A monthly blog by Grzegorz Reske, the new artistic director of SPRING
In my life there’s a certain scenario that will repeat itself every now and then. Often in a new constellation of acquaintances, the moment I tell people that I work for a festival, I’ll hear this phrase: “That’s cool! So what do you do the rest of the year?”.
Sure, when we look at it from the outside, a festival is this bombastic, once-a-year moment (one, two or three weeks) when it forms this exceptional presence in the city. But to deliver this momentary eruption of events takes a lot of work – some of it visible, but even more of it invisible. Preparations start months in advance, and further work awaits long after the last piece of scenography is taken down from the stage and the last light has dimmed. SPRING’s core team works year-round, doing production work, providing the logistics and technical support, and curating and communicating the programme.
SPRING was never a shopping mall where readymade productions have been displayed. It is a festival that not only presents artists, but supports them first and foremost, so that together we create the best conditions for their work. And so that this work raises the most essential questions for our times, and resonates best with the current state of debate among the local communities around us.
This is also why new work that we plan to present during the festival is often created in conversation with us, and with us working alongside the artists. 2022 is no exception. Some works that will open during SPRING in May are now in development somewhere far away, in artists’ studios. But others are in development right here, among the Utrecht community. And these often need direct input from Utrecht society if they are to have a strong and legitimate voice.
Before the final photograph of the Dronude Utrecht Project is displayed, Tom Durden will create a temporary community of voluntary models to make a group portrait of the Utrecht communities today. And before Julian Hetzel can set up his ‘There Will Be Light’ installation, dozens of people in the city will be approached and asked for their contribution to this social experiment that will take place during all the festival days. Another project which has already been conducting a comprehensive research all across Utrecht is ‘The Village’ by Stichting Nieuwe Helden. The company has been here since late fall, collaborating with SPRING. In partnership with community centres and libraries, Nieuwe Helden have been mapping the city and the story of its current growth and development. They have been reaching out to some of us living in Utrecht, looking for the most vital stories. As the final outcome of the project, visitors will go on an audio tour in which they are led though the city, tale by tale, by people from Utrecht.
In each of these works, anyone can be a contributor, before becoming an audience member. Each of these works originated around us and went into development long before the first flags across the city appear, to mark another edition of the festival. They will be presented along with many other artistic projects that are being prepared, or that are already touring, all around the Netherlands, Europe, and the world.
We are preparing a full programme that will encourage us to celebrate the Utrecht community, and to discuss together what we can do to create a better society and make the world we live in a better place.
Picture by Anna van Kooij