Sideways is an open festival format for contemporary art and spatial practices. The backbone of the festival is an expedition on foot, spanning several weeks and creating a collaborative meeting ground where artists and audiences can explore issues regarding space, time & movement. After an acclaimed edition in Belgium in 2012, Sideways is at the lookout for fertile ground for a next journey.

Andy Vandevyvere & Sinta Wibowo, Gent, Belgium

A Sideways walking expedition opens a platform for contemporary practices that blend experimental geography, site-specific art, spatial agency and rural/urban activism. The common journey acts as a trigger for exchange, research and performance, whereby participants navigate between the local and the global, between past, present and future, between urban and rural, between self and community. Walking a myriad of pathways sparks awareness of the infrastructures and blueprints that shape our societies.

The durational walking experience is key to the festival, conceived as an open-ended process of coming-into-being. By altering conditions, experiential changes are fostered. The journey acts as a connective setting and a strategy for facilitating new ways of being, relating and making worlds.

>>> Linking places – Sideways as a platform for experimental geography <<<
The expedition opens an investigation into contemporary space and the multiple ways people move around and engage with their surroundings. By focusing on the ‘liquid’ territory of movement (rather than on the solids of architecture) and on the porosity of the landscape (fostering accessibility and the freedom to ‘roam’), the expedition allows to link up seemingly separate and fragmented places. The traversed territory appears as a dynamic multiplicity of trajectories, an entanglement of pathways, a meeting-up of stories and dynamics. Both ‘grounding’ (enabling embodied interaction with the territory) and ‘dislocating’ (displacement brings forth a constantly shifting ‘sense of place’), walking occurs as an excellent tool/practice to address the fuzzy border between habitation and movement, place and flow, stasis and flux, sedentarism and nomadism, deterritorialization and reterritorialization.

>>> Linking practices - Sideways as a transdisciplinary laboratory <<<
The walking experience transcuts habitual distinctions between the conception, production and presentation of art works and blends them into the overall experience of the common journey. As the festival unfolds within the context of everyday life, the artistic practices connect with practices or networks other than contemporary art (such as education, food, urbanism, environment, heritage etc.). The expedition allows to question social-political issues and to tie the artistic practices into local and global struggles by linking them to grass-roots groups and initiatives. Moreover, by putting a mundane activity as walking at the centre of the festival experience, artists, audiences and other practitioners dissolve into each other. The common walking experience produces different forms of collective action and spatial engagement (camping, gathering, sharing food, etc.), whereby distinct roles and identities are blurred.

>>> Linking people - Sideways as an exercise in communing <<<
Far from the romantic solitary walking experience, the collective walk creates a collaborative context for exchange, learning and experiments in non-hierarchical self-organization. Being on the road together, participants are invited to connect individual initiative to common interest, making visible components such as hospitality, collaboration and the production of new forms of knowledge and social imaginary. Bringing together people from different backgrounds allows to experience how different walkers sense, read, frame, apprehend, value, overlook, suppress and interact with the environment in a myriad of ways. Artists and audiences alike are invited to touch upon, examine, explore, discuss and document their surroundings and to attempt new experiences of time and space, autonomy and connectedness, sharing and learning.

Submitter

Andy Vandevyvere & Sinta Wibowo, Gent, Belgium

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