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Panel: Conflict as Transformation

Nora Amin, Mike van Graan and Chiaki Soma
Moderation Melmun Bajarchuu

10:30 - 12:00

The Panel of the ITI Annual Conference will open up the theme of Conflict & Care. 

The guests, that will be speaking, are Nora Amin, Chiaki Soma and Mike van Graan. 

As artists, cultural practitioners, and activists, we often experience conflict within artistic and institutional processes. Shedding light on conflict from a marginalized perspective, conflict can be considered an engine to transformation as it questions dominant power structures.  

While the conference addresses the potential of conflict towards transformation, the panel will open up with statements by the panelists. In particular, they will discuss issues of curation, policy-making, conflict dynamics, trauma and non-segregational perspectives. 

The panel will address the problems around conflict and as well formulate transformational visions and possibilities of care.

Panel with Nora Amin, Mike van Graan and Chiaki Soma
Moderation Melmun Bajarchuu

Nora Amin is an author, choreographer, performer, theatre director and scholar. Her main area of research is trauma healing through dance, ritualistic embodiments/voice, and feminist approaches to Baladi dance. In 2011, she founded the nation-wide Egyptian Project for Theater of the Oppressed and its Arab network in Sudan, Lebanon and Morocco. She holds a PhD in cultural policy from the university of Hildesheim. Current publications include: Weiblichkeit im Aufbruch (MSB, Matthes & Seitz, 2018), and Tanz der Verfolgten (MSB, Matthes & Seitz, 2021) a feminist approach towards the decolonisation of belly dance. 

Mike van Graan has participated in numerous cultural policy initiatives and advocacy networks both within South Africa, across the African continent and on the international stage. He served as the founding Secretary General of Arterial Network, a Pan-African organization advocating for the cultural dimension of development, human rights and democracy and was appointed from 2011 to 2018 to UNESCO’s expert facility on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. He also co-designs and facilitates the programme for the Atelier for Festival Managers (a project of the European Festivals Association) with its global reach. He is an award-winning playwright whose work generally explores personal-political dynamics while interrogating contemporary global and local themes relating to social justice. He is the 2018 recipient of the Swedish Hiroshima Prize for Peace and Culture, the same year that he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pretoria in recognition of his work as a playwright, and as a cultural activist. 

Chiaki Soma (Program Director of Theater der Welt 2023) is the founder and director of Arts Commons Tokyo, an independent art professional collective founded in 2014. As a curator and producer, Chiaki Soma specializes in transdisciplinary contemporary art that combines theatre and media art with AR/VR technologies. Over the past twenty years, she has produced or curated various projects in Japan and Asia as Programme Director of Festival/Tokyo (2009-2013), Founding President and Artistic Director of Theater Commons Tokyo (2017 – present), Curator of Performing Arts of Aichi Triennale (2019 and 2022). She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. 

Melmun Bajarchuu works at the intersections of art, theory and politics as a thinker and discourse partner, and takes on a variety of roles within collaborative artistic processes, such as critical companion, curator and production manager. She is driven by a desire for a variety of artistic forms of expression as well as to question existing structures and their accompanying power relationships and mechanisms for exclusion. She has a special interest in the interweaving of theories and practices within the context of poststructuralist, anticolonial as well as queer feminist perspectives.

Sharing Power – Giving away Power

Dr. Ferdaouss Adda

14:00 - 15:15

This roundtable will be held in German!

It is impossible to avoid talking about "power" and its facets, about its connecting and disconnecting lines. We may feel powerless at times. That does not change the fact that we are all endowed with "power". That is the connecting line. The dividing lines are sometimes obvious, sometimes vague, often subtle: in a society saturated with inherited inequalities, "power" is not available to everyone in the same way. It may be unavoidable to feel powerless when we realise this - but it would be fatal to stop at this point.  

If we want to initiate transformations that promote a cultural practice of equity and "eye level", "power sharing" offers an approach to becoming aware of our respective roles and privileges. 

We want to open a space in which we become clearer about our respective responsibilities and identify first, concrete steps that everyone can implement in (professional) everyday life. 

Note: This roundtable will be held in German.

Dr. Ferdaouss Adda (she/her) is a cultural anthropologist. From 2018 to 2022, she led the diversity-oriented opening process at Theater Bremen. Ferdaouss Adda is active in various professional fields and positions: as a speaker, lecturer, curator, consultant for artistic and organizational change processes with a focus on diversity and social justice. As a Woman of Color, she is passionate about mentoring, especially BIPoC.   

Work & research interests: Social orders, organizational cultures, decolonization, critical diversity, empowerment. 

Questions of invisibility and power

Carole Umulinga Karemera

14:00 - 15:15


Carole Umulinga Karemera holds a Master in Drama and Music (Jazz) from The Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Mons (Belgium) and a certificate in Cultural Leadership from the African Arts Institute (South Africa).  

