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Insight: Forecast, an interdisciplinary network for knowledge transfer

Text by CLOT Magazine

Tara Catherine Pandeya, Raqsistan, The Land of Dance- A Cartography of the Body. Forecast Festival 2, 2017. Photo- Kerstin Schomburg
The Land of Dance – A Cartography of the Body, Tara Catherine Pandeya, Raqsistan. Forecast Festival (2017). Photo credit: Kerstin Schomburg

Forecast is a program that offers artists and creative thinkers from anywhere in the world the chance to work with accomplished mentors toward bringing their projects to fruition. Forecast sets itself apart by inviting prominent architects, designers, curators, and artists to participate in a mentorship program for individuals from all backgrounds. Incepted by Freo Majer, the first edition of Forecast took part in 2015-2016. 

Acting as Artistic Director, Freo Majer looks back at a career as a director and producer in European theatres, opera houses, and festivals; I have always been interested in the interaction of different trades and disciplines and the surprising and unpredictable nature of transdisciplinary cooperation. For me, opera and theatre were a fascinating playground where I could create friction between text, music, and scenic action and explore the distortions and doubts of human existence. Majer told us over email about how his formative experiences led to founding Forecast. 

In his work as a director, Majer had to experience how inventive and liberal artistic work was often slowed down by bureaucracy and predetermined processes and formats in opera houses and theatres and, therefore, could be prevented from developing. The apparatus behind a production can be incredibly cumbersome and frustrating, and at some point, that made me ask: do I really want to contribute in my career to ensuring that cultural institutions, under steady mechanisms of bureaucratic administration, rigid conventions, and also the need of a permanent self-exploitation of the individual artist “spits out” a fixed number of premieres every year? I wanted to change that kind of alienation. 

Majer told us that he had the impression that the institutional funding and realisation of artistic production only sometimes serves the creative process but rather often serves a market. However, as long as an artistic process is organised for outcome rather than as a legitimate and fully autonomous process per se, it will follow the conventions and limitations of what is already established and acknowledged and reproduce the same thoughts repeatedly. Forecast should do exactly the opposite: to give the individual creative exactly what he/she wants or needs while allowing him/her absolute freedom in all decisions. He says. 

Forecast provides insights into creative production processes and carves out space for the questions on the minds of the next generation of innovators and creatives. For each edition, they select six mentors from various disciplines who offer selected participants their expertise in specifying and realising their project ideas. Mentoring seemed to us to be a lastingly effective means of empowering artistic practices as it is based on a respectful human relationship.

Forecast does not see itself as controlling or shaping but primarily curates the process of matchmaking. They have expanded and refined this basic method with each edition since 2015, but the core idea is still the same today. For the current edition, Forecast 7, the following mentors are participating: investigative journalist Alia Ibrahim, artist Ana Prvački, comedian Daliso Chaponda, choreographer Florentina Holzinger, artist and filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán, and vocalist Rully Shabara. Each of them has received extended mentoring, including a work-stay, in which the mentor and mentee meet in person for up to two weeks of intensive exchange. At the end of the mentorship phase, the six mentees will present their final productions to the public in a two-day event at Radialsystem on March 17–18.

About what we can expect to see and experience during Forecast festival, Majer anticipates that the festival will, for example, tell the incredible story of a film that became iconic in Lebanon, and almost all of the actors and crew died during the making of it – but hardly anyone knew about this catastrophe at the time. We experience an astute and also amusing film about a girl from a Pakistani village who suddenly gains unexpected abilities.

We can experience the radical and, at the same time, sensitive transformation of a character from the Peking Opera into a modern, multi-faceted representation or playfully reflect on glancing at, staring at, or observing objects and surroundings. We explore oral traditions of elaborate horror stories told in a region in the Bolivian Andes, marking it as “haunted” and thereby contributing to its protection by the indigenous communities. We will see an astonishing performance that, with elements of magic, turns the traditional agreements and attributions of actors and spectators into an almost fluid negotiating mass.

For Majer, Forecast is just one of many examples of how a great new opening between different perspectives and milieus is currently developing. In these current times of social, economical, energy and climate crises, we can’t help asking about Forecast’s role in describing contemporary society. We believe that isolation and isolation in disciplinary silos are a thing of the past. The enormous disruptions and conflicts of our time call for bold, curious actors interested in solidarity and cooperation. Programs such as Forecast can be used to look at our current reality with a keen eye and learn from it, without stereotypes and without ideology.

Freo Majer ends this conversation with a beautiful piece of advice for those developing new ideas or projects. Majer advises us to be courageous and curious in trying out new experiences, not only in the conceptual development of a project but also in their communication. Take the language and form you really want and can use well, disregarding the conventions and prescribed formats you have seen others use.

(Images courtesy of Forecast)
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