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Check out our issues from the past on ISSUU to get a full flavour of how diverse we are!
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Looking for something to do this weekend? Then check out Avant Garden’s Bastard Festival; it starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend.
This annual, performing arts festival seeks to surprise and prod its audience – and take a
good, hard look at our global society in the process. The program for this year’s festival features dance, theatre, film, and every combination of them. Not to mention the artist talks, workshops, seminars, and other social events.
Each fall, The Bastard Festival presents some of the very best contemporary performing arts projects from the Norwegian and international independent art scene. We decided to talk with some of the festival organizers to find out more about some of the performances and find out which ones shouldn’t be missed.
The first suggestion was Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster: a dissection of human behaviour in regards to the complexities of intervention. The performance stems from an interaction the artist had with a man throwing stones at a duck. Branded as “stand-up choreography” this piece mixes dance and humorous text that is sure to appease.
Another to look forward to is (re)remember study – Trondheim. In this, the performance artists asks Trondheim locals to talk them around the city and take them to places with particularly fond memories associated with it. The walks are documented through various mediums; then in a live composition the stories are re-remembered and interpreted through the artistic meditations of the performers.
Bastard Festival offers something unique to the city of Trondheim, and while the artistic side of it may seem daunting, or perhaps too avant garde, to some, the experience is fantastic no matter your sensibilities.
The stage is set at venues all across town: Teaterhuset Avant Garden, Trøndelag Teater, Olavshallen, Verkstedhallen, Trondhjems kunstforening, a storefront venue and festival bar, Moskus.
If you want to find out more about Bastard Festivalen you will find all the info on Avant Garden’s website, in our magazine and recent blog post where we interviewed theatre boss Per Ananiassen.
Boss-man Wil Lee-Wright caught up with Avant Garden’s Per Ananiassen to talk about the venue’s planned change and the performing arts they showcase.
Avant Garden is planning to move to Rosendal Theatre. Why and when did you decide to change location?
The current location used to be a print shop for the city’s second newspaper, Arbeideravisa, the workers’ paper which went bankrupt in 1990. Within 5 years of being in this venue, we realised that it was too small and so we started to look for a bigger venue in 1998.
So Avant garden has been looking for a new location for the better part of twenty years?! You are now able to move because you have managed to double the theatre’s budget in the last three years, the majority of which comes from subsidies from the ministry for culture and by the region (Sør Trøndelag Fylkeskommune and Trondheim Kommune). Is was the increased funding specifically for the new location or because of your increasing importance to the culture scene in Trondheim?
It was both reasons. I think the Department of Culture in Oslo has started to acknowledge the need of the programming theatres to consolidate and to become stronger. To have stronger artistic proposals and departments, and also that we need infrastructure. After all, we represent the national infrastructure for independent performing arts in Norway. Self financing only makes up about 17% of our budget. Funding makes it easier for us to plan and also to build the organisation.
Tell us more about the history of Rosendal – you must be very excited to have not only found a venue which suits Avant Garden’s practical needs, but one which has a history and name behind it.
It was a cinema built in 1921 by an American company. At that time, Trondheim was very small. Rosendal would have been well outside of town. There were cinemas in Trondheim but they were owned by the municipalities and it was illegal to have private cinemas.
They called it Rosendal Teatro, not kino, because it was regarded to be a little bit more upmarket. I am actually proposing that we change our name when we move there. ‘Avant Garden’ can be seen a little bit pretentious because it is relating to the historical avant garde in the arts. I sympathise with the avant garde movement because it was about making art accessible everywhere, and we are working with artists which have this kind of approach. Avant garde kind of means that you have been to some kind of promised land and you come back and tell. It is kind of old elite thinking in the arts. This was not necessarily intended by all artists in the historical avant garde movement, this is the way people regard it today: elitist.
We don’t want to be that. Avant Garden does not want to be part of the pop culture necessarily, but we use a lot of pop culture methods and media strategies. If you go to Rosendal, everyone knows what it is, where it is. It feels more accessible. We will still be what we are but we will be more than what we are.
