The point of view of Nicholas

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Summing up, making sense

Well in the 3rd day already and trying to configure the event so as to be able to accommodate any kind of visitors, from none (we need to take this possibility into account as this is a three-day weekend) to several, coming and going. Three "hubs", three working stations attempting to sum up our experiment: a hybrid one close to the St John's entrance where I am writing from. This is meant to allow anyone curious to make the connections -via a large computer screen- showing what I write and search on my computer as I "jamm" reading others' thoughts in the Jamm'Art webpage. a physical one, the tent where Christopher engages visitors in clay work the "operations platform" where the team is working, following what is being written and trying to make sense out of it, preparing the next steps, the visuals and the summing up of all this... People may come and go as they please, experiencing each one of these hubs, and participating in informal discussions on the Jamm'Art questions and/or the two local questions that emerged from yesterday's postit notes: What in your opinion are the connections between Artists, Society and responsibity? How in your opinion is the identity of an artist shaped today?

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Establishing contact

The second day brought us one step closer to the challenge of exploring what we make out of the activity unfolding on the internet and the physical space the team operates from! The space has been “begging” for an activating act. Some of the props have been rearranged and Magda the graphic designer prepared a handmade billboard which worked beautifully next to the computer screen projecting the homepage of Jammart.

Besides Bartlomiej who has been our collaborator from the beginning, Iwona and Roman, two important figures in the Gdansk artist community were to be with us and this alone filled me with expectation, confidence and optimism. Meeting them and discussing with both and having lunch with Roman was great and inspiring.  Both are heavily involved in the Gdansk Shipyard topic.  Iwona is an artist investigating local history around the work ethics and Roman has been looking at the Solidarity movement which developed horizontally in many cities as a network structure close to the rhizome concept of participation, and he uses the hypothesis that this structures hail back to the hanseatic cities and even further back to the Greek Polis. He is working on a game which uses the Shipyard as the context for imagining the future and putting organizational structures in place.

So, yes! The human circle envisioned in the middle of the church was actually formed. And the sequence of breathing and body exercises, followed by introductions and leading to a voicing of some local questions and concerns did take place. We had amongst us a few students, people from the BSCC and some of our group, forming together a healthy mix.  I always find though that moderating a discussion is a huge challenge, in balancing people’s input in such a way that the circle doesn’t get dominated, consciously and unconsciously by a few.

Christopher’s clay work workshop took place with the students and some of the group and the jazz jam quartet filled the space with their sounds. But the debate didn’t last as originally planned ‘til 9 because most people had other commitments to attend to.  Some good questions were collected and are waiting for us to be discussed today.  I already feel that the church has been imbued by the ideas of debate and I have a feeling that there will be other ones to take place here in the future.

...and the questions we have posed to ourselves in this experiment are far from being answered, but at least they have been addressed!

 

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In preparing the local Jamm’art session in Gdansk, one of my main desires had been to convert –even ephemerally- the space of a church into a community space and a space that favors discussion.

That space was to be where local participants would reflect the Jamm’art session at a local level, bringing to the front their own concerns about the role of artists and intellectuals in local politics today. The idea was to disrupt the centuries-old prototype of the church where the congregation faces the altar and is being administered a sermon, and to “open up space” so to speak, where a circle could be inscribed, both literally and metaphorically. That was going to happen at the currently used south-north door axis by removing a number of rows of chairs and allowing a spontaneous or a structured circle of events, discussions and events to occur.

The reward of the day for me yesterday was seeing this space transform with a simple act of changing of the space configuration, actually opening up, and thus completely altering the very DNA of its centuries-old mission: to tell people how to think and believe, rather than opening up their minds to their own potential for thinking…

Don’t get me wrong: I do not claim that converting a church into something else is novel and hasn’t happened! In the late ‘80s I was one of the revelers that were dancing in the psychedelia that the Limelight offered, a church in Manhattan-turned-into-a-club!...And I have enjoyed exhibitions in churches converted into gallery spaces, such as the wonderful Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen. And there may be similar experiments in turning churches into community spaces, which I would like to know of, if you know of any.

And we didn’t end up having any significant turn-up of Gdanskers, as we would have liked, but I couldn’t help but notice that the social energy of the space was already coming alive: the jazz quartet was playing and all people that were there or dropped in, spontaneously began gathering around in this wonderfully placed center, within the axially configured grandiosity of this monument and exchange started happening!!!...

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