The «To-gather» International Collaboration grant supports the development and testing of new long-term frameworks and methodologies for working internationally premised on more equitable and sustainable dialogues between cultures.
“Locus Globus” is a two-year process-led project (2022-2023) by Neil Coppen and Vaughn Sadie (South Africa) and Ntando Cele (Switzerland/South Africa) and Raphael Urweider (Switzerland) that reflects on a range of inclusive and participant-driven research and creative processes, and aims to facilitate the development of a partnership between two multi-disciplinary festivals.
In South Africa, Neil and Vaughn are working with the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK), while in Switzerland Ntando and Raphael are working alongside the Maison du Futur. Their respective community-led projects with each festival will provide the case studies for “Locus Globus”. The overarching aim of the project is to create a model for how festivals can centre themselves around genuinely inclusive creative processes and participatory planning and place themselves within (marginalised) local communities in order to create a global – and local – awareness of the festival topics and the politics that surround programming, financing, and promoting cultural events.
Through the Karoo Kaarte project, Neil and Vaughn have been involved in a long-term process of working with residents of the Bongolethu and Bridgeton communities in Oudtshoorn around the research and inception of alternative storytelling archives. The project utilises a range of collaborative mapping, collaging, storytelling, and theatre-making methodologies as research tools to surface stories centring around people and place, traditional knowledge as well as marginalised histories and identities. Karoo Kaarte was developed through a range of participant-driven research processes and workshops, requiring team members to record and document local perspectives and histories which fell outside of the more dominant colonial ones that have come to define the region. These stories and histories were then used to develop, curate and stage a week-long public programme at the 2022 KKNK Festival.
Ntando and Raphael, through Maison du Futur, co-produced the Babylon Bern programme in 2021 with the Kurdish community in Bern. The programme examined the connection of Swiss culture and politics with the history of Kurdistan in the context of the Treaty of Lausanne, which is celebrating its centenary in 2023.
Four practitioners were invited to participate in “Locus Globus” based on their existing involvement and roles in each of the festivals: Karoo Kaarte project leaders Glenisha Tarentaal and Tiffany Saterdaght from Oudtshoorn joined the project, and Öslem Yasar and Sultan Çoban, independent practitioners of Kurdish descent who reside in Switzerland, are working alongside Ntando and Raphael to curate various elements within the Maison du Futur programme in Lausanne.
The project began with an initial phase of intensive meetings from April to August 2022 between the project leaders to critically discuss each other’s work and develop an understanding of the political and ideological positions they hold around participatory practices within the performing and visual arts. These conversations set the foundation for the online engagements with the rest of the participants.
Between September and December, the project proceeded through a series of local in-person workshops and collaborative online workshops with all the participants to collectively imagine new ways of implementing community-led festivals. The workshops focused on deepening the participants’ understanding of how multiple histories shape their relationship to place and how this is expressed and experienced through intangible and tangible heritage. Topics that emerged related to language and representation, the problematics of terms such as “professional” and “community” artists, as well as borders and how to bridge these. As the process progressed, the focus shifted to community governance models that create an environment for deeper participation and engagement in the decision-making processes at multiple levels including budget, design, content production, programming and execution.
In the first quarter of 2023, the project leaders and participants will continue their online meetings, focusing their discussions around three thematic areas: Archives – exploring how participative storytelling-driven methodologies and processes can energise the archive and challenge the notion of the archive as static; Intergenerational and cross-border storytelling – as a significant tool in deconstructing and reflecting on possible futures for oppressed communities; Contextual, relational and personal politics – unpacking stereotypes and pressure associated with having to represent a “people”.
The process will culminate in a series of closed workshops, discussions and public talks in Oudtshoorn during KKNK in April 2023 and in Lausanne during Mason du Futur in June. To close “Locus Globus”, the team will collectively devise a set of provocations that will include questions and potential solutions/recommendations that capture the learning and insights from across the two-year process.
Neil Coppen is a renowned storyteller and theatre-maker hailing from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Neil has won several major awards for his writing, design and direction work including Standard Bank Ovation Awards, Naledi’s, Fiesta and Kanna Awards, as well as the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama 2011 and the 2019 Olive Schreiner Prize for Drama. Some of his most acclaimed works taught in schools and universities locally and internationally include Tin Bucket Drum (Published by Wits University Press), Tree Boy, Abnormal Loads (published by Junkets), Izipopolo, and NewFoundLand (published by Junkets) and his adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm which toured South Africa for over five-years. More recently Neil directed an ambitious online reimagining of Hamlet which was awarded the Naledi Award for best online performance 2022. Neil is also one of the founders and artistic directors of the award-winning social justice Theatre company Empatheatre which has been responsible for launching several ground-breaking community-based theatre projects around South Africa over the last ten years. Neil co-founded Karoo Kaarte (supported by the KKNK) together with visual artist Vaughn Sadie and in collaboration with a community of Oudtshoorn based arts practitioners. Karoo Kaarte is a large scale public participative storytelling and theatre project which headlined the 2022 festival.
Vaughn Sadie is a conceptual artist, educator, and researcher, living and working in Cape Town (South Africa). Vaughn is currently registered in the PhD Programme at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. His PhD is focused on understanding the implication of community-led cultural programming on the governance arrangements in the Arts and Culture and Culture sector, through the application of a nodal governance framework. Vaughn currently works at the African Centre for Cities as a researcher. As an established artist, Vaughn’s practice explores a range of interests, interdisciplinary and participatory practices and the place of art in various social contexts. In response, he has developed a considered practice that reflects on the relationship between everyday infrastructure and people. Through employing site-specific strategies and participatory practices, Vaughn has designed collaborative projects with choreographers, theatre-makers and residents to develop alternative ways of perceiving and engaging with a city. Vaughn is co-curator of Spier Light Art and alongside theatre-maker Neil Coppen, co-founded Karoo Kaarte (supported by the KKNK) in collaboration with a community of Oudtshoorn based arts practitioners.