The audience size will grow from 66 today to over 200 (and 100 in the smaller space). How important is it to fill the space and how will you accommodate the more marginal artists who do not require larger audiences?
There is some narrow art out there, people who are really taking big chances, experimenting with the new, something we have never seen before. Even I have problems understanding what they are doing, and I have been working in this business for a long time! I know that people have to have possibilities to show their art before they can develop. This is something we have to communicate to the audience too.
Avant Garden has a reputation for being quite cutting edge and for pushing the boundaries. So what will we be seeing at this year’s Bastard festival?
Anne Liv young; the way she is connected with the audience, which can be really hardcore and it’s really hard to be there. And Heine Avdal and Yukiko Sinozaki who are in our programme almost every year, who are super nice and super inviting. They are treating the audience with kindness and respect. In our time, that is also cutting edge! The bullies are ruining the world so some kind of inviting attitude and kindness and respect, can also be cutting edge. It is very much context which decides what is cutting edge.
In all the Bastard Festival programmes I have been responsible for over the years, I have never looked for the politically explicit expressions or projects. There is a lot of discourse going on, but what I am interested in the is the political potentiality in performing arts. Performing art per se is a political expression, because it always points at the nature of itself, namely the coming together of experiencing something together. Creating some kind of common platform and point of references so we can talk about something together. Today that is as important as ever before. Since this media revolution we have been though, we may have a lot to talk about but we talk about the headlines, but we do not talk about the depth of things. It is difficult to get out of the echo chamber.
We are building walls and we don’t allow any cracks to exist in the wall, and we are trying to cover up any cracks which do exist. I want this art festival to be one of the cracks in the wall. To paraphrase the film maker Morten Torvik, every wall has a crack and this is where spirit can come in.
Are other performances therefore more intense for the newcomer to the scene?
No not necessarily. Another highlight is we are opening the festival with Mia Habib’s A Song To…, a Norwegian choreographer from Haugusand. In this production she is choreographing 40 people; 16 professional dancers and 24 more (regular people). All of them are going to be naked on stage. If you want to be part of that you can, if you are willing to take your clothes off in front of the audience!
Are you asking me?! Well… can people still get involved?
You will have to check the status of how many people are signed up.
Also, on Saturday there is an Australian performer called Nicola Gunn with Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster. She has made a production which is beautiful, fantastically well performed production. She tells a story while she is doing very intricate movements, very choreographed dance moves, and that the same time she is telling a story which raises some ethical questions. What is interesting is thane one hand it is very experimental piece but on the other hand it is a very relatable story. The complexity comes from the movement she is doing combined with the story.
For me, this is what Bastard festival is about. It is a chance too create a another way of reflecting. What you see is not always what you get in theatre. It is a visual art but it is only a tool for conveying something what is happening under the surface.
From serious music lovers, hipsters, and those between the ages of 18 to 50, Pstereo is the big happening in Trondheim this summer. The festival provides both a rare meeting spot for the 30 to 40 somethings with babysitters, and spaces for those who follow closely what is happening on all the separate stages. Musically, its variety gives something for everyone through a blend of fresh indie and rock while throwing in some nostalgia for the “grown-ups”. In its eleven years of existence, Pstereo has had a lot of amazing acts. I’m most looking forward to seeing shoegaze legends Slowdive (UK), Swedish rapper Silvana Iman, and melodic indie pop masters Beach Fossils (US). The ever energetic and exciting Cymbals Eat Guitars (US) will make a most welcome return to the festival. And you certainly don’t wanna miss the local rising stars Pom Poko, who look set for a UK breakthrough this year!
Words by Vegard Enlid, Journalist at Adresseavisen
You know the feeling of complete bliss after a sunny day? Well, in Trondheim you will never be guaranteed sunshine, but you can have the Sellanraa lemonade which is basically the same thing. It has the perfect ratio of sweet and sassy; it is refreshingly cold and served with a mint leaf completing that summer vibe.
