In tune with possible futures at Werkleitz festival

In tune with possible futures at Werkleitz festival

Until November 1st, the MoveOn-Werkleitz festival, Germany, was celebrating 20 years of Emare artist residency program in medialabs. And disrupts entrenched habits by inviting migrants.

Ewen Chardronnet in Makery, translation Olivia Earle

When Germany had just been re-united in the early 90s, a community of students start in Werkleitz, a small village on the Salle river, in the ex German Democratic Republic (GDR), a festival dedicated to experimental cinema and to new forms of multimedia art. The Werkleitz festival, driven by success and creation, only 20 years ago, of the European network of cultural cooperation European Media Art Network and its exchange artist residency program Emare (European Media Artists in Residence Exchange), was set up a couple of years later in Halle, in Saxe-Anhalt (231 000 habitants).

The freshness of mid-october didn’t stop the public from coming in numbers. © Falk Wenzel

European Media Art Network

To celebrate 20 years of this network long-standing support from the European Union Culture program, the festival gathered this year artists and European medialabs (Bandits-Mages for France, Impakt for the Netherlands, FACT for Great-Britain and as an associated partner the Berlin Transmediale), Canadian (PRIM and Oboro from Montréal, Images Festival from Toronto) and Australian (Experimenta from Melbourne, Creativity and Cognition Studios from Sydney, the Cube and the Block from the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane). Without forgetting a good selection of installations and performances produced the two last years by the network.

“Perspection” installation by Matthew Biederman and Pierce Warnecke, exploses geometry and illusion on several screens in a real space in 3 dimensions. A Bandits-Mages coproduction. © Werkleitz

Opening to the refugees

The 9th of October, the opening night of the festival reminded the breath of freedom of squats and clubs after the fall of the wall, thanks to the presence of around ten Turkish, Kurd and Syrian refugees installed since not long ago in the city’s hotels. Peter Zorn, the director of the festival and the artists Christoph Wachter and Mathias Jud decided to invite them, who in favour of an Emare residency realised a documentary project on migrants reaching the Australian coasts.

The techno party was litterally envaded by these happy “aliens” who turned the dancefloor inside out with their acrobatic dance battle on hip hop, techno, electrochaâbi, the soundtrack of the Egyptian Revolution, played in an appropriate way by DJ PopHop.

Our new refugee friends letting off steam on a pneumatic boat brought back from Lesbos. © Michel Klehm
Peter Zorn (on the left), coordinator of the European Media Art Network and director of Werkleitz. © Michel Klehm

In the afternoon of the 10th of September, 48 men, women and children reached the Isle of Lesbos on a pneumatic boat measuring 10 meters long and 2 meters wide. This embarcation, the Swiss Christopher Wachter and Mathias Jud brought it to Halle, a host town for a lot of refugees, but also inviting them to show evidence of their journey at Werkleitz. The image that will stay in memories is the image of merry 20 year old youngsters jumping on the pneumatic boat like a trampoline and competing against each other in dance battles. An evening of release to forget a very rough condition.

Refugees arriving on the Isle of Lesbos on the 10th of September 2015. © Watcher & Jud
The reported embarcation in Halle by Watcher & Jud. © Watcher & Jud

“Capital of the World” is the title that the artists gave to express the dream of a city looking towards offering a haven of world peace to the refugees victims of military conflicts and other climate imbalance.

“Capital of the World” workshop on the politic of refugee welcoming. © Werkleitz

Mobilisation in front of Transatlantic Partnership

Other highlights of the opening week-end, in a country living truly in 2015: the massive mobilisation against the Transatlantic Partnership of Trade and Investment with the United States (TTIP) on the 10th of October in Berlin.

Kristoffer Gansing, director of the Transmediale festival, called the partners of the network, representatives of concerned countries, to protest their disapprobation on the content of the negociations in progress and to join an alliance of actors of digital culture against the TTIP. The members of the network agreed to pursue these discussions.

Kristoffer Gansing, director of the Transmediale, mobilises the network gathered in Werkleitz against the Transatlantic agreement. © Ewen Chardronnet

The fruits of the medialabs

By occuping a building in ruins, Werkleitz lets art come out of the White Box to confront past and future in a sort of time machine that explores time. Sounding the Future by Gail Priest, invites to navigate in the futures of science-fiction in a sound capsule; with the help of serie B SF mash-ups, Astro Black: Jungle Are Forever by the duo Soda Jerk revisits afrofuturism of the 70s, Hip-hop culture of the 80s and jungle culture from the 90s; Lauren Moffatt documents en Oculus Rift the historical place of labourer mobilisation against the politics of Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, the Unemployed and Trade Union Services Centre of Liverpool. Propositions that work perfectly with the 2015 thematic of the festival MoveOn, that invites to change oneself to change things.

“Sounding the future”, installation by Gail Priest, 2015. © Samuel James
“Astro Black: Jungle Are Forever”, mash-up signed by the Australian duo Soda Jerk, 2007-2015. © Werkleitz
Stereo device “The Oculist Reason” by Lauren Moffat, 2014. © Lauren Moffat
“Two days at the Fall”, video installation by Isabell Spengler: two panoramic shots at 360° of the Niagara Falls (a real one, shot during her residency in Canada, the other one, imaginary). © Falk Wenzel
“Buildacode”, Monica Rikic, 2014. Device created to play sound synthesis with foam cubes. © Monica Rikic

Werkleitz festival website

European Media Art Network website