“Magic Carpets” laboratories for artists working with communities

In the final year of the “Magic Carpets” platform, from 3 to 17 June, the New Theatre Institute of Latvia (NTIL) implemented a co-creation laboratory, providing six young artists from Latvia with an in-depth understanding of topics in creative research series in collaboration with communities and / or “everyday experts” / non-professionals.

In three different laboratories, working practically and inspired by previously created works of artists, work with communities was viewed from different perspectives: the needs of artists and communities, the daily trajectories of the community and the group hierarchy. Ways to make the process of creating works of art transparent, to understand the comfort zones of artists and the community and various conflicts were explored. The young artists were introduced to gaining individual experience stories in a mutually designed and safe environment, the importance of the form of co-creation, getting to know the community representatives before and after the project, conceptualizing and planning projects, also learning about examples of international projects and their methodology.

In June 2021, six young theatre makers participated in the laboratory cycle and did an individual research organized by the “Magic Carpets” platform, including various experiences and interests:

– Contemporary dance artist Agate Bankava, who is interested in collaborating in-depth with young people, exploring their relationship with the city and themselves in a specific place, emphasizing young people’s thoughts, dreams and future plans;
– dramaturgy student Diāna Kondraša – she creates works in the aesthetics of documentary theatre with a deep interest and currently wants to cooperate with a representative of the Roma community;
– artist and curator Ieva Saulīte during the laboratory focused on conversations and research related to the elderly;
– theatre director Māra Gaņģe, wants to continue working with topics that have been of interest to her for a long time – the perception of the world and art by blind and partially sighted people and their current place in our society;
– theatre director Antra Leite’s deeply personal interest is in working with women who became mothers in 2020;
– for theatre artist and playwright Katrīna Dūka the main research area is LGBTQ+ community and cooperation with representatives of this community.

The laboratory cycle was led and artists that shared their experience:

– Krista Burāne, a documentary theatre and film director, playwright and author of interdisciplinary projects, who has implemented more than 20 art projects centered on the ‘everyday person’ various communities or ‘a very important and topical topic in society’;
– dramaturg, playwright, theatre artist and lecturer Jānis Balodis, who is a graduate of the DAS Theater master’s program in the Netherlands. Since 2011, Balodis has been the author and co-author of 17 performing arts projects focusing on documentary theatre and community work;
– in the laboratory, “Magic Carpets” residency participants and project implementers shared their experience in working with communities in 2019 and 2020: Ahilan Ratnamohan, a Tamil-born director and choreographer who grew up in Australia, played professional football in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, but since 2007 deals with contemporary art in collaboration with non-actors;
– artists Laura Stašāne and Jana Jacuka, who in 2020 researched and looked for ways to talk about domestic violence in public. The result was a work in which the artists worked closely with women who had been victims of domestic or domestic violence;
– creative team – curator Alberto di Gennaro, non-formal education practitioner Lauma Žubule, dance playwright Linda Krūmiņa and the NTIL’s creative producer Sandra Lapkovska – who, in cooperation with 10 young people from Cēsis Educational Institution for Minors, created the project “Svidanka”;
– curators Greta Klimavičiūtė-Minkštimienė and Neringa Kulik, in collaboration with contemporary dance choreographers and dancers Mantas Stabačinskas and Marius Pingis, using practical examples and assigning tasks, shared experience gained both in implementing and managing the 15 partner countries’ “Magic Carpets” platform, which were implemented by artists collaborating with local communities.

During the laboratories, one of the starting points for creating new stories and getting to know different communities was gaining knowledge about the environment, the city and the region. By getting to know the environment and the people who live in it on a daily basis with their stories, experiences and views, artists, in the course of negotiations and research, tried to highlight issues that are relevant to specific communities. One of the main issues of the laboratory was the artists’ efforts to understand their own and society’s attitude towards different communities, looking for how, why and where different questions and stereotypes about the particular community and its representatives arise..

The aim of the laboratories was to establish negotiations and creative cooperation between artists and selected communities, so that at the end of the laboratory cycle, it would be possible to take the next steps in the development of ideas and new and innovative works. As a result of the laboratories, by collaborating with communities and getting to know previously created works and methods, the artists will share their individual experiences and the course of the research process that has arisen in the ongoing collaborations with communities.

“Magic Carpets” platform is an international project to promote the mobility and visibility of young European artists from different disciplines, giving artists the opportunity to take part in creative residencies where they work with local communities and artists to create socially inclusive and responsible works of art.

“Magic Carpets” platform and artists’ residencies are co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe programm.