Friday, 30 October 2015

Last live Blog from Symposium

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 14: Saffy Setohy

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 14: Bean and Mimiec


Light, time and memory. Used to take photographs... realised there was more fun in the bits inside a camera.
All his work relates to light. Has this camera obscura van... we all see upside down. So he reversed it. With screens around the caravan... cuts about the shop, had three and a half thousand people in this last 18 months...
Lie in the caravan and see the world outside on the ceiling. 
Guerilla Projections - next project - communities to make their own projections. having recognised his own habit of leading communities to his own intended end, he is trying to hand it over to the participants.

Lots of work in hospitals, working with young people confined to their beds...
Also did pieces on people's experience walking in a place... gift me... exchange of time for art.
Facilitate workshops... spaces for making... creating a public studio... gave the materials, let people come in and make the exhibits.
Moves into different institutions...

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 13: Sanctuary and Big Puppets


A public space event... invite people to a remote area to explore meaning and designation of space and examine wider implication...
it's all about dark and light, including digital darkness (escaping the online identity). Be fully present for 24 hours, see the various art works, talks and walks. 
Includes a radio station with all files deleted... you have to be there to hear. 
Do stuff with technology old and new... in places where it is not usually present.

It is not about being a spectator, it is about being a participant. 
It is in a space where a temporary community can be formed... new connections and ideas to form.


We perform in the street, and it is their place (that is, the audience's space). Mike did community theatre at Theatre Workshop, bit of panto, bit o' street, bit of guerilla. 
Unashamedly populist. We conjure intimate interactions, directly addressing audience. We never entertain, we GET TO THEM.

Have these characters they use:
Scottish geezer in kilt and skilts
Ever so gentle connection... anarchic
were in Dismaland
Worked in 37 countries around the world
Basically, they do big puppets

Company policy to notice people in wheelchairs and have fun with them.
I have consciously loved my audience... and they love you right back.

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 12: Some artists pitch their ideas

Eight artists
five minutes each
five images

John Wallace is first up... he's not on the delegate list, he says. But he is in the right place. 
He makes documentary films and video art. Started off as a lighting guy in clubs around Edinburgh, and noticed how clubs made it work for the audience.
Went on to make films about rural landscapes - but film is always about people. His films gather information, an engaged process from start to finish.
In his video art, he asks how audiences might receive it in a place.
Worked with a soil expert to learn about eco-systems. This 2013 environmental art festival had a work formed by ecosystems' modelling, hanging screens over a river. 
He expanded the work in 2014, over the Tweed on THE BORDER. The live sounds and smells merged with the video even having triggers so that the film could respond to change in environmental context.
This other thing was thermal imaging business... thinking about the public's response and reaction.
Public engagement means getting the public to be part of the work, and encourage their thoughts on their relationship to the place.

It's Angie Dight from Mischief. Set up in 1992, Mischief is still going strong. Did a special Festival of Ian Smith (22 November at the CCA sees a repeat... go and see it!). The cabaret of death they did as part of this is going to tour.
Walkabout Street Theatre, both commercially and a CS funded RFO. Fan Families are going to be at Galoshan, Elvis Cleaning Company overseas.
Now they have The Magnificent Organ: musical and physical, a big old organ going about the nation... did the summer, now off on a winter tour. Offered free to towns with poor art provision.
They do all sorts of sized work... it is about access to all (free at point of performance). Art not for the elite.
Being an RFO lets them develop a repertoire. 
Put a couple of runners Des and Liz 'Take the Black Dog Out For a Walk' into the SMHAFF.
Increasing interested in mental health issues.


They are going to do something with Nursery Rhymes in the future...


Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 11: Feedback

Politics and Artists

Last week, at In Cahoots, someone defined 'community art' in a cynical manner: it involves an artist cutting about with a bunch of people, getting them involved, then putting his or her name on the end product. Like when I get all people to write for The List, then tell everyone that I define the theatre section's identity.

So, that's the question of authorship considered.

Sometimes it's the metaphor rather than the physical manifestation that's more powerful. Boyden encapsulates the success of Bölter's work

How does an artist deal with institutional systems?

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 11: Frank Bolter

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 10: Maria McCavana

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 9:

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 8: Chris Fremantle

Art in Hospitals

Who is the author of the art work?
Hospitals only put out work made by patients.
The patient is capable of challenging their status as an object by making art.

What are the users' needs?
Patient dignity informing an interior design project.
To connect with patients' everyday life.
Removing Disney stuff from the walls of kids' wards
The personal stories of staff worked into illustrations around the hospital.

Is equality the same as democracy?
Citizen Control
Delegated Power
Participation is often marked by a small number of people getting very closely involved

Mention: Matarasso A Restless Art 2015
art and participation are not the same in their effect... what does art do specially?

Kester, The One and the Many 2011
successful projects... non-hierachical, critical self-reflection, cultivate solidarity, pragmatic openness to site and situation

Where is authority and why?
Is there something distinctively art?
How does it relate to shared concerns?
Are there wider lessons from sited work?

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 7: Chris Fremantle

Art, Participation and the City
Producer on Arts and Healthcare Environment Projects

Chris' take on the area 
He's got 'more hats than a hat shop'.

