Lost and Found Festival
There is a little idea running around in my head and I need to let it go for a little walk inside your heads. Sorry for the trouble this may cause you.
Here is the question.
Is a truly zero-cost, zero-emission, big arts festival possible?
Could we make a festival that is literally made from only lost and found items?
Here's the breakdown in friendly bullet points:
- No money can be spent on the festival, so everything including venues, equipment, etc has to be "found".
- No money can be spent on the artists, so no transportation costs (hitch), no food costs (dumpster) and absolutely no lodging cost (hospex)*.
- All art has to be "found" (CC) or created free. I'm thinking music, visual arts, theatre, etc, but see my next point.
- Self-organisational. You know the drill: wikis, world cafés and similar techniques to avoid having anyone "in charge". This of course implies that what is defined as art might get a bit exciting.
But, here's the catch: I would want it to look good. You can probably imagine the kind of messy thing it could become without the proper attitude. As a guideline, I would say it has to be for the truly general audience, not just our peers. Ideally, a typical visitor shouldn't realize everything was "found" until it is pointed out. From a volunteer/artist point of view, it's pretty hard work, so workaholics only?
- Of course the usual caveat applies, meaning volunteers may of course spend money should they feel like it. Forcing dogma is never a good option and beer is difficult to find for free.
Thoughts on practical issues:
- Location? I'd say a city with a lot of "abundance" and a relative tolerance for free culture. Not too big, definitely not too small. Antwerp is a possibility (of course!), as is Brussels, Amsterdam or Paris. We need to look for a "vacuum", a place where there is no big festival for the preferred period? Think of an "anti-burning man" place: where everything is already theoretically present and nothing needs to be dragged in.
- Timing? My guestimation is that you'd need 3 weeks to get things together on location (especially theatre and visual arts need that kind of time), with about a week of performances after. Keep in mind we definitely need people that can hold a job and therefor would need to take time off. Summer period is better? This year or next year? Next year would provide quite a "ramp-up" period, which might result in a bigger bang.
In theory, once the project is defined and people agree to it, it should be virtually unstoppable (unless nobody shows up of course).
Disclaimer: some of us have been kicking the idea of an arts festival around for a while already, I believe to just have added some missing megalomania. As far as I could find, there is nothing truly like this in the world. And, as far as I know, we are the people that could pull this off.
Zero-cost is indeed an interesting thing to define, but... I believe the main point is not so much to not use money, but to only use the "left-overs", by-products of our society. Think of empty buildings, empty passenger seats, thrown away food, equipment that is not being used, time that people sit in front of TV, etc. In theory, if we truly find left-over money (hah!), I guess that's fine to use ;-) In effect, it would indeed be a "less than zero" operation, because we would be addressing waste. In theory, this implies that any company that we approach should really look at their left-overs, which we then use, instead of hunting for specific things. Think of it this way: the same way what you find in a dumpster defines your meal, the same way the person who stops defines the car you'll be driving in, in this same way we could create a festival, purely guided by what we find. I agree that growing food, etc would be an interesting proposition, but we have to be very careful about creating new waste. Also, where do you "find" things like windmills or solar panels? If it can be constructed from trash, great! (In fact, it probably can be...) What about "left luggage" from the airport? Could you make a film using just security camera footage (it's being taped anyway)? What about using "wasted light" like street lamps in combination with mirrors, etc? As always, having to work within strict bounds can truly make one creative. I don't think "left-over" funding exists that would otherwise go to waste, so I guess that's where we'd have to draw the line. If we can get office workers that are sitting idle in their cubicle to participate, now that would be awesome.
"combine it with a next version of a p2p/oekonux/gift economics/hospitality art/synthesis convergence event ?" I don't know what half of that means... However, the pitch is specifically for a "(public) arts festival", not really for a conference. Personally, I'm interested in the general audience, not just the "in-crowd" for whom we wouldn't really be saying anything new. That implies using simple terms (e.g. "lost and found", "left-overs", "festival", etc) that a general audience will understand.
