Léim Live

Maria Philippou: Module B Placement – Barcelona

Author: Maria Philippou

My Léim experience was interrupted several times by personal health matters, but thanks to the flexibility of the programme I had the chance to combine my second work placement abroad with the first meeting for Module C.

I arrived in Barcelona on Monday 01 December after a long and tiring trip and I met Monica Arus- the Executive Director of Mercat de les Flors, Nuria Font, Curator of IDN Festival which will host our project, my fellow Léim participant and member of my Module C team, Sheila Creevey who was in Barcelona at a Léim meeting and the artists involved in the project: the architect Constantinos Kiprianou, the choreographer Heléna Lizari and the media coder David Dalmazzo.

We introduced ourselves and chatted about the concept of the project, identifying what areas of interest each participant had. Nuria Font gave an outline of the IDN Festival, in the frame of which we will work for the next three months.

On the second day, Monica and Nuria returned to their duties and I was left with the team to work on the formation of the most crucial matters: the “where” – as we were given multiple choices for a space, and the “what” – as the realisation of this general concept of the project can form in many detailed ways. Tuesday began with references: what inspired this idea and what we found on the way trying to articulate it. William Forsyth, Madeline Gin’s and Arakawa were some of the artists that deal with matters relevant to our idea. Then we talked about us: what our interests are, our backgrounds, our talents and expertise.

For me Constantinos Kiprianou was suitable for this project from the very beginning. The concept was developed based on an idea he had when we spoke about working with dance in an interdisciplinary concept. This had been my main interest when I started Léim and I wanted to focus on that.

Heléna Lizari is an experienced choreographer who has participated in other projects relating to architecture. More importantly she is a therapist for children with problems in motor development. This means that Heléna often works on stimulating movement by alternative means, rather than verbal encouragement or conventional signing.

David Dalmazzo is an expert of interactive environments and he has worked with several dancers using interactive design on stage.

All of the participants are highly interested in multidisciplinary work and collective creation. As a result proposals started to emerge immediately with enthusiasm and anticipation for the unique and ultimate idea. Dozens of possibilities indicated the necessity of setting the parameters of what we have, what we want to do and why. Through the explosion of the artists’ creative thinking I found it difficult to guide their interest to more practical matters without pushing things towards my personal way of thinking. By the end of this meeting I found myself floating in a pool of endless possibilities: space, duration, materials. The only thing that was clear in my mind was the general concept of architecture defining movement.

That afternoon I had an appointment with Monica. She first met with Constantinos as Walk me project is part of Léim, produced by Mercat de les Flors in the context of IDN festival. Then I met Monica in the most beautiful space of Mercat’s establishment: the circular meeting room on the top of the building, rounded by glass that gives a view in the Maragarita Xirgu square and with a dome on top that makes discussions look sacred. We talked about the duality of my role as an artistic director and producer at the same time. “You have to change hats” said Monica, “but you are not alone”. The luxury of having two mentors: Nuria Font as Artistic Director/Curator and Monica Arus as Producer, is the strongest element of implementing a project in the context of Léim.

On Wednesday, due to different schedules of the artists, myself and Constantinos met Heléna in the morning and David in the afternoon. In the morning we focused on how to encourage a choreography through structure. I asked Heléna to suggest a series of movements from point A to point B. Constantinos proposed possible ways of stimulating those movements – attraction, obstacle, illusion. Spatial conditions filled lists of unconventional thinking about a space forming impressive ideas of deconstruction of the norms.

The afternoon with David was less optimistic. “Let’s be realistic” he said and I remembered that I had only one more day to scale things down to one general idea that we would take home with us and work on it until the festival. I had to know about the budget!

Thursday was my last chance to come to a conclusion on how we start to work from a distance with Heléna and David living in Barcelona, when Constantinos and I live in Cyprus. I had an appointment with Monica about the budget, so I woke up early and prepared a questionnaire for the artists, Constantinos and Heléna, in order to let them work alone but on a task that would keep them on concept and thinking about the crucial questions we hadn’t yet solved.

I met Monica in her office: production team’s fees (Léim participants), artists’ fees, travels (flights, hotels and per diems), production (space for testing, materials, technology equipment) and marketing. The conclusion was that we had less money for production than I had thought. Now, let’s be realistic…

The next few hours were spent with the artists discussing more economic solutions. With these limitations we started thinking more practically and to the point. Once David joined up with the team we quickly discussed the most likely ideas before we made a proposal to Nuria and the Production Manager of Mercat, Miriam Martin.

We met in the Hall of Mercat, the space we chose for the exhibition of the work. We talked about the most possible idea, that in fact came up that morning from a simple movement that Heléna wanted to encourage: kicking leaves that fell from the trees in autumn and cover the ground. There were some more ideas still on the table, so Nuria guided the discussion with simple questions about the “why” of the project, the “how” and the “what if” that helped us to identify possible difficulties, but also our project’s purpose.

By the end of this meeting we had a clear picture of the project. Now we need to arrange our meetings online and start working towards the making of an intervention in the space that will communicate that how you move depends on where you are.

That afternoon, relieved that we had a starting point before I leave Barcelona, I went for a walk in the city center with Constantinos, feeling blessed to have guidance from experienced professionals while working on a subject that has always been of interest to me. We came back to Mercat running, as we wanted to observe people’s movement before they enter the venue for a performance, but we were quite late, we were two of the last entering the venue. We enjoyed Wagner & Ligeti by Albert Quesada, which was presented as part of the Salmon Festival. We then had the chance to see how people move when they exit the venue which we will use as our main material for the project. This is what we want to meddle with. Take an existing situation and try to change the format of it, create something new, a different perspective of what a space can be.

From my personal observations in different cities that I’ve been, I consider the environment we live in the greatest influence on our daily habits. After some developmental work that has been done in my town, Lemesos, I enjoy seeing my fellow-citizens starting to walk more, use bikes more, skate more, instead of driving a car. And that is where my excitement lies about this project: that I can suggest a change in a space that on its turn will suggest a change on movement, and thus a change on thinking, on acting, on creating, on being.

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