'I feel alienated'. Coping with work and responses needed in culture

This is a wiki summary of one of our community calls. Anyone can edit it and make corrections! Attended: @MariaEuler @oliiive @DanicaLacarac, @enzio.wetzel, and myself.

Maria: most of her plans for this year have been changed. With the Design University in Stockholm we have moved a workshop online and we are going to make a film project where students contribute their own snippets. We are going to search material representations of connections.

Olivier: Doing an online course, and trying to to manage his time between calls and ebinars everywhere. He’s unemployed, and wants to help people to improve their French.

Danica: An architect focused on green cities and urban nature. ‘This new situation has cut all of our funding. I’m thinking of not stopping, maybe deliver a podcast or similar, that can go online, so we can continue to share the knowledge.’ Has an improvised studio in the apartment, so can start.

This whole thing is going to force forward people’s approaches in everyday life. We will recollect our actions and maybe change something tomorrow

Danica’s association is part of a European Federation in 15 countries leading in green cities, and there is a lot of valuable information and experiences that we all share.

I wanted to collect all and bring it to Serbia too. We are very very far from being a green city in Novi Sad, but the awareness of the people is starting to get higher. That’s why I want to continue with my actions.

Noemi: proposed to think about urban greening together with the Edgeryders and Reef network - we would love to get new partners and see for example: what, if anything, from the Green Urban Living repository created end of 2019 can be a topic for a podcast?

Enzio: arrived 7 months ago in Japan at the Goethe Institute, before he worked in Sofia and Munich for a long time, also for Goethe. Many of his colleagues now have to learn how to teach the same things, but online (video, stage design,…), and struggling, especially those who are older.

In Kyoto the Goethe Institute run an artist residence:

what to do here in a residence without residents? how to develop new ideas if you dont have the target group, the guests… The challenge for his team of 6 is: what should we do instead? It’s an inner crisis. Maybe we can find out some new methods to rethink the concept of a residency

It’s not clear how the Japanese groups will cope with this challenge - without an audience, without a job. It’s the kind of work defining your personality. Japan takes a lot of time to think and develop new things.

There are many challenges inside the institutions and personalities in culture. For example in Japan there is not much structure of independence, they invest 10% of what Germany invests in culture. It will be good this year to remove the masks at least online, to exchange about how others cope with this challenge

‘I feel alienated’, one of us said. This cultural shock is alienating. We are all ‘forced to force ideas forward’… It’s an important step forward to try to search for other experiences with online means.

[Noemi note: notice this gap - someone said something personal, but it’s hard to continue because the personal is tied to the professional, so it becomes a conversation about ‘our kind’]

What would be innovation in culture?

  • Build networks of artists and practitioners who understand and know how to make use of support, and engage in constant ways of rethinking work (especially people between 20-40yrs). Example: Cultural Innovators Network, in particular in the Mediterranean area. For individuals - important to learn how to make use of networks and connections and don’t expect the institutional environments to come up with resources, because the way they work is not compatible. Everyone minds their own business in a way…
  • Go beyond the high level art, understand how to the social community work is connected to artistic production, how the needs of the city can connect with culture.
  • Figure out how to embed the online: ex- how to put together an online residency. There’s a big gap between European/Japanese way of organising, but is there a chance to make this visible, experience-able online? Of course, it would never be the aim to make all cultural activities online. We will always long for direct, analogue contact.
  • If it’s digital it’s free - wrong. How to find ways for artists to put their work online to an extent? Or to even work online and use more affordable, open source tools?

Next steps:

  1. Which of these aspects would you like to see discussed at length in a curated session/ webinar? We are making a wishlist here!
  2. How are you coping with loss of work? Fill out this 15 min survey and we’ll create the story to help you connect faster with the network :slight_smile:
  3. Join our regular calls each Tuesday at 12pm Brussels timezone: http://bit.ly/coronawork

This conversation and the tensions described make me think of @bob.
What are you seeing happening in your networks Bob?

@filomena: see the CIN reference, anything there that we should be following to connect more of our networks?

