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What about FREESPACE - Reporting from the Biennale

What about FREESPACE - Reporting from the Biennale

19 July 2018

On Thursday July 5th, Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL presented an evening of contributions to the Venice Biennale of 2018. The evening completed a nearly year-long series of lectures, debates, open calls and discussions on the Biennale and its theme FREESPACE. The cycle of events opened with lectures on the Fund’s open call ‘Work, Body, Leisure’ during the Dutch Design Week in October 2017. In the end, the wide range of lectures, workshops, publications and contributions to the Venice Biennale encouraged an ongoing conversation on the societal impact of architecture, design and the creative industries.
Text by Lara Schrijver

sensory experiences
This year’s Biennale presented a broad palette of sensory experiences, from imagery that draws in the spectator to installations with a highly material articulation. Most of the objects triggered an immediate visceral response, more direct and compelling than the intellectual framework for each installation. Notwithstanding the thorough and clearly delineated intentions of the curators, the sensory took primacy over all other approaches. Engaging and provocative, it could be tempting to approach this Biennale as a purely aesthetic experience, which therefore disengages from societal and political challenges currently facing the world. After all, if it is aimed at the senses, how could it possibly provide a critical view to society?

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the proposition of Grafton Architects in FREESPACE seeks to connect people to their environment in a more coherent way. It suggests that the challenges are more easily faced if the environment is amenable to fostering observational skills, connections and a sense of generosity. More than that, though, it allows its observers to seek their own questions and draw their own conclusions. These spaces give rise to an affinity that draws in observers, provokes them to explore further, and thus allows new perspectives to appear.

multiple perspectives on FREESPACE
This undercurrent is what drew the evening’s participants together. Each contribution provided its own distinctive approach to the material, performative, and social interpretation of FREESPACE, from a film registration of a dance performance to a study of Irish marketplaces as a model for understanding social cohesion. The multiple perspectives provided a springboard for addressing the issues put forward in the curatorial statements on FREESPACE, shaping the conversation throughout the evening. While the discussion remained necessarily brief after six presentations, shared questions for the future could be traced through the program: how might architecture and design help to address or even reposition societal challenges? How may design proposals reveal hidden social mechanisms? How may our built environment challenge our preconceptions, or indeed foster unforeseen connections?

‘What is it that brings us together, what are the connections that run throughout people, places, and cities?’

After a brief introduction highlighting the collaborative efforts of the Fund and Het Nieuwe Instituut, the main program began with a 10-minute film by Make Move Think, which compiled the ideas and registration of a dance event held during opening weekend: a dancer on a quay, shards of poetry in the background and the occasional voice explaining the qualities of Venice. During the film, the audience was notably silent – the quiet and steady rhythm of the film seemed to be mirrored by the audience. As unusual as it might be to include this performance in the notes of the Biennale, it also goes to the core of FREESPACE. What is it that brings us together, what are the connections that run throughout people, places, and cities? The body in space is one of these shared elements between architecture and dance, fully justified as a starting point. Moreover, this film directly questioned the assumption that a direct and fundamental exploration of the material, the performative, and the artistic, may be seen as escaping traditional forms of academic reflection and thereby circumventing critical discourse.

All of the evening’s presentations – four pavilions, one installation in the central pavilion, and one registration of a dance performance – in fact provided space to rethink the divide between the material and the intellectual. Even with the wide range of topics – how much does a dance performance have in common with a manifesto on nation-building or the documentation of rural marketplaces? – the underlying commonalities became increasingly apparent as the evening progressed. Most projects explored (urban) spaces from more than one perspective, and highlighted both their social and their formal characteristics.

What about FREESPACE in Het Nieuwe Instituut. Photo: Maarten Nauw

After the film, Traumnovelle presented their installation for the Belgian pavilion, an EU-blue circular tribune that transformed the interior of the pavilion based on their question of how architecture can become part of a political project. Situated somewhere between utopia and a future fiction, their installation even triggered one visitor to post a dance on Instagram. The Dutch pavilion, curated by Marina Otero Verzier, was a bright orange locker room with hidden doors and cabinets showing various interpretations of the pavilion’s theme of ‘work, body, leisure’. The rigorous structure of the lockers reflects the highly regulated contemporary landscape, questioning where we can still find FREESPACE in today’s world.

