To what extent do you think Arika’s current work in general, and the great learning workshops in particular, are likely to be able to overcome the implicit and explicit assumptions, mindsets and ideas that attendees bring with them? Is there a danger that the transience of your events results in them being escapist rather than emancipatory?
The problem for us is that:
• We’ve done enough work and thinking over the years to have a decent idea of what the limitations are that might be holding music back, seen from our particular political, philosophical, aesthetic view point.
• That critique necessarily has to start with a ruthless self-critique, and so we have to look at what we’ve done in the past, what we would continue to do, and what we have to change.
• So your question is in fact the question we have to keep asking ourselves: how can our activities contribute to a broadening of the usefulness and radical potential of music as a means by which we frame and engage in the world and with each other. I think the notes above while not in any way being comprehensive, and very definitely not formalised or structured, point to the fact that there were successes and failures in the workshop discussed, and INSTAL in general, and that we need to keep working and learning and developing from there to instigate or take part in processes that take on board the ways in which we’ve succeeded or failed in the past.
• And that’s going to be hard to do, as it’s obvious that there is a fair bit of mental heavy lifting involved in going beyond what you describe as “the implicit and explicit assumptions, mindsets and ideas that attendees bring with them” and that kind of work is not something that’s normally associated with festivals or even really music or with large audiences going to gigs. So we have to find ways to undertake this work together with people who are willing to commit to it, shape it or lead it.
• And at the same time we still want to be presenting work to audiences, recognising that a lot of people don’t want to have to commit to that heavy lifting, and also that there is great stuff out there that rewards just seeing/ listening to it.
• So we have to think a lot about how we construct situations, and how we manage to create for ourselves room to do this hard work with also having fun, listening to other peoples work, not reducing the impact of the artforms we want to promote by making everything too serious all the time, while remaining serious in what we do.
• With regards to the transience of events: our festivals have stretched over time. The first INSTAL (in 2001) was a day long and had 7 performances. INSTAL 10 had 2 weeks of workshops in advance and a week of discussions afterwards and had over 50 events. Right now, we’re trying to learn from how our activities had worked out over the last 18 months, and what shape would be most useful for future ones in the next 18. We only have so much time, capacity, money and so on, but we’re trying to work out how we can present a more consistent programme of activities, that might involve some key public events (kind of like an expanded or exploded festival over a couple of months) while also (if we can arrange it) a longer process of co-investigation that maybe runs through the year.