Winter Is… Locking Down

With great sadness and displacement we find ourselves forced to cancel Winter is Coming, this second far-out festival, crafted with much work and passion through expanded dialogues among the Festival team and the constellation of emerging artists we discovered and detected during a sensitive and sharp exploration of the contemporary artistic panorama. We are cancelling in agreement with the involved artists knowing that the current conditions, and the many sanitary restrictions, wouldn’t allow the Festival to be the creature we imagined: a Festival of presentations and performances but beyond that a space of sharing and encounters, of dialogues and exchanges among the artists, professionals and curators and the community of audiences. In the very same dates we had even planned two meetings of different European Cooperation projects Santarcangelo is involved in, Create to Connect ➝ Create to Impact and BE PART, but both gatherings are on-hold due to the international travel ban that wouldn’t allow the mobility of our partners, who had enthusiastically embraced this chance to meet and discover a still unseen and unexplored Italian artistic landscape. We wanted to open up for the artists a space where to cross new and unfamiliar views and gazes far from the national contest: a unique and enriching chance for artists, like the ones we involved, that work on the hybridization and blending of codes and languages, a research line particularly alive in the international scene. This is no longer possible, but we won’t give up: we decided to move this winter frame within the summer shining edition next July, reshaping the entire Festival in light of the exchange with and among new generations. We were so happy about the artistic choices for this Festival that we were shaking of joy and impatience, looking forward for sharing this feeling with the audience, so intensely that this second cancellation hit us more than the first in the past summer, when we had to give up to a wide and carefully assembled international programme developed with many efforts. But things are different now, now the expectations and the future of the Best of Youth are into play, a generation that so hardly fights and daily struggle to find a time and a space to express, to reclaim with gritted teeth its fragile existence. There are rules and administrative orders but there is also a crystallized established situation of subventions and suffocating ministerial laws that prevent us from liberating ourselves from the yoke of forced helplessness. To close, postpone, to cancel is the right thing to do but our mind runs wild and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting smaller and smaller, even more now when things have been slowed down by the pandemic that cut down the weakest in our social fabric, including precarious art workers.

How to react? We opened a platform of dialogue and exchange to keep the fire alive and surgically reconstruct a torn-apart tissue by starting a series of long conversations that, with great investment of energy, we carry-on online: so to imagine a possible alternative format and not the simple digital adaptions of existing works, an option that left many artists reluctant.

As artistic directors, we didn’t want to substitute the Festival with a one fit-for-all formula to just give visibility to the artists, instead we invited these solitary wolves gathered for Winter Is Coming to be bold and imagine new modalities to overcome the abused online formats. They lighted up a vivid confrontation among those who radically refuse a palliative production and those who wanted to voice out loud their statements, focusing on political issues regarding the precarity of the artistic work. Hours of a long, exhausting but incredibly inspiring dialogue.

We finally reached a common agreement and decided to open an online frame on the 5th of December, still in development, that will gather the diverse nuance of each involved artist in a format fluid in time and space: it will happen on Zoom exploring its potential even as a performative space. For this “out of size” day, we take back the title chosen for the first public session Dopo la fine del mondo: teatro per bande, gruppi, e predatori solitari (After the end of the world: theatre for gangs, collectives and solitary predators), it was scheduled exactly on the 5th of December and aimed at giving voice to artists who in these challenging times, dare to undertake independent paths out of the system. The title echoes a short circuit across past, present and future, since it evokes the claim of Santarcangelo Festival edition 1992 directed by Antonio Attisani during which Motus presented in the emerging-ideas section the first creation The Plague, inspired by the apocalyptic text from Camus whose re-reading today sounds as a sinister prefiguration. We would like to revive this past, inhabited by our barking generations moving his steps in a totally different scenario, already centered around the fire of the independency. This is still a vital value for the involved artists of today that will confront through different political and poetical interventions, on this common question; what does it mean today to dare undertaking independent creative processes out of the fences of the system?

We are aware that this will be just a glimpse in this dark night, but it is still a tiny time-capsule: a platform to launch a common practice that will be extended and opened to more voices within the national and international scene and that will lead us till July when we will finally discover the artistic works in their fitting contexts, in their set, with bodies in the space, close or far apart, alone or as a herd.

On Monday 30th of November we will share more info on the event and on how to join the live stream session.

Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande / Motus