Ntando Cele is a director and theatre-maker originally from South Africa, currently living in Bern. She has a National Diploma in Drama Studies from the Durban University of Technology (1999-2001) and obtained her Master of Theatre from Dasarts-Amsterdam (2009-2012). As a storyteller in search of her style, she has created, performed, and co-wrote interpretations of political musical satire as part of Manaka Empowerment Prod. to facilitate her work internationally since 2015. Gleefully dissecting prejudices and stereotypes, she confronts the audience with their perceptions. In 2019-20 she co-wrote and co-directed Black. Space. Race. A Supersonic Afrobeat performance on tour and in 2020/21, Go Go Othello toured Bern, Lausanne, Marseilles. As an ever-evolving artist, she collaborates as a dramaturg and workshop facilitator on diverse projects to impact cultural practice on multiple levels and promote inclusivity.
Raphael Urweider is a poet, playwright and translator who also works as a director and musician. He has published four volumes of poetry, “Lichter in Menlo Park”, “Das Gegenteil von Fleisch”, “Alle deine Namen” with DuMont in Cologne and most recently “Wildern” with Hanser, Munich. He has created numerous plays in German and Swiss German; among others, together with Samuel Schwarz, Meret Matter and Matto Kämpf. Raphael has translated plays, novels, volumes of poetry and opera libretti from English, French and Swiss German. He was the artistic co-director of the Schlachthaus Theater Bern from 2008 to 2010 and president of the authors’ association AdS from 2013 to 2016. For his poetry, he has won the Leonce and Lena Prize, the 3sat Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in Klagenfurt and the Clemens Brentano Prize, among others. Raphael has already mentored at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel, at the Department of Theatre and in the Master of Contemporary Arts Practice at the University of the Arts in Bern HKB and taught poetry at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Together with Ntando Cele, he created several plays, including Black Off, Black. Space. Race. and Go Go Othello, which are touring worldwide.
Tiffany Saterdaght is a writer and theatre-maker from Oudtshoorn. In the KKNK’s Karoo Kaarte project, which was awarded the Herrie Prize for ground-breaking work at the 2022 Kanna Awards, Tiffany is involved as researcher, facilitator, dramaturg and director. Karoo Kaarte‘s play, Op Hierie Dag, received six Kanna nominations. She is also one of five young and emerging playwrights who are part of Suidoosterfees, Jakes Gerwel Trust and Nati’s Rising Stars project for 2022. Her play, Fietsry vir Dommies, directed by Dean Balie and starring Eldon Van der Merwe, will debut at Suidoosterfees in 2023. The concept for this play was born during the Teksmark Oudtshoorn workshops in 2021.
Glenisha Tarentaal, a cultural practitioner from Oudtshoorn, completed her NQF Level 4 in Tourism at South Cape College in 2010 and completed an Advanced Certificate in Tourism Management. She recently completed her part-time studies in Human Resource Management. In 2021 she was part of the DICE project, an online cultural exchange programme between female writers of colour from the United Kingdom and South Africa. As part of a creative outcome an anthology, Inherited Resilience, featuring two of her poems was published. She is a researcher and project leader for Karoo Kaarte project where she oversees administration workflows within the project, facilitating workshops and other processes. She believes in helping others and preserving local stories and cultural heritage.
Özlem Yasar was born in 1977 in Iskenderun (Turkish-Syrian border) and is the founder of Mesela, an association dedicated to artistic-cultural exchange and networking between Switzerland and the Middle East. She lives in Langenthal. Özlem has many years of experience in the fields of migration, integration and refugee care. She knows the Kurdish region from several stays and is committed to its reconstruction in material and social matters. In her socio-cultural work, Özlem deals with the issues of social reconstruction in war zones, the ideals and utopias of collective memory, and memorials. As part of the project “we are visible”, she is working intensively with Werner Neuhaus in Sulaymaniyah on the subject of symbolism and artistic expression as a political protest using wooden sculptures and mud bricks.
Sultan Çoban is a visual artist and performer. She studied at the Zurich University of the Arts, Fine Arts and Theatre at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. She is of Kurdish descent and currently lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. In her artistic work, she deals with questions of language, the complexity of its relationship to the body and being in-between Eastern and Western cultures. She asks questions about the space of the past in the present moment and blurs the lines between absence and presence. Her work is characterised by a form-conscious exploration of language and the ways in which cultural identity is enacted and performed. In some of her works, she uses arabesque music to re-imagine a particular time and to question the translation and transferability of staged emotions between different linguistic and cultural contexts and performed identity. Her works are about freedom, intimacy and vulnerability. Sultan’s works and collaborations have been shown at Schauspielhaus Zurich, Theater Neumarkt, galleries, offspaces, performance and film festivals.
ABOUT THE FESTIVALS
The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees [KKNK] is an Afrikaans language arts and culture festival that takes place yearly in the South African town of Oudtshoorn. The multidisciplinary festival has come to play a central role in Afrikaans stage productions, providing a platform for the premiere of new productions ahead national tours.
Maison du Futur is an initiative launched in 2020 in response to the pandemic that employed new formats to preserve cultural production and participation. Anchored around the Swiss Federal Council’s Cultural Message, the initiative focuses on combining cultural participation, storytelling and innovation, as well as strengthening the bridge between technology and the arts.