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What about FREESPACE - Reporting from the Biennale
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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.

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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.

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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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Selection Open Call Interior & Interdisciplinarity

29 November 2018

Expertise from various disciplines and the involvement of different users and participants in spatial design assignments will lead to designs that are accessible to a wide public. With this in mind, the Fund is supporting four projects for interiors. All four are based on an urgent issue and an interdisciplinary approach.
In response to our Open Call Interior & Interdisciplinarity, 23 applications were submitted. Advisers Aslı Çiçek, Lyndsey Housden and Theun Mosk selected proposals that all offer a different development of the inclusiveness theme by focusing on a specific spatial typology and that explore accessibility for specific target groups.

selection
‘Ademruimte’ (Breathing space) by Beer van Geer is a research project in which designers, architects and healthcare workers would like to develop a public space for calm, contemplation and silence. In ‘Spaces of Otherness’, Afaina de Jong uses theory and practice to look for an alternative architectural language for public spaces that does justice to cultural diversity, different identities and history. Siba Sahabi applies a multicultural approach to researching waiting areas in hospitals and improving the waiting experience. Finally, under the name ‘De-Market’, FUNC researches the market as a place for the daily activities of socially vulnerable people, an environment where they can get to know different crafts and people.

The selection of these four research projects has yielded the breadth and depth that the Fund was aiming for. Various disciplines within the creative industry are represented and steps are being taken towards solutions for urgent issues, devised from the perspective of the interior.

criteria
The proposals submitted were assessed against the criteria set out in the text of the open call. Selection took place on the basis of the degree of relevance and urgency of the assignment, the quality of the planned approach, including the expertise involved, the degree of innovation and the artistic quality of the work of the designers involved. The advisers also assessed the consistency of the project plans.

reason for the open call
The interior as a subject lies at the interface between the disciplines and grant programmes of Architecture and Design. In order to do greater justice to this subject and to assess the proposals within their own framework, the Open Call Interior & Interdisciplinarity is making funding available for exemplary research projects originating from an integral design approach to the interior. The aim is to stop considering interior as the last link in the process, but instead to stimulate design from the inside out.

reflection
Inclusiveness is a central theme in this call. This aspect has therefore been taken into account in the selection of proposals. When issuing the call, particular attention was paid to the breadth of the term ‘accessibility’, whereby the applicants themselves could give substance to the theme of inclusiveness. The proposals submitted demonstrate the broad scope of the subject and underline the fact that the interior is the scale at which the user or participant directly identifies with their environment. A number of proposals are explicitly aimed at designing a more inclusive living environment or designing for other target groups, where different conditions apply when developing a good interior. The selected proposals also represent this diversity in their approach to the topic; room is additionally provided for research into inclusion at a social, cultural and societal level.

to be continued in 2019
In view of the great interest in the subject before, during and after the open call deadline, and considering the great potential the advisors noted in many proposals, the Fund would like to issue the call again in the coming year. In the new version of the call, the opportunity will also be given to starting designers to develop themselves in initiating a research plan. So in addition to a research grant, a variant of a starting grant will be available in the next call for proposals. The Fund can utilize this call to focus on the professionalization process and the development of the talent base working in interior and spatial design. Keep an eye on our newsletter and website for updates.

Photo above: Siba Sahabi by Annemarijne Bax

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Open Call Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Morocco #2

27 November 2018

Creative Industries Fund NL is calling on designers, makers, curators and cultural organizations in the Netherlands to submit a plan for a project that deploys design for sustainable and inclusive societies. The open call invites cultural parties to join forces with a local partner to turn their minds to a topical issue, observation or development in Turkey, Russia, Egypt or Morocco. The project should entail an egalitarian collaboration between the parties.
The rapid growth of cities is a topic that is relevant in the four countries that the open call is focusing on, resulting in new relationships between street culture, identity and public space, as well as between the city and the countryside. The appropriation of the city by various parties – grassroots and top-down, public and private, established and emerging – takes a diversity of forms, in the physical as well as the virtual domain. Designers are being asked to put topical themes that relate to the city, its surroundings and users on the agenda, to question them or propose solutions. This calls for cross-disciplinary and context-sensitive collaborations at the interface of culture, new media, technology, craft, society and the new economy.