SITED project
A time limited research programme.

sited work of equal value to work in official spaces*
across all art forms
temporary is valued by artists/ permanent by commissioners
artists and producers talk about contexts and behaviours

has visual art appropriated other art forms over the past 50 years?

SITED avoided this by having artists from different forms.
*Note: Glasgow Turner Prize winners all did sited work but were nominated for gallery based work. Does this imply the TP values gallery work over sited.
Note: is The Stag, The Cheviot... a sited based work?
Note: do sited work artists enjoy risk and uncertainty?

Sited work has outgrown art-form led art-form led policy and needs a cross-artform frame
previously, sited work was a subset of visual art (in Creative Scotland categories, anyway)
Place and identity are central but need to be questioned
Sited work offers important new ways of working for 'official' spaces
Producers have a key role, but this is insufficiently understood
compare to 'knowledge exchange' - what does it mean?

Note: is sited work 'doing good'? 
What does 'doing good' actually mean? Is it useful to think in such a simplistic way?
Note: Project led focus denies strategic thinking

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 6: Feedback session

Vile summary

The introductory speeches are positive.
They describe a growth of street art, and art in landscape.
The artist (or quality) is supposed to be at the heart of a project.
The local community need to be involved... not just used.

Public art merges the personal and political.
Is this about the need for social cohesion developed through shared cultural events (cf medieval pageants et c)? (thanks to Kenneth Davidson)

Can artistic projects develop a vision for the future of our culture... shape towns, re-imagine society, build community, interact with the environment?

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 5: Matt Barker

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 4 Mikey Martins

Current Trends in the UK

Specifically England... a brief history

Many great street arts festivals in the 1990s (v performance based) e.g. Streets of Brighton
Input of European companies into UK festivals
Inspired UK companies 
NEWLANDSCAPES David Micklamace 2008
Street Theatre became Outdoors Arts
More funding opportunities
A community developed

ISAN formed to lobby
NASA a group for artists
Festival Consortia (e.g. GI20, Global Streets)
Joint commissioning (led to diverse arts events outdoors)
Joint touring networks
International collaborations
Strategic touring funding (finding areas of low cultural engagement)

Companies have become more interested in working outdoors, including choreographers.
Big spectacles are less common than they used to be.

Note: how is emerging/ work in progress presented? Is it clearly sign-posted within the festival context?
When a work comes into an area that is not used to it, how does the work have any legacy - no parachuting work and artists into an area... get long term about the relationships.

Increase in winter events (e.g. White Night)
Increase in site specific generally
Live Artists using public spaces
Closer relationship with urban planning and architects
Digital Technologies and Public Spaces
New Public Space? New Audience? An Evolution?

Vile Note: How does this increase relate the commodification of public space? Is culture an occupying force or a collaborator

Moving Out Live Blog 3: Pierre Sauvageot

European Perspective

From Marseilles...

Some words about IN SITU... since 2003, with 20 partners in 15 countries... to build a long term network in Europe.

Common model, new forms of art in public spaces (aka street art)
Working with the artists in a European context... similar problems and questions in different parts of Europe... 

'When we begin, we focus on street art... now we focus on art which is working with the city'

Street art has different meanings in different countries. This is more than a matter of translation.

'the solution is with the artist'

The main question is the artistic quality... how  doesthis balance between rich and poorer countries?

Concrete Results... to create a community of artists through 80 co-productions, 100 'writing supports', 100 'mobility supports' on a platform running 2013 onwards...

Vile Note: From street art, a theatrical based form, IN SITU has expanded to include other art forms, including visual art etc.

Co-operation Process
side by side a common question
mentoring et c

Building new media for dissemination.

Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 2 Leonie Bell

Leonie Bell (Creative Scotland)

Porous and open... the sector informs Creative Scotland's process... there is a ten year plan and five ambitions.

She is speaking very fast making it difficult to make notes.

Five ambitions

Excellence and Experimentation

It is all about quality. We need to get to a better place of understanding what has to exist for excellence to happen. We have to have experimentation to have excellence.

We may be facing uncharted waters... we have to encourage risk. Economic change is something we have to live with, there are massive population shifts across the world. To be brave... is of fundamental importance. We don't squash the arts into a series of outcomes... it has to be about the art first...

The closure of The Arches... that vast legacy... 

you have the right to a culture life that is not imposed upon you

artists have a civic role... we need better evidence... viz. 2014 Commonwealth Festival

Place based, community based, mix of professional and community performers.

Somehow I lost the second ambition... 


... community is repeatedly mentioned... people have ownership over the arts... 

Traditional but with the ability to evolve... international quality but located in the place.

She just quoted Lyn Gardner... arts administrations should be like town squares not monasteries...

The Workforce

Expert, resilient, et c... it is about people and buildings to support them.

e.g. The Briggait being supported by CS... to become a rehearsal space et c et c
e.g. NVA's St Peter's Seminary project
e.g. National Theatre of Scotland as Rockaville

Open to the rest of the word... connections are pivotal. 'We are an island, but... we do not operate in isolation.' 

