28 March 2024

Artists about the International Festival of Performing Arts

John Farah

“Music for Organ Synthesizers” is a project which I present in churches and cathedrals, fusing together elements of Baroque, Middle-Eastern and Electronic Music. I approach each concert as an expansive tapestry which brings the listener into an elaborate, unfolding soundworld. I was born in Canada to a Palestinian family, so elements of Palestinian folk song and Arabic music are constantly emerging in my music, weaving their way into the organ sounds and synthesizer textures, intertwined with the counterpoint of Bach. To my surprise and delight, in the middle of one of my pieces, half of the audience rose up and started dancing throughout the church. 

Ola Kozioł

The smell of crushed cucumbers spread throughout the entire patio. The sight of the cherries from which my beads were made could cause the viewers’ salivary glands to work more intensely. After all, it’s the height of the season. My improvised song was carried into the space enclosed by the museum walls.

There was a pink toy bicycle on the cube – a motionless witness to the entire action. After the performance, someone said that they saw me getting on this bike and flying with the voice. The old zinc bucket that made sounds every time I moved my head reminded another person of cows tied up in a barn. Trapped all my life…

This performance – a very intimate, family one – took several months to develop within me. He needed to mature in Płock, during lively conversations and walks with wonderful artists from Ukraine, Poland, Greece, England and the Netherlands; during an hour-long breathing session at Vest&Page workshops and all other exercises that expand our sensitivity.

It’s hard to put all this into words. Perhaps I could sum it up in one – “gratitude”. I have the impression that the armor from which I was emerging as a mother-artist since September 22 finally cracked in Płock during the festival. Thank you for this opportunity.

Dorothea Rust

„Donkies of all countries unite: We are the champions.” *We perform for you, we are always in the performance regime. Our time runs differently. when we perform for you humans, time can stand still, it can temporarily change us and others. We are storytellers, we can create situation spaces of otherness, and make a difference. Why else would we perform for you?” *citation of Dorothea Schürch’s report on my performance >> L’animoteur14 – donkey stor(i)es 

Bodies and Buddies

What we call body is the (lowest) common denominator that humans share with other living beings, organisms and things. The precarious part about it is that bodies are vulnerable, constantly transforming, allowing us to experience again and again that we may never have entirely possessed our bodies and never have complete control over them: our bodies are shared bodies which can connect to other living beings, organisms and technology and dock onto them. From this stance, one cannot think and experience bodies without context without what surrounds us and we live in.

Performative artistic interventions have the potential to change spaces. Spaces and places are always ‘pre-coloured’; their histories and social, cultural and political occurences affect the performance process from the outset. These levels can be perceived randomly and polyphonically in the performative situation: How concretely, how subtly immediate particularities are evoked remains open.

The queer is in all performance practices. It challenges thinking and attitude of performers, audience and witnesses, i.e. to think and act relationship-orientated and not in oppositions. It demands openness to others and the other, to beings and worlds that we don’t understand. It blurs the boundaries of practice and theory, of art, culture and political action. It is vital to keep tracing these traits again and again, indeed to track them down. Performance can take on (subliminal) activist traits. 

The performative situation creates a space in which all those present and also the aforementioned absentees are included in a process. It is usually preceded by (intensive) research. Texts and materials/media created during the research period are tested in an acute live situation and thus renegotiated.  Performers are active mediators, they create new, different narratives beyond the live act, which can lead to other, equally important, sometimes queer/odd/unusual insights and realities through reflection and retelling: The performative situation can generate knowledge and insights.

Marilyn Arsem

I was so happy to be performing live again in both festivals, and these were so beautifully organized!  It was a real pleasure to meet new artists and see old friends again.  The variety of work was impressive, ranging from profound to humorous. All thought-provoking and inspiring.  Thank you.

Yaryna Shumska

I think that our world is now so torn, uncertain and battered that the only thing that can fill us with certainty and at least a little strength is the understanding that “I am not alone”, that there are like-minded people, that we look for points of contact despite our geographical, historical, cultural differences. We listen to each other and we can be heard, we strive to build and create together beyond the imposed stereotypes.

Although this project is called Polish-Norwegian, it brought together representatives of the cultural and artistic sphere from all over Europe. The meeting, organized in Plotsk, created a platform to share opinions and experiences, to see the interests, concerns and problems of representatives of different environments.

Yes, for me it was an opportunity to remind through an artistic gesture that the war in Ukraine continues. Dialogues, discussions, ideas of common planning express the attention and care that is a kind of support, the belief that the world seeks to rely on respect, justice and sensitivity to build something more than personal local truths.