collaboration
The project team (of Dutch and local partners) adopts a standpoint concerning sustainable and inclusive societies within the theme that the project focuses on. The plan provides insight into how and why various stakeholders will be involved with the project. Projects can take a diversity of forms, from artistic, speculative or design-based research to the implementation of a pilot, intervention or campaign. The perspective of Turkish, Russian, Egyptian or Moroccan parties is crucial and should be embedded in the project.

focus
This is a follow-up to the first series of Open Calls focused on these four countries that the Fund issued previously. As a result of findings concerning the first series of open calls, the Fund is more emphatically seeking for projects that relate to disciplines in the fields of design and digital culture, as well as every possible crossover.

submissions
Projects can be submitted from 1 December 2018 to 21 January 2019 via Creative Industries Fund NL’s online application environment.

informative meet-up
Come to our meet-up on Thursday, 6 December at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. International speakers from the four countries will talk about their design practices and about relationships between street culture, identity, appropriation of public space, and new relationships between city and countryside. There is also the opportunity to ask the Fund’s staff any questions you may have about the open call. Register here.

more information
Find more information about the Open Call here.

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6 Dec: Meet-up Turkey, Russia, Egypt and Morocco

25 November 2018

Are you interested in undertaking a collaborative project in Turkey, Russia, Egypt or Morocco? Come to our meet-up on Thursday, 6 December at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Within its Internationalization programme, Creative Industries Fund NL has issued a second open call for design projects to contribute to more inclusive cities and societies in these four countries. The purpose of the afternoon is to present information about the open call, gain insight into relevant themes, share experiences of working in these countries, and provide the opportunity to explore collaborative projects in these countries.
International speakers from the four countries will talk about their design practices and about relationships between street culture, identity, appropriation of public space, and new relationships between city and countryside. What do they think is needed for reciprocal cooperation in these contexts?

There is also the opportunity to ask the Fund’s staff any questions you may have about the open call.

Hassnae Bouazza will moderate a discussion with the following international guests:

Oleg Khadartsev and Zhanna Guzenko - Fridaymilk
Fridaymilk is an independent collective in Murmansk. Creative director Oleg and curator and journalist Zhanna are contributing to developments in culture and media around the Arctic Circle. They use media content, workshops and cultural events to generate attention for the concept of ‘cultural decentralization’. They bring together the experiences of culture in major cities and outlying areas. Fridaymilk showcases novel ideas, tells life stories and promotes the dialogue between artists, curators and young people about the current meaning of life in Russia’s far north.

Haytham Nawar and Bahia ShebabCairotronica Festival and teaching at American University, Cairo
Haytham is the founder of the Cairo Electronic and New Media Arts Festival, an international hub for digital culture in the Middle East. Bahia regards street art as a vehicle for discussing socially critical subjects in the streets of Cairo. She is researching the thousand ways that the word ‘no’ can be written in Arabic. Bahia is the first Arabic woman to receive the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture.

Nagehan Kurali Alan - Design In Situ and the Nerdworking collective
Nagehan is a co-founder of Design In Situ, a design studio in Istanbul that combines interaction, animation and visual design. The studio has a passion for the creation of digital experiences and environments to tell unknown stories. In her work Nagehan concentrates on projections and interaction design in urban spaces.

Kenza Benbouchaib - Kulte Center for contemporary art and editions
Kenza Benbouchaib is a cultural operator and deputy director of Kulte Center for contemporary art and editions in Rabat. Kulte is an alternative cultural platform, with the mission to promote contemporary art through exhibitions, publications and artistic events. Her current practice examines the modalities and potentialities of curating to institute otherwise and explore new languages of collectivity.