Cultural diplomacy and soft power... celebrating difference and diversity, and the arts strategy recognises them.

Scotland the Brand's identity across the world.

Vile Note: people having ownership over the arts/culture is not the same as people owning their culture. How does this different inform the creative process and define the relationship between artist and audience.

Inclusion, community, challenging times, opportunity, innovation, 

four themes in CS
arts and civic society
Health, social work, infrastructure, context, artist at the heart, value of the arts.

Galoshans Festival: Moving Out Symposium Live Blog 1

Arts and Public Engagement

Radical content and integrity of purpose... a debate that has been running for the best part of three decades...

an exploration into the innovative but often challenging range of art taking place outside conventional venues....


Neil Butler (UZ) Based in Scotland sine 1994
The Context, Bringing together some strands

'This is the Beacon Arts Centre - a fabulous location...'

Galoshans is specific to Greenock. It means 'guising'  young people performing to each other at Halloween - the Americans nicked the idea for trick or treating.

Halloween a time when two worlds touch (the supernatural and the natural).

International Festival embedded in this place here

Joseph Beuys who inspired George Wylie who inspires the festival.

in-situ a European network

Suramedura  a residency in an area devastated by the tsunami 

Work that needs the public to make it happen

Many different ways to engage with the public

Art in public spaces

The Tobacco Warehouse a location that is going to be handed over to artists/creativity by Greenock council. As part of the weekend, the space will be used for some exhibitions.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fringe Benefits

After my festival of click-bait concluded, I took some time to consider whether there was anything worth the reading in my orgy of opinion. Although there were plenty of stupid things to grab attention (Stephen Fry is hit and miss, not a symbol of mediocrity), I seem to have ignored the some of the issues that really concern me. 

Thank goodness. It's time for another top five!

Here's what the great and the good had to say at the launch (which always serves delicious bacon rolls).

Kath M Mainland (Chief Executive, Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society)
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest, oldest, most well renowned festival in the world.

Cllr. Richard Lewis (City of Edinburgh Council’s Festivals and Events Champion)
Last summer the Fringe put on almost 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows across 300 venues making it the largest scale Fringe. This year is set to be just as adventurous and entertaining. 

Every release from the Fringe Society mentions the size... but there is no talk of quality. Richard Lewis' jump from figures to opinion bypasses any argument: it's got so many things on, it has to be 'adventurous and entertaining'. 

Actually, no it doesn't. Here is something that is big and rubbish. 

Never let it be said that I can't be literal. And like in a massive pile of household waste, there are plenty of good things in the Fringe: but combing through the detritus makes it harder to find them. 

Obviously, both Mainland and Lewis work hard behind the scenes, and announcements like this are just calculated to get into the newspapers. But does size and scale define worth? Is that YouTube clip  Don't Tase Me, Bro better than Gilgamesh because it got more hits?

Actually, it does have the same existential angst, only with more cruel laughter. Maybe it is better.

This illustration might not prove anything (actually, it hardly makes sense to me), but I worry about commodification. It's no accident that the two corporate sponsors who got their messages on the launch release were not the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Jerwood Trust, but the bloke off Air BnB and another from Edinburgh airport. 

The language of Mainland, Lewis and even Fiona Hyslop, reflects the consumerism that dominates every facet of our social lives, maybe even our private lives.

A profoundly international market place which can have transformative effects on careers.

Fiona Hyslop MSP (The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs)
As one of the most significant arts market places in the world, with over 1,000 arts professional attendees each year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers unrivalled opportunities for Scottish, UK and international artists.

Janet Archer, the genial CEO of Creative Scotland, did turn the tide with a reminder of that other thing that the arts hope to achieve.

It is also an unrivalled opportunity to make and develop touring contacts, to forge creative partnerships and to see artistic excellence from around the world.

To be fair, the others didn't just bang on about the market, and did mention how the Fringe can be 'life-changing' for audiences, but...

The idea of the Fringe as a zone of entrepreneurial enterprise dominates. And so, a Vile interlude begins, entitled Upon the Problems of Festival Capitalism...

Welcome back. In short, art that is reduced to just another financial exchange or a form of cultural capital is not doing its job. It's supposed to be the place where the best and brightest sketch out possibilities for new worlds, where assumptions are challenged and issues debated. It can even be some geezer messing about with the format, making a fool of himself and getting a scathing review. 

It can be entertaining and valuable, you know. That's why Thespis probably jumped out of the Chorus back in Ancient Greece. Something to say, and a way to say it. 

“Every year we think we know what it’s going to deliver, but every year it surprises, delights, amazes and inspires. The Fringe is a festival like no other. Completely open access – where artists don’t need to wait for an invitation, where anyone with a story to tell is welcome. Where there’s no curator, no vetting, no barriers. Just incredible talent from almost fifty countries all over the world.

“It’s also an incredibly important festival for Scotland, the UK and our performing artists. A vital platform to showcase the range and diversity of creative skills on offer. An explosion of culture which can be life changing for the audience. And lots and lots of fun.

“This year’s programme shows once again why the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the most important events in the international cultural calendar. The festival is a premier event bringing thousands of people to Scotland. It demonstrates the scale of Scotland’s creativity and ambition and raises our standing on the world stage.

