Kraków 50.0647° N, 19.9450° E Belgrade 44.8125° N, 20.4612° E San Sebastian 43.3183° N, 1.9812°W Brussels 50.8503° N, 4.3517° E Pristina 42.6629°WORM N, 21.1655° E GLOCAL Aarhus 56.1629 2021-2024 N, 10.2039° E Riga - 56.9496° N, 24.1052° E Barcelona - 41.3851° N, 2.1734° E Porto - 41.1579° N, 8.6291° W Nantes - 47.2184° N, 1.5536° W Berlin - 52.5200° N, 13.4050° E Riga - 56.9496° N, 24.1052° E Barcelona - 41.3851° N, 2.1734° E Porto - 41.1579° N, 8.6291° W
CONTENTS Introduction: WORM: A Social Switchboard page 3
Venues from the Future! page 4
Recht op de Stad! page 24
Venues from the Future! Venue Focus page 8
Radio Activity Interview with Lukas Simonis page 26
ВОРМ у Београду / WORM in Belgrado page 14
“The Estonian Connection” page 16
Photographic Gardens and Expanded Cinemas: Filmwerkplaats Goes Glocal page 20
STAŠ & BLAŽ East goes West at Radio WORM page 30
WORM and MSCTY - A New “Cultural European Union” page 34
Er speelt genoeg! Samenleven in Nieuwehaven Rotterdam page 36
od uc t io n
Eventually you need somewhere to work: a few shifts behind the bar, a regular spot in the kitchen. You find your way into the recording studio, try a few things out. You get invited to perform live. You realise the place really needs a karaoke night, so you start one. A few years quietly go by, and it seems this place that you needed has come, in some small way, to need you. And in that, you’re certainly not unusual.
Kilmartin Ash ds:
You’re new in town—an artist from New Zealand, who’s moved here for a study programme, after a few years’ stopover in Australia— and you need a place to go. Somewhere to meet your new friends for a drink, somewhere to watch bands and dance, somewhere to take the waves of friends from home who inevitably come couch-surfing. Somewhere that feels ‘yours’ enough, as if you’ve always lived here. Somewhere you’re not unusual.
And so you—and by you, I mean, me—find yourself in the physical centre of WORM, the radio studio, helping organise the dozens of artists, musicians and ‘local’ characters to produce radio shows that couldn’t come from anywhere else. Everyone here has a story more or less as fluid: one city, one project to the next. Whatever the medium, whatever the conditions, new ideas and new audiences keep coming. New connections are constant. WORM’s community is that group of people who make Rotterdam their very own kind of local. They come from anywhere else, to find a place to do their own thing. But the thing with ‘doing your own thing’ is that you can’t do it alone. We ‘zelf-standige’ artists are interdependent beings who need locales of exchange. WORM is the switchboard where people bring their communities, plug in, make contact with somewhere new. A terrace, a radio studio, a Filmwerkplaats, a synth studio, an archive: from here, we send ourselves back out to other corners of the world. We find ways to stay connected, to keep the switchboard lighting up.
Venues From The Future! The Pop Venue as an Experimental Community Space Words: Rae Parnel, Khalil Ryahi, Janpier Brands, Richard Foster. Pictures and logos: Courtesy of Berksun Doganer, Hosein Danesh, the venues and the EU. The initiators of this project - Dabadaba in San Sebastian (ES), VK in Brussels (BE), Kvaka22 in Belgrade (RS) and WORM in Rotterdam (NL) - exchange experience with each other and together with a number of alliance partners, develop new strategies and investigate the opportunities for the economic sustainability of the pop venue as an Experimental Community Space. The experimental, small-scale power of the small venues is used for heterogeneous programming with local culturally diverse communities. In this way, a contribution is made to the development of new forms of (live) music, new relationships with new audiences and metropolitan coherence. 4 4
If there is one thing to say about the year 2020 in relation to the international music business, it is that it has led to a clear, maybe irreversible break with the past. Many issues that had previously been ignored or brushed aside, mainly in relation to the way venues operated and related with the wider community, suddenly became urgent. The question, “What is a pop music venue, anyway?”, became key; maybe for the first time in 60 years. And what had previously counted for success now often seems irrelevant or unobtainable. Traditionally, small music venues have been versatile laboratories for new cultural developments.
For decades they have been a vital source of urban subcultures, nurturing new artistic forms and crossovers. But over the last decade, urban audiences have fragmented into a myriad of interconnected subcultural identities. Potential visitors have more alternatives to choose from, and communities aren’t as exclusively connected to specific venues as they once were. Many smaller venues have clung to their traditional cultural niches, whilst their audiences simultaneously shrinks to a small bubble of likeminded people. Worse, large venues are taking advantage of this situation, using their scale and efficiency in institutionalised, professional structures to their advantage
in matters such as artist fees, catering & hospitality, marketing and ticketing. Consequently, there is a monopolisation of programming by a decreasing number of curators in cities, which often leads to homogenous and monocultural programmes. Cultural diversity is shunted to the fringe events at festivals, whilst the focus is on consumption and spectacle. And urban communities aren’t encouraged to participate, or showcase their own potential. Contemporary developments in society demand a different approach: participation, inclusivity, experimentation, fresh voices and views on cultural production. Ones that go against dominant mainstream discourse and the urban 5
status quo. Precisely where, traditionally, the relevance and strength of smaller venues was found: urban laboratories for society, experimental community spaces. However, as Leonard Cohen once sang, the crack is where the light gets in, especially for those who previously had a minor, or marginal role in the wider scheme of things. Maybe, paradoxically, this coming time is the time when smaller or hybrid venues can really come into their own. Smaller venues are unique institutions; both in relation to their communities and to themselves. Where many venues’ existences are threatened, others are more flexible, due to their small scale. They can find new ways to be meaningful to their local environments.
2021 and 2022 will see WORM working in partnership with six other venues as part of the EU-funded project, “The Pop Venue as an Experimental Community Space”. These are: Dabadaba in San Sebastian, the Basque Country, VK in Brussels, Belgium, Kvaka 22 in Belgrade, Serbia, Studenterhus Aarhus in Aargus, 6 6
Denmark, Termokiss in Pristina, Kosovo and Elementarz Dla Mieszkańców Miast in Kraków, Poland. Each has a different outlook on life; though all share many aspects of WORM’s socio-cultural outlook. Termokiss is a community-run centre in Pristina with the mission of urban and civil exchange, reflection and changemaking. The story began in 2016 when over 40 volunteers took over an abandoned building with the aim of empowering the local youngsters. Then there is Kraków’s multidisciplinary cultural project, Elementarz Dla Mieszkańców Miast which translates, rather brilliantly, as (a) “Handbook for City Dwellers”. This remarkable cellar and attic space in Kraków bases its activities on the “tactical use of everyday life practices”. For its part, Dabadaba, is a “constantly evolving”, multidisciplinary concert hall, night club, record label, reference centre and community drop in centre in Donostia, San Sebastián. Dabadaba has become a meeting place for “people looking for a different space and experiences, inclusiveness and respect.”
Studenterhus Aarhus in Aargus, Denmark is, as the name suggests, a student house. But it is also a community, a cultural centre, a networking hub, a non-profit organisation, a concert hall, a bar and a running club; amongst many other things. As they say: “No matter who you ask, you’ll get a different answer.” ‘De Vaartkapoen’, aka VK, is a community centre in Brussels’ Molenbeek district. As well as hosting international gigs, the centre’s activities are organised around a number of themes and topics, in the main workshops based around education, empowerment, culture and wellbeing for everyone. Belgrade’s Kvaka 22 is an alternative art space, initiated through a group of young creatives who wanted to make a place where their peers could gather, exchange ideas, present and create work. The space serves as a connection point for “young artists from Belgrade, the Balkans, Europe and the world.” The seven venues will work together to develop new strategies and methodologies for other small European venues, helping their peers stay competitive in a rapidly changing urban and cultural environment. This will mean exchanging best practice and experiences, noting new perspectives and methods, working with underrepresented urban communities and testing this work “on the floor”, in real time. Hopefully this will lead to an ongoing set of sustainable relations between small venues and underrepresented communities, a circulation of new talent in new, collective venue networks, and the use of new ways to attract international artists; outside of traditional “gig and festival circuit” means.
The project’s work will be presented to the European Music Industry—as a whole—through a toolkit. This toolkit will be created from the many organisational, artistic-cultural, ethical and economic elements that come into play when working daily in an Experimental Community Space. The toolkit will also show other small pop venues the opportunity to reinvent themselves based on their own, trusted, core values. It will be there to help develop new, heterogeneous partnerships and target groups that will later become trusted partners and audiences. This is an ongoing challenge many venues face, one that has knock on effects in terms of public loyalty, correct representation of city communities and the ongoing artistic development of any venue. A mini documentary will chart the many and diverse ways of working the project will have engendered, and the results. This documentary will be available on-line for use by other institutions and cultural producers. Presentations at major music based conferences, such as Primavera, Eurosonic Noorderslag, MENT Festival, Tallinn Music Week and Reeperbahn Festival, are also in the planning.