Timing. I like the 9/9/9 meme and think there are interesting arguments to be made both for a nearby date and a far away planning. However, there are a few factors here:
- Left-overs almost always have a sense of immediacy to them: you either pick them up straight away or they're gone. That implies that an extremely long preparation period doesn't really give us anything extra: we can't "reserve" venues, we can't keep food, we can't have people offer their homes years in advance, etc etc. I believe the true hunting period would only need to start about a month and a half before the festival, not much more.
- A lot of interesting public places (parks, squares, even roads) in Belgium can be had for free, but require a permit. This implies a natural buffer period which we have to keep in mind. I'd have to check for Brussels, but half a year is typically a safe bet. This is the only case where government involvement/goodwill really would help, so maybe we shouldn't avoid this typical aspect.
- The biggest issue I see with timing is people (organisers and artists). Here, a proper buffer period would actually help people to make arrangements: save some money (having really nothing is simply counter-productive), arrange for free time, contact friends, etc.
So, the more I think about it, the more I see a window of opportunity between a year and a year-and-a-half from now. Is 10/10/10 a good compromise? (a Sunday, the left-over day!) A benefit of October is having higher than average economic activity, which is always less in the summer. We could have a planning meeting on 9/9/9, in Brussels or at my house.
We seem to have some convergence towards Brussels, great! Yes, the weather may suck, but who knows where global warming will be by then?
As far as a license goes: I don't know if it's applicable. At best you could have a template document/letter of intent for the festival, which other people could use to make a similar "lost and found" festival. Something like Dogma 95, but for festivals? To be discussed in september?
Of course the exact size of the festival is difficult to predict and usually festivals grow with the years (if we even want to repeat it!). My guess is that it has a natural growth path built in: the more people participate, the bigger it will be. Since we're not tied to a location, my guess is that the upper limit for organisers/artists is around the number of available free places to sleep (which is a hell of a lot). In other words: what happens is the only thing that could happen.
Pfew. Ok, maybe it's time to start putting this in a wiki somewhere? I am confident that this will happen almost magically ;-)
02.04.2009 Regarding video from surveillance camera's, i have a friend working with this as a medium. I'm sure she would love to exhibit her videos. in fact i know of several artists working within this theme already. - perhaps the first thing to do is to make a call for artists, something brief which explains the intention of the project/festival, date and location isn't necessary (other than the continent), just something to make people aware that an emergence is happening.
Is a truly zero-cost, zero-emission, arts festival possible? A festival, made from lost and found items. A found festival. Found materials, found venues, found housing, found food.
Somewhere Some time in Europe an emergence is beginning. ...Musicians, Artists, Hackers, Organizers, Curators, Hitchhikers, Performers... Share your ideas Share your art Share your heart
i agree we should get together on 09.09.09 whether it's to make an event or to plan, i think a physical meeting would be beneficial and fun. Fun is the name of the game, if this isn't fun there isn't any point. that said, i'm already having fun! and i agree, immediacy is important with found object/rides/locations, something like this may need to just happen as soon as possible, on what ever level, and allow it to grow from there. i'm indifferent to the 999 or 101010 dates, they sound nice, but i don't want get caught up in the numbers, however if some find it very important i'll work to make it happen.
As far as the question of who its for; the "in crowd" or the general public, i think this is important for everyone. Most people in the arts circles are equally ignorant of any sort of free/zero cost alternative as the general public is. My experience here in europe is that most artists with subsidies rely on subsidies to make their work, and if they don't get the funding they give up on the idea and write a new proposal hoping to get funding. coming from the States, this concept is completely absurd, in the States we don't have funding, we do it ourselves with what ever left over time/money/space/resources we can find. So, i would say that this concept is for everyone who isn't aware that such things can/do exist. i will do my part to recruit as many established artists, who normally have subsidies to participate, open up a new world for them.
Its also an interesting idea that this grows as a concept or frame work, so that other people in other locations can use the tools/community we create here to make other free festivals wherever whenever.
01.04.2009 Its a great idea! It really challenges the idea that only things with funding are considered valid projects in a lot of circles. So, where should we start to apply for funding? haha. This theme brings up many interesting questions: what do we define as zero-cost? some say time is money, money is also the transfer of energy. what is the difference between getting a space donated and receiving funding from an organization? how does one find a space and keep it hidden long enough for people to organize themselves? low emissions, what about going even further and producing an art festival that actually cleans up the environment, that grows food and reduces green house gasses or adds electricity to the grid from renewable resources?