“ We are committed to supporting the festival and the ambitions of the Scottish creative talent at the Fringe through the Made in Scotland programme as part of the £2.25 million Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.”

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland said:

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues to provide an important platform for Scottish artists to showcase their work to local and international audiences. ”

This year the Fringe Society has unveiled a new strategic partnership with Airbnb to help increase the range and diversity of accommodation options available to visitors to Edinburgh during August.

James McClure, Country Manager Airbnb UK & Ireland said:

“Airbnb is all about connecting people from all around the world and helping travellers enjoy destinations through the host experience and their local lens. The Fringe is an extremely exciting time not only for the residents of Edinburgh but for the thousands of visitors that descend on the city during August - and what better way to bring people together than through the arts and entertainment! We are very proud to be working with the Fringe Society to make sure that everyone who comes to Edinburgh during August gets the warmest of Edinburgh welcomes during their visit.”

This will also be the second year that the Fringe Society has had a ticket collection point at Edinburgh Airport. Last year, a staggering 14,000 tickets were collected from the airport. This year, the ticket collection point will be operating from 03 August, in plenty of time for the first Fringe visitors stepping off their planes.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport said:

“The airport ticket machine was a big success last year with over 14,000 tickets being collected in the terminal. We’re delighted to be working with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to offer our passengers this option again this year. I used the ticket machine myself several times last summer and am looking forward to seeing what will be on offer at this year’s festival.

“We love thinking outside the box and giving our passengers a great experience. Summer is always an incredibly busy time for us and this year will be no exception as we get ready to welcome hundreds of thousands of passengers from all over the world. Festival-goers will soon be able to collect their tickets as soon as they arrive into Edinburgh.”

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Stephen Fry: Don't Buy his Books Ever

Young writers are often encouraged to 'find their own voice.' However, if you are Stephen Fry, time would be better spent finding someone else's voice. In his Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music, Fry manages to perfect his persona. He captures the experience of being caught at a dinner party with a bore.

Fry's refusal to give any information without adding an anecdote that is designed to prove his superior wit. In the early chapters, he flirts with racism (Chinese names, eh? Hilarious), before proving that old myth about Wagner enthusiasts being boring (Wagner gets pages and pages, reflecting the maestro's long, tedious passages). JS Bach gets less of a mention than Julie Andrews, and while it is unfair to expect a light entertainment read to be comprehensive, Fry - or possible his co-author Tim Lihoreau - could have made an effort to include some information.

When authors moan about the death of print, they usually blame the internet. I blame Stephen Fry: publishing something this bad, lazy and conceited is an argument against cutting down trees for paper. In short, Fry's prose style is a perfect match for the expression on his fucking smug face. Ask him the time, and he'll meander around a pun on clock until you miss your train.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Best Spam Ever.

Dear Gareth, 

Please assess the potential of using sea water irrigation and salt water loving crops for global (economic, fiscal and monetary) development, as well for fighting the worldwide still growing desertification and the attached declining national/global security/economy. 

The positive effects of economic desert greening for the world will be huge. As we’re talking here about a new potential/perspective for 1/3 of the global land mass (33% of the global land mass is deserts). Economic, fiscal and monetary this is about growing to an E 120 trillion global GDP level. And ecologic this is about bio restoration, bio diversity, etc. In desert greening economy and ecology can merge perfectly. 

It’s odd that while all total (active and inactive) fresh/sweet water resources only makes up 2.50 till 2.75% of earth’s water resources, our whole agricultural system is based on the use of fresh/sweet water. But it even gets more odd: only 0.01% of all global water resources can be used/accessed for the current fresh/sweet water crops based agriculture. At least something to re-think our current choice of crop types and irrigation sources. 

So it’s quite clear that we’ve bet too heavily on the wrong water card in global agriculture. Why? Because there are also salt water loving crops (halophytes is their species family name). A whole family of species in nature we’ve neglected too long due the fact that we didn’t know they exist and therefore we didn’t develop the way like we did with fresh/water loving crops. We as mankind could make a major leap forward on food/water resources if we would develop these species like we did with the fresh/sweet water flora/crops. 

We advocate to combine the existing huge global abundances (salt sea water, wide desert soils and huge biodiversity of crops available in salt water loving crops) and merge them into a) a global new economic cycle/century, b) a global ecologic/biodiversity revival, c) stopping almost all migration wave problems and d) eliminate almost all food/energy tensions/wars. 

First two basic questions regarding desert economics should be answered, otherwise going any deeper into this is useless: Question 1: Grows anything on salt water? Yes, abundantly. Just visit a sea side mangrove region in a warm climate and you will be surprised by the both flora and fauna abundance in and by salt water. Question 2: Ok, stuff grows well on sea water, but do commercial viable crops do? Yes, very good: the best known example is salicornia (for high grade proteins and oils): salicornia out of the deserts by the use of seawater can totally replace the global rain forests destruction production of soy (for proteins and oils). George Washington was also a salicornia farmer and he did well by it. 