Words by Siri Solheim-Kristiansen, Coordinator for Red Cross
So I am going to be really honest: I think my brain is about to revolt. My brain is just so overstimulated at this point. My problem is that this is a mental sprint and a marathon at once, and I hadn’t seen that coming. I don’t think I would ask Starmus to be less than it is despite the overload.
Let´s go to where I started off the day because for me it was a brilliant start and ended with the other session I loved. It´s an interesting thing to sit and hear a premier scientist say no more facts and no more reports are needed to change the tide of those who stand in opposition to climate change…or really any science. Frankly, the same can be said for how we argue politics and religion at current. It isn’t to say she was saying stop publishing, more to stop using reports and studies to bash people over the head as a way to get them to see the light. Or, if not bashing them, assuming their brains are empty of these fact, like a bowl, and then trying to being helpful, pouring facts in like cereal for them to snack on. The thing is, apparently, is there is already cereal in the bowl and we just didn´t recognize it because it doesn’t look like what we think it should. Short and sweet: Stop with the frontal assault.
Katharine Hayhoe´s talk is one I have been waiting for. Having committed the sin of being a liberal pourer of facts into the atmosphere of various social medias (and friend’s heads), I feel like I was combating the issue of ignorance and flat out refusal to learn more. It´s not that people aren´t learning. They are. It just is a different set of facts, figures, or if the same, changed by belief. But how could those beliefs be so different from my own? Because of one thing that I didn’t consider; they are not denying science, they are denying based off of paying a price for changing which they don’t want to pay. It´s about perceived cost; financial, emotional, loss of community and so forth. Another person’s values changing their perception I have always understood, but not in the context that the cost influencing their ability to stand behind that which is true, rational and general consensus.. This isn’t to say that I don’t recognize the politicians saying one thing while knowing better, because of agendas from those paying into their PACs and the like. That has never been an unclear motive for their actions. It´s more the average person I didn’t think of it in that context.
The idea we need to give value propositions instead of looking as though we are “costing them” something, and assuage fears with what they will gain seemed so logical when explained by Katherine. I don’t if anyone else found themselves thinking “duh!”, but I certainly was. Her proposals of how to laterally communicate were exactly what I have been looking. They are learnable ideas for those who I know mean well but, like myself, are contributing to the overall communication breakdown between believers and deniers. I thanked her most wholeheartedly for the talk. I cannot wait to look up more of her talks online.
There was a rather abrupt change in direction to how little we know of the oceans and how much we know about space with Nancy Knowlton´s talk. It did make me realize that for someone who loves the ocean as much as I do, I don’t think about what is happening to it as much as a I should. And then it changed directions once more with Emmanuelle Charpentier´s talk on CRISPR. Admittedly this is the point I couldn’t focus and ended up having some conversations with others about how they felt the festival was going.
The attendees are more than thrilled with this whole week´s programming and how amazed they are by the breadth of information, disciplines and all out fun they are having. A few of the staff members from different areas had nice things to say about working with such a diverse group of volunteers and organizations to make this happen. The potential for Starmus from here, as it´s still growing, is completely understood and there are going to be some really sharp minds working on making it an even better experience.
The panel that ended the day was marvelous. A truly fascinating and fantastic conversation. Outreach and education to encourage a more well rounded and deep fundamental understanding of science from a young age is something we cannot talk about enough. Moreover, the idea that we need to critically think about how we allow skeptics and deniers to have equal weight because of “playing fair” in journalism was something I was overjoyed to hear Alex Witze say out loud. Her unapologetic knock-that-off was refreshing and something that is worth repeating everywhere by all of us. We don’t need to give those peddling a bunch of bull their 15 minutes of fame because they think that freedom of speech or political correctness should dictate it to be so. Applause for her statement was thunderous.
I enjoyed the way the panel discussed using play more, using things that can be taken apart and put back together to encourage curiosity, and as a mean to teach critical thinking without shoving it down as a lecture. Having been a child of the pre-internet age and one who had parents who did not allow cable tv or super commercial toys, I am grateful now for the art supplies, microscopes, real tools, heaps of books and time allowed to be spent dissecting the world. I can enthusiastically and emphatically say the recipe they concocted was entirely the right one, and a childhood all children should get to live.
