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Montreal's a poetic paradise

It's a good time to be in Montreal. It's spring time to be precise. Montreal is experiencing a huge upsurge in social activism for the last three months. The biggest student strike ever, has been lasting for eleven weeks now, and nothing seems to be stopping it. Montreal's got revolutionary momentum and as we know from the history of the sole French-speaking society in North-America, this can mean true progressive social change at the end of the line.

I won't go into the detail of the student struggle here, since I want to tell you about something else today! Follow these guys for regular updates : @spirodon @JaggiMontreal @david_widge

As if the many creative student actions weren't enough for the government and corporations, desperate in their many attempts to squash it, and just a day away from May Day, a huge culture jamming action has just swamped the streets of Montreal. Already a hotbed of graffiti and street art, Montreal has been transformed overnight into a poetic paradise.

Montrealers wake up to a mobile poetic extravaganza

Like in London and many other cities throughout the World, Montreal's got it's bike-sharing service. It's a system made up of 5 120 bikes (called BIXI), connected to 411 stations. Quite a decent system, one must recognise. But since the system was established two years back, the company running the cooperative service has introduced advertising. All bikes and stations are now covered by sponsors, such as mobile company TELUS, credit union Desjardins, mining giant Rio Tinto Alcan and the City of Montreal.

In the night of Sunday April 29 to Monday April 30, the great majority of the bike stations were visited by culture jammers extraordinaire. Highly organised, the jamming teams managed to cover the logos of the thre sponsoring corporations. They literally plastered the bikes with hundreds of poetic messages. The result is stunning.

Example: http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?p=18761

But like the pros of culture jamming were not to leave people to wonder, they went as far as setting up a webpage (http://bixipoesie.ca/) and organising a photo contest on their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bixi-Po%C3%A9sie/400334560000676). The masterminds behind the action put out a spoof press release in which they say that "based on the public outcry that the introduction of advertising and branding on the BIXI bikes generated, they have come to the conclusion to replace those ads with 500 different bits of poems, songs, stories, essays, etc...". The 500 snippets are all accessible on the bixipoesie.ca website.

To cap things off, the Montreal culture jammers have clearly indicated that this action was just a start. In the « to come » list of cities, they already announce poetic resistance for the cities of Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Washington DC-Arlington, Minneapolis, Washington State University, London, Melbourne and Boston.

To follow the poetic jammers go here @BixiPoesie

Frédéric Dubois is a Montreal-based reporter and media producer.

The story comes first

There I was, sipping coffee. There he was, sipping his. He? Caspar Sonnen, a real nice guy from the hood and IDFA DocLab programmer... as in curator, not code programmer. He was one of the reasons I was in Amsterdam early this summer. A few weeks down the road, I'm putting out this post, as he's putting out his Call for entries (deadline August 1): http://www.idfa.nl/industry/Festival/news/latest-news/call-for-entry-idfa-doclab.aspx


I wanted to get an overview of latest developments in all things interactive in Europe. Who better to ask than Mr. Sonnen? The man's coordinating DocLab, a space which « showcases the latest innovations in digital storytelling ». DocLab's docked in Amsterdam's excellent international documentary festival IDFA, but it also docks in Sheffield, UK (Doc/Fest), Austin, US (South by Southwest) and most recently, Rotterdam, NL (PhotoStories).

Our little chit chat got Caspar talking about a few interactive documentaries that he came across lately. Among them, the shoestring budget 'Soul patron' by Frederik Rieckher - a visual and sound delicatesse diving the viewer into an immersive japanese journey. An experiment that found a sensistive voice and created a multimedia artist to be watched out for.

He also mentioned the storytelling delight Welcome to Pine Point, by The goggles, Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk's googlish HTML 5 projects The Wilderness Downtown and Ro.me and, Ze Frank's ever deepening explorations of human connection through the internet. On a more social and political note, he underlined the NFB's High Rise, the collaborative and crowd-funded 18 Days in Egypt and, Stefano Strocchi's From Zero. His list wasn't exhautive, as we were just talking over coffee on a lazy Saturday morning.