In the following presentation, Jeffrey Bolhuis showed how the Irish pavilion recreated the marketplace typical of rural Irish towns. The installation will be shipped to Ireland after the Biennale and continue raising awareness on the nature and the necessity of social cohesion, here materialized in the marketplace. The Turkish curatorial team approached its pavilion as a ‘global masterclass’, inviting students and professionals to contribute to the pavilion through workshops in situ. Finally, Michelle Provoost presented Crimson Architectural Historian’s installation on The City of Comings and Goings. In various media, this installation presented the topical issue of migration in all its facets: not just refugees, but expats, temporary labor forces, different types of travelers, showing the impact on our cities of these regularly moving groups of people. The installation included an image of this fictional city in the style of Saul Steinberg, a Nolli-plan of the public spaces related to migration, and six theses on migrations (harking back to the original positions nailed to the church door by Luther).

‘nation-buildig’ and the role of architecture
Notably, a number of the questions during the discussion underlined the continuing discomfort with the issue of ‘nation-building’ and the role of architecture in relation to political and institutional structures. The discussion showed how Europe is still struggling to transcend national identities, also visible in the project ‘Europa’ by Central Office for Architecture and Urbanism. This lighthearted installation placed on the three neighboring pavilions of Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands spells out ‘Europa’ in neon letters with the colors of each nation’s flag, overwriting the names of the individual countries. In the debate, both the need for more collective action was underscored, as well as a general resistance to the very idea of nation building. One member of the audience questioned whether adding new (even if more neutral) structures such as the ‘metanation’ suggested by Traumnovelle was the answer to Europe’s identity crisis. Léone Drapeaud responded that their proposal was less about traditional ‘nation-building’ and more about a platform that emphasizes common aims and actions.

What about FREESPACE in Het Nieuwe Instituut. Photo: Maarten Nauw

a different approach to the socio-political
At the same time, alongside the pressing political concerns voiced in the debate, there is an undercurrent of social concern that cuts across political lines and national boundaries. Drawing the contributions together is an open-ended demonstration of the contemporary conditions each of these groups observe in today’s city – not documented in numbers or shown in data collections, but rather encapsulated in symbols, in materials, in spaces and even in dance. The tangible, individual experience, the subjective observation and the manner in which these objects, images and performances provoke the observer to reflect and draw their own conclusions, delineates a different approach to engaging with the socio-political sphere. It is a departure from clinical, scientific observation, yet it does not retreat into the purely individual sphere. Instead, it encourages debate, and dialogue.

Strikingly, all the contributions presented this evening were by some type of multidisciplinary, collaborative group. This seems to draw new contours for the future of the architect, replacing the mythical male genius with a network of reflective practitioners. The contributions were diverse, yet held together through shared concerns. Three pairings in the overall program show these distinct but common interests. The two pavilions most easily captured in a single image, a blue tribune (Belgium) and an orange locker room (The Netherlands), pointedly encouraged unforeseen interventions by their visitors. The two pavilions that explicitly engaged with the Biennale as a process in time (Turkey and Ireland) show how the actual building and exhibiting of architecture is but one moment in a trajectory of social and spatial configurations. And finally, the assemblage of symbolic and performative gestures that come together in the dance performance and the multiple media of the City of Comings and Goings show how the material and even ephemeral crystallization of collective ideas can have a lasting impact upon our cities and our imaginations.

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6 Sept: Grant Programme for Internationalization Advice

8 August 2018

Do you want to submit an application for the third round of the Grant Programme for Internationalization and do you have a specific plan that you wish to present to the Fund’s staff? If so, then register now for the Grant Programme for Internationalization Consultation Session that Creative Industries Fund NL is organizing at Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The Internationalization team will be ready to offer advice and help you to improve the application. With this grant programme the Fund supports projects that substantively contribute to nurturing, publicizing and reinforcing the international position of today’s creative industries.

date: Thursday, 6 September
time: between 16:00 and 19:00 (each consultation lasts a maximum of 20 minutes)
venue: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

Register by 2 September at the latest via [email protected], mentioning ‘Grant Programme for Internationalization Consultation Session’ in the subject line. In the message provide your name, organization and the country (or countries) where you intend to implement the project, as well as the discipline(s) involved.

