The Artistic Director’s Confession 2018
Thoughts About Curating a Festival – The Artistic Director’s Confession
FIC is here again! Last year’s festival, the very first Festival of Instant Choreography in Höyhentämö, was a success. The artists gave their all, the performances were delightful and disturbing, and our festival team was stretched to the extreme. It was a tough job to create a new festival, but we succeeded. Though I have to admit, for a long time after the festival was over, I didn’t know what I would like to facilitate next or what would feel important.
I didn’t want to make a new festival only for the sake of making a festival, if through it we wouldn’t be able to view our structures differently or encounter each other even better. We opened the call for applications with minor changes from last year, but I still wasn’t at all sure what to think about anything.
I realized that I was (secretly) hoping that we would get some of the same proposals as last year – the potential of many of those suggestions had been haunting me. Always when choosing something, one chooses to exclude something else. And this choosing (to exclude) is as political and as important as the choice to include.
Well, we didn’t get any of the same proposals as last year, which is an interesting lesson to myself: it indeed looks like “instant” is pretty instant in our scene: what felt important to give a voice to last year was here, but is now gone. Here and gone, here and gone. Actually, I feel this way even about my own piece that was presented at the festival last year – it doesn’t feel relevant to present it anymore as such.
As the deadline for the open call came close, so came the anxiety. What would I want to enable within this forum? How could we decide now what is the most relevant output in April? Should we curate artists or works: impressive cvs, well done applications, sympathetic resonance surfaces? What was I doing and was this the best way to do it? What could be the craziest potential for a festival of instant choreography? At this point, which decisions would be possible for me to make as an artistic director, which would be ethical? What if I wanted to change my mind and curate something outside the proposals?
These anxious thoughts faded away as I started to go through the applications. The variety of the proposals that we got was delightful, confusing and challenging. I was also moved and felt guilty of how much people go through trouble making these applications and how little we can offer. In the process we found four innovative audience-participatory concepts that created instant choreography while operating in an intriguing way in relation to each other, generating different social spaces and challenging the existing conventions.
And so we got ourselves a festival.
We didn’t aim to choose performances only within this frame, but these four artists and groups of artists stood out in their favor: their bright ideas, pulsating artistic starting points and well-thought executions manifested in such a ensemble that it was difficult not to get excited! I think excitement was what I had wanted to curate.
The best thing about curating a festival program is how much it forces me to think. As I read through the applications, I had to ponder about fairness, balance, fear of the strange, my own preferences, WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS INSTANT CHOREOGRAPHY ALL ABOUT and the importance of articulation, communication and being explicit. Also this year, we sent every applicant personal feedback, and we are going to publish the budget of the festival on Höyhentämö’s website after the festival has finished.
My own aesthetic preferences will surely change from year to year – what I will feel important to give voice to each year as an artistic director. I hope, however, that I won’t get tired of my ideals regarding transparency and the desire to think of things differently as long as the festival exists.
May this year’s festival raise new questions and give you new ideas, may it enable you to meet yourself and others in a new way. May you have a wonderful and interesting day with the FIC festival!
Artistic Director of FIC festival
Ps. The curating team consisted of the dance artist Heini Tuoresmäki, Pluckhouse’s producer Rosa Sedita and myself.