WATER TOWER ART FEST: communication is the start

WTAF 14Adrian Åsling Sellius (Sweden) performs as part of “The Holistic Detective Agency” at Hall

We chased down the wrong tram, and rode the streets of Sofia for over an hour. Fried food, garbage in the heat, the honey perfume of linden trees.

Arriving late, we found a heap of newly dug earth, still holding moisture from the last few days of storms. Fresh spray paint.

Around the corner, the deep moans and rasps of a saxophone resonated through the disused industrial hall. Projections flickered in the warm dusk.

A fresh scent floats on the breeze this week.

WTAF 12Video installations by Cathrine Constanse and Jade Montserrat at Hall

WTAF 10Site specific installation by Johannah Herr  at the Old Foundry

With images and sounds, with words and our bodies we invigorate the empty spaces- and each other.

As Nia Pushkarova, organiser of the Water Tower Art Fest tells us, it is the people that make the festival- the artists that have traveled from all over the world to be here- Sweden, Germany, Spain, Norway, America, Holland, UK… the list goes on.

Why are we all here? Perhaps the answer to this question has a lot in common with the answer to a question asked at yesterday’s debate- what do we want from culture?  As artists and makers we delight in sharing our work and in experiencing the work of others, but those of us that have traveled here are seeking even more. We need to connect.

We also know that we need to question- to unflinchingly examine our role as artists in society and our visions for the future.


‘What do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?’ asks curator Mary Conlon, quoting the seminal film ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’.

3 days of debate are programmed as part of the festival- yesterday was six hours discussing ‘The future of artist-run initiatives’. But we discussed so much more- talks raging hottest during the lunch breaks and over beers afterwards. Once you get going it is very hard to stop.

Among friends it was possible to be critical and honest. Topics ranged from new models for artist funding and public policies for culture, artists use (or abuse) of Job Seekers Allowance, our contribution to society, economic pressures, anguish and self-obsession.

I admit to being defensive when questioned on many of these subjects- we raised questions which I ponder on a daily basis, but rarely discuss openly. If we are to survive as artists (and indeed as a society), we need new models for change. We must come to terms with, and work towards a deeper understanding of our role in society.

Communication is the start.

A fresh scent floats on the breeze this week.

WTAF 21Kaspars Lielgalvis (Latvia) talks at The Red House Center for Culture and Debate 


1 Comment

  1. Jade Montserrat
    June 24, 2014

    connectivity is key and can be translated from nature through culture – what I mean is that we start at very base levels – what do we need? what do we require? You write about how your senses are indulged or disturbed and whilst potentially unstable in terms of questioning, you’re comfortable. what I mean by this is how the questions proposed yesterday can disrupt and become disquieting for society/ies – a cultural maelstrom so to speak where charmed flotsam is channeled and distributed to suit the individual within the collective – what is the greater good? Love the posts – love x x


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