Photo above: Aad Hoogendoorn

22 sept: Meet-up Istanbul | Sustainable and Inclusive Cities through Design

8 August 2018

On Saturday, 22 September, Creative Industries Fund NL is organizing a meet-up in Istanbul around the projects selected from the Open Call Turkey #1. In late 2018, Dutch designers and cultural organizations were invited to submit a plan for a project, intervention or process that employs design for sustainable and inclusive urbanization in Turkey.
With Prof. Asu Aksoy as moderator, the teams will talk about their visions for more sustainable and inclusive cities in the Turkish context. What are their interpretations of this? And what experiences have they gained in Turkish-Dutch cooperation during the initial phase of their projects?

The meet-up is an opportunity for Dutch and Turkish parties in the field of culture and design to meet each other and share expertise. It will also be possible to pose any questions to Yasmin Kursun and Zineb Seghrouchni of Creative Industries Fund NL. In the autumn the Fund will be issuing a second open call, focusing on challenges involved in urbanization in Turkey.

meet-up Istanbul
The meet-up is being held from 10:30 to 14:00 on Saturday, 22 September, in association with the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul, during the opening days of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial.

time: Doors open at 10:30. 11:00 – 14:00 (EEST), with refreshments
venue: Akbank Sanat, Istanbul, Beyoğlu
language: English

speakers and projects
Toroslar Interactive CityLab
Speakers: Dr. Nida Naycı and Dr. Mehmet Ali Mazmancı
Nida Naycı and Mehmet Ali Mazmancı (Mersin University, Faculty of Architecture) introduce an interactive method for city-making in conjunction with Play the City (NL).

Lüleburgaz Bisiklete Biniyor – cycling for a better city
Speakers: Berrin Benli and Melih Gezer
Berrin Benli and Melih Gezer (Novusens Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, Ankara) are working with Sustainable Solutions (NL) and Artgineering (BE) to develop an integrated cycle strategy and roadmap in Lüleburgaz, to serve as a catalyst for sustainable and inclusive urban development.

Izmir Metabolic Cycling Network
Speakers: Dr. Çiğdem Çörek Öztaş and Hande Dönmez
World Resources Institute Turkey, Sustainable Cities (TR) and FABRICations (NL) are carrying out design-based research in which they treat cycling as a driver for sustainable urban development as well as a means of tackling issues such as waste, gentrification and the improvement of public spaces.

Turkish and Dutch Farming Practices Learn from Each Other
Speaker: Barış Samir (engineer, economist, biogas- and energy expert)
Together with various Turkish partners, IND [Inter.National.Design] (NL) is introducing an innovative agriculture project in Erzincan that integrates arable farming, animal husbandry, science, architecture and art.

Moderator: Prof. Asu Aksoy, Istanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Communications
Asu Aksoy has carried out research into urban and cultural transformations, specifically into migration and globalization, as well as into existing and prospective visions in these realms. She also has experience in TR-NL cooperation, including her role as the Istanbul curator for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.

If you are interested in a project in Turkey, then you are very welcome to join our meet-up in Istanbul.
Please inform the Fund and the Netherlands Consulate General that you will be attending by sending an RSVP via [email protected], mentioning your name, function and organization, by 15 September at the latest.

Please contact Roxanne Minten or Yasmin Kursun of the Fund’s Internationalization team if you have any questions.

Interest-free loans from Fonds Kwadraat

6 August 2018

Creative Industries Fund NL has been working with Fonds Kwadraat since 2014. The Fund provides grants for creatives, while Fonds Kwadraat issues interest-free loans to artists and designers. The cooperation between the two funds means there are financial possibilities for designers.
The aim of this collaboration is to enable makers and designers to continue their professionalization and elevate their entrepreneurial skills.
when can I request a loan?
A designer/maker cannot approach a bank for the (extra) funding of a project, certainly when this involves a relatively small amount. Designers are, however, able to approach Fonds Kwadraat, which has been successfully providing interest-free loans of up to €8,000 for more than 45 years.

An interest-free loan from Fonds Kwadraat can be requested for many different purposes, such as the development and realization of a design or idea, an exhibition or presentation in the Netherlands or abroad, participation in a fair such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan, a publication, or equipment that is needed to create new work.

Made to Mend
Designer Heleen Klopper is investing in her Made to Mend project (in Dutch only) for which she already received a grant from the Fund. With this positive evaluation in hand she could arrange an interest-free loan with Fonds Kwadraat, for a component of her proposal that was not eligible for subsidy. The loan agreement was concluded immediately, as a review by Fonds Kwadraat’s committee is unnecessary if there is already a positive evaluation from Creative Industries Fund NL. Klopper will repay the loan by means of automatic monthly payments over the next three years.

