Kunstløftet / Artikler og debatt

Månedens vektløfter i november: Alwynne Pritchard

Fra åpningen av Borealisfestivalen. John Cage-performance i pianoforretningen.

Fra åpningen av Borealisfestivalen. John Cage-performance i pianoforretningen.

Vektløfteren er en månedlig sonde som Kunstløftet sender ut i kunst- og kulturfeltet for å undersøke hva ulike aktører tenker, erfarer eller opplever i utøvelsen av eller møtet med kunst for unge mennesker. Vektløfteren er en invitasjon til å tenke høyt og dele dette med Kunstløftet.no sine lesere.


Forestill deg følgende: DU får midler og et oppdrag om å gjøre et prosjekt (hva som helst) som setter ny standard for hva kunst for barn og ungdommer kan være. Hva gjør du?
A few years ago I created a project with my group FAT BATTERY in the Bavarian town of Bamberg, Germany. The 30 or so participating musicians from Clavius Gymnasium school were aged about 12, and another group of kids, about 10 in total, aged between 16 and 18, acted as sound engineers under the guidance of a local professional. There was a lot of live electronic processing during the performance, as well as amplification of all the musicians, so the sound engineers had an important job to do. It was very good experience for them, as well as for the musicians. None of the kids had worked with live electronics before. 

Warming up
They were amazed by the effects Thorolf Thuestad's sophisticated computer programming could have on the sounds they made. I was leading the project and conducting the performance, and the other 4 members of FAT BATTERY were playing alongside the kids. There was also a small group of improvising soloists drawn from the children's group. We gave them very tight parameters within which to work, which really paid off, as within just a couple of days they went from being all over the place to producing very effective solos. We had a lot of time to develop the project and huge support from the school, as well as from Villa Concordia which was co-ordinating and financing the project. I was even able to make a preparatory trip several months in advance in order to be present for workshops given by the German writer Brigitte Struzyg. 
Sound engineers
She spent several days - full days, not just a few hours - working with the kids to create texts specifically for the project. We then had one week prior to the performances during which we were able to spend time warming up and playing games together, establish a disciplined working environment and work in great detail on sound palettes that included the use of paper, beads, tins, jars, vocal effects and conventional instruments of all kinds. In the end, the amount of time we were given to create the project - in other words, the money invested in it - meant that we were able to create something that was not just a great experience for the kids, but for the audience too. It stands out in my memory as a highly valuable musical experience for all involved.


Hent et viktig minne fra din oppvekst, noe som rommer et kunstnerisk materiale du vil dele med oss. Hvordan vil du presentere din opplevelse hvis et formål var å gi ny innsikt i hva oppvekst og barndom kan være?
As artistic director of one of Norway's most experimental music festivals, it might interest people to know that I attended the oldest girls' school in the UK, founded in 1634. On Founder's Day every year, we marched through the city to the cathedral. The police even closed down roads for us and we were very much on display in our uniforms and bonnets. Needless to say, music was an important part of the school's tradition, and I was involved in a lot of music-making as a child. Perhaps it is my early experiences of school traditions and rituals - which included such arcane practices as the singing of grace in Latin before every meal - that I feel a strong connection between the music I make and program for Borealis and music of the past. I see no separation between them in fact. As leader of the school orchestra, I played in the school assembly every morning. I was also a member of the local youth orchestra and sung in the choir. I danced and acted too - so there was always something going on. Of my school experiences, singing Bach's B Minor Mass stands out for me, because the music was so gob-smackingly stunning and our music teacher was so passionate about the piece that he drilled us hard. In my experience, kids love to have big demands made of them, as long as they're given the tools with which to meet them and then get to experience the results. I also made a lot of music at home. My parents are both music teachers and I was often called into one of their music rooms to accompany one of their voice or cello students on the piano. I loved doing this, not only because I got to be part of my parents' working environment, but also because I had to be very professional in approach, following the students precisely, putting them at their ease and quickly solving my own pianistic problems (if the music was a bit too tricky for me!) without causing them any disruption. 
Red Maids' on Founder's Day
On a very different note, I also have strong memories of more anarchic artistic experiences. I took part in a theatrical event called Bread and Blood as a teenager, which involved marching around the city singing La Marseilleuse and shouting revolutionary slogans. The feeling of danger I experienced when we took the play off the stage and into the streets was something new to me - and is with me still. I guess that, for much the same reason, I have very fond memories of a music-making weekend that my parents co-ordinated in the Welsh mountains. My sister and I were the only kids present and it was great to spend the week improvising, composing and generally hanging out with a bunch of adults, making music in the unusual surroundings of an ancient Welsh cottage - or even outside on the mountains themselves. Experiencing sound in unusual and unexpected contexts can have a strong impact on how we hear it. This is something I always pay close attention to when programming Borealis.


