Downstate Festival, Zurich, January 2016
DOWNSTATE – the museum of coexistence: Noise! Musik, Art, Performance, Skulpture, Zines, Spoken Word, Installation, Film is a 3-day festival organised by an autonomous space in Zurich (Koch Real). Sierra Weppla and George returned to this creative festival to present their artworks, magazines, spoken word, writing and tattooing skills.
Click here to read a blog post on their experiences!
>Tű FOKÁN FESZTIVÁL: Identity Deconstruction, June 2015, Hungary
Reboot the Roots supported the attendance of artist Iulia Benze from PlayHouse International at the Tű Fokán Fesztivál – an independent festival of sound paintings, animation and theatre in Hungary. Iulia presented a series of workshops based on the performance techniques of Identity Deconstruction, and it was the first time for her as a lead facilitator of a project for RtR, a clear step forward in terms of her development as a theatre practitioner.
>CRACK! Festival, June 2015, Roma
Reboot the Roots supported the attendance of artist Sierra Weppla at Crack! Festival – a visual arts and comic book festival in Rome. Sierra was able to present her illustrations, paintings and performance to an international crowd, supporting her development as a visual artist.
>Brasov Workshops & SPOT Festival, 2014 October-November, Satu Mare, Romania
This series presents professional performers with an intense, fun and exciting experience. Kurt Murray, George Wielgus and Iulia benze facilitated a week of workshops designed to teach a wide variety of skills, including performance, confidence, public speaking and ability to achieve desires.
Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus – from Sierra
I am a really hardworking full time artist who invests 5-7days a week working on many different projects. I have been invited during my visit to Zurich (which was sponsored by RtR) to participate in this year’s Tattoo Circus in Thessaloniki. The organizers had offered to pay a part for flights and travel expenses, as well as to provide space and all needed materials, which in the tattoo world means a lot – you save a lot of money. I am trying to build my social platform around Europe. Knowing that nowadays most tattoo artists are usually not just tattoo artists – often they are specializing in many other fields like I do, I asked RtR to support my trip to Greece, as it would hopefully benefit my future projects, expanding my contacts and hopefully ccreating new events in the future. Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus (TTC) was promoting a strong collective of artists who specialize in many different fields – from sculpture, to digital art, painting, and obviously tattoos. It was very important for me to take part as a tattoo artist – where I can learn and make contacts with other tattooists – as well as an artist – and also allowing me to see other’s peoples work and hopefully create opportunities to collaborate in the future.
As a self- taught tattooist I was wondering if my skills would match with all those professionals working for many years in studios. I was hoping to get contacts and to open gates for guest spots in different studios around Europe.
The Tattoo Circus itself is non-profit event that supports prisoners’ and ex-prisoners’ re-integration into society. The Tattoo Circus as well organizes workshops like letter-writing to prisoners, sending books/magazines and supporting charities that help to integrate those that come out and have to ‘restart’ their lives. TC promotes social change – where the ones behind bars should not be forgotten and left alone, as well as when they come out from prisons they shouldn’t be socially excluded, rejected and incapable of starting to follow their dreams in the same way all of us try to do. I found it a morally valuable subject to support, especially in a world where, for example, while the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.
I had a great time at the Terra Incognito social centre in Thessaloniki. A great time in terms of working hard, up to 12 hours a day, and in terms of communicating with other participants and festival visitors. It was just stunning to see how people managed to organize such a big event completely DIY, as well as provide all the materials, space and furniture necessary for 25 artists over 3 days. It has really left a big impact on me – why couldn’t I start organizing events myself again? It led me to start putting up a concept and discussing with other artists, and here we are, slowly moving towards next step – a huge art project right here in London.
I most definitely succeeded in the fields that were important for me: I have made new conctacts in Berlin, Prague and Lausanne, where I was invited to come to tattoo and exhibit. As well, I expanded my contacts throughout other European countries. Most importantly – it lifted up my self esteem, as I realised I am not worse at tattoos than others – just different. (: As I wrote in my proposal letter- my theory about other tattoo artists specializing not just in tattoo – confirmed itself and I met alot of creative people with whom we will cooperate in the future. Besides that, my success as a tattooist in the festival was satisfactory – I received quite a lot of attention, created new works, updated my portfolio, plus raised some funds for the prisoner support groups.