'With the loan from Fonds Kwadraat I’m funding the initial production run. I’ll be using it to pay the tailors.’

When asked why the loan, in addition to the grant, was important to her, Heleen answered: ‘Made to Mend will be shown at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and during the Engaged Art Fair at De Balie in Amsterdam, where I’ll be presenting a jacket and a bag. With the loan from Fonds Kwadraat I’m funding the initial production run. I’ll be using it to pay the tailors.’
Made to Mend is a collection of basic garments, made from a woven textile with integrated repair possibilities that bear traditional darning and mending in mind. The guiding principle for these garments is that they are easy to maintain and repair.

funding mix
Makers and designers who receive a positive evaluation from Creative Industries Fund NL can arrange an interest-free loan at any point. The loan can be requested for:

components of proposals supported Creative Industries Fund NL that are not eligible for grants or as extra funding alongside the amount awarded by the Fund;
projects that have received a positive assessment from the Fund, but because of a lack of Fund resources are not (or only partially) eligible for a grant;
the follow-up to a plan or project that has been positively evaluated by the Fund within the last 12 months.

If a grant has been awarded by the Fund up to 12 months prior to a loan application, then there is no need for Fonds Kwadraat’s committee to evaluate the project plan: the loan can be issued immediately. And designers who received a grant from the Fund more than a year ago, or who have not applied for or received a grant, can still apply to Fonds Kwadraat for a loan, subject to evaluation by a committee.

practical information
An interest-free loan from Fonds Kwadraat can be separate or complementary to a grant, crowd-funding, sponsoring or a combination thereof. The loan is between €500 and €8,000. The repayment is by monthly instalments over a maximum of three years. For a loan of more than €5,000 a guarantee is required. Examples of projects that Fonds Kwadraat has funded can be found here (in Dutch only, but with plenty of visual content).

Do you want to apply for a loan directly, without it being tied to a grant? There are five application rounds per year. The next deadline is 9 September 2017.

For further information visit the website of Fonds Kwadraat or contact Francine Mendelaar: T +31 (0)20 6255112 / E [email protected].


Vouchers available for foreign presentations

25 July 2018

Are you planning to present your work outside the Netherlands or has a foreign organization invited you to speak at a conference or symposium? If so, then you can apply to the Fund for a Voucher for Presentations Abroad. Via this fast-track procedure you can receive a contribution towards travel, accommodation, transportation and presentation costs. Sissel Marie Tonn-Petersen and Team Thursday have previously received this voucher. They explain what foreign presentations mean for them and how to gain the most from your visit.
where are we going?
Vouchers are issued to creatives and designers who have received an invitation from a foreign party. A substantial contribution by this inviting party, in terms of financing or facilitation, is important in this regard. We asked Sissel Marie and Simone (of Team Thursday) about their considerations when accepting an invitation from abroad. Sissel Marie: ‘For me the most important aspect is that the exhibition is interesting and relevant for my work and, if it involves a group exhibition, that I think the work of the other artists is relevant and interesting in combination with mine. In addition I make sure the space has a convincing and contemporary profile. Of course it is also important that they offer reasonable financial and organizational conditions for showing the work.’ Simone: ‘It also depends on whether we have time and whether the presentation contributes to our practice and the things we want to achieve within it.’

‘It also depends on whether we have time and whether the presentation contributes to our practice and the things we want to achieve within it.’

value for your practice
Simone: ‘Our presentation during the Young Guns programme at the TYPO Berlin conference this spring helped us to establish connections with other designers and the organizers, as well as visibility for our studio among TYPO’s visitors.’
Sissel: ‘In April I presented The Intimate Earthquake Archive at Ballroom Marfa in Texas. My interactive installation transforms data from earthquakes caused by gas extraction in Groningen into vibratory compositions on the body. It was a huge pleasure to be invited for the Hyperobjects show by curators Laura Copelin and Timothy Morton. I was interested in taking part in the exhibition because I was curious how Timothy saw my work in comparison with his idea of the “hyperobject”. Moreover, I found it intriguing that I could transfer a project so specific to the Netherlands to Texas and could observe the kinds of tensions and overlaps that might occur.’
Sissel Marie Tonn-Petersen, The Intimate Earthquake Archive at Ballroom Marfa

make the most of it
Simone: ‘It really depends on what you want to get from a place, but use your time efficiently and contact the people, organizations and suchlike that you would like to speak to in advance. In 2015, when we went to Seoul with a voucher for a presentation at the Typojanchi Biennale, we approached plenty of designers and venues in advances and therefore went on various studio visits. It was great to see more of their work, and this was partly why we were subsequently asked to give workshops at two universities in Seoul.’
Sissel: ‘It’s not something I’m very good at, but researching who might come to your opening or could be interesting to network with on the spot can be really useful. For example, I later realized that there were several key people from the world of environmental activism who are protesting against oil and gas drilling in the region. I wish I had taken the time to reach out to people before they came along, because once I was there I was too busy setting up and I had less time to network with people.’

