Ranging from local forgotten histories to urgent global topics like climate change, border controls, and speculative, “disruptive” start-ups, the 18 projects nevertheless share certain commonalities: all of them engage different narrative strategies to imply critical approaches that question and challenge political and personal realities, and they all stem from creative thinkers who implicate themselves in the work as activists or documentarians.
In the days leading up to Forecast Forum’s public weekend, the mentors and their mentorship candidates got the chance to work closely together to fine-tune the presentations. At the end of the action-packed weekend, the mentors each selected one project to accompany throughout its realization. Each mentor and mentee tandem will meet for a condensed work-stay session at different partner residencies around the world, and continue to work together over the next nine months to bring these projects to fruition. The resulting works will be presented to the public at the Forum Festival at radialsystem, Berlin, from April 3–4, 2020.
Forecast’s Artistic Director Freo Majer said: “The six selected projects engage with very different themes and creative approaches. However, they are all connected by the ambition—and capacity—of the minds that put them forward, to pursue these ideas to conclusion. In the six approaches, we see a radicalism and clarity in the questions, doubts, and the desire to know, and various artistic treatments that are as precise as they are experimental and open. These people go all out. We are looking forward to accompanying them on this path.”
Artist Candice Breitz will mentor Kenyan artist and filmmaker Renée Akitelek Mboya as she continues toward the completion of her project, A Glossary of the Words My Mother Never Taught Me, which confronts modes of image and knowledge production in colonial film archives to trace racists genealogies of displaying black subjects. Breitz said: “Renée’s search for an adequate language whereby to re-voice and rewrite a violent colonial history—as that history is embedded in films such as Africa: Blood and Guts—is one that I find both necessary and incredibly difficult. I relish the opportunity to learn from Renée, and to have my own understanding of her narrative deepened and complicated via our extended dialogue.”
Your Musical DNA
Musician Okkyung Lee will work together with Finnish musician Olli Aarni on his composition Ajoittua ja Sijaita, which conveys a notion of the mundane specific to Finnish culture using the kantele, a traditional instrument, as well as field recordings and nature sounds. Lee said: “Spending a week with three finalists who all presented such strong personal visions through their works was a privilege that I will cherish forever. In the end, my decision was to select Aarni based on how useful I could be for this collaboration by bouncing ideas off each other and exploring multifaceted ways to create works that can be transformative for both of us.”
Artist, internet activist, and cultural critic Paolo Cirio has selected Sue Montoya’s research-based piece Rising Tides, which examines the impact of rising sea levels on the communities and ecosystem of Miami Dade County. Cirio said: “Sue Montoya’s work taps into the one of the most urgent challenge that humanity faces today. Climate change will bring destruction in all aspects of our life and society. Sue takes on this challenge by looking at the perplexity of global warming. Her investigations and representations of such complex issue embrace the overwhelming complexity through an in-depth research of data, policy making, community engagement, and especially by examining the economic factors at play. Starting with the investigation and the collection of archive material, Montoya’s work has the potential to bring ‘climate justice’ by intervening directly in the making of environmental and urban plans and yet all of this through compelling visual and conceptual art, thereby truly expanding the role of documentary and artists in society.”
Stories in Sound
Radio producer Joe Richman will accompany science journalist Caty Enders’s project, Forever, to completion. The radio podcast and immersive installation will delve into the various biotech and AI breakthroughs backed by Silicon Valley aimed at achieving immortality on the one hand, and the reality of the decline in life expectancy in the United States on the other hand due to record levels of chronic disease, suicide, and addiction. Richman said: “I had the honor of working with three mentees who presented important and beautifully told projects that all pushed the boundaries of art and journalism. It was an incredibly difficult decision to choose just one. I have selected Enders’s project, Forever, in which she’s looking to explore the science of living longer through a human lens. Her project is ambitious and fun and valuable, and it raises questions that are universal. I am excited to be a mentor for this project.”
Ink Paper Thought
Graphic novelist Anders Nilsen has chosen the project Grave Wounds by Jonas Madden-Connor. The graphic novel will entail a pulpy vampire story that also deals with race relations and the search for an artistic voice. Set in World War II, the story’s protagonist is an African-American GI whose entire squad is killed in battle. He is brought to a nearby castle to recover, along with the other survivor, a German soldier. When the two discover that their hostess is a vampire, they must work together to escape. Nilsen said: “I love the subtle complexity and patient storytelling in Madden-Connor’s work. I’m excited to accompany him over the next nine months as his work unfolds into a finished book.”
An Activism in Design
Designer Jerszy Seymour will mentor the Italian collective Parasite 2.0 on their subversive project Nasty Job, in which they argue that it’s time to rethink how we envision the human habitat and with it, the forms of social relationships that spatial organization generates. They suggest an alternative spatial experience that breaks with architectural norms, basing their research on adult “playgrounds” such as the club, the squat, and sex-related environments, like swinger clubs and darkrooms. Seymour said: “It was an amazing week working with the three collectives, with plenty of collective attitude. We go forward with Parasite 2.0—Eugenio, Luca and Stefano. Can they produce the collective of collectives? We shall see.”
Forecast would like to thank all participants in this year’s edition for sharing their research and work processes, and making them accessible to a wide audience in Berlin.