Soft Power Palace
“Today, we are facing a European Union in which the past decades’ economic and social development is characterized by inequalities and difficulties. Apart from economic and military power (hard power), the Soft Power Palace (festival for independent art spaces in Europe) stands for the need to strengthen trans-European cultural exchange, exploring formats and methods of togetherness – in the spaces between art, social practice, activism, and arts education. In doing so, Soft Power Palace addresses the way in which politics are conducted“
Photo left: Simone Gilges
photo: Group portrait of part of the participants at GmbH's space.
The whole took place in Kunstgebäude, where six local institutions (including Akademie Schloss Solitude) have been able to give substance to the programming over the past two years. Soft Power Palace was the final part of the process.
The conditions under which each initiative operates in its own country proved to be very different. For example, Fireplace and Ardesia Projects do not have any physical space and the first of them programs on location on occasion, supported by its own network, while the other mainly organizes residencies focused on photography, using the internet as a platform. ZZ Studio plays with the fact of being situated in a suburb of Lyon and is part of a larger collective in which the exchange of each other’s expertise is the main focus. With Æther, intensive programming from Sofia city centre takes place at an average weekly top speed and on all fronts the activities are run mainly by one person (Voin de Voin).
The availability of subsidies also varies. In that respect, here in The Hague we are still very lucky with the possibilities that Stroom Den Haag and the Municipality, for example with the Broedplaatsensubsidie, has to offer, even in comparison with a wealthy city like Stuttgart.
We visited contain’t, a village consisting of container-built studios, workshops and accommodations for concerts and performances, which originated from a decades-long history of forced relocations within Stuttgart. For this occasion, GmbH presented a programme that, among other things, set out this history, a constant struggle with countless bureaucratic procedures and in search of solutions for the future. At this moment their existence at the current location is also under discussion. There are advanced plans to temporarily house the opera here during an upcoming major renovation and there is not enough space for both.
Ardesia Projects “dedicated their two weeks of residency to the exploration of visual forms, their return, their transfiguration and their categorisation through multiple voices which are both cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary.” I copy pasted from their website of which you can find the link in the list below to read the whole story of their project.
Voin de Voin, Andrew Fremont-Smith and I represented during the entire period Æther and in the second week we were accompanied by Marcus Briheim and Despina Panagiotopoulou. Some of our activities: Andrew was mainly occupied with setting up his mobile online radio station, ‘X-Subject Radio‘ with which he reported and made compilations of what was happening on the spot. Voin had compiled a handbook for transformation to ‘The Other’ from submissions by artists who responded to this subject, designed by Victoria Kieffer. We presented this publication during a performance in which we, as oracle, tried to formulate answers to questions from the audience. Marcus assisted us all when the need was at its highest. Despina Panagiotopoulou flew in from Athens where she, collectively with other Greek artists, recently started running The Salon of Bricks and Bells, to give a lecture on the role of transgression in the new right wing developments today and a workshop on the intersections of voice and language in Classical Greek tragedy and Myth. And throughout the entire period, the space in which we worked transformed daily from office to workshop space into a place that looked somewhere in between a residence of a sectarian society and a psychotherapist’s treatment room.
Foto 1, 3, 6 below: Harald Völkl, © Soft Power Palace by Akademie Schloss Solitude
If you want to know more about the mentioned initiatives; below you will find links to their websites and interviews with each of them that have appeared in Schloss Post, the online magazine of Akademie Schloss Solitude.