“A tool-kit is a way to help young people interested in creating their own projects by giving them concrete guidelines and providing inspiration for future ventures.” Sigrun Schaumburg-Müller - Studenterhus Aarhus
This work is timely. The music industry will undergo rapid change in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The “Pop Venue as an Experimental Community Space” project is well aware of this coming change. Alternative scenarios that allow a clean and fruitful break with the past, and factor in the rapid and multifarious social and cultural changes that small pop venues are currently dealing with, are needed right now. Specifically, work that helps bring marginalized and culturally diverse communities in each partner city or town into the heart of each venue’s practice. It can’t come soon enough.
The project is part of the EU’s Music Moves Europe: Boosting European Music Diversity and Talent initiative, “Co-operation of small music venues’’. It runs from February 2021 till July 2022.
Venues From The Future! - Venue Focus Words: Rrita Jashari, Sigrun Schaumburg-Müller, Laura Ferrero, Inaki Otalora, Leona Jacewska and Miranda Mehmeti. Pictures: Courtesy of each venue. We give the floor to our partners to explain why they connected with the Venues from the Future! Project and the proposed toolkit.
VK - Belgium
“VK is a community centre and a concert hall which started in the 1980s in Molenbeek. It’s an experimental community centre with a focus on “Music, Molenbeek and Society”. It evolved from an iconic music venue to a broad, music-based organisation which actively gives opportunities to new talents. We focus on genres like reggae, global sounds, hip hop and electronic music. Next to that, the centre stimulates co-creation with the residents of Molenbeek and offers a safe space for all kinds of groups and communities. With our partners, VK works towards a positive, inclusive development of Molenbeek as an area. We are currently “on
the move”, because the venue is undergoing major renovation. A new public garden, co-working café and brand new infrastructure should be ready in 2022. Right now, we share a venue on Manchester Street with Recyclart, in a former printing factory. VK wants to create European partnerships because we think it’s important to share knowledge with other small venues that work the same way as we do; locally, and with respect for upcoming and experimental musical projects with a social component. We see a big value in exchanging knowhow on these topics with venues in other European cities. We hope the toolkit we make together
will show the importance of smaller venues and the way we work closely with artists and audiences to policy makers, politics and bigger venues. We also hope to be able to set up a network through which we can make artists travel to the different venues, creating more visibility for upcoming and local musicians.” - Rrita Jashari
Studenterhus Aarhus - Denmark
“Studenterhus Aarhus is a meeting place for all students in higher education in Aarhus. We are a non-profit association working with a small staff and a big group of volunteers, who make social and cultural events for young people. Our main focus is presenting upcoming artists to our audience, mainly on our Café stage, which can host 140 standing guests or 80 seated in a cosy café environment with a bar. We are not a genre specific venue, and our programme contains everything from pop and metal to electronica and jazz. We want to keep developing our skill set and realise fully the potential of our music venue. Through exchange of best practices and interaction with other European venues we hope we can become better and more daring, reach new communities and develop sustainable practices. Part of our mission is to educate and train young people who are interested in a future within cultural facilitation. A toolkit is a way to help young people interested in creating their own projects by giving them concrete guidelines and providing inspiration for future ventures.” - Sigrun Schaumburg-Müller
Kvaka 22 - Serbia
“Kvaka 22 is an autonomous cultural centre based in Belgrade: it opened in 2015 in a building that was formerly used by the Yugoslavian army’s brass band. This pluridisciplinary space is composed of three galleries, two spaces for meetings, a modular space used for concerts, film projections and performances and a large terrace. Thanks to its rich history, a collaborative “artists for artists” approach, and a strong international network, Kvaka 22 is one of the hotspots for alternative culture in Serbia. We decided to join the Venues from the Future! project because we all allow ourselves some freedom related to the artistic programme we’re offering our audience. This freedom leads us to champion emerging artists while promoting a qualitative and unusual programme. We also feel that these kinds of cooperative projects are important to help us get through the (pre- and post) COVID crisis, with mutual help and solidarity. Paradoxically, remaining independent is a matter of interdependency. We hope the toolkit could help existing projects for places that are yet to exist, and help local scenes. With more initiatives coming from these scenes, and their cultural workers and their artists, we can increase their recognition while staying true to core values.” - Laura Ferrero
Dabadaba - Basque Country
“San Sebastian’s Dabadaba was created in 2014. Four music lovers joined forces to create a venue to host live music shows, parties, flea markets and festivals. The city and its people welcomed the initiative and made it their own from the very first moment. San Sebastian is a special place, just across the border on the Basque coast. It’s sometimes criticised for not being lively enough, but the city has a feel for culture and Dabadaba has played a crucial role in local life these last few years, acting as a counter to gentrification and its consequences, and creating new artistic initiatives and nurturing the city and its people. We have a European perspective for what we do in Dabadaba and get a lot of inspiration by looking at what other venues like WORM or others are doing. Cooperating at European level in the pandemic and post-pandemic period for the cultural sector in a European level is key. Not only for our venue, but for the overall European cultural sector. The main output of the cooperation will be a toolkit and a documentary. The toolkit is intended to help venues facing common challenges all over Europe, as well as local, regional and local authorities working with venues in member states and beyond. I believe the toolkit will identify challenges and support the important role the venues play in social integration of minorities, economic sustainability of the venues in these times, the intersection of arts with technologies and its reflection in the entertainment and cultural sector in Europe. Basically I expect the toolkit will help shape a traditional twentieth century model of a venue into a twenty-first century one.” - Inaki Otalora
Elementarz dla mieszkańców miast Poland
“Elementarz dla mieszkańców miast (“Handbook for City Dwellers”) is a gallery, club, meeting space and artist residency in Kraków, established in 2016. We occupy the building’s basement— home to most of our music events—and the attic, an unusual and challenging space for presenting contemporary art. The name of the initiative comes from Bertolt Brecht’s series of poems, Aus dem Lesebuch für Städtebewohner. In keeping with Brecht, we encourage socially conscious and aesthetically challenging production in visual arts, electronic music and beyond. Since the space’s conception, we aim to enable local artists to make independent artistic statements whether it concerns an exhibition or the presentation of live music. Even though we don’t operate as a public institution, our project has a significant impact on our local community; which motivates us to further stimulate local growth. Collaborating with other similar venues around Europe and elaborating new strategies for economic sustainability and sharing experience will help us accomplish it. And we are happy to team up with other venues, make friendships and cooperate in the future. Our collaboration will definitely show the significance of DIY and community spaces, on the European map. This network will reach out to other new venues and inspire new artistic development as well as new audiences. We hope this results in easier access to public funding and more events.” - Leona Jacewska
Termokiss - Kosovo
“Termokiss is a community-run centre in Prishtina with the mission of urban and civil exchange, reflection and changemaking. After revitalising an abandoned and forgotten building, Termokiss hosts a range of activities; all non-for-profit and educative. Activities and organising processes are managed by the community. These activities are determined by both the needs of the community and the skills which the volunteers have to offer. The space works to promote the ideas of mutual aid and cooperation. Providing a welcoming space for everyone, including those whose voices and contributions are not always heard or appreciated, is a top priority for us. Monopolising the production of culture is a dead end. Cultural venues should most definitely aim to create an inclusive space of co-creation with all the marginalised communities. There’s a lot of value in focusing on decentralising cultural hubs and trying to resist the creation of eco chambers as it often happens. We believe everyone should be included in the creation of a narrative, whatever the narrative may be. One of our core values at Termokiss is inclusivity, which most times is easier said than done. Termokiss is already an experimental community space per se and we believe that with the practices we have acquired over time, through trial and error, we can provide help for other cultural venues to widen their audiences and heighten their impact in their community. We view this toolkit as an ever-evolving document that will be put in use by venues looking to make greater changes.” - Miranda Mehmeti - on behalf of the Termokiss Community
ВОРМ у Београду (WORM in Belgrado) Words: Koen ter Heegde Pictures: Courtesy of Yugofuturism and Kvaka 22
Koen ter Heegde is sinds de eeuwwisseling actief als organisator, boeker en labelbaas van het onafhankelijke label Subroutine Records. Met zijn platform Yugofuturism introduceert, boekt en promoot hij muziek uit Centraal- en Oost Europa en Rusland. In samenwerking met WORM organiseerde hij tientallen concerten van bijzondere acts uit Centraal- en Oost Europa en Rusland. Yugofuturism kreeg zijn huidige vorm mede dankzij de ondersteuning en faciliteiten van de Open City. Vorig jaar schreef hij mee aan een plan voor verdere internationale samenwerking tussen WORM en een aantal zielsverwante Europese podia. Zo worden bestaande informele netwerken versterkt en samenwerkingen op duurzame, complementaire wijze ontwikkeld. 14 14
In 2005 bezocht ik ook Belgrado voor het eerst, als deelnemer aan een uitwisseling tussen geschiedenisstudenten, waar ik als gesjeesde aspirant historicus in mee mocht. Ik logeerde in een morsig appartement, met uitzicht op de Marcuskerk in het Tašmajdan park. In de ooit statige flat stond een stoel met pluchen zetel, trofee van de bestorming van het parlement vijf jaar eerder. Ook lagen er voldoende stoffige oude boeken om met aan zekerheid grenzende waarschijnlijkheid de heilige graal ergens in de Westelijke Balkan te kunnen traceren.