I did find myself wanting to shout out one thing at the end. When David Eicher, the moderator, asked what the six panelist would tell a 10 year old girl to keep her engaged in STEM subjects no one, despite their rich and encouraging messages, said the one thing I desperately wanted to hear. This applies to both girls and boys looking at going into career fields that are seen as gender biased. The statement is this: Whatever is or isn’t between your legs indicating your physical birth gender, does not affect the quality of, intelligence of, or integrity of what is between your ears.
I have to say though, especially in a world that often says study that which will earn you the most, May-Britt Moser saying follow your passion made me really happy. Norwegians know better than anyone else that following your passion, making that passion what you do and then doing it to its utmost potential is a way to create a well-rounded successful life. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the best lessons we can give the small humans heading into their futures.
“This is about money and greed. This not about science and denial.” Jeffrey Sachs came out swinging hard, unapologetically, and you could tell that his heart is angry. I know exactly what he is speaking to as a fellow American. My blood boiled, my emotions tumbled and, as always, I am left with the crushing question of how can there be humans who so deliberately chose such abhorrent behaviour? To me this talk was the hardest to hear, because those I love are living with the omnipresent and harsh realities created by the monsters parading as men.
What left the biggest lump in my throat was his appeal to not give up on the American people because we do know this is all wrong. Very wrong. We need those in this audience and in audiences similar to keep fighting back with innovation, solid facts and sound logic. It isn’t just a battle of economics, or science, or technology being developed to change the world. Not by a long shot. It is a war to save lives and help repair broken spirits.
Larry King, thankfully, brought us all to balance with his hilarious “interview” conducted by Garik Israelian. Poor Garek though. Larry is certainly one to talk and steer a conversation, and I think that his insights into good conversation were very much needed. The call for curiosity, honesty and building solid lines of communication has been a theme repeated by most of the speakers. The call to remember that we need to laugh more and use humour to help carry the human spirit was demonstrated in its effectiveness to do just that. His points of can we have too much information? Is there a danger of having everything at our fingers? Is it okay for everyone one to put information out there as fact? Have been topics that I would wager most of us have talked about with some friend over coffee at least once. Having accessible information has been enriching lives globally, but what is the cost to this? It was the questions within the questions and between the lines of banter that I found myself drifting on.
He said at dinner the other night that we need not only ask the big questions. We can just ask why and go from there. “Simple questions often get the most shockingly honesty answers because it surprises people and they forget answering grandiosely,” he said after I had asked what he felt the best type of questions to ask are. For a man who has interviewed 60,000 people, I am certain that advice is some of the wisest.
The City Programme, on the other hand, unfortunately plagued by our wet weather, has soldiered on providing some fun for those who are not attending the Main Programme events. So, while those of us at the Spektrum headed into a break to see a moon rock, eat a donut and then pile back in for the last panel discussion, the City Programme was well… on fire, literally, as the Crown Prince set our city’s resident and aspiring Bill Nye, Forsker-Frederic on fire.
“There was an immense amount of bending the rules,” Frederic said about having the Prince set him on fire. Which came about because, as it seems, a certain Princess is rather happy for her Prince to set someone on fire. A few well placed elbows from Mette-Marit and Haakon was on the stage being Forsker-Haakon, setting Frederic on fire after he asked for a volunteer. All in a day of royally-awesome science.
For the main programme tomorrow I want a really good seat for Martin Rees talk Living Beyond 2100: On Earth and Beyond. I am also very curious about how marine biology, twitter, DNA and crochet all fit together, because I’ve crocheted for 30 years and I am really not coming to any conclusions on my own. I am certain Nancy Knowlton will clear it up for me. And although I am rather lame with my early bedtime, I am going to try to keep my eyes open long enough to go to the concert tomorrow evening.
Oh, one last thing…. If you want to set Frederic on fire (tell him I sent you), be at the Torvet at 11:00 for a front row seat (it worked for Haakon).