Having made my first foray into the still virgin world of interactive documentary with the GDP project (NFB) back in 2009, I was looking forward to Caspar's words of wisdom regarding internet media production. He didn't make me wait long for this.

Interestingly, he kept coming back to Canada and France, as both countries have taken a lead position in webdocumentary production. Canada with the National Film Board's interactive projects and France, with ARTE Webdocs, but also the Centre National de la Cinémathographie's dedicated funds towards online docs.

Asked about what makes a good interactive doc, Caspar had a straight answer : « For me, the story comes first, then the interface and third, the rest ». Aha, the rest, I was wondering, what the hell could that be? « Well, you know, the surprise, the 'wow effect,' the genius, the artistic quality. » He must know what he's talking about, since he's curated hundreds of multimedia pieces over the last few years.

« Our role is to provide a place for creative interpretations of reality, to motivate the people behind the projects, » he insists. « During DocLab, we're trying to go beyond the online experience. We're creating an installation setting to allow for director navigations or other collective viewing events ».

And to cap things off, Caspar had a little advice for those of you tempted by interactive documentary: « In the 1920s, it's not the theater people who invented film. It's no different today. We're in the digital revolution, so don't worry too much about filmmaker's being defensive and not wanting to recognize interactive documentary ».

Click on the following links if you're ready for the digital revolution...

18 Days in Egypt : http://www.18daysinegypt.com
ARTE webdocs : http://webdocs.arte.tv
CNC : http://www.cnc.fr
From Zero : http://fromzero.tv
GDP Project : http://gdp.nfb.ca
High Rise : http://highrise.nfb.ca
IDFA DocLab : http://www.doclab.org
NFB interactive : http://interactive.nfb.ca
Ro.me : http://www.ro.me
The Wilderness Downtown : http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com
Sould Patron : http://soul-patron.com
Welcome to Pine Point : http://pinepoint.nfb.ca
Ze Frank : http://zefrank.com


IDFA: http://www.idfa.nl
South By Southwest: http://sxsw.com
Sheffied Doc/Fest: http://sheffdocfest.com
PhotoStories: http://photo-stories.org

Frédéric Dubois is a reporter, interactive documentary maker and Memefest comrade.

Photo: By Bert Kommerij under CC licence, available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kommerij/5746966584

Why Interactive Documentary Matters

NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands - There are about 25 young editors, reporters, photographers, translators and videographers at the international media training of Oddstream. So I abused of my role of a mentor to brainwash them with my interactive documentary venom.

It's the first time that the Oddstream Festival is held, and already there are 100 bands and DJs on four different stages, multimedia art installations in all corners of the ex-industrial complex and communication workshops in circus-like settings.

The 25 media makers come from all over Europe to get a hands-on training on how to cover a big event while keeping a cool head. They're not only doing well as I'm writing these lines, they have already 3 newspapers off the press and more than six news videos out on the wires (http://www.oddstream.org/odd-news/).

Since I'm here as a mentor for the news team, I thought I might as well share insight on my current work as an independent reporter and media producer. That's how Friday's workshop "Producing Interactive Documentary" came together,

The idea was to share a few thoughts on the importance of investing time and energy in new forms of media making. Especially when one is critical of mainstream media and devoted to socially-responsive communication.

Together, the workshop attendees and I first defined what a documentary was (in contrast to more formatted and constraining works, such as journalism). We then moved into some basic characteristics of the internet - as a web of interconnected nodes - and insisted on its participatory potential. Why define what's obvious? Well exactly because interactive documentary, as I like to understand it, stands for visual networked storytelling. And that's not something you can really get by flipping a dime.

"Tell me more..."
That's exactly what people must have been thinking during the workshop. I swung my old laptop on a chair and went through a few inspiring "idocs". David Lynch's simple but compelling Interview Project was up first (http://interviewproject.davidlynch.com/www/). Moving from there, I showed them Welcome to Pine Point, another idoc making use of low tech documentation to come up with one of the strongest narratives I've seen until now (http://interactive.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint). Both are relatively unsophisticated on a technical level. But both have been used as an inspiration for what we're still to expect from interactive documentary.