Forestill deg den norske kunst- og kulturscenen som et samtidsdrama med kunstnere, barn og ungdommer, politikere, forskere, medier, skole og marked etc. som rolleinnehavere. Grunnkonflikten er hva som best tjener barn og ungdommers framtid. Hvem får hovedrollene i ditt drama? Hvilken sjanger velger du (tragedie, komedie etc.)? Hvem "iscenesetter" forestillingen?
I have only lived in Norway for a couple of years, so I'm not really sure how to answer this question. And my preference is always to relate to situations on a local or even personal level. I like dealing with people as individuals, even when they're representing a organisation, institution, city - or even a nation. But if I had to summarise my impression of the world - to be very global about it! - in terms of some kind of drama, it would perhaps be a comedy of errors, progressing by means of misunderstandings and mistaken identities. That seems to me to sum up most situations in which human beings attempt to be definitive about the world. 
Else Olsen Sotesund leads the piano preparation workshop for children at Borealis 2010.


Det sies at tradisjonelle verksforståelser er i oppløsning. Mange kunstnere vier de sosiale prosessene oppmerksomhet – i et forarbeid, eller som en del av et verk. Hvilken betydning har dialogen med unge mennesker (barn eller ungdommer) i utviklingen av et verk, eller i selve verket?
As artistic director of Borealis I spend a lot of time working with young people - it's absolutely central to the life of the festival. I love the way kids don't know stuff. Of course, we adults don't know plenty of stuff either - but we seem to have a harder time accepting the fact. In programming Borealis I attempt to create environments in which audiences of all ages can respond to sound like new-born babies, open to everything, fresh-eared, naïve, hungry, open-hearted, open-minded. Kids have a wonderful raw energy that adults can do well to learn from. Even their cynicism is delivered with passion. Ultimately though, my experience is that people of all ages get most pleasure when they can learn to work together, and that means also learning how to concentrate, focus and work as a team. Music is a very good way of helping young people learn these skills.
David Helbich leads 'Social Piece' at Borealis 2010.


Hvor står kunst i offentligheten om 20-30 år? Hva er din visjon for rollen og betydningen av kunst for barn og unge i framtida? 
It could go either way. Right now, I think we all - and children are most vulnerable - have to fight a daily battle against capitalism: corporate culture, mass media, advertising etc. Even rebellion is tightly orchestrated and marketed - sold as a 'look' or a 'lifestyle'. Young people seem to me to be losing their independence, their intellectual and creative freedom. I know my parents' generation - and many before them - lamented the rebelliousness of youth, but I look around me at the young people in Norway and elsewhere in Europe and wonder that they have become so conservative, so fearful, so mass-produced. They have been completely let down by society and I have no idea what the impact of this neglect will be in 20-30 years time. Art - especially challenging, experimental art - raises questions that encourage young people to think, to question, to dream, to take risks and not to fear standing alone. If festivals like Borealis can continue to thrive and to encourage young people to thrive also, then they, culture and society as a whole will stand half a chance of being in good health by the middle of the century. 
Job Well Done

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