Words by Jennifer Wold, Photography by Wil Lee-Wright
Judging by the queues starting an hour before the session with Stephen Hawking, I could tell the auditorium would be full and the halls would be more than empty today. I did not have any desire to check my hypothesis on the matter first hand, however.
I got to enter the theatre before the doors officially opened, which I recognise is an exceptional thing to be able to do at a conference such as Starmus. I was perched at the top of the bleacher seats, watching the crew test the link to Buzz Aldrin, and it really hit me how in less than 30 minutes I would be hearing from Hawking firsthand. Last night I also had a rare opportunity fall into my lap which, in hindsight, has further entrenched my opinion that Starmus is a very, very important thing to have landed in Trondheim indeed.
I sat enjoying a few more quiet minutes, when the call “Let them in” rang out to break my thoughts. In an instant the room seemed to be tumbling in people. Norwegians, by all accounts, are typically rather orderly. Peels of laughter, a bit of running in the isles, and people making seat choices with haste, made me smile as it was refreshingly unfamiliar to other occasions I’ve been in primarily Norwegian crowds. It wasn’t just the young scooting around enthusiastically either. The impending talk by Professor Hawking was clearly fuelling activity across the room.
Stephen Hawking has been said to be funny, and he is. Jokes and his heartwarming, but mischievous smile, peppered his rather serious talk about the need to colonise other Goldilock-zone planets. The talk has roosted rather heavily on me though. I have been contemplating why that is and I think it is a two fold reason. For one, seeing him talk was on my bucket list and I got to check that off. It is an odd feeling to have something you never saw happening, happen.
Two would be that he was seriously imploring those in the audience to work hard to make our ability to survive beyond the capabilities of our planet, because of our mishandling of it, a priority. A third did cross my mind and, although morbid, it stems from that he didn’t attend in person for health reasons (he spoke via feed) and I feel rather certain a world without Professor Hawking isn’t something I am comfortable with.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson took over the stage to moderate the Moonwalker Panel. Buzz Aldrin joined in on a flawless feed to poke a little fun at his friends, Charlie Duke and Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, and remind us how sunny it is in Florida before things got more serious and technical. Astronauts are fascinating people. They are very humble despite doing work only a few get to do. Sandra Magnus, who was stationed to the International Space Station, sat with me for an interview and the feeling I got was very similar to those of Charlie and Jack when I met them yesterday. I want to say it is a beautiful humility and rich perspective they have all gained by their time orbiting our blue marble that I am not sure can be attained any other way.
The presentation of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication (say that three times fast) was joyful and a clear reminder of how we have to celebrate those working hard at making a difference in the post-fact/denier age. Hawking said that scientists are being held in decreasing esteem in his talk, and I see the individuals awarded today as the those fighting to put science and those who do it at the cool kids table.
I was in the extremely fortunate position to have dinner with two speakers last night; Larry King and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. We had pizza, very American of us, and really good conversation. I mentioned earlier that it was clear to me Starmus is a very important event to have happen here (truthfully anywhere and everywhere) because it brings in a person like me, who would otherwise maybe not go to a science conference, to a science conference because it isn’t elitist. I feel like I belong here despite my lacking a strong science background. Dinner with these two men made clear I might know their faces from TV, but as people they are much like myself and that fact was brought to me because Starmus is in my backyard. It’s easy to think science is only for “them”, but the “them” is another human trying to figure out the world like I am. In that sense we are the same. Sharing a meal is always a great equaliser in my opinion.
I got a chance to interview Neil (look for the article in the upcoming issue of Tech List) and then had a short, but insightful, conversation with Garik Israelian. I thanked him for the opportunity that he has provided our community. I thanked him for the the forward thinking and for the radically creative idea of putting music and science together with Brian May to make everything more accessible for all. He smiled and said “It makes me feel alive to do this. It energises my blood to help people hear directly the words from these people,” and I get it. It takes a courageous person to do something so radically different than the norm and to bring that which could confuse or alienate a person down to such an accessible level.
