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Head to Bristol for a weekend of live art and performance

Image: 'WOODS' by Clarice Lima.

IBT Wildness is a new weekender of live art and performance produced by Bristol’s In Between Time founded by artist Helen Cole in 2001. In Between Time has been attracting audiences, artists and visitors to Bristol ever since from all over the UK and beyond and has now created its first-ever midsummer weekend programme.

Made up of 3 key events on Friday June 17 and Saturday June 18, IBT Wildness is set to bring Bristol City Centre to a standstill via striking human installation WOODS, created by Clarice Lima alongside an international collective of performance artists and local performers. Together, they will create a metaphorical forest amidst concrete and glass in Bristol’s busiest shopping district. Also on Saturday June 18, Bristol-based artist Sylvia Rimat invites audiences to become forest divers as they journey through Leigh Woods. Utilising Sylvia’s bespoke geo-located app at this atmospheric location, Sylvia’s experiential piece Some People Climb Up traverses deep into woodlands, soil and tree canopies, both real and imagined.

Back in Bristol City Centre on the same day, dance artist and environmental activist Rita Marcalo’s company Instant Dissidence creates Slowmo, a joyous dance travelogue through Bristol’s streets inspired by their long, slow journey across Europe to Bristol by train and the people and places they have met along the way.

Each event is produced via a sustainable approach. For example, Instant Dissidence travelled across Europe to reach Bristol by boat and train. At IBT Wildness, artists are working responsibly with recycled materials and without power. Here, Helen Cole outlines the concept of IBT Wildness and how live art is vital to our future.

In Between Time: How did you come about changing your programme from IBT’s usual biennial festival?

Helen Cole:
In Between Time has been a producer of incredible artistic experiences and international festivals for over 20 years. An IBT artwork could be a length of autopsy threads; a night walk with teenagers; a bridge of fog; a glass kiss. IBT produces work which is often visceral, unfolding in front of you, so close you can touch it, sweaty, screaming in your face, in a crowd, kind of art. Our home is Bristol and the Southwest, and our work has always had a kind of wanderlust, taking in forests, caves, warehouses, docksides, foreshores, as well as theatres and galleries.

This brings us to IBT Wildness and where we are now. Over the last few years our approach to international festival making and live art practice has been shifting, informed by environmental and social justice and the urgent changes that are needed in the world. Our experience of covid has escalated this change faster than we could have ever imagined.

We are not the same producers we once were. Over the last two years we have learned new ways to work: embracing new forms of digital, remoteness and hybridity; creating new more sustainable forms of international collaboration; building care and resilience into our research and practice; asking what is safe, who is not here, what is important, what is not. Alongside our existing partnerships with arts institutions, universities, and community organisations, In Between Time has also developed an entirely new set of three-year alliances with environmental researchers and agencies as our collaborators and partners.

Our last festival, IBT21 was a pragmatic and necessary mix of hybrid, live and remote, ensuring we could respond to whatever the pandemic threw at us. Our previous festival IBT19 reduced its carbon footprint by focusing on local and UK artists and inviting international artists to stay longer and dig deeper into collaboration with local people. We applied the rules of considerate travel and production, but we were left knowing we needed to go much further.

IBT Wildness builds on these foundations. It sets the foundations from which a new festival will emerge. This year is just the beginning, a cluster of artists, artworks, experiences, created with local people in wild and urban settings, that will evolve and gather pace over the next three years.

I believe festivals grow up because they have to. They are a combustion of energy that are not imposed on a place, or a community. They must always be alive to the beauty and turmoil of places and people who have spawned them. In these unprecedented times of emergency and injustice, international festivals need to adapt and evolve more than ever before. IBT Wildness poses a question. What would it look like if we were to build an international festival differently? Slowly, more sustainably, in collaboration with incredible artists and local people over the next three years? What would it look like to welcome international artists whilst ensuring our work leaves as little impact on the environment as possible? Can we build a festival that foregrounds the urgencies we are facing, and embraces the new skills and innovations of the last few years? IBT Wildness is full of hope for the future and embraces ‘acting wild’ as a tactic for connection, that brings us closer to each other, and roots us in deep connection to the natural world.  

Image: Instant Dissidence / SlowMo. Photographed by Jemma Stein.

In Between Time: How do each of the IBT Wildness events highlight the climate emergency?

IBT Wildness is not a programme about climate emergency. At its heart, it is a live art programme that builds connection to nature and encourages wild creativity. It is full of hope that there are solutions to climate emergency, that they already lie in us. It believes we are already moving into new ways of thinking and being that are better for ourselves and our planet.

WOODS by Brazilian artist Clarice Lima explores the impermanence and instability of the body, nature and climate and is born from a desire to create roots in the cities we live in. Asking for how long will the body stand? For how long will the forest stand? WOODS creates temporary landscapes of people who become like metaphorical trees in the city. It asks about other possible ways for a body to resist, to persist, to carry through potentialities against the city concrete, the lack of nature, climate changes, the missing trees and forgotten woods. Costumes are created from recycled materials to create a diverse, organic, and strongly visual temporary intervention into the city’s landscape.

Slowmo by Ireland’s Instant Dissidence is made completely in collaboration with those it meets and in response to the places it has been. It embraces our stories of far off places, to reignite these moments in all of us. It tours across Europe slowly and sustainably by boat and train. It encourages us to cherish each other, to live deeply, to leave nothing but footprints, and to commit to local people and their stories wherever they may be.

Some People Climb Up by Bristol artist Sylvia Rimat invites us on a deep dive into the heart of the forest. From the micellular networks beneath our feet and the canopy of leaves above, it connects us to nature and weaves stories of woodlands from science, myths and fairy tails to remind us our imaginations are made from synapses, firing like the roots of a tree that lie under the surface to feed and sustain us.

WOODS and Slow Mo are supported by Perform Europe, an EU-funded project which aims to rethink cross-border performing arts presentation so that it is more inclusive, sustainable, fairer and more balanced.

Image: Sylvia Rimat's Some People Climb Up. Photographed by Laura Montag.

In Between Time: In what way is this a sustainable weekend?

All the artworks are made using sustainable touring and production techniques wherever it has been possible to do this. The artists travel across Europe by train and boat. The artworks are financed through sustainable international touring consortia and are developed in innovative place-based partnerships with local people, environmental agencies such as Festival of Nature and Natural History Consortium, and through local community collaboration with Trinity Arts. They connect local people with international artists to share skills locally and nationally, supporting peers and artists to themselves make changes to their practice towards climate justice.  The programme supports the local economy, local crews and community gathering through employing local freelance crews, locally sourced, organic food in much loved spaces and venues. IBT Wildness uses limited power and recycled materials wherever that is possible, providing opportunities for people to be wildly creative, whilst connecting nature to the people who need it most.  

In Between Time: What are you most looking forward to about the weekend?

I am a live art person remember. Being in a space with others whilst something fragile and inexplicable unfolds in front of me is something I have yearned for over the last two years. Yet, although many are now able to return to these kinds of experiences thousands of others like me cannot. I am prevented from attending live performances due to the clinical vulnerability of my partner and my daughter’s disabilities. I have missed it so much. IBT Wildness is outside and can be experienced at a safe distance. This means I can be there too, for once. I can’t wait to see the artworks unfolding right there in front of me. I know the power of live art to change people’s lives. The fact that we are working with local people on the UK premiere of WOODS makes this even more special. Watching people come together to experience something new, to create something new is at the heart of In Between Time.

IBT Wildness
17-19 June

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