De uitwisseling werd georganiseerd door mijn mottige oude vrienden verenigd in Midden- en Oost Europa Genootschap (MOG) Spartak, dat vijf jaar later getransformeerd was tot volwaardige
NGO Platform Spartak. Ondertussen was ik eindelijk afgestudeerd en opnieuw in Belgrado. Nu te gast bij een Poolse vriendin, in één van de brutalistische torens van buitenwijk Banjica. De tijd had stilgestaan in en rond het complex, getuige de buste van Tito in het trappenhuis, en het gebruik van de betonnen buitenruimte waar bakker, apotheek en kafana in de oorspronkelijke architectonische sociale harmonie waren met de op de begane wonende (hang) bejaarden die vlijtig peuken rookten en opveegden. Mijn netwerken in culturele infrastructuur, muziek en NGO’s en passie voor de Balkan gingen een vanzelfsprekende fusie aan. Spartak organiseerde een serie multidiscipinaire festivals op etnische grenzen in de periferie van de regio, met als doel jongeren van diverse komaf door live-optredens
met elkaar in contact te brengen. Op het festival in Vranje, in Zuid-Servië vlakbij de grens met Macedonië en Kosovo, zag ik de band Petrol optreden. Deze intrigerende pionier van de bruisende scene in Belgrado kwam daarna ook spelen in Nederland. Een clubtour van de Nederlands bands WOLVON en Neon Rainbows begon in Belgrado. Na het optreden werd ik voorgesteld aan Boris en Ana-Marija van Repetitor, die toen net naam begonnen te maken in de regionale scene. De kennismaking werd bezegeld in hun oefenruimte in BIGZ, de iconische modernistische blokkendoos en voormalige staatsdrukkerij, waar de lokale underground floreerde. Dat jaar kwam Repetitor, op uitnodiging van mij en mede-Yugonaut Sebastiaan Janssen op een vijfdaagse tour naar Nederland.
Hierdoor kwamen zoveel lokale netwerken in verbinding dat een stroomversnelling volgde. Nederlandse bands toerden jaarlijks langs bovengenoemde festivals, dwars door de regio, van Kroatië tot Kosovo. De lokale impact van sommige van deze festivals was zo groot dat ik nu, tien jaar later, ‘in het veld’ nog regionale sleutelfiguren ontmoet die er toen bij (betrokken) waren. De organisch gegroeide, grassroots netwerken breidden zich uit over vrijwel heel Centraal- en Oost Europa. Sinds 2015 bundelde ik mijn kennis, netwerken en vaardigheden in het platform Yugofuturism, waarmee ik relevante culturele ontwikkelingen in de grotere regio voor het voetlicht breng en verdere uitwisseling van acts faciliteer. Kleinere Europese podia, varierend van gekraakte fietsenstallingen tot geoutilleerde kernpodia, spelen een grote rol in dit grensoverschrijdende netwerk. Het zijn de plekken en de mensen die nieuwe ontwikkelingen als eerste signaleren en een podium krijgen. Die inherent onafhankelijk denken en ondersteuning bieden aan experiment, perifere stemmen en makers. De eerste Yugofuturism avond was in WORM, en sindsdien hebben we er bijzondere acts uit meer dan tien landen kunnen presenteren.
Ondertussen ben ik zelf geland in Rotterdam. Een stad die in vele opzichten doet denken aan Belgrado: een grote diversiteit en arbeidersklasse, brede rivieren en bruggen, rauw maar gastvrij en met rivaliserende voetbalclubs. Steden die tot voor kort geen toeristische trekpleister of populaire vestigingsplek waren, maar de laatste jaren door vastgoedcowboys, politiek opportunisme en/of twijfelachtige oliedollars werden geëxploiteerd. Steden met een muzikale infrastructuur die zich kenmerkt door kleinschaligheid, initiatief en veerkracht. Naast de institutionele podia, zijn er diverse nomadische en experimentele podia en organisatoren. In Belgrado werk ik veel samen met de mensen van Kvaka22 (“Catch 22”). Een bescheiden subcultureel utopia, met op de begane grond een galerie en op de eerste verdieping een huiskamerpodium, dat werd opgericht door een aantal oude bekenden waaronder Ana-Marija van Repetitor. Het is gelegen aan de rand van het centrum, vlakbij het eerder genoemde park Tašmajdan. Naast exposities, concerten en filmavonden, is Kvaka22 een populaire ontmoetingsplek voor organisatoren en muzikanten in de stad. Meest recent was ik er op tour met de Rotterdamse band The Sweet Release of Death, november 2019.
De toekomst voor live-muziek
Met veel plezier schreef ik mee aan een plan voor verdere samenwerking tussen WORM, Kvaka22 en een aantal andere kleine podia in Europa. Toen we begonnen aan de aanvraag was er nog geen sprake van een pandemie of lockdown. Hoewel de toekomst voor live-muziek op de korte termijn nog
onduidelijk blijft, is de relevantie van structurele en duurzame samenwerking tussen kleine podia alleen maar groter geworden. Niet alleen vanwege kennisuitwisseling en het formaliseren van internationale ondergrondse netwerken, maar vooral ook ter verbetering van de weerbaarheid van lokale podia in voor – en tegenspoed, bij politieke tegenwind en eerder genoemde stedelijke ontwikkelingen. In het afgelopen jaar viel BIGZ na jarenlang gesteggel ten prooi aan een projectonwikkelaar van wie geen sympathie voor het daar ontstane cultureel ecosysteem verwacht hoeft te worden. Een ander belangrijk deel van de kleinschalige infrastructuur, gelegen in de buurt Sava Mala, moest wijken voor nietsontziende stedelijke vernieuwing. Ook in Rotterdam moesten diverse wijkcentra, kleine podia en ontmoetingsplekken plaatsmaken voor gewijzigde bestemmingsplannen of de bulldozers van de stedelijke vernieuwing. Ook in bruisende Europese steden als Ljubljana, Warschau en Bratislava staan kleine podia onder druk, dan wel door politieke intimidatie, de sloophamer en de gedwongen lockdown. Soms door alledrie tegelijk. Het is vijf voor twaalf voor veel kleinschalige Europese podia. Samenwerkingen als de bovengenoemde zijn essentieel om innovatieve en diverse kunst-en cultuur te kunnen blijven presenteren, en ervaren.
Picture the scene. I am in a partially renovated workspace of sorts, in an Estonian city called Narva on the Estonian-Russian border. The new, white-painted walls glisten, outside some workmen are paving the entrance. Change is happening fast to this city, one that has suffered from years of neglect. I’m giving a pep talk for local entrepreneurs and have chosen the place I work, WORM, as an example of how an organisation can thrive on a diet of mutual learning and cooperation.
“The Estonian Connection” Words: Richard Foster Pictures: Courtesy of Tallinn Music Week, Station Narva, Mart Avi.
But, how to show what WORM actually does to a mixed group of mainly Russians, Russian-speaking Estonians and Estonians? I show a picture of my colleague, Charlien Adriaenssens, performing in a street art festival in Kinshasa with renowned DRC artist Eddy Ekkette. There is a murmur of interest. No need to talk about abstract concepts like work patterns, resources or programmes. Here is the answer, in a colourful picture; a simple but effective message and almost always within everyone’s reach at some level. It is people making artistic and social connections, in real time, and seeing something else emerge. I end, “Do you want to come to Rotterdam then?” A resounding yes.
‘Rotterdam on My Mind’
What was WORM doing on the Estonian-Russian border in any case, showing pictures of the DRC capital? Over time, WORM has developed a close working relationship with a number of Estonian artists and institutions. Like the picture I showed in my talk, the process has come about through a series of informal conversations and meet ups, the topics and importance of which have changed over time, without anyone really setting an agenda. Ostensibly, “it all began” in Slovenia, at MENT festival in February 2016, where the Head of Tallinn Music Week, Helen Sildna, asked me to speak at her festival
about my “other job”, music journalism. Though the original spark can be traced back even further to chance meetings in Leiden and Amsterdam squat venues in 2012, through other cultural actions and connections. But that is a story for another time.
artist, Anni Nöps, based in the Hague. At one point, given the amount of innotive Estonian music I was hearing, I even mooted the idea of hosting a mini Estonian festival to the programmers here.
