PACT Fellowship Programme 2020

Through its Fellowship Programme 2020, PACT supports artists who significantly engage with complex social issues and use art to voice and impact on them. The corona crisis has made many of today's social challenges more visible and underlined the critical importance these challenges carry for both the now and future of society as a whole. These include the relevance of care work as well as the potential of digital technologies and spaces, and at the same time, the irreplaceability and uniqueness of physical interaction.

Three individual fellowships in 2020 enable teams of artists, activists, philosophers and technology experts, to connect and work in temporary research communities. PACT supports their undertakings by providing time, space and financial support in the specific aim of resolutely furthering open-ended research processes and developing new sustainable working models and proposals.

In following with the thematic clusters and objectives outlined above, three fellow constellations have been appointed to develop freely corresponding working concepts.



The Fellowship Programme by PACT Zollverein is supported by the Ministry for Culture and Science of the State of NRW

Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Maria Francesca Scaroni & Tian Rotteveel

Claire Vivianne Sobottke engages in the practice of dance, choreography and and performance. She defines her work as place of resistance and undoing, where norms of thinking and seeing can be challenged or changed. She has received numerous awards and scholarships for her choreographic practice and has collaborated with artists such as Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods, Tino Sehgal, Fabrice Mazilah, Sheena Mc Grandkes a.o. In her research, she defines the body as a turbulent accumulation of concepts, histories, trauma, memories, projections, identities, hopes and magic. Dancing thus becomes a way of activating the knowledge of the body, of making turbulence visible.

Maria Francesca Scaroni has also worked as dancer and collaborator with Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods, as well as Jess Curtis, Jeremy Wade, Frank Willens and Tino Sehgal. The body is also a central departure point for her work - Scaroni understands 'dancing' as a psycho physical, social, speculative and spiritual zone, a deeply transformative and emancipatory field of inquiry.  Her research focuses on the intersection between healing and art making, feminist praxis as well as understanding technologies of care and ecstasy as places where people can mutually empower each other.

 Tian Rotteveel is a composer and choreographer who has collaborated with established choreographers including Jeanine Durning, David Zambrano, Jeremy Wade, Tino Sehgal, Martin Nachbar, Hermann Heisig and Diego Gil. In his practice, he understands the body as the starting point of perception and the motor of expression from which composition is created. The body, as he describes it, is equally the instrument in itself.

Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Maria Francesca Scaroni and Tian Rotteveel form a flexible collective for the duration of their fellowship in order to explore models of interdisciplinary learning and encounter informed by artistic practices. In the process, they envision a prototype of a school or educational institution that accepts and fosters non-hierarchical, non-verbal and non-rational, experience-based forms of learning and knowledge to create frames in which art practices and methodologies could potentially have an impact on wider social and political environments. The question as to how individual creativity can be advanced in dialogue with other stakeholders and communities is a central aspect of their research. The trio develops ideas and concepts based on their own (physical) practices and encounters with others. They turn findings from their artistic research into creative idiosyncratic techniques that permeate and are permeated by social phenomena.

© Photo: Katarina Petrović
© Photo: Katarina Petrović

A letter from Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Maria Francesca Scaroni & Tian Rotteveel

Claire Vivianne Sobottke, Maria Francesca Scaroni & Tian Rotteveel are currently fellows at PACT. How did they experience the last weeks and how did this shape their collaboration? »During the last months, where life, relationships and work changed radically as a consequence of COVID, we were both inspired and forced to come up with alternative ways of meeting, researching and of creating mutual support in times of crisis*. Not able to touch, meeting outside became our working room.«

Barbara Raes and Sophie De Somere

Sophie De Somere is the artistic director and founder of ONBETALBAAR (Priceless) based in Ghent, Belgium. It’s a workshop, a think tank in one. ONBETAALBAR is a space where carpenters, architects, craftsmen, stage designers and artists rethink the transience of objects: new tools and things are created from discarded items, tailored to individual needs, new possibilities and the society of the future. Ecology, economy, philosophy, design and the appreciation of (existing) material become the decisive design tools. Barbara Raes worked for over 14 years as a curator and artistic director at major institutions for the performing arts including Vooruit (Ghent) and Arts centre BUDA  (Kortrijk). However, her deep interest in transience, nursing and care work as well as rituals led to her to change her working focus: with BEYOND THE SPOKEN she initiated an artistic project that develops new rituals that address the transforming nature and needs of an increasingly secularized society.

