Nordic Nanaimo Exchange:
Rescripting Dance - New Translocal Initiatives
About the Project
In fall of 2018 we, Artistic Director Holly Bright and Curator Rickard Borgström, met in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. We found common ground through curiosities in recent artistic developments and experiences in working with performing arts festivals on the edge, in the province, where one engages in one’s local community as much as connecting to the rest of the world, where one finds affinities as shared interests.
In our discussion we recognized that the last two decades within the performing arts field in these regions has seen the rise of artistic practices that thematisize social-political matters within the work itself, in what it does (e.g. relational strategies or social engagement), more so than representational ‘aboutness’ (e.g. as regards political points of view). As we discussed these developments we wondered if these artistic practices and works were implicit reactions to the ongoing dismantling of the State, or in Nordic Terms the Welfare State.
We could also see an urgent shift in these art practices in our recent decade, where the relational strategies expanded into a register of the senses and affect. This has led toward a more porous, entangled, environment beyond the social human-to-human logic, opening dance up to a more complex web of human and non-human actors, or in other words a more-than-human ecology, of coexistence and interdependence. The latter questions intersect with social, cultural, political, economic, scientific, ecological concerns of our time that call for expansive visions on how to organize life on a global, even planetary scale, as well on an everyday, social, sphere.
Meanwhile the pandemic has paralyzed the global performing arts system. The hold has put unjust structures to the fore and the current model has proven itself to be unsustainable, be it ecologically or socially, already in pre-pandemic time. Business as usual is no longer an alternative.
The pandemic reinforces our dire need to reimagine our artistic and curatorial practices from a vantage point that acknowledges its deep entanglement with ecological systems and the social fabric, both local as global, without losing sight of the asymmetrical relations of resources. That is, how do we, in our communities, despite the current state of geopolitical tensions, environmental injustice (and pandemic), explore new forms of collaborations, working models and dance, and rethink our infrastructure, within these conditions?
This has led Holly and Rickard to initiate a research project into these new formats between 2021- 2023 in the Nordic region and Canada. In the process we let our desires and imagination move us to reshape the relations between dance, stages, audience, artists, curators, contexts and discourses.
As part of our research, we are interested in reaching out to peers who work in disparate contexts, with specific discourses, to discuss these emergent forms with us in a public forum.
Our first short pilot (April- July 2021) is an artistic exchange between two artists from Vancouver Island and two artists from Sweden, as well as a series of public conversations.