Towards The Good Life. Urban accupunctures, reflections and practices to reinvent a desire for the future.

Towards the Good Life. Urban accupunctures, reflections and practices to reinvent a desire for the future.

Today, more than ever, it is time to rethink our relationship with the environment, the city, the living, and to recreate desire to find the strength to face the future that is ahead of us.
During three days, we will draw a clear picture of the state of cities and the ecological situation today. We will also try to foresee the future on the basis of realistic observations, rituals, desires, and imaginations.

Day 1: Thursday 24 Septembre 2020


Nine Artistic Acupuncture missions took place in Europe between spring 2018 and the end of 2019, hosted by 9 partners of the IN SITU network, in the framework of the ACT project (2016-2020).
A foreign artist is invited to spend up to six days in their local context to address a previously identified local issue related to one of the following three themes: social justice, cultural identity and urban renewal. During his/her stay, the artist collects the views of local politicians, activists, social workers, residents, etc. He/she then elaborates a proposal for a future artistic intervention, which may or may not be realised. It will be valued as a unique artistic perspective of a specific European context, illustrative of the artist’s particular way of reading social spaces.

During one day of testimonies and workshops, we will build a European landscape and hear the often singular point of view of these artists, performers, visual artists, choreographers, on themes that cross our minds, such as the place of women in public space, the rural exodus, urban rituals or the meaning of monuments...

This day will be moderated by Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio, researcher and art critic from the University of Barcelona.

Speakers: Danae Theodoridou (GR/BE), Maria Sideri (GR), Nada Gambier and Mark Etchells (BE/UK), Morten Traavik (NO), Francesca Grilli (IT/BE), Zweintopf - Gerhard Pichler (AT), Joanne Leighton (AUS/BE).


9:30 > 12:30      Plenary session (introduction to the projects, conversations with the artists, discussion about the adressed challenges : Urban Renewal, Social Justice, Cultural identity)
12:30 > 14:00    Lunch cooked by APUS et les cocottes volantes
14:00 > 17:00    Workshops led by Danae Theodoridou, Maria Sideri, Mark Etchells & Nada Gambier
17:00 > 17:30    Conclusions


Choose one of the 3 workshops:

1/ _Danae Theodoridou : The Practice of Democracy -_ in English
The workshop will focus on the practice of public speech as a democratic action most often practiced by politicians right before elections. What if, though, this practice returned to all citizens as an everyday action, similarly to what happened in Ancient Athenian democracy? What would that mean for the practice of democracy and the way we live together? Questions such as how do we take common decisions, how do we organize ourselves in order to do that, what do we want to decide in common etc., become starting points for a series of individual and group processes and tasks related to the way we place our bodies and voice in public space. Through a series of moving, thinking, writing and speaking tasks that relate to the use of body and language in public space, the decisive traits of ‘courage, responsibility, and shame’ (Castoriadis) in public speech and the relation of democracy to the senses and the imaginary, the aim is to (re)consider the type of decisions we take together and the way we understand our social coexistence in a democratic context.
"The Practice of Democracy" is a year-long research project conducted with the support of the Flemish Community.

2/ Nada Gambier & Mark Etchells : The Voice of a City - in French and English
In this workshop, Nada and Mark will share their love for encounters as a tool to observe the world we live in. Through voices of inhabitants another city may appear.
After a short introduction, participants will be divided into smaller groups and given a map with a dot on it. This is your date.
As a group you then go on a mission to know more about your date, who they are, their history, their role in the neighbourhood. In short, with a few simple tools you will converse with a stranger for about an hour.
After the dates, we reconvene in La Belllone for a sharing of findings and discussion.
What picture of the area can we now paint? What do we know and what remains a mystery? What does being a stranger mean? What is the effect of going towards rather than keeping a distance? What happens when the invisible voice is shared? Who do we become when we are together?
How do we share the voices of those who are absent? What does the city we want to live in, look like?

3/ Joanne Leighton - title to be defined - in French and/or English
Joanne Leighton is a Belgian-Australian choreographer and pedagogue. Her professional career is linked to an original, dynamic and constantly evolving vision of dance and her discourse is permeated by an emphasis on dialogue and exchange, both with the public and with her artistic collaborators. For the Urban Academy, Joanne Leighton will propose a three-part workshop: first, she will present her approach around different projects, mainly "Les Veilleurs" (performance for 732 participants) and her performative walking practice "WALK". After a moment of exchange with the workshop participants, the group will go out for an experiment in public space.