As a temporary collective, Sophie De Somere and Barbara Raes are searching for ways to combine art and care work, thus looking at a field that has gained in relevance against the background of the Corona crisis. Raes and De Somere explore how objects or new rituals can initiate dialogue between people with different needs and customs. How could this lead to the creation of new forms of farewell and mourning? As a starting point for their research, the artists are looking for dialogue partners in nursing homes and social initiatives in Essen-Katernberg.

In the aim of achieving long-term resonance in the district, the duo jointly develop visions and model projects such as light installations, encounter projects with school children, in care homes, and other participatory based projects that can connect with existing WerkStadt formats to have lasting effects and influences. The subject of bereavement is at the core of Barbara Raes' work. She researches existing farewell rituals and their associated objects and applies her findings to designing new rituals that suggest new strategies for dealing with loss outside of traditional, religious contexts.

In her regular occupation, Sophie De Somere works with concepts of recycling management systems and develops prototypes for corresponding objects. In their joint artistic work, they share a high sensitivity towards diverse groups - they trace the needs within communities in moments of transformation and fragility and encourage people to both disclose and demand their own needs.

›Rostvrij‹, © Photo: privat
›Rostvrij‹, © Photo: privat

A letter from Sophie De Somere & Barbara Raes

During the time of the Corona crisis Sophie De Somere and Barbara Raes reflected on the notion of ›being with‹ and forms of care: “Being with” involves allowing yourself to be touched by the joys, sorrows and sadness of another. To be touched by external circumstances. We learned to “be with” during these months of pandemic crisis. It highly influenced our fellowhip at PACT, not only in the impossibility, but more overly in the potential to research how we could turn this dramatic period into something filled with radical hope. 

Nathan Fain and Johannes Paul Raether's aLifveForms

Nathan Fain works as a creative technologist building the underlying technological objects and interactive components for an artist's vision or writing and developing tech-utopic characters of his own design. Notable collaborations include Jaha Koo's ›Cuckoo‹, Rimini Protokoll's ›Situation Rooms‹ and several appearances of Johannes Paul Raether’s aLifveForms including ›Protektoramea 5.5.5.1‹ and ›X Shared Spaces‹.  His technical creations are often made to extend collective experience with intended real-world consequences by design. ›Empathy Bots‹, ›Surrogate Witches‹, network oracles and ›Assassination Markets‹ are examples of these fiction/non-fiction interfaces. At the centre of Johannes Paul Raether’s work are constructed identities (so called aLifveForms or AlterIdentities and SelfSisters of the artist) emerging at various sites in public space where they research, teach and tell stories. As colourfulbeings, made up from everyday objects, they discuss complex topics such as bio and reproduction industries, globalized tourism or occult substances in contemporary technology. The appearances and devices created by the aLifveForms have been shown at, among others, the 9th Berlin Biennale, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Fridericianum in Kassel, Savvy Contemporary in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions took place at District in Berlin, Transmission Gallery in Glasgow, and Ludlow 38 in New York City. Raether is currently Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg.

Nathan Fain and the aLifveForms have collaborated on various occasions since 2016. In awarding them a fellowship, PACT supports their decidedly interdisciplinary working approach and the development of their collaborative proposal under the title ›Techno Poesis‹ to create a space in which to shape a new and specific form of basic technologic-artistic research. Within their fellowship, Fain and Raether will attempt to dismantle a few pre-conditions and try to work for once beyond the project based economy, which haunts both their technologically applicable work in digital engineering and the artistic – creative industries.