In a batch, we saw the innovative Montréal in 12 locations (http://www.mtl12.com/), the split-screen human-driven Gaza-Sderot (http://gaza-sderot.arte.tv/) and, the more journalistic role play type idoc Journey to the End of Coal (http://www.honkytonk.fr/index.php/webdoc/).

We finished on the GDP Project (http://gdp.nfb.ca) - a one-year evolving documentation of how Canadians were faring in times of the 2008-2010 economic recession. We spent more time on this one, going into details of production, media output and techniques of participatory storytelling.

To finish on an unavoidable note, we entered the Prison Valley (http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/?lang=en#) experience - a web documentary that's using some mind-blowing photography, clever navigation and gaming-type design. Definitely a must see for all those interested in a well-produced and complex doc.

So what's all this talk about? About what I feel as being one of those media formats that can really manage to bring film to the internet, challenge reality, play a role in social change and civic participation. Even though all the examples I'm showing can seem overproduced or inaccessible to independent artists and media activists, I believe that interactive documentaries can become rich tools of emancipation. They don't need to be expensive to produce and we're slowly making way towards open standards (HTML5) technologies and more and more existing web-sourced tools (data visualization; geolocalization; video dissemination platforms; tagging). This is good news for what's to come.

In short, I'm convinced that interactive documentary can make inroads where it counts. There, where the younger generations want to be. There, where classic journalism has failed (or is failing). I'm talking about digital culture media (http://OWNI.eu), independent news sites (http://therealnews.com/t2/), NGOs (http://www.condition-critical.org/), open cultural institutions (http://webdocs.arte.tv/) and many more spots online and mobile.

Independent, participatory and multimedia makers, unite!

For more interactive documentary examples, visit http://www.delicious.com/gdpib or contact me directly: frederic (at) reportero (dot) org

Inspiration Day puts the odd in the Oddstream

NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands - The Oddstream Festival is about multimedia and communication. At least, that's the short version. Once you zoom in, you start seeing music bands rushing onto the festival site. Many bands. Like 100. You also see multimedia exhibits left and right. Containers with video presentations in them. Installations like the 360 degree lab, the interactive robot or the Memefest 2011 exhibit. Now, you also get something that sounds like cream, but which isn't exactly cream. It's called the Inspiration Day.

The Inspiration Day looks like a big circus tent with about 75 people stuffed in it. Successively, international speakers come to the fore and spurt inspiration in the form of speech, images, videos and a lot of graphic design. The whole thing's taking place in an old factory building. I sat next to a big coffee brewer all day and took a few notes for the rest of you.

First off the bat was Australia's Jason Grant, a graphic designer and theorist at studio Inkahoots (http://inkahoots.com.au). His most blunt statement? "Design can be a vital language of interdependence". In a very well-rounded monologue, the experienced speaker underlined local projects that his studio worked on - ranging from print projects to interactive installations, all of which include evocative and strong visuals. He talked about an SMS-based project in which short texts where integrated into the urban landscape with neon light typography. Many of his projects visually excavate notions and concepts, play on them, twist them, analyse and present them with new aesthetic.

Berlin-based graphic designer Sandy Kaltenborn of studio Image-Shift (http://image-shift.net) started things off by stuffing the Oddstream festival program into his 'meat mincer'. He let the gloves off over the choice of colours (the binary black and white), what he describes as stereotypical and masculinist photography, as well as the number-heavy cover. That's how Sandy is: he's your go-to-guy for making sure that the mainstream culture gets its fix of criticism all day, every day. Sandy likes saying that he works on "visual communication and other misunderstandings," along with his studio colleague Pierre Maite. His design also draws on text most of the time, but not only and I highly recommend you check it out. There is some hard-core activist art in there.

