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Report administrative dance residency London, Southbank Centre

19. 2. - 4. 3. 2012

 

It was quite a relief to get out onto the streets of London and breathe in the metropolitan air full of spices. Coming from the smaller city Vienna with its museal and slow charm I was looking forward to the vibrating atmosphere of London. The host organisation Southbank Centre with its huge culture centre near the Thames in the middle of this city serves as a perfect example of these vibes.

 

The Southbank Centre (SBC) consists of major spaces like the Royal Festival Hall, a concert hall for an audience of about 2.500 people - comparable to the Viennese opera. The vast complex includes also the Queen Elisabeth Hall for an audience of about 800 people, which could be compared to Halle E in Tanzquartier Wien, and the Purcell Room for an audience of about 300 (like Halle G). The Hayward Gallery serves as the main exhibition space of the area. The elegant 50s design and architecture creates popular and comfortable work and meeting spaces around the Royal Festival Hall on six levels and best of all - access is free to everybody. Every year there perform about 1000 artists and 22 million visitors come to the site - about six times as many as to the Viennese Museumsquartier in a year. The programme includes music, dance, literature and the visual arts. But actually most of the events are festivals rather than single performances.

 

The office that manages all of these mingling events is located right next to the Royal Festival Hall in a simple huge block. Half of approximately 400 people employed at the Southbank Centre work on two floors in the office. Each floor consists of just one big open-plan office humming with energy. The Southbank Centre staff organized the flight and hotel perfectly as well as things necessary to participate in the workflow as door keys or an Southbank email-address that is necessary to print, scan, read working group related messages and much more. Thanks to Wendy Martin, Linzi Gibbs, Tamsin Ace, Afia Yeboah, Jessica Santer, Lucie Paterson, Gemma Smyth, Alton Brown and Steve Thomas who helped to organize my stay, invited me to meetings, introduced me to the Southbank workflow, showed me around and organized tickets for shows in the Southbank Centre or even outside.

 

Dance is just one of many things happening in Southbank Centre and has its place next to music, literature or visual art. The residency also offered the possibility to check out other dance related places in London. A stunning performance of Roughcut by Richard Alston, a 90s piece to live music composed by Steve Reich, took place at Sadler's Wells. Aakash Odedra danced three remarkable solos in The Place choreographed by Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Brian Brady, Head of the Theatre Programme of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, invited me to visit an impressive performance of a Claire Cunningham choreography danced by Condoco in the stunning architecture of the Dance School near Greenwich. In the Siobhan Davies Studios I took some contemporary dance classes including improvisation and Feldenkrais technique. Besides dance related activities I took a look at Victoria & Albert Museum as well as at the White Cube Gallery and the Tate Modern.

 

The last two days turned out to be the highlight of the Southbank residency. On Friday six dance companies competed in the Dance Your City Competition, which I helped to organize that afternoon. The winners performed a short piece before Blanca Li's Elektro Kif show in the Queen Elisabeth Hall. The energy at the competition was great and the following show of the eight male dancers of Blanca Li kept the audience interested and in high spirit for the whole 80 minutes of the performance. I learned some of the extraordinary fast movements, especially with the arms, in the Elektro workshop held by two of the dancers on Saturday. One week earlier Blanca Li made headlines with a choreography of a flash dance for Stella McCarthy at the Fashion Week. I wrote an article for the Southbank Centre Dance Blog about it:

 

http://dance.southbankcentre.co.uk/2012/02/29/london-fashion-week-blanca-li-choreographs-flash-dance-for-stella-mccartney/

 

Overall it was great for me to get an update of contemporary London, which these days is preparing for Olympia 2012, also with the help of studying newspapers like the Guardian, the Observer, the Independet and its little sister product i, the Financial Times Weekend Edition, Time Out and BBC TV. The Southbank Centre prepared for the so called Festival of the World planned this summer in relation to the Olympics next to other events such as the Limited Festival in September. Besides other meetings I was invited to take part in a presentation of the planned artworks.

 

Some of the questions that come up during and after the stay:

How can a single independent artist relate to a big organization like Southbank Centre?

Is dance marginalised easier than other art forms?

How much does an artwork gain in a combined effort in a big frame like a festival, what gets lost?

Which role does the imperialistic history of this capital of the world play today in relation to art? The huge difference of rich and poor is felt everywhere - e. g. newspapers with stunning flats and even more stunning prices - what are the effects on the life of artists?

 

I enjoyed the stay a lot and got the impression that the city developed in the best sense since I studied in London Middlesex University at the end of the nineties. The metropolitan vibes absorbed in these two weeks inspired me to go on with my own work in Vienna, especially the polyxenic series.

 

Biography

Evamaria Trischak lives and works in Vienna/Austria. She studied in Vienna, Berlin and London. Her work has been exhibited in European countries as well as in Chile, the U.S.A. and Brazil. She collaborates with media artists, musicians, theorists, philosophers, social workers, programmers, graphic designers, cartographers and dancers for her artwork including e. g. cartographic projects or performances. Currently she is working on the polyxenic series, a performance (video) series. The first part was performed live at Impulstanz (Flugfeld Aspern). The video version was screened in Vienna and Berlin, and soon will be shown at the Art as Research Festival in Ottersberg/Germany. While part two was produced during an artist residency on the ship Eleonore in Linz, the so far last and third part was shot on the roof top of a Bauhaus building in Vienna. Next to Awards in Media Art and Literature in the Internet she got sponsored by both public as well as private institutions, e. g. the Austrian Ministry of Art and Culture, the Viennese and Lower Austrian Culture Departments, the College Art Association (U.S.A.) or Silver Server. http://www.nsew.at

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