Moderator Hassnae Bouazza is a journalist, columnist, translator and programme producer. In 2015 she received the Arouwad Award in Beirut for her work about the Arab world.
practical information

date: Thursday, 6 December
time: doors open at 13:00; 13:30 – 18:00, incl. drinks. Programme starts at 1.30pm
venue: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museumpark 25, Rotterdam
language: English

registration
Registrations are closed.
Please e-mail any questions to Yasmin Kursun, the Fund’s Grants Officer for Internationalization.

open call
You can read more about the objectives, criteria and application procedure for the Open Call: Turkey, Russia, Egypt and Morocco #2 (deadline 21 January 2019). This is a follow-up to the initial series of Open Calls focused on these four countries, which Creative Industries Fund NL issued in early 2018.

Photo above: Khalid Amakran

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New online application environment in 2019

15 November 2018

The Fund is working on the renewal of the online application environment. The new ‘apply online’ will be live from 1 January 2019, and the environment will be open for new applications. Until then, the online application environment is only accessible for vouchers, the first round of design and for current open calls.
The launch of the new application environment has no impact on the applications for vouchers and open calls. These can be done in the current environment. The next round of the Grant Programme for Design, which closes on 23 January, will also still be open in the current environment. During the application period we will switch to the new system. Applications that have already been submitted will not be lost when switching to the new application environment.

preparation
The next round of the Grant Programmes for Architecture, Digital Culture and Internationalization will be opened in the new application environment only. The closing date for this round is 6 February. Applications for these grant programmes can of course be prepared already. This means that you can already get to work on drawing up the project plan. To do this, read the Grant Application Guide (PDF) which explains how to draw up a project plan, presentation and communication plan, and budget. Explore the Subsidy Regulations (PDF) and the official text of the grant programme for which you wish to submit an application. This can be found under the tab ‘preparing the application’ for each programme on the website.

Compared to the current system, the new online application environment is simpler to use. Procedures remain virtually the same and all the functionality of the current application system has been retained. We will keep you informed of any changes to your login details.
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Open Call Space for Talent

30 October 2018

The Creative Industries Fund NL invites architects, designers and makers to submit a proposal for research, an experiment or development of new knowledge within a practical environment, such as a lab, development site or workplace. With this call, the Fund aims to enable designers to create an environment together with a partner, where joint experimentation, the establishment of new relationships and the sharing of knowledge are central.
This open call has ended.

set-up of the call
The Creative Industries Fund NL is making € 200,000 available for this open call. The maximum contribution per project is € 25,000. The conditions for support are that there is a new collaboration between a maker and a partner that is able to facilitate a practical environment. Depending on the project, the collaborations can vary in form. Examples are research (including material research) within a lab, a residency programme at a knowledge institute, a special collaboration with a development site or experimental research with a partner from the business community.

The subsidy is divided into two parts: € 15,000 is reserved for the maker and € 10,000 for the partner’s facilities and knowledge. The amounts are granted under the conditions of a collaboration agreement that must be submitted no later than 4 weeks after the grant has been awarded. A format for the agreement follows after awarding.

Conditions for eligibility for a contribution are:
- the designer/maker/architect has Dutch nationality or a practice registered in the Netherlands;
- the partner is based in the Netherlands;
- a rationale from the designer that provides insight into the relationship between the partner and the maker, and the added value of the project for the maker’s development;
- motivation for the project, provided by the partner, that provides insight into the relationship between the partner and the maker and the added value of the project for the partner. It also describes the duration and nature of the working period, the facilities, the knowledge and working environment being offered by the partner, the method of collaboration and the intended result;
- there is no question of a regular commissioning relationship between the parties; and
- a form of knowledge-sharing relevant to the project is included at the end of the project.

submission
The application can be submitted until Wednesday 28 November 2018 at the latest.

Read more information to supply here.
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newonlineapplicationenvironment.png
The Fund is working on the renewal of the online application environment. The new ‘apply online’ will be live from 1 January 2019, and the environment will be open for new applications. Until then... more >
studiosibasahabiweb.jpg
Expertise from various disciplines and the involvement of different users and participants in spatial design assignments will lead to designs that are accessible to a wide public. With this in mind, t... more >
opencalltturkijeruslandegyptemarokkoen.png
Creative Industries Fund NL is calling on designers, makers, curators and cultural organizations in the Netherlands to submit a plan for a project that deploys design for sustainable and inclusive soc... more >
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