Then, believe it or not, Alain Bieber - the man behind Arte Creative (http://creative.arte.tv) and Rebelart (http://rebelart.net) - convened everyone to a 'brainwalk'. If you're wondering what that's like, think about a New Later Day Christian Methodist Mass - people walking in line, listening to a fired-up Alain talking about low cost artistic interventions in the public space, Pecha Kucha style. The main point Alain was making here is that "little absurd events can have strong impact". Guess what? I totally agree. The whole thing was presented on a backdrop of multimedia slides percolating from the title of the prez: 'Art and agenda: towards a new artistic and political discourse'. Alain's intervention energized the masses and concluded on a quote of Albert Camus: "Art and revolt will only die with the last human". Think about that! ;-)

Next up at the Inspiration Day was Paul Hartmann of Memefest Brazil (http://brasil.memefest.org). The graphic designer and visual thinker from the metropolis Sao Paolo presented some of the projects from back home. He selected works of art which were winners in past Memefest annual friendly communication competitions. Among them, Poro (poro.redezero.org/english/poro.html), a collective-run group of urban interventionists and ephemeral actionists from Belo Horizonte, Brasil.

Tony Credland from London took us from Brazil back to Europe. His historial account of street art actions - from the Mail Art project in the Berlin of 1989 to the Carnival Against Capitalism of 1999 London - ventured into the underground scenes of alternative media, spoof newspapers and art flyers that make up the Reclaim the Street movement. His international tour of civil disobedience also made a detour by Québec City - where the anti-FTAA protests took place in April 2001. There, carnavalesque masks were designed and distributed. Tony - who's still today active in Indymedia London (http://indymedia.org) articulated the indymedia network and its aims, especially when covering street protests.

The last speaker of the day was Shoaib Nabi of the College of Art, Architecture and Design, University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). He took the audience on a ride through the photo and printed works that his students have designed. If many of these works are overtly political, many also express subjective identities in a fast changing Arab world. Shoaib's statement of the day? "Knowledge should not be conformed to a system". Take that!

All in all, the Inspiration Day was a success, as much in terms of the good turnout as in terms of the quality of presentations. One little nuance to that - the very evident gender imbalance in the line-up of presentators. "This can hardly be representative of radical communication," a courageous Memefest participant insisted. Everyone grabed their bag and went packing after that.


This workshop is designed for people who are interested in how photo, film, animation, data-journalism and hypertext can be weaved together to tell powerful stories on the internet. Webdocumentary
is about nonlinear storytelling, about a new type of narrative that is becoming a genre to reckon with. Frédéric Dubois has worked with the National Film Board on the GDP webdocumentary (http://gdp.nfb.ca) and is currently preparing a new interactive narrative about the impacts of mining. Frédéric will explain the basic principles behind webdocumentaries, show examples and share 'under the hood' experiences about
the production of such works.

Where? Oddstream Festival office (Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
When? Friday June 3 2011, 6:30pm
Language: In English

D'interdisciplinaire à international, le OFFTA explose!

« C'est le coup d'envoi! » lance Jasmine Catudal d'un air défiant, pour désigner la belle soirée d'ouverture du OFFTA qui attend les montréalais ce vendredi 27 mai. Celle qui cumule les chapeaux de directrice générale et artistique du plus hybride des festivals de Montréal a le sourire collé aux lèvres. Mais pourquoi donc? Qui a t-il de si explosif dans cette 5ème édition du Festival d'arts vivants? Entrevue avec une femme déterminée appuyée par une équipe du tonerre.

FD : Le OFFTA, petit frère du Festival Transamériques (FTA) se tiendra cette année du 27 mai au 4 juin. En quoi se démarque t-il de l'édition-phare de l'année dernière?

Jasmine C : D'abord, il y a beaucoup moins de spectacles. On réduit de moitié le nombre dans le but avoué de reserrer le tout. Cela devrait se traduire par une meilleure effervescence. Les salles se rempliront plus vite. Ce n'est donc pas par nécessité, mais par souci de faire le pari d'une programmation plus ciblée. Cela est d'autant plus drôle que le FTA, lui, augmente massivement le nombre de spectacles.

