23 September 2020
Festival's lif(v)e in Belgrade: ArtLink Festival at the Fortress of Belgrade and in Novi Sad; BITEF Theatre Festival Prologue in front of and inside its theatre; Belgrade Dance Festival ‘re-constructed’ in the city. And I could be there. These three days in Belgrade will stay in my memory as the first travel out of my home to see, meet and feel people – also those ones I only had seen on zoom or never before -, a travel to live concerts and a piece of theatre (‘Uncanny Valley’ by Stefan Kaegi and Rimini Protocol) since March (at the same time that so many more festivals in EFA’s family are preparing or running their editions).
It is yes, about the arts, and about the aesthetics and the contents of a piece (bravo to pianist Jean Paul Gaspariwoan, we will see you in EFA’s family☺️), and the emotion of the moment of an orchestra under the guidance and leadership of conductor Benjamin Haemhout of young talented musicians from the 6 Western Balkan countries (as part of the project Camerata Balcanica founded by amazing Jovanka Višekruna Janković), some of them performing for the first time in an orchestra. It is also about the festival as a meeting place; as the place where the conversation around the arts triggers conversations about our lives, and “us” in our lives. Through these conversations and encounters, our diverse communities are built.
So many talks, encounters, questions and more questions around the table, with distance and a glass of wine, during the days that you spend out of your city in another city, can only happen if you give them this space and time. They only happen when one steps out of one’s sleeping room where my computer mastered in the past 6 months all the zoom meetings and online shows one can possibly, even in parallel, follow. They can only be felt under your skin when you allow them to become a memory: from inside. When you allow them the time to be digested and stay with you, when you invest the efforts of a travel, a flight, the organisation of your kids, and the all the consequences this carries. Then new ideas can sparkle, the ones you did not programme (like the agenda on a zoom meeting): the ones that are co-created with colleagues, the innovations that grow out of the moment that is shared thanks to the enthusiasm, the openess that develops, the talks about life and love, the honesty and generosity that is shared; for the best of the arts, the artists, our communities and our lives. Thank you wonderful Jovanka; thank you Benjamin; thanks to Ivan and Jean Paul, and all the lovely people I could meet in Belgrade during these three days for this real time human touch ‘from inside’.
This visit is part of the ambition to build further bridges between young artistic talent in the region and throughout Europe in the frame of the European Festivals Association’s community. ArtLink, SEFA, the Serbian Festivals Association, and the newly established Balkan Artists Hub follow this ambition.