Another issue is that worldwide many non-desert regions have huge salt underground water reserves that now can't be used now, while the current commercial agriculture crops mainly are sweet/fresh water based and totally can't handle saline/salt water at all. So this is not only a desert issue, it's a desertification issue, with much more impact than the 33% of the global landmass that is already desert. 

There's a third basic question that needs to be answered first too: will salt be build up in the soil and make the soil total dead for ever? The answer is no (otherwise we would have abandoned the concept immediately). Let me explain why there will no salt build up: harvested agri and aqua flora and fauna will remove salt, we only use underground micro tubes based irrigation (less evaporation), nighly dew depositing starts massively (flora are 3d surfaces and have temperature differences), the salt water is purely used as kick starter (as will start raining again), winds takes away some salt molecules too (like at oceans happens also) and NASA research did not find any salt build up (see the work of Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center on halophytes). 

Therefore enter your new narrative on the 21th century food/agriculture by just assessing the information below. Global game changers for the better. Build on existing yet not used huge abundances. The whole concept of desert greening by salt aquifer / sea water irrigation should be assessed first. You can find more on this on these locations (where the first link describes the whole concept this best in detail): 



Where this model is applied regular rainfall is returning, due increase of evaporation, increase of shadows, increase in nightly dew due to flora delivers multiple 3D surfaces. All these three change air flows and cloud formation and thereby precipitation, making fresh/sweet water based agriculture also possible again in these regions. Salt build-up of the soil is therefore no problem, the sea water is just used as a kickstarter to restore the natural non-salt-water cycle. 

Please let us know if we can support you anywhere in processing/merging this into the world's policies. I know for sure that if political leverage can be organized, it would boost these huge global desert changes tremendously. Sometimes politics just should set the direction, nothing more, nothing less. 

The whole concept design is done in a not for profit model. All the facets of supply, demand and finance of both realization and operation will be acquired in a transparent tendering model by market actors. Governments will steer. The global business community will perform in an open transparent way. A model in which all actors/stakeholders doing what they are good at. 

Water scarcity and desertification is not only a far of home Africa, Middle East and Central Asia issue: it's also for example a Californian, US Mid West or South European issue. It's a 33% global landmass issue. We need quickly salt water loving crops as an alternative. 

When this economic desert greening model will be implemented globally (or even only in the MENA region), the whole global economy will get a powerful decades long new cycle. The IMF will love it just for this reason. 

This new cycle to the global economy is needed hard, certainly in the maturing no-real-growth anymore economies of the nations of the Global West. As only in a new cycle those economies could re-structure their huge private debt burdens without the collapse that normally comes with that. And the governments of the nations of the Global West than also could re-structure their huge public debt burdens and lower their excess spending gradually/managed, without hard default risks that now are clouding the public debt skies all over the Global West. 

Than healthy/normal North/South and East/West relations will get traction again. But this time in a joint interests driven model (and not in the old imperial model). The North is maturing (no growth for decades), the South is emerging (fast growth for decades), they could and will benefit of each other economic specifications. 

The Washington Consensus aka Chicago Economics(austerity as market cure) has almost no influence at all anymore. The Beijing Consensus (investment as market cure) has taken over as main driver/direction of the global economy. If you want more on this: see the stagnation papers and productive capitalism papers on our website. 

Only the self-absorbed uni-power reactionary forces in some realms within the Global West (like PNAC successor FPI in the USA for example: still living somewhere in the 80ties and therefore still want to rule the world by power hegemony) don't see this changing playing field nor its benefits: but progress is making them irrelevant at fast pace. Some people/groups really need to wake up of their imperial/colonial dreams to the new/actual realities: uni-polar global hegemony is not possible anymore: these days are gone. 

The desert nations don't need geopolitical driven imperial drones and/nor bombs: they just need seawater pipelines and salt loving crops in a viable investment model. And yes, maybe the engineers of the armies of the world are willing to help to build them and bring rest if it are turbulent regions: a faster peace delivery than by realization of seawater pipelines is not possible. But this time based on equal/mutual interests and not as part of a imperial hegemonic system with a take on 'partners' as just vassals. Imperial/colonial looting is no longer a viable concept anymore. Selective funding violent opposition groups too. Occupation armies too. The 21st century is quite different than the 20th century. 

Want to make the world a better place (economic, ecologic or both)? Just merge huge desert areas, intense sunshine and salt water crops by this model. Supply and demand will rise tremendously. 

For all the believers in Al Gore's CO2 based fairytale/'science' (LOL: the man has always talked more than he has studied: quick talker / lazy researcher / no open minded debater): this model stores more carbon in the soil (permanent via crop roots) than any other system (and: at no economic cost but with economic profit). So although we don't believe in CO2 dangers: if you do: green the deserts by seawater irrigation. To explain our Al Gore critical position: We're not that much into Al's church: for convenience reasons Al forgot climate history (even recent periods), loves Excel and its hockey stick graph's possibilities, loves long ladders for presentations and beyond all of this: uses fear mongering (but unfortunately he just don't get the universe and it's influences that much). No one has harmed and will harm the green/circular economy movement more than Al (who of course thinks the opposite: that he saved the world: he is a politician). 

