Faced with the political breakdowns and economic diktats of the European Union, are artists capable of re-sketching the outlines of the European project, of re-designing a shared living space for Europe and beyond? And are they willing to do so? How can we use the diverse and nomadic nature of our cultures, languages and works of art to bring people closer together? What role do institutional initiatives and professional networks play in this shared cultural dynamic?
In order to enhance their visibility, to break free from their isolation and to identify opportunities for co-productions and partnerships, cultural actors need to look beyond the borders of their country. What are the risks and opportunities associated with this international approach, and can it be facilitated and boosted by professional networks?
The economic crisis has led to the closure of industrial manufacturing sites and commercial spaces, and has left countless residential properties and units vacant. These sites – whether abandoned, forgotten or in transition – are changing the appearance of our cities. They have nonetheless emerged as ideal locations for the temporary and low-cost installation of cultural projects, as well as for spaces for work and creation that are more accessible to the local population. Under which conditions, including legal regulations, will the occupation of abandoned spaces be allowed to develop in Greece? How can we ensure the viability of these temporary (or even permanent) spaces that have been re-appropriated to the benefit of cultural actors?
International events like the European Capital of Culture are a show of faith in the capacity of culture to revitalise our territories. A means of driving economic and touristic development, of transforming uses and of empowering citizens, culture is also – and above all – capable of giving a vital boost to territories that are experiencing hardships. How can cultural project leaders, artists, administrators, elected representatives, architects and urban planners integrate culture into our broader territorial dynamics? Several initiatives in Greece, including the “un élu, un artiste” programme and Eleusis: European Capital of Culture 2021, will share their experiences and illustrate what is at stake when we use culture as a driving force for territorial development.
At times, sites and territories are obliged to bear their outstanding heritages like a burden; one that reduces them to no more than postcards. Indeed, monuments can be so overwhelming that some individuals, like author Christos Chrissopoulos, have gone so far as to dream of “the destruction of the Parthenon”!
How can we challenge our most prestigious landmarks, and breathe life and activity into historic or natural sites by forcing them to interact with contemporary creation? How can this process accommodate not just those involved in the running of those sites, but also the people who live in their vicinity?
Festivals are places of sharing, conviviality and freedom, offering a vantage point from which to survey our era and the aspirations of young Europeans. What experiences do they have to offer audiences, both local and international? How do they resist broader market trends and the risk of being cut off from their territories? How are emerging events – fuelled by local audiences and offering brave, innovative and politically-engaged programmes – contributing to the reinvention of the festival landscape?
Imagine being simultaneously offered the gifts of time, accommodation in a relaxing and inspiring setting, and resources with which to create. It sounds like a dream – but who gets to make it their reality? By rescuing artists from their usual material restrictions for a period of weeks or months, residencies serve as wonderful opportunities for creation. However, they are often reserved for artists who have travelled from afar. How can we avoid this “aquarium effect” and, in doing so, allow local artists to identify and enjoy their own residencies? How can we improve the visibility of artists’ residencies in Greece and Europe, and bring them into closer harmony?
Numerous cultural solidarity projects have been carried out in a Greek nation that, since 2015, has had to face up to the European migration crisis. European Lab Delphi will give those projects the opportunity to report on their actions and share their future plans.
Intellectual property remains the cornerstone of all cultural policies. A month on from the European Parliament’s adoption of a revised position on copyright rules in the digital single market, European Lab Delphi brings you up to speed and discusses what is at stake culturally and politically when we debate the issue of copyright.
In the face of the politics of austerity imposed on their nation by the European Union, the Greek people have reinvented a new form of social organisation and cultural politics that exists on the margins of public authority.
In every domain, and particularly the cultural sector, the ancient arts of collective effort and working together have reclaimed centre stage in society, thanks to the development of interdisciplinary collaborations and practices.
Parallel economies founded on sharing and resource-pooling have sprung up across Greece, offering alternative solutions with a focus on self-determination and horizontality.
How can self-managed or participative initiatives contribute to the transformation of Greek society?
The ongoing traumas in Greece have led to the creation of new movements, the establishment of solidarity projects and the emergence of fresh forms of social organisation within political projects whose aim is not necessarily to take power. What impact are these sociocultural alternatives, with their focus on self-organisation, having on society? Where do they fit, in terms of both history and the different forms of democratic practice that exist in Europe?
For as long as Europe remains a “forced destiny” offering neither alternatives nor reinvention, it will only ever inspire indifference, anger or violent rejection. Do we still have time to question the nature and shape of the European project and, in doing so, challenge the dominant economic discourse, imagine alternative pathways and share information in different ways?
How can we open spaces for creation, information and thought that straddle national boundaries? Or imbue European debate with refound vitality and motion, bringing it to life with inspiring figures, platforms, new media and networks? Led by artists, activists, journalists and academics, countless initiatives are creating spaces for resistance and reflection at both the European and international levels.
The Eastern expanse of our continent simultaneously arouses fascination (for its cultural vitality and unbridled creativity) and concern (owing to increasingly powerful authoritarian regimes, virulent nationalism and a resurgence of memorial disputes). Eastern Europe and the Balkans possess a powerful capacity to regenerate the narratives that connect us all, irrespective of borders or differences of community, religion and language. To a greater extent than elsewhere, artists are aware of the political power of art and are committed to the transformation of society and intercultural practices.
European Lab Delphi lends an ear to these cultural actors from the East, characterised by their different practices and new narratives.