In thinking about tomorrow I am super focused on hearing Jeffrey Sachs talk about surviving global crises and Trump, Larry King on Post-Truth media, and Jaan Tallinn discussing artificial intelligence. I am hoping to get to the pollution pods at Festningsparken as I did an interview with one of the primary faces behind the project and have been fascinated since. I also highly encourage those with kids at home to go to the Torvet to see all the activities there. A few friends took their kids today and said the kids were very focused on what they were learning, chatting all the way through dinner about it afterwards.
All in all this has been a radically different day to yesterday and I am still just as excited for tomorrow as I was for today.
Words by Jennifer Wold/Photography by Wil Lee-Wright
In the span of a few hours today I learned that while chemistry has always escaped me, string theory (apparently) does not, and I shook the hand of two moonwalkers. Both things are wildly mind-blowing. I have been sitting for the better part of a couple of hours trying to, or even come close to, sorting out exactly what just happened to me today. Gobsmacked is the singular word that keeps coming to mind. I was there, and yet the whole experience is hovering over being put in the ´pictures or it didn’t happen` bin. Except I have pictures, a bag, a book, a conference pass all indicating that I did indeed have the wildest day.
I was never strong at maths or science, but I am a deeply curious person. Insomuch so I’ve always believed that continued self-learning in either discipline isn’t just for those with degrees or serious aptitude for them. I am often swept up in the livestreams from space missions with the type of wide-eyed awe that a five year old shows at a new bike. However, because I hold no education in the spheres of the Starmus speakers, the idea of being in the same room as many of these very people still feels preposterous and highly unlikely.
I have known about Starmus for the last two years. I thought I ´got it` before I even got in the doors (I mean I did write about it for the Starmus issue of The List), but the atmosphere nearly bowled me over; the excitement was far more than tangible, the focus of the auditorium was like a laser and the faces were illuminated with curiosity, awe and profound respect for those doling knowledge out from the stage.
It occurred to me when the eleven Nobel Laureates took the stage and Carlos Moedas began his keynote, that despite my lack of an engineer’s ring or a single class of physics, I was in a room of people who hold similar beliefs as I. “Democracy needs science, ”Moedas said and that, in this age of post-fact and flat out deniers, is something which I cling to as a deeply held belief. Terry Virts aptly added, during the following panel session, “if you´re not standing on the truth it’s all over,” and it is all too clear that those fighting the good fight for science number in the many and they are not giving up soon. I have been watching terrified at the voracity at which alternative-facts are taking over my country of origin, and in the hours I sat amongst the other attendees the sense that all is lost has abated.
I laughed along as Adam Smith tried to wrangle the Nobel Laureate panel, I was mulling over the possibilities for how nanocoatings could prevent the regolith from embedding in space suits and how I want to know where to sign up for classes on string theory and quantum mechanics. I am also looking forward to replaying the hours of audio I recorded.
If one day could leave me as inspired as I feel right now, I cannot imagine what I am going to feel like by the end of the week.
Tips for tomorrow: I am excitedly looking forward to seeing the presentation of the Stephen Hawking Medal of Science tomorrow and to hear the panel discussion by the moonwalkers. It is a shame Buzz cannot be here in person, however joining by video is still very fitting considering the use of technology and space.
Despite a grey sky over the Festningen fortress on Saturday afternoon, Juba Juba children’s festival is humming with voices of small participants, artists, clowns and all kinds of activities. We head towards the Adressaavisen tent where everybody can get on the front page of issue special issue of the newspaper and take it home! My one year old son is eager to try drawing on the textile tote bag. A memory that one can use after the festival has finished. Various tents offer all kinds of creative workshops – final products stay in hands of little participants who can take them home and use!
There is a buttons workshop at art museum tent, an apocalyptic workshop lets kids’ fantasy fly free. Chilfren can make objects of recycled everyday objects and materials, and many more.Now we head to literature tent to hear the readings, and end up at music tent listening to “9 grader nord”. Bubbles, balloons and music all fit well together!We will definitely come back next year, when the little one will have more skills to fully participate in the festival.Fortunately, there are many activities for the smallest ones, too, including the toddler tent. And, of course, a fun of experiencing an event!