I found it quite difficult to operate inbetween another 25 artists. I learned about interpretations of my technique and style – lots of people like it, but it’s ‘too dark’ to have it. Pretty much the same as with my paintings and everything else I do. When there are so many tattooists in one location there is always a lot of competition. I am happy I did some of my designs (which was rare at this event– usually people were bringing their own ideas), meanwhile, there were few tattooists who didn’t do a single piece. I believe they were anticipating a bigger crowd this year.
I am grately thankful to RtR for supporting my way to the event, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend. Because of the funding I received I was able to book my flights and survive throughout the week in the city.
Where I’m going next?
Where to start? The next project is a big collective exhibition in London – inspired by what I saw in Thessaloniki. Perhaps it is a semi-autonomous space, or hopefully in more established gallery. Meanwhile, I will be guestspotting as a tattoo artist around Europe, and in September attending the Tattoo Circus in Berlin –the second capital of Art in Europe. There is a possibility to exhibit there too, and I will be working really hard to make all these projects to happen.
Thanks again for the ongoing support … be sure to check out my new website at www.oneslutriot.com!
A Wild Weekend In Zurich – from George F
“The four books I brought I sold or swapped with other artists for their work, the 20 zines reduced to 3, and a pot full of donations and contacts from across Europe … In addition, we saw some amazing performers, and confused a room full of people with my own particular brand of rapid-fire poetry. Apparently, spoken word is not so big in Switzerland. 🙂 Highlights included seeing an old friend from squatting in a furniture store five years ago, meeting a member of the Mutoid Waste Company, and seeing a pair perform a song about orgasms whilst dressed as a penis and a vagina. We also made contacts with artists from Marseille, Lausanne and Berlin and discussed the possibility of future collaborations in those locations and in London, aswell as the potential to travel to Canada to work with indigenous communities as a solidarity project.
Thanks to everyone at Downstate Festival, and to RtR for all the support.”
Check out some photos here.
Escape From London – from Sierra Weppla
George F and Sierra Weppla were sponsored by RtR to attend the Downstate Festival at KochAreal in Zurich – one of the largest autonomous spaces in Europe …
“I have been working every single day for a couple of weeks until late night in order to bring enough art pieces, zines, posters and other diy stuff to the festival. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, nor how will things go as it was organised for the first time. In my opinion it could have been a total fiasco or a super nice festival. But was worth it to risk.
RtR funding helped me to prepare for the fest – I had enough money to buy paper, printer toners and not to worry about not having enough copies for sale/swaps, in case the festival was going to go very well. In the end, because of the funding I was able to carry about 80 A3 posters, 10 A1 posters, about 50 copies of self-published zine, and help to print out about 30copies of George’s zines.”
Check out some photos here.
Heading To Downstate – from George F.
George F and Sierra Weppla were sponsored to attend the Downstate Festival in Zurich by RtR to present their works …
From George F.
“We lost in court the week before, and had spent a week running around trying to find a new place to live, with no success. Exhausted but determined, we spent the last day traipsing across London – attending an eviction resistance in the morning which drove the bailiffs off, before returning to Borough to collect our belongings, then delivering them to East Ham by bike to a safe storage space, before rushing back to collect the dog and take it to our friends’ place in Bow. In East Ham, the laptop we were going to use to print our flight tickets exploded, reducing us to panicky, stressed tears as we tried to find a 24-hour print shop. After delivering the dog, we marched to Liverpool Street, arriving just on time at 3am. There were two buses, and people in two-different coloured hi-viz vests were chatting in a relaxed fashion outside one, so I assumed this was for both coach companies. They made a joke about the cheaper one being crap, and as we scanned through our phone for the pdf of the ticket, our bus pulled away … Refusing to be cowed, we spent another £8 on tickets and made it to the airport … Without the extra funding from RtR we would never have been able to make it!”
Summer In Hungary (4) – from Iulia Benze
Iulia Benze on her final day presenting a course on Identity Deconstruction at a festival in Hungary.
We started the Sunday with a session of Yoga outside, in nature, held by E. and S.
Two new people joined us, Anjan and Andy. Anjan was really worried for her, he asked me if I could help her as she was constantly crying and being depressed. Our entire session (the last one for that series in Cserhatszentivan) changed, trying to include her into the warm-up and Barba sticks. Her will to get into the workshop was very weak, other members tried to include her as well. I instructed her into the Barba Sticks movements, even though she was lacking concentration and it felt she wasn’t there. At a certain moment, in our struggle to connect with her, she hit the lamp smashing it into loads of glass pieces and that seems to have represented for her the relief point and liberation time that she needed. After that, she decided to leave. Anjan remained with us.
