Researchers in WSA and University of Southampton share their research and practice on festivals

TC Festivals event_roundtable 2Yesterday, a number of researchers at Winchester School of Art and University of Southampton gathered together in ‘Enhancing Creativity and Transforming Places through Festivals,’ an academic event fully devoted to research on festivals and the links between research and practice in festivals, put together by Dr Estrella Sendra. The aim of the two-hour event was to foster exchange between festival researchers and practitioners based in Winchester and Southampton, reflecting about the multifaceted dimension and impact of festivals. Across the presentations there was a particular emphasis on the link between curation, the festival location and local audiences. Speakers included Prof Jussi Parikka, who has been involved in the Tranmediale Festival in Berlin (Germany), particularly in the academic events during the festival. Prof Parikka stressed the link between activism and art in the festival, and the fact that Transmediale was not just a media art festival. Dr Estrella Sendra presented the International Festival of Folklore and Percussion in Louga (Senegal), a rural festival understood as a “project of territory” by its director whose sustainability relies in the endorsement of the local population. The festival has led to the transformation of Louga from a marketplace to a festival space. Prof Lucy Mazdon, film festival researcher and judge of the Winchester Film Festival, spoke about this film festival in Winchester, in response to some of the festival director’s reflections about the main challenges. Prof Mazdon highlighted the role the festival has played in screening films that would not otherwise reach audiences in Winchester, but acknowledged the challenges of the curation of a contemporary cultural event in Winchester, which contrasts with the image and imaginary of the city, known for its cathedral, Jane Austen and heritage. This institutional and artistic difficulty in responding to the complexity of the identity of a place was also noted by Dr August Jordan Davis, who spoke about the curation of an exhibition in the WSA gallery as part of the 10 days Winchester Biennial Arts Festival in 2015, and whose them was Chalk. Dr Davis further noted that the success of the exhibition and the biennial more broadly was precisely due to the fact that it was showcasing local work, and the way in which the exhibition brought local traffic to WSA, with over 750 visitors. The researchers then joined in a roundtable, chaired by Dr Mihaela Brebenel, where they responded to questions from he audiences and reflected further on the connections between their different festivals.

 

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