Scholars' Association News
Issue 38
May 2016


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Boundaries and borders at the core of the third Fast Forward Festival

The third Fast Forward Festival (FFF3) which will be held in May at the Onassis Cultural Centre and other venues focuses on the issue of boundaries and borders, be they geographical, cultural, social or sensory, looking at new technologies, unconventional theatrical works and public space.

"FFF3 focuses on the trio of 'art, society and politics' as it attempts to use unconventional sensory experiences, to suggest new methods for analysing, understanding and poetically transforming the present," explained the Festival's artistic director, Katia Arfara, who came up with the overall concept.

Based in places as far apart as Cape Town, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Brussels and Tel Aviv, the artists who will come to the Onassis Cultural Centre in May are seeking to redefine art's role in modern heterogeneous societies, by presenting radical creations that don't rail against history but form an integral part of it, that help write it.

"Unlocking the potential of new media and modern technology, the third Fast Forward Festival explores hybrid territory, at the boundaries of theatre, dance and modern art," explains Katia Arfara, "though always with an emphasis on public space, and this time round with a particular interest in installation art which is the dominant art form in the visual arts at the moment: spectators are called upon to take part in 'total' experiences that activate all the senses and are given the chance to manage their time as they see fit, just like they would behave in a museum. The difference though is that the spectator also happens to be part of the installation".

Spectators wander in solitary fashion along precisely predetermined paths in the memory-charged rooms in Thomas Bellinck's work about "the rise and fall of the European Union" where the Flemish artist has piled up tens of items and documents from the EU's early years. It is a nomadic, futuristic 'museum' which Bellinck has been setting up in various European capitals since 2013, constantly adding new 'chapters' to stimulate debate about modern impasses and deadlocks. The European Union is collapsing, the euro is a thing of the past ... is that a disaster scenario or an unavoidable development? This is black humour rather than euro-scepticism, as the artist takes the spectator into a dystopia with the objective of the 'European dream' being reborn before it is too late. The installation entitled 'House of European History in Exile' is on display from 16 to 31 May 2016.

Spectators can also enjoy a solitary, sometimes awkward feeling, as they wander round Exhibit B, the much talked about 'human installation' in which the South African artist Brett Bailey attacks the West's current stance towards migrant and refugee movements, by critically presenting the 'human zoological gardens' of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Is he a young humanist or an imaginative provocateur? The audience is invited to stroll around a living installation, to observe the 'black' performers/exhibits, as they re-examine what racism, (post-)colonialism, the unequal distribution of wealth and folklore mean. From 24 to 29 May 2016.

As part of FFF3, Back to Back Theatre from Australia is returning to Athens with its sui generis 'street theatre'. Professional actors with mental retardation who star in the show interrupt the daily goings-on in a popular Athenian square and risk exposing themselves to random, unforeseeable events there (20-22 May 2016 in the city centre).

The topic of borders is also dealt with in another two performances in the FFF at the Onassis Cultural Centre, which provide a forum to those who are normally never 'heard' because they belong to the 'weak'. Israeli choreographer Arkadi Zaides turns his critical gaze on the day-to-day life of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank. Based on visual material from the archives of the humanitarian organisation, B'Tselem, Zaides has created a masterful performance addressing the violence done to the human body, and the price a society has opted to pay in order to impose its will. 25-26 May 2016 at the Onassis Cultural Centre's Upper Stage.

Finally, Edit Kaldor, Hungary's most 'hardcore director' presents her Web of Trust performance, using social networking media to create an imaginary social movement at the very boundaries of art and activism. 29-30 May 2016 at the Onassis Cultural Centre's Upper Stage.

The FFF is complemented by a series of parallel activities, debates open to the public with the cast of shows, master classes and workshops.

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