For this purpose, they will use the motif of the ›Surrogate Witch‹, a motif coined by Protektorama, one of Raether’s aLifveForms in various moments, which will be designed as a cross-platform and multifunctional application within the framework of the Fellowship. Their ›Surrogate Witch‹ intends to be more than a techno-prop, but a machinic co-performer, a language device equally important as the script or a dramaturg. In the process of the fellowship they will construct expanded timelines (dramaturgies) for audience bodies (smartphone holding bodies) along the lines of the surrogate witch (set of digital performer-audience-connectors). This relation will extend before and past the date of performance and past the space of the stage. The framework itself will take many existing digital forms (such as a java scripted browser-based internet platform, an app in the app store, a chat bot) and creolize them into a set of interconnected technological units that function together as a networked “body” or “entity”. The ›Surrogate Witch‹ will be created as a “medium” that – through constant (re)developments and re-applications – has the potential to mutate from a definite app on a platform into a set of technological and artistic tools that facilitate their work in what they call "communeering", a term, which Raether coined through his AlterIdentities, to define a hybrid of the formerly distinct practices of engineering and community organising. Within this approach, their practice is not rooted in the theatre space, but rather connects to places of everyday and digital life.

Complex projects like ›Surrogate Witch‹ would not be feasible in the short production cycles typical of the current model of creating theatre work. Raether’s aLifveForms and Fain would therefore like to use the Fellowship to develop the ›Surrogate Witch‹ as a sustainable project: beyond the needs of a single-use practicality emerges a techno-poetic entity - even an artificial body form –  with hopefully its own unique structure and language. It ceases to be a simple tool, goes beyond modernist assumptions of author, actor and prop and can gain the status of a co-author, co-actor, an entity that becomes – aLifve – quasi “alive”. It is intrinsic to such endeavour, that it should be not only open source but fluid in its applicability. The process of development will allow collaborations with other developers or technical students at regional universities. Raether and Fain also propose that the inevitable failures of such experimental development be documented and published.

Nathan Fain in The Agency, ›Boys Space‹, © Photo: Judith Buss
Nathan Fain in The Agency, ›Boys Space‹, © Photo: Judith Buss

Threads of ›TechnoPoesis‹ – Letter

Johannes Paul Raether's aLifveForms and Nathan Fain are currently Fellows at PACT. In their letter they share an insight to their collaboration process and its thematic threads: »As part of the process of finding common language between our artistic practices, we have started to situate our work as a grouping of threads that can be seen as collaborative methods which create a shared vector space. In some corners of this multi-dimensional space tangible outcomes may be blatantly noticeable, while in other areas the intersection of thematics seem distant making material outcomes elusive.«

HOOD – Fellowship Programme

From 2016 to 2019, seven independent artists collectively known as HOOD worked extensively at PACT on examining and rethinking the possibilities of cooperative practises within the framework of the fellowship programme.

In the form of presentations of their individual and collective works, moderated talks, urban interventions and workshops, HOOD entered into active and ongoing dialogues with artists, audiences and our local area. In addition, visitors to PACT were welcome to drop by the HOOD CORNER where the group regularly posted and shared ideas, sources, references and wide-ranging background materials encountered in their diverse working processes.

HOOD comprises the internationally practising artists and former members of the Forsythe Company:

  • Cyril Baldy
  • Katja Cheraneva
  • Frances Chiaverini
  • Fabrice Mazliah
  • Roberta Mosca
  • Tilman O’Donnell
  • Elizabeth Waterhouse

Interview with Fances Chiaverini about Whistle While You Work

Dance Platform blog about the Artist Summit

Hood beim Künstlersummit
© Robin Junicke
Platzhalter
© Jana Mila Lippitz