I came across this excellent post by Will in his personal blog Bohemian Breakdancer. Although i’ve not lived in Northern Ireland or even ever visited it i have had experience of the “troubles” as the UK press likes to coin it. But i’m not here to discuss my experiences. Will’s post got me thinking about how the Prague Quadrennial brings together people from hugely different backgrounds. Will must live about 300 odd miles from me, in the same country (UK & NI) but we have a massively different life experience. Part of my ignorance of his situation is down to the way in which the UK press ignores anyhting but the most spectaular and “explosive” of Northern Irish news… news of unemployment figures, social conditions, arts funding rarely makes our screens. But i also suspect that like many in the mainland i am ignorant because i choose to be.
His post remminded me of a discussion i had with theatre designer Ivana Vasic, Ivana lives in Serbia and has first hand experiences of living and working in a war zone, she recently expressed similar feelings about her culture’s feelings about art and theatre… its not easy being an instinctively creative being in a world which doesn’t see the need for your talents, Yet despite being unable to move across Europe as she would wish to work (hopefully that will come when Serbia is accepted into the EU) Ivana manages to have a excellent portfolio of work, although like many in her situation she has to supplement it with regular commisions for commerical projects.
PQ07 is already bringing many people together, i’ve had many discussions with the contributors to this blog, a number of the Scenofest Publishing Team on the phone or skype or msn and already people are sharing their experiences of being an artist… a Theatre Designer in Greece, Serbia, Canada even more exciting are the discussions i’ve heard about collaboration. People planning to meet up after long after the PQ, I already have two invitations to visit newly made friends before PQ has even begun!
Will’s last paragraph is brutally honest ~ “Life doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be like this, and if I were a better person I would stay in Northern Ireland, and I would try to show people that if you let things slide, you can spend more time making things better for yourself. But I only have one life, and I want to live it doing the things I love.”
PQ will be a very exciting event, it will be the start of manu new friendships and artistic collaborations… but it’s also a reality check for some of us too. I often feel my country is a hard place to work and live as an artist… but the truth is i really don’t have any understanding of the difficulty people like Ivana and Will face as they try to be true to themselves and their art.