The cooperation itself has been on a number of levels. One is traditional enough; just like Rotown, Baroeg, or LantarenVenster, WORM is a Rotterdam venue and part of a national gig circuit. We book acts that fit into our wider cultural remit. And when at an international festival, or writing about new music, I normally make a mental note to scout for “WORM-style” acts. Tallinn in 2016 seemed full of them. Over the following year, the ambient electronic wizard Ekke, celebrated contemporary folk artist Maarja Nuut and the mysterious bedroom electro-gothic artist Benzokai all ended up playing “conventional” WORM gigs. We also found, through Rotterdam based Finnish programmer Laura Hofman, a brilliant Estonian audio-visual
The big issue with working the gig circuit in this manner, though, is the sense of “human” wastage. There is an unspoken assumption that audiences must be served new things every time, an assumption exacerbated by the growing trend to make every public cultural manifestation a festival of sorts. In this structure, artists and those associated with them are often treated as mere parts of a bigger extravaganza, often with a limited shelflife. The fall out is the constant risk that those working in the music and entertainment industries can become divorced from a sense of their own, or others’, actual value as human beings. This question nagged WORM. We couldn’t bring ourselves to say we’d “had a Maarja Nuut gig”, and close the door
on any future relationship with Maarja’s work and ideas, or anyone else’s, for that matter. It didn’t paint a true cultural picture of ourselves as a multi disciplinary organisation, or our relationship with any of the artists we booked, either. Over time WORM noticed the work Tallinn Music Week, where artists and new ideas were placed at the forefront of, or harbingers for, wider social and cultural change. It felt, given that festival’s core flexibility and can-do attitude, a kindred spirit. Tallinn’s ploy was devastatingly simple. Acting as a bridge between old notions of “East” and “West”, the festival lowered the barrier between people, regardless of who they were. Tallinn Music Week stepped back and made space for conversations that otherwise would never have happened or, if they would have, taken place in old and stultified hierarchies of power and influence. If a Russian booker and British journalist could bond over a Swedish band in an out-of-the-way part of the Estonian capital, then why couldn’t this 17
bond be strengthened elsewhere, in “real life”? Tallinn Music Week’s openness and honesty in these matters was how we at WORM had always tried to work, too. And the socio-cultural possibilities they managed to conjure up seemed fascinating.
Steps were taken. Given the pack of brilliant multidisciplinary Estonian artists such as Rat Killer and Mart Avi, and an equally brilliant set of young Russian artists I had met at Tallinn Music Week, such as Kate NV and Inturist, WORM decided to definitively close the door on any notion of the traditional “book em and chuck em” approach. We would continue to concentrate on new forms of work, where our facilities and expertise—and the offer of a longer working time slot—could open up new ideas for these acts, many of whom had travelled thousands of miles and had the additional issues of fighting for visas and funding for their visits. Along with other local bookers and promoters such as Yugofuturism, who shared a wider sense of cultural mission, and likeminded festivals like Le Guess Who? and Welcome to the Village, who also favoured long 18 18
term artist partnerships, WORM built up residencies that allowed the artist to tour and work in situ with sympathetic local artists from different disciplines. This policy allowed Moscow’s Kate NV to study ballet with Dario Tortorelli of the DIVEinD group in our UBIK performance space in 2018, Moscow’s Inturist to write a new album in WORM Sound Studios in 2019 and, in the same year, Alatskivi’s Mart Avi to work on a 3 dimensional photocopied collage in S/ash Gallery. All in addition to these artists fulfilling their more traditional duties to the musical circuit. And of course, making further creative and social connections. The pop singer and producer Mart Avi worked in this way in summer 2019. “While being at WORM I felt a scent of effortlessness, yet a sense of definite effort. I resonated with its spirit in a matter of hours and felt playful, inventive and free in my undertakings. The place is like a playground — one could slide on stage, bump into synthesizers, have a good ground for a chat. For an artist, such a place has an underlying impact on greater plans, an impulse for creative ideas or undertakings to be realized in the future. In my case, bits and pieces of these shared experiences have manifested themselves in my work.”
Given the natures of WORM and Tallinn Music Week and other organisations such as Music Estonia, these residencies opened the door to wider possibilities. We shared many values, that was clear. Why couldn’t this become a wider and less events-bound form of exchange? And should the collaboration confine itself to purely artistic concerns? Putting our association on a firmer—and, at the same time more unfamiliar footing—meant working within and outside conventional structures of the wider music and entertainment industry. This included the familiar grind of working with the demands of funding procedures but also actively working with groups not normally associated with the arts and culture worlds and whose lives and wellbeing have been severely affected by the COVID pandemic. Throughout 2020 and 2021, COVID has created enormous upheaval; specifically for “unseen” communities. To us, “unseen” means marginalised, underrepresented or socially ostracised or castigated groups. Combating loneliness, addressing mental wellbeing, ensuring access to social, economic and creative resources for these groups was always a pressing issue. It is now a vital one.
Both organisations realised what they could share was space. Space is both an ever present and an unnoticed entity in our lives. It can be visual or audible, virtual and physical, intellectual and emotional, established or liminal, social and political. We live in it constantly, but often we often forget its value to everyone. And WORM and the good people at Tallinn Music Week had the opportunity to put these spaces into use. It should be obvious, but any cultural institute, whether music venue, festival or theatre, is an essential space for the healing process that will follow after the pandemic. They are safe places, in more ways than one—physically, socially, spiritually and creatively—where people can meet. Institutions also host activities that can be building blocks for rebuilding a wider society, one in which we can live with each other together, again. There are a number of shared-space initiatives planned between WORM and our Estonian partners. A first step is made with a co-production that sees internationally renowned musician Thomas Azier working in WORM’s Sound
Studios. Thomas’s residency will form a springboard for a wider, international choral project. Other initiatives are community radio making, or music workshops aimed at women, trans and non-binary people; both for all age groups. All the projects allow marginalised creatives and social groups to share expertise and learn from each other whilst creating new, lasting communities that combat any onset of loneliness or feelings of underrepresentation. The space-share is the latest chapter in a story that—if it had been content to follow traditional channels of communication and behaviour in the music industry— might never have happened. Maybe it was foretold all along in an old Estonian pop song, ‘Rotterdam on My Mind’. Whatever, it’s a story that will keep on rolling.
A wise woman once said, “Misbehave, with integrity”. I think that’s darn good advice! And WORM seems to be doing exactly that, beautifully. To me, WORM gives hope for humanity. Karin Kahre, Freelance producer.
“Jää jumalaga, Mann, sest tuules oli ramm ja reisusihiks oli meile Rotterdam. / Farewell, (my Mann), with the wind full my destination was Rotterdam.” (Estonian Bluegrass band Kukerpillid, “Rotterdam on My Mind”)
Photographic Gardens and Expanded Cinemas: Filmwerkplaats Goes Glocal
Words: Esther Urlus (as told to Richard Foster) Photos: Courtesy of Filmwerplaats
Filmwerkplaats is the only artist-run photochemical film lab in the Netherlands, in WORM’s basement. The lab is a unique gathering place of knowledge, equipment and love for the medium of film and is a very active part of an expanding worldwide network of alternative artists’ run film labs. Wellknown artists such as Luke Fowler learnt and worked here and many international artists regularly use Filmwerkplaats as a creative base. Through 2021 and 2022, Filmwerkplaats will be working on two projects with a strong international flavour that will have a considerable knock on effect for artists in Rotterdam: Photographic Garden and an initiative involving many artist-run labs worldwide; something that currently goes under the name of the Expanded Cinema. We asked Esther Urlus to explain more! 20 20
Photographic Garden - Summer 2021
Making film is a fascinating experience. It is a very tactile research field, one led by “hands-on” learning and creation, and at times a true photochemical playground! The fascination with materials and processes is a key element in the field, one that often characterises analogue film culture. The magic in making the invisible (latent) image comes through a number of laborious, sometimes complicated “development” steps, all involving a lot of processing. However, a certain number of chemical ingredients used in the developing and photochemical processes pose a burden on health and the environment. For example, the most widely used Black and White developers contain Metol and Hydroquinone. These
are important components but their use is not without danger and they are likely to be quite carcinogenic. Silver is a heavy metal, and can also be harmful to aquatic organisms. Of course, at Filmwerkplaats we take this into account and we collect our photochemical waste, which is then collected by a waste processing company to neutralise and recover the silver. But wouldn’t it be better if we couldn’t use harmful substances or ingredients? With its own and totally new artistic potential!
