Tilburg as the epicentre of Performing Public Space

Group photo Part of PPS 2017/2018 (l-r): Ulla Havenga, Maryam Zomorodian, Anne-Marije van den Bersselaar, Heleen de Hoon, Vicky Angelidou, Guo Rui, Nikita Maheshwary, Meldy IJpelaar, Evy Raes, Vitoria Aquino, Jan Noordman (missend: Mami Izumi, Monique Zijp, Flora Veres, Anja Radakovic, Sabine Maringer, Hedwig van Leuven) Group photo Part of PPS 2017/2018 (l-r): Ulla Havenga, Maryam Zomorodian, Anne-Marije van den Bersselaar, Heleen de Hoon, Vicky Angelidou, Guo Rui, Nikita Maheshwary, Meldy IJpelaar, Evy Raes, Vitoria Aquino, Jan Noordman (missend: Mami Izumi, Monique Zijp, Flora Veres, Anja Radakovic, Sabine Maringer, Hedwig van Leuven)


By 
Tim Durlinger, translation by Bert Aquarius l Tilburg, June 21 2018 l This article in Dutch, dit artikel in het Nederlands

We are all familiar with street artists and performers. But there is so much more to performing in the public space. This academic year, FHK commenced a one-year Master Programme Performing Public Space (PPS) for those who wish to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the subject. Together with four people involved, we look back on the start of this programme. “I think that, more and more, art will relocate to the public space and leave the traditional spaces such as museums and theatres.”

This is what Heleen de Hoon, Head of Studies Master PPS tells us. ‘The reason for this is not just the difficult financial position of the arts, but also because artists want to reach out to their audiences to make their work more accessible.”

That is why it was about time to start a research master’s programme with regard to this theme; a programme which focuses on the public space as an environment to create art. ‘Naturally, a move like that generates a myriad of definitions: how do we define the public space? Where is the dividing line between public and private? Is it restricted to a city or a village environment or can it also be in natural surroundings; and what about a virtual space?” Ulla Havenga wonders out loud. She plays a coordinating role in the master programme; last year, she was involved in the student recruitment.

Miscellaneous crowd

It turned out to become a miscellaneous crowd: fourteen men and women from nine different nationalities. According to Heleen, this cultural melting pot is of crucial importance to this programme. “In the Netherlands we look upon the PPS theme in a total different way than they do in certain other parts of the world. The things you can do in the public space in China is literally a world apart from the situation here. This diversity launches group dynamics.” All participants are artists who have their own practice and who have been actively involved in the professional field for quite some time. Another unique feature of the programme: students do not have to come to FHK: assignments can be done online in their own country; the weekly coaching sessions are done via Skype.

Vitoria Aquino from Brazil and Nikita Maheshwary from India are two master students who came to the Netherlands for a certain period of time. They both have a background in dance and theatre. Vitoria used to live in Breda as an intern; during that period, she took a keen interest in what was going on at FHK: ‘My aspiration was to attend a master programme. I had performed in the public space before and now I was offered the opportunity to acquire an in-depth approach to the subject.” In India, Nikita could not find the practice-related master she was looking for. She decided to spend three years to expand her horizon and find an English language programme in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. “Eventually, I chose the Fontys programme because of the infrastructure, the means, the teachers and the artists available here.”
Vitoria Andrade, Nikita Maheshwary during their community project 'Het Verhalenhuis' [the house of stories], together with a resident from Woensel-West, Eindhoven; May 2018;  in collaboration with Tante Netty. Vitoria Andrade, Nikita Maheshwary during their community project 'Het Verhalenhuis' [the house of stories], together with a resident from Woensel-West, Eindhoven; May 2018; in collaboration with Tante Netty.

Interdisciplinarity

Both students also share the conviction of how important interdisciplinarity is. Apart from performers, the master students include an architect, a photographer, a production manager and a philosopher. This, according to Vitoria, gives her a clear picture of how artists approach the contemporary public space. And although it is the first year of the Master PPS, Nikita does not feel a guinea pig at all. “I visited several countries and nowhere have I come across a master like the one at Fontys. It is a fine mixture of theory and practice; and very relevant to what is going on in today’s world.”

Wall Mural Installation with stories from residents in ‘Het Verhalenhuis’ in Woensel-West, Eindhoven, May 2018. Wall Mural Installation with stories from residents in ‘Het Verhalenhuis’ in Woensel-West, Eindhoven, May 2018.

Boot camps

This is partly due to the three two-week boot camps. For this component of the programme participants have to come to the Netherlands. Students attend an intensive programme with guest speakers and workshops and peer assessment as far as their projects are concerned. So far, as a result of the first boot camp and in collaboration with the Dutch visual artist Anja Radacovic, Vitoria and Nikita have developed a cooperative association with the Eindhoven-based organization Tanty Netty, that include activities in the Woensel-West area.

At the request of the students and as the conclusion of that project, the third boot cam started in the Woensel-West area by giving presentations and organizing workshops there. This flexibility is exactly what the programme management is looking for.  “We want our students to bring forward their definitions through their art. We want them to create the master in collaboration with us,“Ulla explains. Their activities include building a worldwide network of people who are involved in this theme with Tilburg as the epicentre of it all.

Final Show-Case

Students apply for an artistic research programme by introducing a public space project they wish to develop in the course of the master. By now, the project has entered its conclusive phase. Participants are invited to present themselves during the Final Show-Case. According to Vitoria, It is all about the process: “If you think you can continue to develop the works of art in a next phase, than there is the possibility to do so.“ On June 29, during the Final Show-Case 2018 of the Master PPS, she and Nikita will present their work at De Refter, and of course in the public space.

Head of Studies Heleen who, together with Aart Strootman, Paul de Bruyne and Anne-Marije van den Bersselaar, from the teaching/coaching staff - confirms that the programme is mainly a possibility for an in-depth approach for the students. “It is not possible to compare the artistic quality or range of the students. One of our students is busy creating at least twelve theatre performances in a park in Vienna while others are creating something for passers-by in the street.”

After the summer, Nikita and Vitoria will stay on in the Tilburg area for a little longer. The artist from India would like to realize her dream of getting a Phd. “After that, I will surely return to India.” The Brazilian artist will continue the development of her project in Eindhoven.

To a certain extent, this is also true for the Master PPS staff. “In the course of this academic year, we have laid solid foundations and have build an excellent network,” according to Heleen. “At the start of our second year, our confidence will have increased substantially, “Ulla explains, “for instance as far as our speakers are concerned: who do we want to invite again?  It is true that every following academic year new students will arrive, but that will keep us on our toes and expand our network significantly.”

Final Show Case 2018

Would you like to know what our students have achieved in 2017/2018?

Come and join us in our festive final showcase exhibition in which we proudly present the first graduate students of the Master Programme Performing Public Space and their individual art projects.
The guided afternoon, organized by the educational programme’s core team, combines introductory talks, exhibited project presentations and off-side live performances.
Refreshments will be served.

Date: June 29
Time: 4.00 pm
Location: Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts
Zwijsenplein 1, Tilburg - Refter

 

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