We ended our last session with Grotowski movements turning it into an improv free dance contact where we all kept contact with each other until we found an ending on the floor, all silent, still and breathing together. We also had a few minutes of meditation and after that the final discussions.
As a human and artist, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity created to go in Hungary, Cserhatszentivan and facilitate workshops in my own practice. I met wonderful people, professionals in their own domains, and we all laughed and cried together and I was able to share from my knowledge. I am mostly a performer, I never facilitated a workshop by myself before; this time I was oscillating between being a performer and a facilitator and many times I was asking myself if it is going to work, because of the intense nature of the practice. Towards my amazement, it did work, I did manage to keep those entities separated and to make them harmoniously function together, bringing a lot of discipline to me, as an artist and individual. In this new position, I also learnt how to take care of people around me, how to listen and understand their needs.
It was a wonderful experience for everyone and now we are working together towards booking future workshops in Budapest, in November this year.
Summer In Hungary (3) – from Iulia Benze
Iulia Benze reports on delivering an intensive movement and drama course at a festival in Hungary …
We started by cleaning the space and including the new people into the work. We had A. and V. After the warm-up, V. retired thanking us and saying this is ‘not really his thing’.
We continued with Barba Sticks and emotions. Everybody brought their level of emotion to a certain place, E. let go and with control she managed to reach that point that I was talking about.
Taking advantage of the emotional and physical flexibility achieved, next exercise was Loneliness Exercise. I performed in front of them the exercise, taught the movements and then for 10 minutes it was their time to explore the loneliness within themselves. Being in a small space has its advantages, also when 9 people are doing Loneliness exercise in that cramped space it can be very intense and intimate so after that we had a session of discussions about what we discovered, felt etc.
Circle of positive energy. Everybody complimented, positively argued and justified being in a circle and hugged.
After break, we explored ways to climb a person by one or two individuals, preparatory movements for a Photo Project (photographer Roland Kajcsa) that is still in process of editing. A few photos are available already on Facebook.
Summer In Hungary (2) – from Iulia Benze
Iulia Benze reports from the theatrical frontline of a music festival in Hungary …
Following day we had the same people coming plus new ones. We were 13 in total. We worked outside in the garden (open space-turned out to be a bit different from the previous day), as we were more people and we couldn’t all fit in the room. Our meeting started from 10am and finished at 3 pm. Introduction of new members, speaking about likes and dislikes. We talked about identity and I filmed them while they were answering the question What is Identity for you?
After warm-up (rotations, spine, push-ups, plank etc), it was time for a new exercise, which was the Slaps. We created a big circle in the garden and we all counted together, as loud as possible, 500 slaps. The levels of concentration and dedication to this type of task differed from one participant to another, which made me launch for them questions about identity in relation to endurance and discipline.
By this point, we had a few of the new people dropping out from the workshop (Kata, Reka and Sophia-for being too tired from the first night of the festival; and Csaba for having other work responsibilities, as one of the organizers of the festival)
We remained 9.
Still outside, we continued with Barba sticks and while I was introducing new people to the principles of this exercise, because of the lack of space, the one day old participants were allowed to tackle this exercise in a different room of the house by themselves, relying on their own discipline, assuming responsibility and taking risks without being supervised. At my suggestion but also listening to their intuition and spirit of exploration, they started alternating hands and vocalizing when playing this. As they admitted as well, it is a different type of experiencing the Barba sticks and the unknown/risk, implicitly fear, increases when the facilitator is not there.
At this stage, the inevitable happened and one of our participants, B, in doing the task with A, got slightly hit in the head, shocking her system and making her feelings and frustration explode. She kept hiding, swallowing her anger, and I continued the game with her to help her letting all out. Everybody stopped and watched, witnessing in amazement the next level they needed to reach with Barba sticks.
After that, we all made a circle in the sunny garden as it was time and we needed to talk. Everybody shared their opinions about Barba sticks, everybody had new discoveries and this time subjects like pain, hit, being hit were talked about. We were happy for the new that just opened and we decided to go inside to continue with Grotowski movements in which everybody was extremely connected to each other and taking care of their partners.
Taking advantage of the heat in our bodies, flexibility was pushed to its limits through exercises and then we cooled down through a massage and care in pairs, opening new levels of excitement, enthusiasm for the next day of workshop to come.