With the Photographic Garden project, Filmwerkplaats wants to research and develop photochemical processes that drastically relieve the burden on the environment. Processes based on plants and home-garden-and-kitchen ingredients with low toxicity.
Or alternative chemistry that will yield a different, new film aesthetic. One in which the chemical components and their origin come to the fore and the physical processing of the film emulsion during the DIY process is emphasised. We must rethink the way we do things. We want to have knowledge and awareness of the materials and processes we use; to understand the relationship between the medium we use and the planet we live on. With this environmental awareness, we want to develop new skills and knowledge to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly photochemical darkroom practice. The process of experimentation will stimulate us to look for new possibilities and potential for analogue film making. Not only for ecological issues, but also to create opportunities for experimental
and DIY filmmakers in countries where there is no access to conventional chemistry and no waste management policy.
Drawing filmmakers around the world together
The goal of the project is to draw international and local filmmakers together through exploring questions of environmental consciousness around filmmaking, and what new artistic potential can be released from this approach. To do this, there will be 6 online public lectures open to anybody with an interest in film, and 6, hands-on collective research seminars followed by a filmic experimenting period, both broadcast from the Filmwerkplaats lab. Project topics include developing film with plants,
tinting and toning with plants, and other materials from nature, and regenerating outdated film materials. All the activity will be available online as a free resource publication after the project ends. With the topics for Photographic Garden, we think we can achieve a new, different way of creating images. Ones that will always be unique and may be subject to change during “presenting”, or films that will destroy the reproducible property of the medium. Films that revolve around the original, letting go of control, embracing instability, transience, emphasising the “here and now”. We attach great importance to the fact that new and old photochemical film techniques and processes are openly 21
Shared Aesthetics and Bodily Experiences
Considering that this practice is not very widespread, or that well known, we all agree that it is well worth discovering. Expanded Cinema represents a unique opportunity for shared aesthetics and bodily experiences, a factor which creates an extra dimension and a deeper significance in the context of a pandemic that has caused a great deal of sensory deprivation. Coming from the artist-run filmlab scene, our starting point in the practice is analogue film, here understood as photochemical and mechanical. Characterised by a certain versatility and a constant reflection on monstration contexts, Expanded Cinema is a good opportunity to experiment new ways of encounters with the public, by variating the venues for representation and even operating in public spaces.
available to anyone who needs them. We want to create an open source, “Glocal” online platform where lecturers and Filmworkshop members can publish presentations, tutorials and process formulas, research results and blogs made within the framework of the Photographic Garden project. Photographic Garden’s online lectures are scheduled for 26 June, 17 July, 28 August, 18 September, 16 October and 13 November 2021. Details will be published on the WORM website. Photographic Garden is made possible thanks to the support from the Department of Art and Culture of the City of Rotterdam.
Filmwerkplaats will also be busy in the period 2022-2024 with an international project, with partner labs from all over Europe, such as: Mire (Nantes, FR), Baltic Analog Lab (Riga, LV), LaborBerlin (Berlin, DE), Crater Lab (Barcelona, ES) and Laia (Porto, PT). The project is based around performative, analogue film art and focuses on the creation and distribution of Expanded Cinema projects. By Expanded Cinema, we mean an open territory for moving images in connection with visual, sonic and performative arts. This can take the form of live performances or installations, can be seen in theatres, galleries and general event spaces, or even outdoors, and can work on linear or circular schemes; pushing the boundaries of space and time.
Joining our forces and complementaries regarding geographical situations and experiences, we want to reinforce and expand the network around Expanded Cinema. To do so, we are going to create situations of intercultural and transdisciplinary encounters in order to gain mutual inspiration. The “rough idea” is to extend analogue filmmaker networks and connect new talents and developments. We expect Filmwerkplaats members to work with local sound artists, poets, theatrical performers, dancers and musicians to collaborate in performative Expanded Cinema projects. Expanded Cinema is a project for RE MI (Re-Engineering the Moving Image): is a two-year European cooperation project run by Mire (Nantes, FR), WORM Filmwerkplaats (Rotterdam, NL) and LaborBerlin (Berlin, DE), focused on the creation, preservation and circulation of technical knowledge of analogue film in order to support its use as a creative medium.
Recht op de Stad! Interview with Rob & Nienke from F(ucking) G(ood) A(rt) Words: Rob & Nienke - Editors and artists of FGA Pictures courtesy of FGA Fucking Good Art is an artist collective (Rob Hamelijnck & Nienke Terpsma) that has transformed itself to a regular publication on contemporary art, both online and “on paper”. FGA broadcasts its own online radio show from WORM. Rob, Nienke, you have a long history with WORM, please tell us quickly about it? We know WORM from the time when it was still called Dodorama. Rob went to gigs and bought cassette tapes and records from Mariëtte, who now runs Underbelly. He remembers a legendary 24 24
Bobby Conn performance. After a frenzied concert the violinist sat in a chair, alone on stage, and did her Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct re-enactment… and he watched in amazement. Thrilled by this experience, he bought the band’s T-shirt. We have worked for WORM before. Lukas Simonis and Hajo Doorn invited us to contribute to the WORM Parallel University, and in 2013 and 2014 we explored our Countryside Issues as a live programme-as-research within the Kapitalistisch Realisme series.
The programme included live events, CO2-friendly Skype lectures, and some printed Countryside Issues. It was a series of short explorations of contemporary art in the periphery, beyond the hubbub of Europe’s cultural centres. It was about the anarchists, utopians, and dreamers who have left the mainstream behind, away from the city and gone “back to the land”, simply to get some work done in places where space and time are less scarce.
Earlier this year we started to work in the WORM Sound Studio on our audiobook / radioplay ‘Flametti, or the Dandyism of the Poor’, by Hugo Ball. One day Lukas asked if we would like to join the new Radio WORM community. Of course we said yes. It feels nice to reconnect to the family, and it is great that WORM decided to open up their spaces and equipment for artists to work, now that due to COVID, it cannot function as a public venue. Tell me about ‘Recht op de stad’, Why are you engaging in the protests: what is the value you see in it? Recht op de stad is a group of people that is concerned with what is happening with social housing in Rotterdam and our city in general. The manifesto, ‘Het betere plan voor wonen in Rotterdam’ tries to force change. The policy laid down in 2016, in the ‘Woonvisie, koers naar 2030’ causes a lot of suffering and the eviction of hundreds of people in neighbourhoods like Tweebos and Wielewaal, and does not provide an answer to the growing housing crisis. There must be alternatives and Recht op de stad tries to formulate them and bring them to the attention of politicians and fellow city dwellers. Rotterdam, once the poorest city in the Netherlands, has a city government that openly aims to transform Rotterdam into a La La Land for investors and the Porsche-driving nouveau riche. They want people with a low income—a group which most artists also probably belong to on the basis of their income—out of the city, and people with a middle and high income to move in, in return. So of course we are committed to this. Everyone should be! It’s about our life and future. It is about what kind of society and city we want to live in. If we want to influence politics, we have to join the protests. Also, just like today, 50 years ago different groups started to organise resistance and got together
with experts from different fields and artists, to organise a broader protest to force change. And they managed. That’s why we still have De Rotte running through town and not the highway that was planned there, for instance. We are experiencing the housing crisis ourselves. Where can we live and find a home? We feel that there is no room for us in our own city and that we are being pushed out. Joining all these different people at protests, who have decided not to look away, who decided not to just save their own ass, is very powerful and inspiring.
and sustainable housing initiatives. But we are more often confronted with frustrations than successes. What we hope comes from all this is that Rotterdam, onze stad, does not sell our city to big investors, that “they” come to their senses! :—) It’s about time. Investors but also ordinary people are now putting their money in stones, a young real estate agent told us. Houses are seen as an investment, like gold, but gold is not a human right or a basic necessity; housing is!
What do you hope comes from it, for Rotterdam? We have felt unsafe for over a year now and with our blog Side by Side, the exhibition for Rotterdam Cultural Histories and the radio show for Radio WORM, we try to understand what is going on, share stories, voices and perspectives, trying to turn our pain into pearls as Jenny Holzer put it. On our blog we are investigating inspiring examples of self-organised co-ops and other social 25
Radio Activity Radio WORM and the Radia Network
Words: Richard Foster and Lukas Simonis. Pictures and logos: Courtesy of Lukas Simonis and the Radia Network
Lukas Simonis is an organiser and co-founder at WORM and one of the people behind the Klangendum radio project, and the 2020 relaunch of Radio WORM. Both Klangendum and Radio WORM are part of a global network of independent and innovative radio stations, such as Radia.fm, Resonance FM and Soundartradio (UK), Curious Broadcast (Ireland), Orange and ORF (AUT), WMFU (USA) and VPRO, NOS and Concertzender (NL). We asked Lukas to explain how his work at WORM has come to encapsulate such a broad range of international partners and how his work with these partners has expanded over the last year or so.