She has performed in internationally acclaimed theatre, dance and film productions directed by Peter Brook, Jacques Delcuvellerie, Raoul Peck, Wim Vandekeybus, Marion Hänsel, Denis Mpunga, etc.  

She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Ishyo Arts Centre, one the most dynamic creative or-ganizations based in Kigali, involved in advocacy, capacity building, production and promotion of the creative sector in Rwanda and the sub-region.  

She is a board member of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), of the Rwandan Academy of Culture and Heritage and of the steering committee of the African Cultural Policy Network (ACPN).  

She is a versatile artist with over two decades of experience in the performing arts and cinema, equally at home staging new theatrical and music pieces and experimental artistic works. She is an arts manager and an activist supporting freedom of creative expression in Africa. Her current artistic work includes participatory arts, arts for young audience, trans-disciplinary and trans-media artistic productions presented in formal cultural venues as well as in unconventional spaces. In 2023, she develops two new productions: "Blind spot" about anti-black racism and white privilege and "Si-lence" about the relation Teenagers have with taboos and unspoken truth.

Cacophonic Practices - How can dissent be heard and sustained?

Carolina Mendonça

14:00 - 15:15

Carolina Bianchi and Carolina Mendonça have been collaborating in different forms, investigating how do address sexual violence through theatre; studying the consequences such experiences have in bodies, in social structures, in imagination. Their own stories constitute a prism through which they feel, hear and speculate. Asking how to confront power relations from the everyday life, lived experiences of domination in the intimacy of a room, behind the apparent tranquility of a family gathering. As Elsa Dorlin says “for some people, the question of defense does not end when the moment of a more focused political mobilization ends; it concerns an experience lived on a continuum”. 

In this Roundtable Mendonça shares questions discussed together with Bianchi in the creation process of Cadela Força, part of Theater der Welt, and Zones of Resplendence. They have been cultivating practices of collective sensing that favors opacity to clarity, multiplicity to homogeneity, dissonance to consonance. Listening to the cacophony of such delicate topics they ask: How can dissent be heard and sustained? How can we listen to calls that are already resonating?  

Carolina Mendonça is graduated in Performing Arts at ECA-USP and and holds a Master in Choreography and Performance from Giessen University. Her latest projects are Zones of Resplendence (2023) that speculates around feminist perspectives on violence; Pulp- History as a Warm Wet Place (2018) that deals with an intuitive archeology of the leftovers of the XVII-XVIII centuries; useless land (2018) where together with Catalina Insignares they invite de audience to sleep while they read through the night. 

Carolina was one of the curators of NIDO (2022) together with Suely Rolnik and Victoria Perez Royo; of the Performing Arts Festival VERBO and Temporada de Dança. She collaborates with artists such as Catalina Insignares, Marcelo Evelin, Marcela Santander, Dudu Quintanilha, Carolina Bianchi and others. 

Wahrhafter Wandel statt instrumentalisierte Inszenierung

Tessa Hart

15:30 - 16:45

This roundtable will be held in German!

Diversity, inclusion, anti-discrimination, intersectionality, cultural change, power-critical - these are just a few of the terms many theatres and cultural organizations like to embellish themselves with. Yet the reality behind the scenes usually looks different as the complexity of these terms, the theories and methodologies behind them are often only superficially reflected and marketed to the public. As a result, the status quo with its original power relations and rigid structures is preserved while transformation processes are suggested for the external perception.  

In other words: The old building simply gets a new façade. 

This Roundtable invites participants to develop critical competencies to distinguish between true transformation processes and the instrumentalization of debates, methods, and people. It also reflects on what conflict and care mean in these contexts and how sustainable transformation can be driven by authentic examinations.

Tessa Hart is a culture and change maker in performing arts, film & socio-cultural fields. Currently, Tessa is the General Director of AfroPolitan Berlin and the Artistic Director of Goblin Baby Co. Furthermore, as an artist, facilitator, and organizer Tessa has been involved in numerous projects in performance, film, and culture, co-founded The Bread & Roses Theatre in London, and served as its Co-Director for seven years, and is regularly part of jury processes and selection committees. As an author, Tessa has published contributions to Racialised Faces in white Creative Spaces, Realitäten. 30 queere Stimmen, further book and online publications, as well as theatre plays.

