Events & Happenings

+May 2006
Goteborg Dance & Theatre Festival
In August 2006, TheatreWorks will be presenting Geisha and The Continuum: Beyond the Killing Fields at the Goteborg Dance & Theatre Festival. In addition to these 2 productions,
Ong Keng Sen will be leading the Goteborg Open Lab, Myths and Memories.

Goteborg Open Lab
Myths and Memories
Past, Present, Future Memory
curated by Ong Keng Sen

"Memory is a malleable space – it is fiction, it is a process of mythologizing, it is remembering. In memory, continuities are excavated, disruptions are revealed, reinventions are organically created, secret histories are dislodged. Cultural memories, personal memories are actively being constructed – new hybrid identities celebrated!

The social-political fabric is perhaps an ambivalent weave of fragments of events past, slipping into the imagined, with dynamic interventions of the present. The past is intimately bound with the living process of creation, to remember is to retell, is to create. In that can be said to be the death of memory; memory is projected into the future by the action of remembering.

In Benin, the African kings who colluded with the Portugese traders to sell their people insisted on the erasure of memory of the exported slaves. Before passing through the gate of no return to be sent to Brazil, the slaves had to walk around the tree of amnesia. In this way, without memory, the captured Africans would be perfect slaves, ready to absorb new identities. Crossing the Atlantic, displaced memories reclaimed in foreign sites ironically become seeds for new beginnings. For to remember is to mythologise, to subvert, to take the power to represent."
- Ong Keng Sen

Continuities Disruptions Reinventions New Identities

Göteborg Dance & Theatre Festival is Sweden's leading event focusing on contemporary performing arts from all over the world and is arranged every other year. Equally important to the performing arts program is the seminar program and its function as a meeting place. For 2006, the seminar program has gone through a metamorphosis.

We wanted to sow seeds that last longer than eight days, that the international inspiration that comes with the festival really had a chance to sprout in Swedish soil. To develop this into a reality, we had the help of fresh eyes by inviting Ong Keng Sen. The first meeting in June 2005 became the start of Göteborg Open Lab, an eight day laboratory with the purpose to be involved in, and to gain awareness of the artistic process. The idea is to provide windows for the interested public into the creative process of artists who are making works which are engaged with the societies in which they live. The Goteburg Open Lab strives to communicate with the audience; to reveal the intricacies of individual choice, social engagement and cultural influence. The Swedish artists (06) and the international (artist-in-focus) communicate their relation to the theme, Myths, memories: Past present and future memories; “of remembering and forgetting”. Through talks, workshops and seminars, artists meet other participants and the festival audience.

We have chosen six Swedish artists that moves between tradition and modernity with an interest in what it is to be human. Lisa Nordström, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Andrea Östlund, Gustaf Hansson, Rani Nair and Jens Östberg give us a Swedish dimension to Myths, memories from their own personal stories to the white spots of Sweden’s memory maps. This is an exploration of the future possibilities of the Swedish artistic and cultural landscape taking into account the transformations in Swedish society.

They are internationally working artists chosen by the Swedish institute. They are organizers and educators. They are students from Film- and Teaterhögskolan in Göteborg, Teater- and Danshögskolan in Stockholm and Dramatiska Institutet. Together they follow the lab all week and provide a continuity to the lab by forming the immediate community of practitioners who will take the lab process into the future in Sweden and beyond. They form a new intercultural network which is made all the stronger by this shared experience of the Goteburg Open Lab.

Every day: breakfast conversation. The artistic process starts at morning coffee. Chosen performing artists from the festival program meet and talk. Every day: an international artist-in-focus and their personal perspectives about myths and memories. The structure can differ from photo projections to lectures to demonstrations to screenings to any form fitting the artist. Every day: 06. First day starts with SuperIntense, a six hour long presentation of the creative impulses of these Swedish artists’ past, present and future work. These artists take responsibility daily to elaborate freely on the theme of the Goteburg Open Lab: myths, memories. The last day involves an Open Lab, an open talk with Ong Keng Sen about the week that passed. Also: readings, workshops, films, videos.

These include Padmini Chettur from Madras whose choreography strives to redefine the body beyond the Indian clichés. Amir Reza Koohestani thinks local and acts global but is surprised to find that his plays which derive from the Persian mysticism seem so relevant to foreigners. Jérôme Bel talks about The Last Performance, reinventing the lecture and the interview into future performances. Dinh Q Le was looking for his own family’s photos in Vietnam but found the stories of his country; weaving them into a collective memory of the Vietnamese who stayed and who left. Ayu Utami’s first novel came out a few weeks before former President Suharto’s fall in Indonesia. It was compared to the TV-series, Sex in the City and it sold like hotcakes. Wu Wen Guang and Wen Hui formed one of the few "independent" art companies in China. With choreography and documentary film making they communicate realities from life around them. Kettly Noël is from Haiti and is now based in Mali. She finds inspiration in the roots of African dance and gives something back through the choreographic centres for poor youths she started up in Mali and Benin.

Göteborg Open Lab is an experiment. Cross artistic expressions are mixed without judgements on results. We meet artists on the floor during eight days in an open process. The chemical reactions are unpredictable. As our worlds become more diverse, more transcultural; as more borders are erected in the increasing globalisation of our societies; it is time to communicate, to dialogue and to engage.

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