One specific project Lukas is busy with is the Radia Network, an alternative broadcasting network comprising 25 different partners, worldwide. These include Montréal’s CKUT, Sydney’s Diffusion FM 91.9, Ljubljana’s Radio Študent, Dunedin’s Radio One 9 FM, London’s Resonance FM, Zaragoza’s TEA FM and Marseille’s Radio Grenouille. A full list can be found on the website, http://radia.fm/about/. What binds all the stations is “a concrete manifestation of the desire to use radio as an art form.”
Lukas, what’s the connection? Lukas: All the radios are what you could call, “art radios”. They are a mixture of music and community and art. Pretty much like what we are doing at WORM with Radio WORM now. What does working with Radia mean for your work at WORM? Lukas: Radia is a collective and the fun thing about the Radia initiative is, we all make a contribution. There is a new Radia programme every week, made by one of the 25 members and it will be broadcast by all the members. So, over a year, WORM will make two radio programmes that everyone broadcasts.
...Of course it’s much better if you meet up with the people involved. If I go through the list of stations I know I have already met up with half of them. Some places are really big. For example Radio Corax in Germany, and Resonance. Sometimes we get funding to get together every few years, because there is not much money in this at all. It’s all run off goodwill, really. We just meet up and do a project together. I’ve only had the chance to do this three times, but it was always very nice. ...Getting in touch with these people now is mostly online but that doesn’t stop us making projects, sometimes individually. If we want an individual project broadcast we send a mail and the station interested will broadcast your work. So there is plenty of room to do new work with each other. It’s just a pity that you don’t meet everyone so much. It would be great to meet up.
How did you and WORM get involved? Lukas: Just talking, over time. You have to remember some of these have existed for a long time. Resonance is over 20 years old I think. Radio Študent in Ljubljana is maybe 30 years old. Nobody has “ official” money or structures in place to maintain things. So it’s really a labour of love for everybody. And it’s very funny to see how everybody works. Some places have managed to work from a great big studio, like Soundart Radio in Dartington, they have a great space there. Being part of a wider arts complex in beautiful surroundings. And yet they have no money! But I love how they work and what they do.
How does Radio WORM fit in here? Lukas: We fit in really well into this kind of network. As we are currently building up our own facilities in WORM’s Foyer, you know it’s pretty small at the moment but we are looking to upgrade lots of things and lots of people from the Radia network will be very happy to come and contribute. I think that’s because we have a very diverse programme, some art, some music, community radio, lots of people talking about their underground passions! How do you see the community side growing? Lukas: I’m not sure, but we take it step by step. First, we make radio. And it would be nice if this community can grow from that. Of course I make the programmes and that isn’t so arbitrary as you’d think with such a diverse programme, as I know most of the people involved. On the other hand if somebody wants to make a certain programme I won’t say 27
no, of course. My only problem is if it’s looking to be commercial or poor quality but I think the diversity in our case is both important and interesting. You hope there will be a community coming from this, but it’s not up to me to say, “be a community now!” If you go to Resonance FM they have a wide variety of programmes that are quite mainstream and about politics and current affairs. Stuff you get on a normal radio. And we aren’t really going that way. Community radio has a strong tradition in the Netherlands, from pirate radio in the 60s and 70s, squat radio in the 80s and so on. Do you see WORM fitting into this tradition? Lukas: Not at the moment no! [Laughs.] Of course it depends on the programme makers. But it’s possible. There have been special editions, such as an on-scene report about the recent chopping down of a lot of trees in the centre of Rotterdam. You have all your international connections from years of making radio and right now you are bringing a lot of young people in, who are interested in local things, and have their networks in Rotterdam. How do you see yourself in this mix? Lukas: Personally I am really happy with it. As you know I am an energy vampire so I am currently sucking up all the energy from these enthusiastic radio makers! I like the music broadcast by the slightly older people here, because I find that more interesting. It’s wilder and less generic, but okay that’s maybe a sign of the times. But as an interesting source of information, lots of the new programmes have taught me a great deal. I use the radio to talent scout and make special projects. These projects can be an art piece or a series of podcasts. Which is a different dynamic but also an interesting thing. With podcasts you can record them live as radio and make a very nice series. This is new terrain for us.
∏node (Mulhouse, Paris, FR) 48.8774° N, 2.3595° E CKUT (Montréal, CA) 45.5017° N, 73.5673° W DiffusionFM 91.9 (Sydney, AU) 33.8688° S, 151.2093° E JET FM (Nantes, FR) 47.2184° N, 1.5536° W Kanal 103 (Skopje, MK) 41.9981° N, 21.4254° E Orange 94.0 (Vienna, AT) 48.2082° N, 16.3738° E Radio ARA (Luxembourg, LU) 49.8153° N, 6.1296° E Radio Campus (Brussels, BE) 50.8503° N, 4.3517° E Radio Corax (Halle, DE) 51.4970° N, 11.9688° E Radio Grenouille (Marseille, FR) 43.2965° N, 5.3698° E Radio Helsinki (Graz, AT) 47.0707° N, 15.4395° E Radio One 91 FM (Dunedin, NZ) 47.0707° N, 15.4395° E Radio Panik (Brussels, BE) 50.8503° N, 4.3517° E Radio Papesse (Firenze, IT) 43.7696° N, 11.2558° E Radio Student (Ljubljana, SI) 46.0569° N, 14.5058° E radio x (Frankfurt/Main, DE) 50.1109° N, 8.6821° E Rádio Zero (Lisboa, PT) 38.7223° N, 9.1393° W RadioWORM (Rotterdam, NL) 51.9244° N, 4.4777° E Reboot.fm (Berlin, DE) 52.5200° N, 13.4050° E Resonance FM (London, UK) 51.5074° N, 0.1278° W Soundart Radio (Dartington, UK) 50.4520° N, 3.7128° W TEA FM (Zaragoza, ES) 41.6488° N, 0.8891° W Usmaradio (San Marino, SM) 43.9356° N, 12.4473° E Wave Farm WGXC 90.7-FM (New York, USA) 40.7128° N, 74.0060° W
Do you think the other makers in the Radia network follow WORM’s narrative arc? Lukas: I think in some cases, for sure. But what I noticed when I talked with a few people from Radia, it’s a totally different story. It would be interesting to have all the stories of all the radio stations lined up. Because they’re so different. The people from Radio Zero, they were one of the founders, and the power behind the station, Ricardo is a really great person. We’d get lots of mails from them and we’d think, “oh they must be big”. But then we heard from someone who’d visited and they said the space was like an extended cupboard! [Laughs.] And they’re somewhere at the end of a university building, in a cellar. Sometimes they struggle to survive. Years ago I was at Radio Študent, and it was on the edge of town in a set of very functional university buildings. Or the stations are often in really nice locations like Resonance FM’s old offices but they are essentially guerilla operations.
Any wishes for Radio WORM? Personally I’d like more weird music but then we need to find people who like to play really weird music. Which reminds me Richard, I know you like weird sounds. Why don’t you make a show?
During the winter and spring of 20202021, Radio WORM has drawn together a wide range of programme makers who use the facilities in the Foyer to broadcast their shows. Often the shows are about local issues. But other shows link Rotterdam to a global audience of peers and likeminded souls. One fascinating example is the “Slavic Takeover”, run by artists Ana Brumat and Henrietta Müller. Here they talk to two other makers, currently living in Rotterdam but active as makers with Ljubljana’s famous Radio Študent, Staš Kramar and Blaž Pavlica.