Cette année, on a pas cherché de thématique. Elle s'est en quelque sorte imposée : l'identité. Plusieurs artistes du OFFTA, comme vous avez pu le voir lors du dévoilement de notre programmation sous un soleil radieux dans le Parc Lafontaine, questionnent leur identité, mais aussi l'identité nationale ou culturelle. 2Fik, notre porte-parole, offrira par exemple une performance avec installation vidéo ayant pour sujet la génétique sémite, soulevant les traits communs Juifs et Arabes. Le collectif de danse The Choreographers revisitera la soi-disante identité canadienne avec Oh! Canada.

Dans la continuité de l'an passé toutefois, il y a la notion de prise de risques. Notre festival de danse, de théâtre et de performance fait place aux jeunes diplômés des écoles d’art vivant. Des finissants de l'Université Concordia, de l'UQÀM et du Collège Lionel-Groulx viendront d'ailleurs démarrer l'édition 2011 à grands coups de chorégraphies, plus décapantes les unes que les autres. (La Elástica, 21h)

FD : Oui mais revenons au FTA. N'est-ce pas difficile de vivre dans l'ombre de ce grand festival?

Jasmine C : C'est effectivement particulier d'opérer dans l'ombre du FTA. Mais pour nous, l'ombre, ça signifie qu'on arrive à surprendre. C'est notre rôle de faire émerger des artistes en arts vivants. On voit déjà après 5 ans d'existence qu'on a un effet clair sur le FTA. La programmation du FTA était plus petite auparavant, ponctuée de spectacles à grand déploiement. Or cette année, le grand frère s'inspire du petit en se rajeunissant. HIT AND FALL de Caroline Laurin-Beaucage passe du OFFTA au FTA. Même chose pour Frédérick Gravel qui apres avoir présenté son Gravel Works en grande première au OFF, l’a ensuite présenté au FTA. Il présente maintenant 'Ainsi Parlait' au OFFTA cette année.

Les deux festivals vivent en parallèle mais plusieurs artistes jouent déjà sur les deux tableaux. Le OFFTA ne se voit donc pas en opposition ou en compétition avec le FTA. Nous sommes au contraire très contents de jouer le rôle de défricheurs. Ce qui compte, c'est d'offrir une programmation de haut niveau, toujours originale et qui propulse les artistes.

La plus grande différence entre OFFTA et FTA est que le OFF est conçu par des gens de la nouvelle génération. Le FTA a 30 ans. C'est super, sauf que là, éventuellement, c'est à une nouvelle génération de prendre la place. On ne nait pas directeur artistique, on le devient en travaillant, en faisant des bons coups et erreurs. Notre génération doit s'approprier les espaces, créer du neuf, désobéïr, et revendiquer sa place.

En clair, le OFFTA n'a pas les mêmes préoccupations. Le volet multidisciplinaire est souvent présenté en parallèle dans les grands festivals internationaux. Nous, on a envie de les présenter de manière inclusive. On brise les barrières. On fait des programmes doubles, des 'mixoff' et nos spectacles sont plus souvent qu'autrement interdisciplinaires. Voilà justement la différence entre l'inter- et le multi-disciplinaire. Les repères sont faits pour être bousculés et d'ailleurs, les repères séparant danse et théâtre n'existaient pas anciennement. On se fout des catégories.

FD : Le OFFTA est de plus en plus connu à Montréal. Mais comment vous y prenez-vous pour faire rayonner le OFF au-dela du Pont Jacques-Cartier?

Jasmine C : De deux façons. On fait venir pour la première fois des diffuseurs étrangers et on mise sur une exploration des arts vivants sur le Web.

