation into a reality.

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