‘It is wise to maintain contact with the people you’ve met soon after your departure.’

stay in touch
Sissel: ‘It is wise to maintain contact with the people you’ve met soon after your departure. And also ensure that you attend any social gatherings that are organized around the event and talk with the other artists, designers and curators who are there.’ Simone: ‘We ultimately hope that our presentation at TYPO Berlin was sufficiently convincing and that it will potentially lead to a follow-up. We are trying as far as possible to stay in contact with the network we built up through Instagram, mail and our newsletter.’ Sissel: ‘I keep people updated about new developments using carefully chosen newsletters, taking care that people don’t feel you’re spamming them, or via Instagram, which to me seem to be the best options.’

submitting applications in 2018
Just like Sissel Marie and Simone, you can submit an application via the Fund’s online application environment. For 2018 the application procedure has been slightly modified to make it quicker and thus better attuned to the procedure’s aims and objectives. A personal, well-founded invitation together with an explanation of your own vision and approach remains an important component of the application and evaluation.

voucher procedure
The Voucher Procedure is supplementary to the Fund’s existing grant programmes. You can apply from four months up to one month prior to the starting date of the presentation. Applications are processed within five weeks.
Read more about the Voucher procedure.

vouchers issued
You can find an overview of all the vouchers that have already been issued in 2018 here.

Photo above: Presentation by Team Thursday at the TYPO Berlin international design conference, 2018


Dutch game developers selected for Gamescom 2018

25 July 2018

The 10th edition of Gamescom is being held in Cologne from 21 to 25 August 2018. With more than 350,000 visitors from 106 countries, Gamescom is the most important gathering for the games industry in Europe, for business as well as consumer markets. For Creative Industries Fund NL it is important that young, highly talented Dutch game developers are able to present their work on an internationally oriented platform like Gamescom. This year the Fund is supporting five game developers in the Holland Pavilion.
More than 30,000 business visitors, including media, publishers, investors, developers and influencers, visited the fair in 2017. For game companies it represents an ideal opportunity to network and establish long-standing relationships with Dutch and international contacts.

Holland Pavilion
For this edition, the Dutch Games Association (DGA) is organizing the Holland Pavilion within the B2B area of Gamescom for the eighth time. Creative Industries Fund NL is supporting the DGA’s organizational management of the pavilion, where there is space to showcase established as well as start-up creatives. The Fund is keen to help young makers gain experience in presenting themselves in a professional way and give them the opportunity to showcase their games.

open call selection
Creative Industries Fund NL is supporting several game developers, selected by means of an open call that was widely publicized across the networks of the Dutch Games Association and the Dutch Game Garden.

The selected games are:
Mish Mash
Doron Hirsch
Erik Habets
Puzzle and games
Daan Kreek
Space Vikings
Luuk Waarbroek
Bolt Storm
Luka Kvirikashvili

Show Your Courage
A new component in the Holland Pavilion is the ‘Show Your Courage’ programme, which focuses on networking and sharing expertise. Practice has taught us that young game developers are often lacking in experience in this regard, and the barrier to conversing with parties such as investors or publishers is high. That is why the Holland Pavilion has created a ‘Show Your Courage’ corner where young game developers have the opportunity to make contact with inspiring and prominent parties from the games industry. The DGA has invited several relevant parties to attend, with whom young developers and other professionals can discuss their tailored questions. These sessions will also be filmed and can be followed live via the website of Gamescom.

Indie Arena
The Fund is also supporting two Dutch developers whose work is being showcased in the Indie Arena. This is a zone in the B2C area where independent game developers from around the world can present their games to a wider public. Gamescom has chosen to highlight two games by Dutch developers: ‘Swords & Soldiers 2’ (Ronimo Games) and ‘Deliver Us The Moon’ (Keoken).
Mish Mash, Doron Hirsch

Photo above: Gamescom 2016, Tamara Robeer


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