By the way: Science and politics should be strictly separated forces: when merged they don't build but just pollute each other. Just like corporations and politics should be strictly separated forces, media and politics, religion and politics (one man's believe is not the other man believe) and the military industrial complex and politics should be too. Montesquieu's trias politica should be extended with those five to an update actual eight forces version. Don't get fooled: we love science (much more than Al). We just don't love politicians who abuse science theories for their own agendas. Consensus and science are quite different/opposite concepts. If you want more on this: see the Sun/Earth Interactions paper on our website. 

(regional climates on earth are driven by the warmth distribution done by the ocean currents, which are driven in intensity and directions by earth's core activity, which is driven by solar core activity, which is driven by our journey throughout the Milky Way and the journey of the Milky Way throughout the universe: it's no rocket science: there's just no political gain in this, so it's not a favourable thesis for some) 

(global climates and ocean level rises/falls throughout history have been not that much determined by temperature, but more by variations in the size of the earth -which is not constant, nothing is constant, although we really wish that was the case- which is determined by intensity of the earth's core activity (heat expands volume as you know), which is driven by solar core activity, which is driven by our journey throughout the Milky Way and the journey of the Milky Way throughout the universe: this is also the explanation that the earth's crust is such a mesh of different layers, not everything is as stable as we want it to be: again it's no rocket science: there's just no political gain in this, so it's not a favourable thesis for some) 

(and yes, most oil corporations are in moral bankruptcy and behave like warlords using their nation's military apparatus to conquor energy supply/demand/transit markets: almost every military conflict on earth has an energy/resources or pipeline/transit background, even Syria, which started one month after the signing of the Iran/Iraq/Syria pipeline contract, and yes, urban/city air qualities are really bad, and yes clean energy is very much needed: so we're not in love with oil and its operators, nor paid by them) 

But for all the believers in global warming theory driven geo-engineering: this model enlarges the global water cycle tremendously (by evaporation, cloud formation and rainfall) more than any other model ever could do. There's no other way of such high volume cooling than this (and the beauty of it: it is based on solid market economics, not on burning oceans of governmental subsidies). So although we don't believe in geo-engineering (only nuclear is a not that valid 'concept' of it): if you do: green the deserts by seawater irrigation. 

And for the green/circular economy lovers who are afraid of any rise in (other people's) supply and demand: stop being reactionary too and get happy again: greener than this you can't get (bio restoration, bio diversity, free of GMO patents that extorts all farmers worldwide of a large part of their harvest income, family farms with a good income, etc: you name it: the model got it). Also don't worry on over-population: the world population will first stabilize and than shrink after 2050: prosperity delivers smaller family sizes. 

Don't get fooled by this all: we're green/circular economy lovers to the max: greener than green. But we love viable economics (combining green transition and the market is one of our objectives), fiscal self-restriction (more public debt, nor more taxes is not viable: self-restriction is needed: starting with the easy low hanging fruit: stopping all geopolitical i.e. energy pipeline driven proxy-war madness) and sound monetary systems (the flood of 'trickling down' QE since 2008 has never reached Main Street, it was almost all absorbed by Wall Street just to stay afloat i.e. in business, it's time for 'percolating up' models like EQE/EBS and the other 'percolating up' similar models we developed that deliver real economic activities) as well. 

What we all want? Green/clean, rest/peace and safety/security, with lower taxes and less government. Getting this is as easy as putting non-subsidized solar panels on every roof and wall (possible now solar power has become cheaper than grid power). It's no rocket science. Nor ideology. Just smart. Like desert agriculture by the use of sea/ocean water irrigation is. Green isn't necessary / doesn't always equal leftish big gov (that's just one flavor of green, there are more) or right wing corporate welfare (wind energy for example is one big corporate welfare festival: most windmills operate on subsidies, not on wind). Green/sustainable/circular is just re-thinking the things we do and than doing it more wisely/smartly. Maybe environmentalism should not be hijacked by the extreme left, nor the extreme right, maybe it just should be rational on all fronts: maybe it's time for a less sensational and less extremes driven approach. Let's make ecology friends with economic health, fiscal health and monetary health. 

Our EQE/EBS monetary models are studied by central banks all over the world and probably will become the monetary foundation of all currencies within a decade (as they make sence: connecting the monetary system with the energy system, delivering monetary stability, energy security and a clean environment). Our no-subsidies based open source solar/PV finance models are studied by both governments and financials and are study material on many universities too. Etc, etc, etc. 

Good models don't need the pseudo science based fear mongering stories of Al, nor the (time after time proven wrong) dark scarcity visions of Malthusianism to convince you. We think both these movements are just harming severely the development of a green/circular/clean economy/world/future. Lies are no foundation to build on. Maybe we like public interests above excessive personal wealth accumulation (a concept Al maybe should try out too). 

Let's do this. Be a part of it. Talk about it. Write about it. Email about it. Pin it. Facebook it. Twitter about it. Publish about it. 

Yours sincerely, 

Gijs B. Graafland. 