I think Brussels could be a city for something like this, its a decent size with a good artist population. affordable spaces, which probably makes it easier for people to open their doors for such an event. It would be important to invite some curators interested in working with the theme to propose their own view, then make an exhibition or a performative series. also finding some artist collectives/initiatives interested as well would help proliferate the idea. It also seems important to have some locals in the city (which ever it may be), people who speak the language and are familiar with logistics.
as for time frame. it seems that when things are done low cost, they take a much longer period of time to put together. i hate to say it, but money makes things happen faster. perhaps in 2011 or even schedule it for the "end of the world" in 2012! this is only if the festival wants to be big.
its all very exciting and definitely promises many opportunities for creativity. seems like this is the sort of thing that needs to spread virally through the internet first. a virtual community which converges into a physical location for a period of time. and if i think about it that way, a time and location is best decided by the community. it doesn't matter where it is; city, village, or countryside, it's the engagement from the participants which will make the project attractive for the public.
we once had a group called Art Drill, like fire drill buy with art. we would find a non-art venue and convert the space into an arts event for one night or up to a week. it was essentially the same, but with a core group that organized and hung the show, and others who submitted works. nobody was turned away, everyone could join, and ofcourse as students, we didn't have much money to do it. i think there will always be leaders in these sorts of things, thats not a bad thing, it just is. some people like to organize and some like to make paintings or what not. the question is, how to let the leaders emerge naturally and to collaborate with other leaders. leaders, organizers, curators, directors....
those were some of my thoughts. i'll continue for a bit more... i think it would be best to set up some sort of site as soon as possible with the intention of the project, time and location will come naturally.
ok, can't type more now. sun shining out side. must see light. must soak up vitamines.
I feel several definitions of "free" can be suggested. "Free" as in free drink, "Free" as in free to contribute and modify, "Free" as in free participation as long as the works and contributions are further shared along the same licence.
In case it has not been suggested yet,
I suggest we develop a "free festival" "license".
I would also like to contribute to Petter's comments:
I feel that it could be "free" in the sense that it is open to completely voluntary contributions, and this could include monetary donations or any other resources.
The difficulty in the case of monetary donations is that it would lead to some kind of increase of power structures in the case of middlemen - who takes care of the money - ?
So I believe there would not need to be any middlemen, and that any form of accumulation or hoarding of resources donated for the festival would not be permitted by the license of the festival.
Self organization being supported by distributed stigmergic tools - interconnected online communication , transparency and synchronisation tools.
In other words, encourage the use of distributed channels of communication - none having specific potential of control on information -
Organization wise, enable individuals to transparently show their needs and allow for contributors or donators to transparently directly support with their time, space, or other resources - including monetary resources -
I ll give an example :
A myriad of fundraising cultural organizations would have the right to apply for grants to fund funding to support projects if they abide by the free license of the festival ( ??? ) ,
license which can include full transparency, and no accumulation of - monetary - resources, or rather, the full investment of all resources collected into "usership" that supports the intention of the license,
and where all resources that are provided for stay trackable through a completely transparent system, and re-usable to support the intention of the license of the festival after the event.
GREAT Thomas ! :-)
I love the <<emergence of/to/with the "left over" approach>> ! :-)
Some more thoughts :
As for "left over time" and "left over space", it leads me to feel that... there need not be a definition of specific time, and it could become a "permanent" "left over" festival, using left over bandwidth space, and temporary left over hard disk space, with left over processing (grid) computing,...
Left over culture sounds great ! ... as it also can include the left over people ;-) and their left over potential :-)
and within this "move(ment) of and to the left overs", in left over "life",
from my current view I would be able to situate a 9/9/9 ... in Brussels , Antwerp, and other events in other places around the globe ( ? )
By the way, I want to also cc Anais as she is involved in the Micronomics project
- "MICRONOMICS searches for creative initiatives which, through the content of their work or their way of organising, become experiments in social innovation and create new opportunities to make a living in the current economic context. "
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