Our Need for Consolation

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The project revolves around three workshops in Ålesund, Norrköping and Copenhagen. The work will reflect on the following problems:

- How can art become more effective in supporting the general public to have meaningful existential reflections in their lives?
- What is specific about Nordic metaphysical reflection (its famous gloom)? Are there specific qualities in Nordic languages and writing that make shape our culture?
- Performance takes an increasing important place in visual art. Still there is a lack of method for teaching performance in art schools as well as tools to create understanding for performance art in society. What can be done to develop a methodology to effectively teach performance art to artists? How can this method also be an instrument for mediating performance art’s method and knowledge among non-artists?

Stig Dagerman’s text ‘Our Need for Conciliation’ offers important tools to address the above problems. Through its reflection on how to fill human existence with meaning, it uses a language that is specifically Nordic and opens for discussions about difficult metaphysical questions. These reflections gives the group ammunition for developing performances and opens for discussions how these can encourage to a broader discussion about existential exchanges in society. The text’s questions about the meaning of literature opens for discussions on artistic production and the autonomy of artistic language. With its examples about human interaction, it also offers important inspiration for performance practices.

The workshops will include readings, discussions and various performance exercises continuously moving between theory and practice. It gives a broad spectrum of young artists and academics the possibility to try new and challenging performance expressions and to develop new practices, collaborations and exchanges between Nordic artists and students. The work will contribute to young people’s curiosity and understanding of other Nordic countries, their languages and cultures. The project also encourages a diversity in society in terms of gender identity in relation to cultural and ethnic background as well as functional ability.

The work gets its energy and pertinence by bringing together diverse knowledge of the partner organisations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Our partners in Ålesund have specific knowledge about language and cross-border communication; our partner in Copenhagen about conviviality and performance; while Vision Forum has unique know-how about education and artistic production. The consortium in other words stands strong to make then meetings meaningful and productive as well as very well prepared for finding new solutions to the the above problems.

The project deliberately brings together performance artists with academics, which will force the group to reflect on how performance art can become better at mediating their artistic practice to non-artists. Through reflections on depth and superficiality, the workshops will also lead to reflections on social media, big data and how these can deepen the crisis in western democracy. Even though these questions were not present in Dagerman’s text, he wrote it just after the second world war and when the world had been rocked by a long war which was the outcome of overthrown democracy. The project therefore also activates Nordic history and how Sweden, Norway and Denmark dealt with that situation and gives us ideas how to learn from history in order to deal with current problems.

Dagerman’s text makes allusions to the sea, therefore the meetings will take place in cities where the sea plays an important role in the every day life. Each meeting brings together 15-30 young artists and academics together with experienced artists and workshop leaders. They will work in institutions and in the public space of the three cities. A core of the participants (≈15) will participate in all three workshops, but local artists and academics will also attend individual exercises.

1. The first meeting takes place in Copenhagen in early October 2017 and focuses on the text by Dagerman, its historical context and how we approach existential and democratic questions today. What was the cultural context that it was written in? What are the differences and similarities today? The session will also include performance exercises that allow the participants to get to know each other.

2.The second meeting will take place in Ålesund. It will focus on language, what is specific about Nordic metaphysical reflection and how does the specificity of our languages support this process? The session will also include performance and communication exercises in private and public space.

3. The third workshop focuses on artistic performance art and how it is staged and mediated. It will be lead by Vision Forum and will include public presentations at the art museum in Norrköping. The project will be evaluated by the consortium in conjunction with the workshop in collaboration with representatives from Linköpings universitet. The collaboration ensures a correct evaluation and also that the results will be disseminated to a Nordic academic network and among art schools in the region