Alastair MacLennan

Stories…home of sublimely fulfilling audio/visual works in context, to dissolve, heal/ melt ‘bit’ truths away.

Laura Bartolomei 

Stories sipping through the skins, the gazes, the untold, the material, fulfilling smile.

I’m at home now.

Jolanta Krukowska

I’m glad I could participate in the “Stories” festival. The meeting of various artists created an opportunity for a new look at one’s own work. Thank you.

Nigel Rolfe

Performance making is when best a mortal and ephemeral subject. It exists in its moment of doing, in the here and now. Differing from much other art practice mostly made in the there and then.

Performance courts failure and vulnerability as a form that only can be held in others gaze, witnessed and captured by its audience. It’s time and doing in present time, between past and future, an impossibility to hold.

Secondhand are documents, photographs, films, videos and recordings….all attempts to record and replicate and retain what can not be held, reminders of the memento mori, the mortality of time and its doings now gone, now lost.

Art making is a different struggle than for greed or power or territory, but it’s contribution can be transformative and profound and as such bring hope in dark times. Shining some light perhaps with our visual poetries and stories in the dark corners of loss and the failures of the human condition.

From points of the compass we travel to meet and join on common grounde in the museum and the street, stranger to stranger, friend to friend. Nomads-artists: anywhere, nowhere, somewhere, there.

Natalia Zagorska-Thomas

I came to Płock with an open mind and no specific expectations. It was the first time I was to present my work in my native country so for me personally, the stakes felt high. What I found was a world class event: a community of international artists so committed, engaged, and artistically rigorous that my own practice had to get up pretty early in the morning to pull its socks up!

An incredibly intense few days, the luxury of being immersed in your subject with no other distractions or responsibilities, which is feeding my imagination still. Interesting territory for someone interested in the potential of domesticity (which is nothing BUT constant distractions) to carry universal meaning.

But it may all wear off by spring. I might need another shot in the arm. Surely I can’t be the only one?

Huge thanks and congratulations to Malgorzata Sady to the Museum and all the facilitators.

Wolodymyr Topiy

The festival became a surprise and an oasis of peace for us during a very difficult period of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Our thoughts were in Ukraine at that time, because before the festival we participated in a week-long workshop with the Vest And Page duo. This allowed us to be physically in Poland, but mentally – in Ukraine, at home. This was especially important because the topic of the workshop was “Home”.

The festival itself once again emphasized the relevance of performance art, which helps to immerse oneself in the world of reality and connect it with the world of experiences and ideas. It was another wonderful artistic meeting between artists from different countries. And we witnessed this against the backdrop of war.

In this way, these days became special for us, full of sensitivity, gratitude from artist friends, great hope and saturated with performance art.

Mariya Hoyin

In this difficult time of the Russian-Ukrainian war, inviting us to the festival and participating in week-long workshops with the Vest End Page duo became an excellent opportunity to meet new, wonderful people and have the opportunity to talk to them and create together. The workshops gave us the opportunity to work with unique personalities, most of them previously unknown, but all of them became an integral part of this project. Everyone shared their thoughts and experiences about “Home”, which gave deep meaning to our joint work, which we had the opportunity to present during the opening of the “Stories” festival.

The performance of all workshop participants was an important element of our stay in Płock. Throughout the week we lived side by side, like one big family, and ultimately each of us could tell our unique story about “Home” using the language of performance. It was an incredibly enriching experience that connected us in the creative process and gave us the opportunity to express our own feelings and thoughts in the form of art.

Weronika Lewandowska

In both places - Płock and Hamar - hidden spaces were revived. Discovering vision. It was an ocean of spatial metaphors that spilled out into us and united many personalities and stories in one action.


Andrea Pagnes

HOME XVI – HJEMOM at Kunstbanken, Hamar, on October19, 2023. It consisted of seven days of co-creation ten performers, tackling themes of racial discrimination, queerness, and solastalgia (a form of emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change). With: Ann Kathrin Røsvik Granhus (NO), Zack Mennell (UK), Marianne Marcote (ES), Samm Shackleton (UK), Valentina Martínez Mariscal (MX), Albert Smith (UK), Amy Mauvan (NZ), Rym Hayouni (TN), Johanne Sundfør (NO), Astrid Johanne Ødegård (NO).

Early nineties: the genocide in Bosnia, the mass migrations from Albania, and teenage girls forced into prostitution or begging on a footbridge. Bridges link places and people, but time and stagnating waters slowly erode them. Change is inevitable; no bridge lasts forever.