The Dressing of the Tongue (Sound Festival)

I am at the Sound Festival in Aberdeen. I am using the internet service at ACT

Sound is all about 'New Music'. This translates as 'music within a broadly classical framework (acoustic instruments, composition, no teenage girls singing about sex in their scants) that recognises the role of electronics but doesn't have a large audience'. 

My facile definition is not exactly challenged by the sector's self-descriptions.

I have had a great many ideas at Sound this weekend, inspired by the programme of In Cahoots, the conference organised by New Music Scotland. Some of those ideas were inspired by the speakers.

(Rob Kennedy made a cool point about how artists often use the word 'collaboration' when they really mean 'working with a community, taking their participation and not crediting them as co-creators', making it an analogue to the business practice of internships... or the festival practice of relying on volunteers to staff events).

One question that bothered me all the way through a solo clarinet recital was the problem of naming. The previous night, a dismal set of programme notes - rich on anecdotal detail, but poor at describing the actual structure of the performance - had sent me into a dreamless sleep... listening to a piece entitled Weird Machine, I pondered whether the actual composition would be any different had it been named Alien Landscape. Or Odd Animal. Or, since this is what it conjured for me, Masturbating on Citalapram.

Calling it Weird Machines - and justifying this by describing it as an attempt to compose a piece that captured the sound of a machine that runs according to unknown mechanical rules - seemed an imposition. Masturbating on Citalapram is far more descriptive. There was plenty of heavy breathing and fingering: it fragmented into a series of irregular rhythmic attacks, took way to long and ended with a triumphant squeak. Besides, the issue of libidinal discomfort caused by anti-depression medication is not covered enough in the arts. I bet SMHAFF would book it for 2016.

Although In Cahoots has a theme of collaboration (with an incidental obsession in the Sound Festival for stuff about astronomy), the debate for me has become words and their meanings. Is the exclusion of pop from the New Music rubric a sensible attempt to protect a niche enthusiasm, or an act of cultural snobbery that mystifies certain genres as high art? What is collaboration? Is using the metaphor of a critic trying to achieve orgasm an appropriate critical response to a clarinet solo? 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS @ The Pleasance Edinburgh

Bucharest National Theatre

17 October, 19.00. Pleasance One, The Pleasance Edinburgh

The final event of the Romanian season in Edinburgh is A Woman for All Seasons – a one-woman play based on the charged memoirs of Anitia Nandris. The play follows Nadris’ forced deportation to Siberia during WWII and her involvement in the anti-communist resistance movement - to exile - in the infamous Soviet Gulag and then follows her story through to repatriation. 

The play, presented by Bucharest National Theatre, which stars Amalia Ciolan, has won critical acclaim for its honest re-telling of this incredible true story, stripped of self-pity or accusation.

The memoir, 20 Years in Siberia, is the story of a peasant woman from Bucovina, North Romania. Anita Nadris’ story has become one of the most important testimonials of the feared Soviet Gulag. 

Anita and her entire family were among the 13,000 Romanians who lived the terror of deportation in June 1941. She experienced famine, disease and hard work in one of the harshest environments on Earth, managing to bring up her sons and return to her native village in 1961. 

Her book of memoirs was only published after the Romanian Revolution in 1989 and was awarded the ‘Lucian Blaga’ Prize of the Romanian Academy.

Produced for the stage by the Bucharest National Theatre the performance unveils the true terror of the political regime that affected every person who lived through it. Amalia Cioran brings to life Anita’s story, as a simply rendered, affecting and deeply honest account of events, just as they happened.

The performance is part of ‘The Trial of Communism through Theatre’ Programme. The play will be performed with English subtitles. 

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
This performance was conceived around a book written by a simple woman with little schooling, a Romanian peasant from Bukovina (Northern Romania) who was deported to Siberia. It is one of the most stirring books I have ever read, about which influent Romanian writer and dissident Monica Lovinescu wrote: "After reading such a book anyinferiority complex that we, as a nation, might have should disappear". The story of Anita Nandris-Cudla is the story of many Romanians; however, this wonderful woman had the talent and the power to lay it down on paper.
Amalia Ciolan, actress

Would you say there are any qualities about the production that give it a specific Romanian style?
The play evokes a dark period in the history of Europe, a time of violence, sufferance and moral dilemmas, not dissimilar to contemporary challenges. 

It portrays a simple woman confronted with the machinery of Evil, a young wife forcefully taken out of her home and deported thousands of kilometers from home, in the frozen, unforgiving Siberia who manages not only so survive but also to retain her dignity.  

It is a memorable, powerful performance from the lead actress. The show, produced by the National Theatre of Bucharest, illustrates the excellence of Romanian theatrical tradition.    
Dorian Branea, Director Romanian Cultural Institute London

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The audience should expect to feel intense emotions, to be absorbed by the atmosphere and the acting and to be transported to another period in time. I believe that we must keep in mind that slavery, terrorism, the Holocaust and communism are worthy of remembrance. They should not escape the memory of posterity and the judgement of history so as not to be repeated ever again. 
Amalia Ciolan, actress

As this play is about Anita Nandriş-Cudla’s life from the first moments of awareness until the end, it inevitably includes all things that make up our existence: traditions, customs, education, religion, as well as the most important moments in life - birth, marriage, death. But they are not explicitly presented. 