Experiences of conflict and the resulting care practices within a feminist and LGBTQI+ rights artivism collective in the Peruvian context

Alex Diaz Loo

15:30 - 16:45

The feminist collective AFFIDARE (Association of Independent and Diverse Feminists of Arequipa) uses art and activism to advocate for LGBTQI+ and women’s rights in Peru. This Roundtable will briefly present the collective’s work, the current political context in Peru, as well as the internal and external power dynamics the collective grapples with. It will then address the collective’s conception and understanding of care practices developed from an instinctive feminist perspective, and discuss the theoretical and empirical sources that have inspired the collective’s vision of care practices, focusing on the ongoing struggle against the patriarchal view on care and conflict. What are the internal and external threats the collective faces? How are these taken into account when staging public demonstrations and working in the community in terms of care and conflict? The workshop will include examples of conflict, resolution, and best care practices developed as a result.

Alex D. Loo is an activist for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights in Peru. She is co-founder of AFFIDARE (Association of Independent and Diverse Feminists of Arequipa), and of the artivist drum ensemble Bomba Cuir. Her work challenges the pervasive heterocisnormativity, sexism, and colonialism in Peruvian society through courses, workshops, and artistic interventions in the public space that denounce human rights violations and systemic oppression. She’s Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics with the University of Leicester, UK, and has also studied cultural anthropology and education.  

Funding Care (or why care about Funding?)

Koleka Putuma

15:30 - 16:45

To begin talking about the work she conducts through her company's fellowship programme in her roundtable, Koleka would like to utilize Toni Morrison's essay "The Price of Wealth, The Cost of Care" as a starting point. 

The Fellowship is an initiative to support and promote storytellers whose voices and narratives have historically been neglected in South African literature and theatre. The initiative aims to expand debates about diversity, inclusion, access, and opportunity throughout the narrative landscape and to push new viewpoints in contemporary cultural discourse. 

One of the focuses of the fellowship is to brainstorm sustainable work practices with the fellows, whether in their creative or professional practices, in order to help the growing unemployment and education crises in South Africa. Koleka will also talk about her experiences as a cultural worker and storyteller, whose work spans both domestic and international contexts. 

Koleka Putuma is a multi-award-winning theatre practitioner, writer and poet. Her work tackles themes such as homophobia, womanhood, race and the dynamics of relationships, religion and politics. Her poetry is sharp and thought provoking, unique in its form, language and structure. Every line, a powerful statement of what she stands for. 

How to Live When You Are Dying

Gerald Odil

15:30 - 16:45

‘You are not censors but sensors, not aesthetes but kinaesthetes. You are sensationalists.’ Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant than the Sun; Adventures in Sonic Fiction.

On thinking about conflict and care as transformational tools in the context of my work, I found myself where I have always started; in the community. My practice and that of my sisters in the Anti-Mass Collective are inspired by and made for our communities. We all lense our practices through mother ties, returning to beginnings while reaching towards the future, crafting possibilities and mutations, and inviting the queer-identified we have found family to journey with us. Nothing is more dangerous, in this time characterized by the callous individuality that places us all on a hierarchical ladder of access to basic life-sustaining ways of being, than being a communalist. Recognizing the innate interconnectedness of us all, especially at our marginalized intersections.

Existing as young(ish), poor, and visibly queer people in Uganda has us living to survive a heavily regressive and surveilled environment. The resurgence and ascension into law of the Anti-LGBTQ law and the violence that has followed has led us to start redefining what community is, not just as a resource but also as a garden that we need to replenish. In these times, where do we run to? Where do we go to be safe? To be cared for and to care for others? And how do we strip ourselves of the shroud of villainy that has been placed on us to not lose ourselves to the terror? How do we rest?

I am interested in sharing and learning from others how they navigate voicelessness. How do you express yourself in an environment hostile to your identity? What does it mean to be or assume the voice of a community? How do you form community when you cannot call each other by name? What are our understandings of how care is organized in different contexts? How can we sublimate the conflicts that we are facing in our communities? Moving towards care and interconnectedness?

Gerald Odil Ronnie has been a Kampala, Uganda-based artist, curator, and producer of performance and multimedia art exhibitions, workshops, and projects centering and bridging queer perspectives, Afrofurist manifestations, and regenerative practices that centre community and communal care for five years. They are a founding member of a queer artist collective Anti-Mass; a collaborative arts collective based in Kampala. They were curator-fellow at the KLA ART21 public art, Uganda’s only public art festival produced by 32° East|Ugandan Arts Trust. They also produced the 2021-2022 edition of Transdisciplinary Regenerative Encounter Residency in Uganda (TRERU) initiated by the Dutch-Belgian collective TAAT, focusing on regenerative, creative development and artistic commoning among artists and creatives in Kampala. They are also part of the Independent Curators International; Curatorial Intensive Alumni from 2022. Their performance and visual arts projects include: “Enfranchized Play House,” an interactive scenographical installation at Alliance Francaise de Kampala. “Black Sistarz,” a collaborative movement and dance queer performance at the 2022 Nyege Nyege Festival, They have supporting acting credits in feature film „Good Girl“, a Bad Mama Jama production and various other small screen and theatre projects over the last six years.