In Residence is a five-year project in which teams of artists create work with people living/working on Badstrasse, Wedding, Berlin. Badstraße is in a deprived Berlin neighborhood with a diverse population coming from many different countries with a new dance space at one end (Uferstudios, opened 2010).
Each summer, dance artists are "in residence" in the shops and the street. The title is a play on a the idea of a traditional artist's residency (time and space for an artist to explore and create in a specific context which is different to her usual one) as well as the idea of living and working ("residing") on the street.
The project sees dance as a public space; a meeting place; a space to communicate. The project focuses upon participatory processes and each year lays a focus upon a different theme and different participants. The form and content of the projects change from year to year and are developed with the input of participants. The subjects are co-creators, performers, subjects, critics, hosts, audience...
In Residence works with the approximately 50 shops on Badstrasse between the underground station Pankstraße and Uferstudios. In the 1750s the street was part of a thriving spa and later became a place for shopping and relaxation. The fortunes of the area declined when the Berlin Wall was built as the proximity to the wall meant it was little frequented and it became run-down. After the fall of the wall the low rents attracted recent immigrants to Berlin and the street now has a diverse population. It is challenged by poverty and some conflicts between the different communities sharing the space. The arrival of the UferHallen (2007) and Uferstudios (2010) in the buildings formerly used as a workshop by the Berlin transport agency marked a new era in the development of the street. The venues attract audiences and artists from across the city and beyond. These new visitors to the area bring new cultural input and economic advantages but are also motors of rising rent and costs of living - the much discussed gentrification which is changing the nature of Berlin at an extraordinary speed, which often leaves its residents disenfranchised.
In the project we ask ourselves as artists what our role and responsibility is on the street where we work - what we have to bring to this community. We want to use the process of creation to to bring together the diverse people on the street and invite us all to investigate our relationship to the community in which we live and work. We seek to use the process of making dance to open a space to talk about issues which concern us. What stories do we have to tell about the world? What issues concern us? What can’t we talk about...yet... We hope to reinforce bonds between people; bring issues and concerns to light; address topics which are hard for us to discuss but fundamental to collective living. We hope to provoke and irritate as we place our art in the street and ask people to help us make it, to watch it, to tell us what they think when they watch it, to be in it...
The results of the process are always shown both in the street/shops and at Ufer Studios as part of festivals of work (for example, Tanznacht, Ausufern). In this way we seek to bring the concerns and stories of Badstraße into the somewhat closed systems of dance production and consumption.
A positive by-product of In Residence is a developing understanding of contemporary dance in the population around Uferstudios, but this is not a central concern of the project.
In a street where so many different languages are spoken movement is an effective mode of interaction: a shared gesture, a movement copied and reflected back to the mover, hands held in a dance. Dance creates a spectacle which demands attention and allows the creators and performers to intervene in this busy, chaotic street and four lanes of traffic. The projects do not stop at creating this initial connection though. We seek to take themes emerging from the work in the street, themes which are important to our collective living.
The project was conceived by Jo Parkes and Inge Koks and is artistically directed by Jo Parkes/Mobile Dance, working in partnership with Tanzfabrik Berlin e.V.
Projects already completed are Ufer/Outside (2012) and On Beauty (2013). 2014 - 2016 saw the team develop the video installation On Tradition.
60 pupils and teaching staff from Erika Mann school worked for two weeks to create a site-specific installation along Badstrasse and into Ufer Studios which opened the festival Tanznacht 2012.
Working with a team of artists (Lara Martelli, An Boekmann, Alex B, Andea Sohn and Francesca Patrone) the non-professional dancers collected movement donations from people living and working on Badstrasse which they then developed into a performance under the direction of Jo Parkes. The performers could not "steal" the movements (simply watch the shop owners and take the movement) but had to ask permission to use them and thus instigate involvement in the project. The performers danced the donated movements outside of the shop where they had learned them as well as integarting them into a performance installation at Ufer Studios.
The project was financed by Tanzfabrik, Berlin, TanzZeit and Erika Mann Grundschule and was realised with support from Ufer Studios.
Mobile Dance Company is an intergenerational group of non-professional dancers artistically directed by Jo Parkes and Fiona Edwards. In On Beauty the company were in residence in two hairdressers on Badstraße - one for men, one for women for one week. The dancers, aged 20 - 72, watched, copied, asked questions, discussed answers, responded in movement, showed the dance, got feedback from the hairdressers and created two short site-specific pieces to be watched from inside the shops which were performed to customers having their hair done and guests at the dance festival Ausufern in the nearby Uferstudios. The theme was one which occupies both dancers and hairdressers: beauty.
In the barbarshop Hanadi, the piece became a portrait of the owner Adnan, an Iraki man whose shop is a meeting place for men of many nationalities and discussion room for politics. In the hairdresser Emine Style, a more formal piece reflected upon different perceptions of beauty and its importance in the western European culture of the dancers and the Turkish culture of the hairdressers. The project was financed by Tanzfabrik, Berlin and Alliance Stiftung and supported by Ufer Studios.