Vous savez, le mandat premier du FTA est de faire venir des artistes d'ailleurs ici à Montréal. Nous, on veut surtout les faire sortir d'ici. Il y a d'ailleurs plusieurs festivals comme le nôtre en Europe, ce qui n'est pas le cas en Amérique du Nord. Nous invitons du coup les directrices de festival Mara Vujić de Ljubljana (Slovénie), Kathrin Tiedemann de Düsseldorf (Allemagne) et la dramaturge et programmatrice Silke Bake de Berlin. C'est sans obligation, mais j'espère évidemment qu'elles inviteront l'un de nos spectacles à se produire en Europe. Alternativement, les résidences à l'étranger sont un autre beau tremplin pour nos artistes.

FD : Vous parliez d'utiliser le Web. Comment jumeler Internet et arts vivants?

Jasmine C : En réalité, on n'essaie pas tellement de jumeler. On a plutôt envie de questionner les réseaux sociaux. Ils sont là pour le réseautage, comme outils sociaux. Les gens se rencontrent par leur truchement. Peut-on amener l'art sur ce réseau? Est-ce possible de réfléchir avec l'art dans ce réseau?

Jacob Wrene à Montréal et Lene Berg en Norvège ont eu l'idée d'utiliser le concept de Big Brother. Ils ont beaucoup lu, recherché et travaillé sur ce concept provenant de l'auteur George Orwell. Ils se sont intéressés à sa vie, son oeuvre. À chaque jour durant le OFFTA, ils proposeront un nouveau volet à leur mixoff 2.0. C'est une oeuvre évolutive qui se déploie sur le réseau Facebook. Personne ne sait comment l'oeuvre va vivre, comment Facebook va réagir à ça.

Pour nous, l'art est vivant pendant que cet art se passe. Mais l'art vivant, il est vrai, se passe surtout en présence d’humains. Être chez soi devant Facebook pour voir et co-créer de l'art, ça peut être plutôt limité. Mais les réseaux sociaux sont si omniprésents qu'on se devait d'aller voir comment l'humain réagit. Comment la nouvelle génération se questionne à ce propos. L'Internet change la face du monde, des révolutions emploient la force de ce réseau. À la limite, on pourra toujours condamner, mais il faut d'abord questionner. Le mixoff 2.0 Big Brother where art thou? en est à 450 adeptes sur Facebook. Ça risque d'être passionant.

Tous les détails au sujet du OFFTA : http://offta.com

The City of Women is no coincidence

On a hot spring night, Mara Vujić, director of the City of Women Festival, accepted to answer a few questions. A couple days later, the woman from Slovenia sent back the 'intervju', as she calls it. This is all just online foreplay but you better get ready: Mara's coming to town!

FD: City of Women is the name of your project. Is it pure
coincidence or is there a reason that it has the same name as the
1980 film by Federico Fellini?

Mara V: It's not coincidence. The name of the festival is inspired by Fellini's movie La citta delle donne where a man (Mastroianni) who travels through male and female spaces toward a confrontation with his own attitudes toward women in general and, his wife in particular. The name carries strong symbolic and political connotations and at the same time triggers curiosity, especially in men's imagination. :-)

FD: What is City of Women's goal?

Mara V: City of Women aims to raise the visibility of high-quality innovative creations by women artists, theoreticians and activists from all over the world. Since 1995, it has presented the artistic and cultural production of women in the performing arts, music, visual arts, new media, film and video, literature and theory, and thereby aimed to provoke a debate and raise awareness as to the currently disproportionate participation and representation of women in arts and culture, as well as in society as a whole. City of Women simultaneously provides a platform that focuses upon and considers pertinent critical contemporary issues.

FD: Would you describe City of Women as a Festival or a combination
of several projects?

Mara V: For the past 17 years, the International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women is our main annual project, organized by a non-governmental Association for the Promotion Women in Culture - City of Women. I see the festival as an entity which - year after year - introduces a new theme of artistic, cultural or socio-political relevance, inviting scholars from the fields of cultural and gender studies to address these issues. Besides the festival, the Association produces several projects such as performances of woman artists, exhibitions, symposiums, round-tables, workshops… We could say that the Association City of Women augments its main activity the Festival - with several complementary projects.