PS hope you are doing well!!

Hi @noemi. Sorry I haven’t been very active in this discussion, although I have been thinking a great deal about the role of culture in our current COVID-19 dominated society, and particularly the implications post COVID. My view is that the other side of the coronavirus epidemic will be very different to the world we left behind at the start of 2020. Many people will have lost their lives. Many more will be grieving or wounded or scared. Many jobs and livelihoods will be gone, along with businesses, charities and cultural organisations. Certain former dreams of people working in the cultural sector may be irrelevant or impossible to deliver because they were built on foundations that can no longer support them.
The pandemic may mark a boundary between certain older institutions, support systems, roles and relationships, and new ways forward that are likely to be quite different. From my perspective, the role of culture (broadly defined) and the arts (also broadly defined) will be central to the discovery of a livable answer. Through culture, experiences and viewpoints are exchanged; we understand difference and tolerate opposition. Culture is the space where we meet and learn to live together, Culture may be one of those keys to recovery and the values that will shape the next chapter of our history. We now need fresh thinking about that new chapter.
You ask what I am seeing happening in the cultural networks of which I am a part. There is a lot of thinking going on, and some practical initiatives too. I have compiled a document that summarises some of the actions of a few of the main European cultural networks. This is developing all the time, but here is an outline of what I am aware of.
Cultural Neworks and Initiatives Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic .pdf (1.8 MB)
Please include me in any reflections or actions in the cultural or artistic spheres linked to Edgeryders if I can add value or offer support. I’d be please to do that.


Yes, there is starting to be a consensus on that. Both you and I remember pre-AIDS times: again, when people stopped dropping dead, they did not go back to the swinging 1980s. Safer sex culture emerged as a way to manage risks. Our new normal (protected sex, exchange of STD tests results when you meet someone) would have looked weird, anxiety-inducing, even alien in 1979. “Surely we can’t live like that!” But we do. Maybe we will never again greet people with a kiss on the cheek or a handshake, unless we are intimate with them and know their epidemiological history. Maybe the crowded clubs of Berlin are gone forever. We will see.

This is a new world now.

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@bob thank you! Other than the ECF’s Culture for Solidarity call, I don’t know of initiatives to actually fund activities that happen in this hiatus period, or come up with mitigating strategies. When I read about the initiatives you listed I thought to myself: it’s coping strategies… and understandable under the constraints.
In our own Trust in Play game design project things are shifting but it’s an internal struggle, rather than following leadership from the EC. @iris_equinox @matteo_uguzzoni do you know anything about the #CreativeEuropeatHome program? Could be good for the quarantine jam sessions?

@enzio.wetzel is Goethe Institut in Japan having any coping strategies, or would you say the period is of waiting?

PS Since you asked in another thread, Bob, we are doing well within the circumstances - if anything Edgeryders should be less affected in the normal day to day operations because our main work is online conversations and sharing. That is, until we saw our channels jeopardized by illicit behaviors of hackers and infringements. We now see a moment to reinforce our protective measures to make the online environments safe for conversations.

Hi Noemi, and Bob,

we are sorry that no artists are here around, and we still feel the lack of real live and everyday contact with our professional partners, whether German or Japanese
or French here in Kyoto. We are settled now quite well in our homeoffices, which is sometimes the sleeping room or the kitchen, so really not an “office”. We are into concept talks and brainstormings between each other and with close partners what could be
installed to have a vivid exchange about artistic work, both conceptual and real handy work in the atelier.

I would be interested to know how you at edgreryders adopt the settings of ZOOM. We at the institute don´t want hackers!

Best, Enzio

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@enzio.wetzel here are some tips for Zoom:

We dropped out and advise others to do the same, but of course it’s understandable that options are not accessible to many organisations. Edgeryders thrives when always new people join the conversation - but that is exactly the danger with using software like this. You will approve of an email address that is new and looks normal, but you don’t know who is behind it.

I think if you organise meetings with people you know and you implement the security settings i.e. the waiting room where the host approves every participant - you should be better off than we… Good luck!