Imagining Europe: Programme
Amitav Ghosh – Keynote and conversation
Started at 18:00 at De Balie, Amsterdam
World-famous author Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and studied in Alexandria, Delhi and Oxford. He is the author of numerous prize-winning novels such as The Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies. His most recent publication is called River of Smoke. His books have been translated into more than 20 different languages.
Dividing his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn, Ghosh provides a human perspective on historic events by focusing on the timeless interaction between individuals and communities. In his keynote speech, he shared his reflections on how Europe is seen in the world and how it might be seen in the future. Directly after his speech, he was interviewed by Dutch TV presenter Twan Huys. Listen to his speech.
Kinan Azmeh and Eric Vloeimans in concert
Started at 22:00 at De Balie, Amsterdam
The renowned clarinet player and composer Kinan Azmeh lives both in Damascus and New York. He is one of Syria’s rising stars in the world of culture. His highly distinctive sound, which transcends different musical genres, is now also rapidly gaining international recognition: he has been hailed as a “virtuoso” and as “intensely soulful” by the New York Times and was called “engagingly flamboyant” by the LA Times. (Read a recent review here.)
Eric Vloeimans, based in Rotterdam, is considered one of the most influential trumpet players of his generation – described as “an accomplished storyteller” in the Miami New Times, and as “crisp and self-assured” by Jazz Times magazine. He fuses classical technique with jazz improvisation, to amazing effect.
Reclaiming public space – democratic practices reinvented?
Started at 16:00 at De Balie, Amsterdam
After an opening address by Charles Esche, this debate explored alternative models for democratic practice in Europe, starting from an artistic perspective. We are living in dynamic times for Europe and its public space. What role can artists and cultural actors play in new forms of civic participation?
Moderator Farid Tabarki – the founder and director of Studio Zeitgeist in Amsterdam – invited Peter Vermeersch (lecturer, poet, G1000 Belgium), Tiffany Jenkins (sociologist and cultural commentator, UK) and Juan Freire (innovation manager, Spain) to explore alternative models for democratic practice in Europe. Listen to the debate.
Belarus Free Theatre – Performance
Started at 20:30 at the Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam
Belarus Free Theatre is an internationally acclaimed independent theatre group from a country that is often referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship: Belarus. At Imagining Europe, the theatre company premiered their latest piece, Trash Cuisine. What does violence taste like? Belarus Free Theatre examined it in their ‘kitchen’ and served the audience an emotional culinary experiment accompanied by live music.
The theatre’s list of ‘patrons’ and supporters is long and impressive, including Tom Stoppard, Vaclav Havel, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law and Mick Jagger – see recent articles in The Telegraph and The Guardian, which said “Its extraordinary work should be seen all over the world”. Often referred to as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’, Belarus is a country where artists and performers face heavy censorship. In fact, this is a theatre company torn apart, without a ‘home’, with some of the actors living in exile. Belarus Free Theatre had never performed in public in Amsterdam before, and received a standing ovation for their piece.
European Souvenirs – Live cinema performance
Started at 20:30 at De Balie, Amsterdam
We brought you live cinema made by five up-and-coming artists: Karol Rakowski (PL), Barış Gürsel (TR), Farah Rahman (NL), Malaventura (ES) and Noriko Okaku (UK/JP), and produced by ZEMOS98 and Doc Next Network. Together, they took a trip through time, history and place to make a live cinema performance for Imagining Europe.
Delving into audiovisual materials from leading European archives, they brought us European Souvenirs - a trip down memory lane. Remixing music, photography and film, the European Souvenirs artistic group re-examined the prevailing imagery of immigrants across European communities and re-maps Europe visually, geographically and conceptually.
John Akomfrah – Screening and discussion
Started at 15:30 at De Balie, Amsterdam
Conversation between Akomfrah and Abdelkader Benali -15:30 De Balie Grote zaal, Amsterdam - followed by a screening of Mnemosyne - 17:15 de Balie Filmzaal, Amsterdam.
London-based film-maker and cultural activist John Akomfrah - born in Ghana and brought up in London - is a much decorated and admired film director. His body of work ranges from documentaries to feature films and audiovisual art installations. He is widely credited as one of the chief architects of modern Black British cinema after co-founding the Black Audio Film Collective in the early 1980s. Akomfrah is currently director of Smoking Dogs Films (London) and Creation Rebel Films (Accra). Earlier this year he was awarded the ECF Princess Margriet Award.
For this closing event in ECF’s four-day Imagining Europe programme, John Akomfrah engaged in a conversation with writer Abdelkader Benali. Exerts of Akomfrah’s works including Signs of Empire, Handsworth Songs and Mnemosyne as well as a preview of his latest film Peripeteia inspired a thought-provoking discussion on the routes of the migrant imaginary in Europe’s past and present. See the three video excerpts from their conversation here, here and here.
Stefan Kaegi/Rimini Protokoll: 100% City – a video documentation
Together with two fellow directors of Rimini Protokoll, artist and theatre-maker Stefan Kaegi from Switzerland dissects cities all over the world. For Imagining Europe, the previous ECF Princess Margriet Award winner made a selection of some European cities from his 100% City project. In each city he selects 100 people who are representative of the local population. 100% City portrays these groups like a choir that hasn't rehearsed a single song – they reinvent themselves time and time again in every city.
Imagining Europe according to Doc Next Network – a selection of TV reports
Doc Next Network is a unique movement that clears the way for a new generation of European – mostly do-it-yourself – media makers who are questioning their perspectives on Europe. As a key partner in Doc Next Network – which was initiated by ECF – VPRO’s Metropolis forms a worldwide network of correspondents who report on their living environments. The reports are broadcast on TV and on the internet. At Imagining Europe, we presented a selection of European video reports that communicate an impression of the familiar and less familiar sides of Europe.
Is Europe a flop? A poster exhibition
First year students in graphic design and photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and the Willem De Kooning Academy in Rotterdam were commissioned by De Affiche Galerij to design posters with the theme ‘Is Europe a flop?’. A selection of these were on show at Imagining Europe.
STEP Beyond photo exhibition
Over the past nine years, ECF has awarded small travel grants to more than 1,400 artists and cultural workers who have visited 48 countries across Europe and beyond. The travel grants help them to explore and exchange views, skills and inspiration. As part of Imagining Europe, there was a exhibition highlighting creative work produced by STEP-beyonders.
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For more reflection on the state of contemporary Europe by renowned and up-and-coming thinkers, visit www.ecflabs.org/narratives.