This woman contained within herself everything that is valuable in a human being: the love of family, the love of nation and country, and the love of God. These values,enshrined through time, helped her get over the terrible experience of being deported to Siberia and save her and her children’s life. This gave her strength to return home and to rest for eternity in her village cemetery.

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
Approaching this text I went through a long process of documenting that historical period, and the inspiration came, I believe, from the bountiful spirit of my nation. 

After reading the book I suggested my colleague and friend, director Sorin Misiriantu, to work together on this performance, especially since his father came from that part of the country and lived through those times. He responded to my proposal with great joy and, with a major artistic involvement, he wrote the script and directed the play. Whenour research work took shape I presented the show to the National Theatre Board, who embraced the project right away.
Amalia Ciolan, actress

We look forward to welcoming you to our show.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Over the past year or so, I have been very rude about Matt Trueman's criticism. Whether or not I meant what I said, I was trying to engage him in a flame war. I hoped the sight of two critics hurling abuse at each other might encourage public interest in what is, unfortunately, a moribund medium. 

I acknowledge that I probably overdid it, and apologise for a series of blogs that were boorish and played up my repressed, and atavistic, macho tendencies. Besides, Trueman has too much dignity and hasn't risen to my bait. 

It's time to take him seriously, then.

In a recent article, he ponders why a play that didn't grab him when he saw it (Simon Stephens' Song from Far Away) has been lingering around in his mind. He recognises his enthusiasm for feeling and emotions in theatre, and quotes John Lahr

"Part of the theatre's big magic is its ability to exhilarate; it has the power to put us beside ourselves, to banish gravity, to call out of us our most buried feelings, to make the moment unforgettable, to kill Time. That's its joy ride."

Aside from my suspicion of theatre that exhilarates (if I wanted real thrills, I'd take a date to Platinum Lace and see what happens...), I share some of Trueman's passion for theatrical passion. But I wonder whether his conclusion is a little weak.

the best shows - those that really make you feel - might not be the most memorable. They might not be the shows that really stay with you. How does criticism account for that?

The 'best shows' may not be the ones that make me feel, but the ones that make me think. Criticism accounts for this by being stuck in its own narrative...

That is to say: writing a review just after seeing a show encourages a way of responding to theatre that is immediate and impressionistic. Shows with the big bangs, the emotive content, the high drama, are going to come out better than the more reflective shows, which unfold their brilliance over time.

Doesn't Brecht talk about this? The ideal spectator is not, for him, enthusiastic but slightly detached - smoking a cigar, even.

I'm not even sure that 'best' is a valuable way of describing performance. Of course, when critics get together, or reviews are aggregated, there are certain performances that can be called the most successful. But as Trueman points out, different plays operate in different ways and a reflective play isn't easily comparable to a spectacular.

Criticism, when it can't account for something, reveals how it is broken and not fit for task. Because I can't bear to leave an article with a wistful questions, I'll offer a solution.

A critique is not a single event but a process, to be revisited over time, if appropriate.

Rejecting the idea of a rigid star rating would allow a more nuanced response. 

Sarah Short@ Unfix

Sarah Short is a Glasgow-based artist, specialising in writing for performance. In all of her work she aims to create space to feel human connection 

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?:

This piece of work started with an idea. It was a new piece of work and hopefully the beginning of something bigger. I had an idea that I wanted to make a piece of work about grief. Having experienced grief earlier in the year I wanted to create a space that acknowledged what that meant for me and where I find my own strength to move forward within it. The answer led me directly to religion, primarly Catholism.

Why bring your work to Unfix?

This work seemed fitting to the concept of human ecology and I also felt that this festival would allow me a space to present an offering as opposed to a fully polished piece of theatre. The opportunity to do an installation allowed me to go through a very rich research process and the frame of an installation forced me to be very precise about what went in the space. Thus it was a very useful point of research within a bigger project that I may work on for some time.

 What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?

I suppose, primarily I wanted the audience to feel a sense of calming space, a space in the middle of a city to reflect and feel safe.

The Dramaturgy Questions

1.    How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?

I would argue that the presence of dramaturgy in any piece of work is always relevant. I suppose, as this was my first installation the way in which I worked with semiotics and the presence of research within the work felt different than I am normally used to.

2.    What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work -  have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?

I was greatly inspired by the work of Teresa Margolles and Suzanne Lacy, however this piece of work felt very different from theirs. I suppose, in terms of tradition my main link would be reaching out to the communities that I am exploring. In this piece it was those within the Catholic community, so conversations with priests, parish members, family and indeed a personal exploration were all part of the process of my work.

3.    Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?

Regardless of the piece I am making, my process always begins with an idea or a subject matter, from there I develop a hypothesis of some kind and then begin to research. I feel there is always collaboration but this usually comes from interviews/conversations with a cross section of people within the community I am critiquing on some level.

4.    What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?

For me, I feel that the audience helps to contextualize the work. Without an audience, or the consideration of the audience I feel that my work may never become anything more than a personal research project.

5.    Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
I can’t think of any other questions based on dramaturgy at this moment.