Day 2 & 3: Friday 25 and Saturday 26 Septembre 2020

The Good Life - Reinventing a Desire for the Future

" The two-day conference-workshop is intended to be a collective learning and reflection process aimed at answering the following question: "Given the current ecological, social and political situation, which "Good Lives" does it make sense to aspire to today?" "



10:00 - 14:00

I. Re-presenting the Present - How do we live on this planet?

The first part of the conference aims to provide a realistic and tangible picture of the current ecological situation. The aim is to reveal and deconstruct false hopes, to identify paths that can really help us to get out of the rut.
    1. Better than Yeast? - Energy, civilisation & limits by Matteo Razzanelli (BE) - in English
   2. Colonial Living & Ecological Crisis by Malcom Ferdinand (FR) - in French
   3. Facing the Anthropocene Disaster: Resistance, Resilience & Decline by Agnès Sinai (FR) - in English

14:00 - 15:00

Vegetarian lunch cooked by APUS et les cocottes volantes
15:00 - 19:00

II.  Coming Back to Life

The second part of the conference will be devoted to the need to mourn the hopes and desires that the reality of the ongoing ecological, social and political collapse no longer allows us to sustain and that we must leave behind to make way for new ways of imagining our futures and living our presents.

1. The Last Straw - A Ritual for Turning the Page by Martina Petrovic, with Noy Despoina Grigoriadou, Prisca Agnes Nishim-we, Renata Turkeš - in English
  2. Restore the Present by Isabelle Stengers & Benedikte Zitouni (BE) - in French


III. Re-Desire the Future

The third part of the conference will be an exercise of collective intelligence, to elaborate together imaginary worlds in phase with our knowledge of the present. What values and sensitivities should we cultivate today so that such a future can become desirable to us?

10:00 - 12:00

1.Opening up the field of possibilities - two viable alternatives:

A. Low Tech Solutions by Kris Dedecker (ES) - in English
    B. L'Écolieu de l'Orneau by Romain Gauthier (BE) - in French

12:00 - 13:00

Vegetarian lunch cooked by APUS et les cocottes volantes

13:00 - 18:00

2. A Futurology of Desire. Conception: Maja Kuzmanovic & Ingrid Vranken, facilitation: Ingrid Vranken & Sarah Magnan (FOAM) (BE) - in French & English

Realistic Imaginaries

The disastrous impact due to the lifestyles of our thermo-industrial societies on the ecosystems on which they depend has been studied and known for half a century. With the acceleration of the perceptible deleterious effects on our environment, the question of ecological urgency, even if it is still mainly understood as being limited to a climate crisis, has become widespread among the general public over the last decade.

Nevertheless, the causes (however obvious), the progress (however visible) and the deeply systemic nature of this global catastrophe seem to be evaded by public authorities as well as a large majority of the population in favour of an alternative narrative protecting us from fundamental changes into our lifestyles, rather than from the dangers of the ongoing ecological collapse.

The vast majority of people in our societies are thus living a fictional present, alienated from its earthly material realities. We produce, consume and make decisions as if we were living on another planet. We imagine a future for a world that does not exist. Though in fact, we have tangible evidence that our ecological, social and economic situation is far worse than we think and that many of the things we hope for are part of the problem rather than the solution.

By imagining the future, we can hope and desire everything that our imagination allows us to imagine. We can believe in whatever we are able to tell ourselves as a society. Trying to form a picture of what the "good life" would be in the future gives meaning to the present and guides our choices. But many of the promises we make to ourselves in the intimacy of our individual desires are simply not possible, because they are part of a modernist narrative of progress that has lost touch with reality. We thus tend towards a world that is simply impossible, or worse, whose realization would involve the destruction of our conditions of survival.

By keeping this kind of ideal alive, the future can only appear darker and darker, because it will be populated by more and more castration and deprivation. By persisting in the pursuit of these unrealistic ideals, we are increasingly compromising the possibility of developing others. We thus need to develop a new narrative that is in tune with the reality of our situation on earth. We need to imagine and discover what the "good life" we can reasonably allow ourselves to desire, would be. And we need to learn to desire that perspective if we want to have any chance of seeing it realised.

In order to do so, we must first face the harsh reality of our present. We need to understand the ecological collapse that is taking place and, above all, to accept the range of possibilities that our present is drawing for the future. Once this has been done, once the rational and realistic framework of our situation on earth has been redefined, once our old desires have been relegated to the rank of confabulation, what is left? Are we able to reside in this new world?  In order to be able to inhabit it, we must fill it in with viable desires.  We should put our feet on the ground, in order to give our imagination the power to pull on reality and transform the present.

Art and artists play a fundamental role in the creation of images, in the formation of our imaginaries and in the production of desires.  How to inscribe this work in the reality of ecological collapse?  How to participate as an artist in the creation of a future worth desiring?

Curation Christophe Meierhans