The Story of Synching
STAŠ & BLAŽ - East goes West at Radio WORM 30 30
Words: Ana Brumat, Henrietta Muller, Staš Kramar and Blaž Pavlica Pictures: courtesy of Staš Kramar and Blaž Pavlica
“I wonder if the series of random events and people in my life are ever going to make a coherent connection? Regardless; it gives me a chance to introduce the story of ‘how I met Ana, Staš & Blaž’. Maybe the histories and socio-cultural backgrounds of our “post-communist countries” made me easily sync with Ana Brumat. We are both cruising through Rotterdam’s heady art scene and there was no question that her “Slavic taste” should be shown on my weekly show, “Wednesday Doesn’t Exist With BenKult” on Radio WORM. It allowed us to create a “SlavicTakeover” and also gave us the chance to meet Staš Kramar and Blaž Pavlica. Their stories about making radio and their understanding of the communities involved in that process changed my perception about the ways radio platforms can be explored.” - Henrietta Müller
Introducing Staš Kramar (Fujita Pinnacle) Could you introduce yourself? Staš: I am Staš, a multimedia student working as a production and broadcast sound technician and music journalist at Radio Študent in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Producing or listening to music represents an extensive part of my free time. I also enjoy collecting vinyl and studio gear or going out field recording and shooting some film on a nice day. I currently live in Rotterdam because of my 4 month Erasmus+ internship at Operator Radio, where I also work as a sound technician, setting up online live streaming events during the ongoing COVID situation. What makes a radio station a good radio station? Staš: A good radio station in my opinion consists of a sound foundation, a solidly defined cultural and political position and a quality and diverse programme. I think that a vibrant and connected community built around the radio station itself is important as well. Why and how did you start to work on the radio? What’s the motivation? Staš: A good friend said I should do a try out as a technician at the radio. Besides, Radio Študent is an educational institution that teaches prospective staff during annual auditions: you can start working with no prior knowledge in the field. I have an interest in music and audio in general. And I already attended some audio engineering workshops and helped set up a smaller DIY studio in my home town before signing up at the radio. But the knowledge and experience I gained at RŠ is still incomparable to any other institution I had worked at. How did working on the radio shape you and your work? Staš: Working at Radio Študent broadened my music taste, introduced me to many different political views and cultural subjects, and helped me secure future jobs in the audio industry.
Can you tell us about the current situation of RŠ and the influence that it has on the community? Staš: The funding for the radio station is shrinking every year because of its strong opinions about the current political state of the main student organisation - its founder - and the country as a whole. During the COVID crisis, when the radio station even intensified its reporting and programmes, its budget was cut by 30% - not because of the crisis itself, but as a consequence of the student organisation’s planned disciplining of a media outlet that does not bow to the ruling student elite. I think that Radio Študent and its exhaustive and uncensored reporting is now more needed than ever. Its presence connects open-minded people through many generations in a strong family-like community and promotes overlooked underground cultural content from all around the country. It represents a strong base for the whole alternative scene in Slovenia and helps to educate and train students for various positions in the media sector. How did the Rotterdam and the Dutch music scene influence you? Staš: I haven’t been here long enough to say the scene influenced me yet and the current situation makes it impossible to experience it in a legitimate way. I am lucky enough to work at Operator Radio where I can still hear a quality selection of alternative music and see the styles people like to present here. I also got an impression of what the scene in Rotterdam would look like normally, through some lengthy chats with show hosts. What are your plans for the next edition of Slav Takeover on Radio WORM? Staš: I’ll play some electronic music produced by my friends in Slovenia and maybe play some of my tracks as well.
Introducing Blaž Pavlica (Cosmic Sex) Could you introduce yourself? Blaž: My name is Blaž Pavlica and I am an audio-visual artist, audio engineer, DJ and programmer from Ljubljana. I live in Utrecht and work as a website developer. When I finished my undergraduate studies in Ljubljana, I started working at Radio Študent as an audio engineer. A year later I started a DJ radio show, Partijska linija, together with Jaša Bužinel, where we focus on new forms of electronic club and experimental music. This slowly evolved into a series of club events Cosmic Sex, where we hosted local, Croatian, Serbian and British DJs. What makes a radio station a good radio station? Blaž: I think a good radio station is one that engages its listeners with critical thinking and diverse content, and opens a space that nourishes these qualities in the community around it. Why and how did you start to work on the radio? What’s the motivation? Blaž: When I started studying and moved to Ljubljana I started listening to Radio Študent, where I discovered a lot of genres I’ve never heard before. It instantly became the only radio I listened to since their musical, political and cultural content surpasses any other radio in Slovenia. I was mostly interested in electronic music and I slowly started producing it and DJ-ing. Towards the end of my degree I heard of the yearly auditions on RŠ; I applied for a technician and was accepted. A great opportunity to gain experience in working with sound and being active in a big collective. How did working on the radio shape you and your work? Blaž: Besides the knowledge and experience in sound design, I learned how to be calm and responsive under pressure, which happens a lot on live radio and also how to cooperate with a team to produce something. The diversity of the music I heard in the programmes shaped 32 32
my creative process; I don’t try to follow styles and conventions, but mix different influences. While working there I also learnt about cultural and political critique, which gave me the tools to see both the world and my work differently. Can you tell us about the current situation of RŠ and the influence that it has on the community? Blaž: RŠ started a campaign which gathered a lot of support from its listeners and other, diverse institutions. After that, the student organisation included RŠ into its budget plan again, but with a much smaller funding grant. Because of this the radio’s existence is in danger, which also puts the community around it in danger.
...This is a part of the destruction and decline of spaces that encourage independent critical thinking, which is even more important during the rise of populism in the world. How did the Rotterdam and Dutch music scene influence you? Blaž: Because I moved to the Netherlands during the second wave I couldn’t experience the scene through live events. I have been inspired by the creative coding and livecoding scene, while meeting some people through the NL_CL meetups and the Signal group. Since moving here I discovered two amazing Dutch labels releasing great electronic music. The first is Nous’klaer
Audio from Rotterdam and the second is Something Happening Somewhere from Utrecht. What are your plans for the next edition of Slav Takeover on Radio WORM? Blaž: I would like to present some of my favourite Balkan producers of experimental and club music and maybe a special edition featuring live coding music.
Weaving the Web
“Radio Študent was established in 1969 during student demonstrations in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As one of the oldest and strongest alternative urban
community radio stations in Europe it not only transmits cultural and educational content, but also educates youngsters for careers in journalism and other functions on the radio station. In “Slav Takeover” on Radio WORM, these hard earned skills and experiences now flow over borders and merge with other microsystems of NL “cultural flora”. Through an inexhaustible, nomadic pursuit of other creative forces we will produce new cultural networks, and constantly weave a web which will ensnare other extraordinary partners in crime.” - Ana Brumat
WORM and MSCTY A New “Cultural European Union” WORM and MSCTY - A New “Cultural European Union” Words: Richard Foster
What to do when traditional ways of working and creative structures have been removed or are in danger of breaking down? Given that the long drawn out Brexit process is finally over and COVID continues to throw many ways of working into doubt in the cultural sector, the strong and mutually beneficial cultural exchange between the Netherlands and the UK enters a new and initially uncertain chapter. This new chapter throws up many challenges. Firstly and most frustratingly, there is a lack of actual, physical exchange at ground and “individual creative” level. Additionally, new travel and visa restrictions and costs, shifts in UK governmental focus in terms of what art forms and cultural manifestations are considered valuable, and the uncertainty of what will be allowed in terms of a corona-mitigated music circuit over the coming years, threaten to eradicate the existing structures for new and marginal talent.
Keeping the message alive through the airwaves
Those structures have been built up over time, through an often fragile web of personal connections and mutual interests. It is essential some form of action is taken now to ensure that the creative links between underground and alternative musical communities are not lost or broken beyond repair. Therefore, over the coming years, driven in part by a desire to fight any form of creative “splendid isolation” by Brexit, WORM along with its potential UK partner, MSCTY, will look to create a new “Cultural European Union” with the UK. WORM has always enjoyed close links with the UK. The latest formal manifestation of this entente cordiale took place in the summer of 2019, when WORM’s Richard Foster was invited to appear on BBC Radio 3’s celebrated Late Junction programme to talk about Rotterdam’s thriving alternative music scene. Late Junction’s presenter on that night, Nick Luscombe (currently based, partially because of Covid-19, in Japan), makes radio for the BBC and runs MSCTY; an international music-based cultural platform concerned with connecting cultural activity globally through sound.
Both WORM and MSCTY will use their reputation and experience as international platforms to further the work of Rotterdam creatives working in sound.
On the ground in the air
The plan is that WORM, using its on-the-ground knowledge of the city’s creative scene, will pick a diverse cross section of musicians and musical creatives working in Rotterdam. Once ready, the project is then loaded to the MSCTY site, the tracks are geo-located (heard in situ and via the site), plus full critique and editorial by a relevant and well respected writer. Then, the project will be officially proposed to a number of broadcasters as a radio show (for instance BBC Radios 4, 3, World Service, or BBC Introducing or Resonance FM). Fingers crossed!
het bombardement is deze verwoest, waarna ook de rest van de Nieuwehaven werd gedempt. in de jaren ’80 is Nieuwehaven gebouwd zoals het nu nog steeds is: een autoluwe buurt met kleine steegjes en straatjes en relatief kleine woningen. In Nieuwehaven wonen ongeveer 1.500 mensen, vooral gezinnen met kinderen. Ik sprak met Fatima Lamkharrat, die al jaren voor WMO Radar sociale projecten in het centrum van Rotterdam uitvoert. Fatima is op dit moment ‘aandachtsfunctionaris’ in Nieuwehaven. Voor buurtbewoners is zij het aanspreekpunt, in principe voor alles dat te maken heeft met het wonen en leven in de buurt. Ik vroeg haar wat er allemaal speelt.