FD: Between Past and Future was last year's Festival theme. How did
that play out artistically?

Mara V: In terms of last year's topic – Between Past and Future – the festival related to the eponymous book by Hannah Arendt who, back in the 1960s, argued that the condition of human existence, robbed of the traditional, transcendental, religious and moral standards employed to bridge the abyss between past and future, lost direction. It was interesting to confront different projects from all fields of art as actual examples that readdress the basic concepts such as tradition, history, authority, freedom, education, culture, whilst commenting on the present from the individual or collective perspective.

FD: Why would Ljubljana be a different place without live art
created by women?

Mara V: City of Women is a trans-disciplinary festival which, among other, includes live art projects. We have dedicated much space to performance and live art in the past years, an artistic expression that isn't so much developed in the Slovenian cultural space.

We believe it's one of the most vivid and fruitful approaches in art nowadays. Live art makes use of a strategy to 'include' a diversity of practices and artists that might otherwise find themselves 'excluded' from all kinds of policy and provision and all kinds of curatorial contexts and critical debates. Based on the City of Women's aesthetic and political guidelines, the festival has - from its very beginnings - promoted and presented live art and performance practices, although it has had neither possibilities nor structures in the regional context for any ongoing and reflective development of such disciplines. Thus the Live Art Program aims not only to enhance the integration and positioning of women's art, but also to present live art practices in the broader regional cultural domain. One of its primary objectives is to investigate why live art is becoming an ever-more applicative term, as well as an ever-more frequent artistic expression or genre designation for artistic productions in visual, performative and new media arts. The convergence of disciplines is also no coincidence, and is transpiring at aesthetic, institutional and policy levels.

Ljubljana would definitively be deprived of a chance to be a culturally and artistically vibrant city without powerful women performers and live artists.

FD: If you had to bring live art to the internet, what would
cityofwomen.org look like?

Mara V: The City of Women Festival would be a paradox city if it were on the internet. We do document all our festival events with photo and video and publish them on our website. That's also true for live art events. But I would like to emphasize this specific artistic expression needs to be experienced in real time and space, since atmosphere and power of exchange between the artist space and audience can hardly be virtual.

FD: Can live art be political? Any example from City of Women?

Mara V: It certainly can. Regina Jose Galindo for instance, uses her body in terms of a politically inscribed female body, which reflects upon a violence-soaked reality in relation to women issues, and paints powerful narrative images of the suffering, poverty, pain, horror, and fragility of an individual in a metaphoric as well as semiotic sense. These themes, tackled by Galindo in a manner embodying extreme courage, modest humbleness, breathtaking seriousness and discipline, directly refer to the existing power relations in her native country of Guatemala.

Furthermore London-based Israeli born Jewish performance artist
Oreet Ashery has an ongoing interest in the intersections between "Jewishness," race, gender and the Arab and Muslim world. In Hairoism, Oreet Ashery takes Eleanor Antin’s The King (1972) as a departure point. Whilst Antin examines her male and political self, Ashery exposes the history and absurdity of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

FD: Montréal is waiting for you. You'll attend the OFFTA festival.
What's your expectation of OFFTA and in what ways do you think City
of Women and the OFFTA could collaborate?

Mara V: I was in Montréal once and I am looking forward to visit it again, since I find it extremely rich in a cultural sense. Since our festival hosts women artists I hope to have a chance to see interesting new productions of Canadian women artists at OFFTA in order to be able to continue exchange between the Slovenian and Canadian cultural spaces. In the past years we have presented several extraordinary artists coming from Montréal like Alexis O'Hara, Edgy Women, Mara Verna, Antonija Livingstone, just to name a few. In the future, my hope is that this collaboration will offer an opportunity for artistic exchange in both directions.

City of Women: http://cityofwomen.org
The OFFTA Festival takes place in Montréal from May 27th to June 4 2011: http://offta.com





Frédéric Dubois