Crerative Practices Beyond Borders (sonic, theatre, doco) 21 May 2009

img_1595Event: though not exactly a public one – I am speaking about Creative Practices Beyond Borders to a meeting of the AHRC on 21 May at UCL. So, what to say – the brief is to talk about the project and what we have done with the coin they offered us (ahem).

Two meetings of a series of Beyond Text Network grant workshops have been held over the last year in London and Berlin, and the third is planned for Copenhagen in November 09. We have had guests from 12 countries, including as far away as India, Australia and Singapore. The network was has examined Creativity Beyond Borders and taken up themes from Music, Theatre and Film to rethink the ways that a number of different kinds of borders are conceived. In our discussions, the border was found to be porous, often contested, a contact zone, shifting and multiple. The ways that borders work between things, and between people, was found to be constitutive. We have had people sing in seminars, interrupt performances, walk the border of the city, present art works, and challenge preconceptions yada yada dada.

In ‘Sonic Border’ (London November 08), the theme of sound was conceived as a way to rethink the visual and geographic fixity of the border (pirate radio, for example, crosses the border in interesting ways), and the idea of vibration emerged as a possible model for opening up notions of analogue communication. A highlight was a presentation from Professor Les Back of his recordings of New Cross from the roof of the Goldsmiths Tower, using advanced sound equipment he was able to modulate a range of sounds – from sirens to school kids talking, that would normally be merely ‘din’ in what is the noisiest of London boroughs. Rangan Chakravorty and Paramita Brahmachari travelled from Kolkata to be with us, and Johannes Anyuru and Alexander Motturi introduced us to Clandestino. Camille Barbagello was great on the Cross Talk project and there were many other good things. At the end of the week another highlight was our trip to Coventry Cathedral to join the Noise of the past: Postcolonial War Requiem’ event, which included composition of a new War/Peace Requiem for the cathedral. We participated in the conference and attended the screening of films and the recital in the Cathedral. All very relevant to our discussions, this event with 800 people (organised by another AHRC project headed by Nirmal Puwar and Sanjay Sharma) was a great conclusion to our network meeting week.

At ‘Theatre Border’ (Berlin April 09) the performative apparatus was explored in a way that suggests a premium on attention. Those that cross the border perform in disguise, go covertly, or make use of diversions. Our ‘research’ here in part involved a series of guided investigative and documenting walks along parts of the ‘borders’ of Berlin, including the former wall. There were presentations about the wall from the Goethe Institute and from filmmaker activist Hito Steyerl, there were enactments of the border, and a peripatetic form of workshop organisation emerged, much to the delight I think of our guest from Kolkata, Rustom Bharucha, this followed by a brilliant visual (still and moving image) collation and presentation of the materials collected on the walks. These will be posted on the site in due course. Joan Marie Kelly came with images from Singapore and India and Miro Kaygalak and Raul Gschrey gave back to back provocations that worked really well.

There are lots of people to thank, and we thank them, and will continue to do so – more to come on the workshop page in the sidebar.

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