Er speelt genoeg! Samenleven in Nieuwehaven Rotterdam Words: Janpier Brands en Fatima Lamkharrat. Pictures: Courtesy of WMO Radar
WORM werkt al bijna drie jaar samen met welzijnsorganisatie WMO Radar. We organiseren samen ‘Ontmoeten in Cool’ - op dit moment is dat een maaltijdvoorziening voor oudere mensen in de buurt en Join Us - een project waar jonge mensen elkaar in WORM kunnen ontmoeten. In mei zijn we gestart met een samenwerking in de Rotterdamse buurt Nieuwehaven, waar verhalenvertellers Sharif Noël en Brooklyn Mozes met jonge mensen van rond de 12 jaar oud een performance maken die laat zien hoe het leven er voor hen in Nieuwehaven uitziet. WORM is hierbij betrokken, omdat we zien hoe die jongeren in de knel zitten en misschien wel de grootste slachtoffers zijn van de Pandemie. Zeker in Nieuwehaven, waar buitenspelen agressieve reacties oplevert, en thuisspelen met thuiswerkende ouders geen optie is.
Nieuwehaven is een buurt in het centrum van Rotterdam, gelegen bij de Kubuswoningen, ingeklemd tussen de Burgemeester van Walsumstraat en het Haringvliet. Vóór 1900 was Nieuwe Haven ook echt een haven, na de gedeeltelijke demping werd bebouwd als woonwijk en marinierskazerne. Tijdens
‘Nou, er speelt genoeg!’, zegt Fatima. ‘Op dit moment is er een grillige situatie rondom de nieuwe speelplek voor kinderen in de buurt. Het heeft nogal wat tijd gekost om die plek te realiseren, ook omdat er goed gekeken is waar zo’n plek in de buurt mogelijk was. Een aantal omwonenden weet goed de weg naar de instanties te vinden, en zeggen de gekozen plek niet geschikt te vinden. Bewoners zonder kinderen zien vaak niet dat er een grote behoefte is bij de kinderen in de buurt voor zo’n plek’. Er zijn de laatste jaren veel jonge gezinnen in Nieuwehaven komen wonen. Tegelijkertijd is een deel van de bewoners die al vanaf het begin in de buurt woont ouder geworden, en hun eigen kinderen zijn uit de buurt getrokken. Dit levert spanningen op. ‘De mensen zitten op elkaars lip. Er zijn weinig speelplekken en de woningen zijn klein. Ouders laten hun kinderen relatief veilig buiten spelen, omdat er geen autoverkeer is. Maar de oudere bewoners klagen veel over ballen die tegen de muur aan bonken, of geschreeuw van voetballende jongens. Een deel van de klachten is terecht, maar soms wordt er ook geklaagd als kinderen gewoon zitten te spelen, zonder aanwijsbare overlast’.
Het is moeilijk een gemeenschappelijke grond te vinden voor de bewoners om zo’n collectief gesprek te voeren. Fatima zegt dat het om meer gaat dan een generatieconflict. ‘Het gaat om een mix van oorzaken. Uiteraard hoe de wijk is opgezet, maar ook hoe verschillend de mensen denken over wat ‘woongenot’ is, of hoe verschillend er gecommuniceerd wordt. Daarnaast speelt racisme ook een rol. Als je uitgaat van het idee dat een groep bewoners ‘hier niet hoort’, zoals een deel van de oudere bewoners doet, dan wordt het wel heel moeilijk een common-ground te vinden. Terwijl alle bewoners recht hebben op veilig en gelukkig wonen in Nieuwehaven. Pas als je dat erkent en accepteert kan je beginnen aan samenleven. Ook ouderen hebben recht op woongenot. Met ouders bespreken we het gedrag van kinderen en betrekken we hen bij het spelen van hun kinderen’.
Grenzen Van Fatsoen
Toen de kinderen van de eerste bewoners uit de buurt waren weggetrokken, werden de binnenterreinen aangepast aan de ouderen die in de buurt bleven wonen. Speelplaatsen maakten plaats voor kunstwerken, bankjes en er werd een jeu de boulesbaan aangelegd. Corona lijkt die situatie te verergeren: mensen zijn op zichzelf aangewezen, zijn veel thuis, en dus wordt er meer overlast ervaren. ‘En in het uiten van die gevoelens van overlast worden alle grenzen van fatsoen overschreden. Het lijkt wel alsof er geen enkele rem is op wat mensen doen en zeggen. Tegen kinderen wordt gezegd dat ‘ze terug moeten naar hun eigen land’, ballen worden lekgeprikt en er is een voorval waarin een kind met urine werd bekogeld. Dat gaat alle perken te buiten! Sommige kinderen nemen helaas dit gedrag over en vragen ‘waarom de ouderen nog niet in bejaardentehuis zitten’ of erger.’ Hoewel Fatima aangeeft dat er bij de
inspraakavonden ook dingen fout zijn gegaan, waardoor bewoners zich soms niet gehoord voelen, ziet ze bij bepaalde bewoners extreem gepolariseerd gedrag. ‘Ik probeer de gematigde bewoners over de streep de trekken, door bijvoorbeeld bij de jeu de boulesbaan gesprekken aan te knopen. Ook zijn er wijkgesprekken met verschillende clubjes in de buurt, of individuele gesprekken. Dat is allemaal nodig om genoeg grond te krijgen voor een collectief gesprek met iedereen, om bespreken hoe we met elkaar willen omgaan. Elke toenadering van buurtbewoners wordt aangegrepen om ze te betrekken bij de organisatie van het zomerprogramma en andere activiteiten. Op die manier probeer ik de mensen met elkaar in contact te brengen. Vanuit WMO investeren we in activiteiten voor een gezonder pedagogisch leefklimaat voor kinderen. Daarin betrekken we de jeugd zelf, hun ouders en andere bewoners. En we werken samen met partners zoals de woningbouwcorporatie, politie en gemeente’.
Fatima ziet dit in meer buurten in het centrum: racisme en pesterijen. Het meest zorgelijk is dit voor de jonge mensen die nu opgroeien. Ook in Nieuwehaven zijn die jongeren potentiële leiders. Het zijn de ondernemers en politici van de toekomst en ze worden belangrijke personen in onze samenleving. Door het gebrek aan veiligheid om fijn op te kunnen groeien en te spelen in je buurt, worden kinderen belemmerd in hun ontwikkeling.
‘We investeren veel in deze kans. Met een ‘powerklas’ zorgen we dat ze vaardigheden ontwikkelen waarmee ze voor zichzelf kunnen opkomen. We hebben talentontwikkel-trajecten gericht op de ontwikkeling van vaardigheden. En het project dat we met Sharif en Brooklyn van WORM doen draagt eraan bij dat de jongeren hun energie en ook boosheid omzetten in iets positiefs. Door een performance te maken ontstaat onder andere inzicht in hun leefwereld. Belangrijk is ook het proces na die performance. Er is aanleiding voor een gesprek, maar ook kunnen jongeren verder met hun artistieke ontwikkeling in een vervolg’. 37
COLOFON WORM would like to thank: Richard Foster, Natalia Papaeva, Nick Luscombe, Ash Kilmartin, Esther Urlus, Lichun Tseng, Tallinn Music Week and Station Narva, Mart Avi, Karin Kahre, Lukas Simonis, Koen Ter Heegde, Ana Brumat, Henrietta Müller, Staš Kramar, Blaž Pavlica, Fatima Lamkharrat, Janpier Brands, Robert Hamelijnck, Nienke Terpsma, Rae Parnel, Khalil Ryahi, Rrita Jashari, Sigrun Schaumburg-Müller, Laura Ferrero, Inaki Otalora, Leona Jacewska and Miranda Mehmeti. All images are courtesy of the authors except “Venues from the Future!”, Berksun Doganer and Hosein Danesh. Logos courtesy of Gemeente Rotterdam, RE MI and the European Union. Design: Natalia Papaeva. Direction: Richard Foster. WORM, The Open City: Boomgaardstraat 71, 3012 XA, Rotterdam.
Kraków 50.0647° N, 19.9450° E Belgrade 44.8125° N, 20.4612° E San Sebastian 43.3183° N, 1.9812°W Brussels 50.8503° N, 4.3517° E Pristina 42.6629° N, 21.1655° E Aarhus 56.1629 N, 10.2039° E Riga - 56.9496° N, 24.1052° E Barcelona - 41.3851° N, 2.1734° E Porto - 41.1579° N, 8.6291° W Nantes - 47.2184° N, 1.5536° W Berlin - 52.5200° N, 13.4050° E Riga - 56.9496° N, 24.1052° E Barcelona - 41.3851° N, 2.1734° E Porto - 41.1579° N, 8.6291° W