I have just landed in Milan from Madrid and the CLASTIC residency journey begins! During the following week I will be writing updates on the fantastic project that I have been able to bring to life thanks to the co-organisation of Biloura Collective and the funding of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities of University College London.
CLASTIC is an intercultural, interdisciplinary residency of artistic exchange that brings together five performing art groups from five different countries to live, share and create together for a week in the glacial valley of Valchiusella, in the Italian region of Piedmont. Since this year has been designated by the European Commission “2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage” the residency will explore what cultural heritage means in the current historical context when Europe is living through a process of social, political and cultural fragmentation.
I had the idea of CLASTIC last April while taking part in a series of workshops among theatre companies brilliantly organised by Teatro dei Servi Disobbedienti in Poverarte Festival in Bologna, where I did my Erasmus a year ago. I have just graduated in European Social and Political Studies from UCL, a degree with a very international base of students, and I have taken part in performing art workshops in the UK, Italy and Spain so my first thought was to extend this approach to artistic exchange to the European level. Having lived through Brexit and seeing the general rise of nationalism in Europe I thought that an initiative that worked across borders would be a political statement about the future of Europe that I wanted to make.
I found Biloura Collective, who I had met during the Festival, to be the perfect partner for the project. An intercultural, transdisciplinary group which has worked for years in international networks of performing arts, they shared my idea of a European residency of artistic exchange and had the experience and the space to help me organise it.
The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage gave us the idea of working around the theme of European heritage in the performing arts. I liked how the initiative presents cultural heritage as a meeting between the past and the future. I therefore wanted to see how the past traditions of the participating groups were re-configured when coming into contact with traditions from different countries, in the present time, out of their birthplace.
This is where the idea of the name “CLASTIC” came about, while having a conversation with my friend Giudi Green, a performer herself, who has also been an immense help to the project.
Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering. Clastic rocks are formed over time through a process of sedimentation in which the fragments in suspension solidify due to the external forces acting on the fluid in which they move.
The idea is to make CLASTIC Residency (which incidentally takes place in the Moraine Amphitheatre of Ivrea) just one of these external forces. A force that brings together a diversity of fragments of past European heritages and identities and binds them into new, solid communities of artistic creation that can persist through time.