Outdoor installations generating discussions in Odessa. Photo: Bernd Uhlig
Old Odessa is an elegant city surrounded by a later Soviet sprawl. It has a working harbour (once a Free Port), a rich ethnic mix of cultures and an iconic place in the history of Czarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the Black Sea. It has always been a place of migration, trade and sea-faring. It also faces many modern problems – the pollution of the Black Sea, a tourist based economy, the decline of industrial Europe. The city is also predominantly Russian-speaking, not Ukrainian which is the cultural expression of a new found nationalism since the Orange Revolution, and the atmosphere and way of life in Odessa is nearer to the Mediterranean than Russia. This sense of separateness and uniqueness is part of the city’s identity.
The SEAS management team did the deepest amount of preparation of SEAS in Odessa than anywhere else and made a total of 11 research trips between November 2005 and May 2008 (the SEAS opening), including the Odessa Gathering in April 2007 that focused on the cross-over between art and science and where the artists presented their initial proposals from their SEAS Dates.
Association New Music (ANM) co-hosted the event with the SEAS team at Intercult. ANM produces the 2 Days 2 Nights of New Music Festival every year in April. Intercult appointed a local coordinator, Marina Goncharenko, to work with ANM on the project for SEAS locally. She also recruited a local team of volunteers who were fantastically enthusiastic. Part of the legacy of SEAS has been the capacity building of this small team who now wish to create their own events.
The marketing and technical support from the Ukrainian Drama Theatre was very welcome. The festival organisation’s technical capacity was severely stretched. There were several difficulties with the technical side of presenting these new works for the first time – some had not been presented before.
DJ and performance collective Ukr.Tele.Kom (who worked with Hotel ProForma on Relief) and the venues Club Skraf and Exit Club who provided the link to the younger and emerging artists in the region.
The opening in Ukraine was stressful for both the artists and the project managers. Moving from Odessa to Varna was, as one artist put it, like “stepping from a pin-ball machine into a warm relaxing bath”. Read the learning point
Number of days: 9
Number of events: 36
Total audience: 12 000 persons
Adam Jeanes Facebook diary: 23 May:Trouble with the local authorities
“Permission was refused by the City Council to allow the use of the City Garden for Siri Hermansen’s Borderline and Dritero Kasapi and Venelin Shurelov’s Fantomat project this morning. Local authorities insisted on the removal of the Fantomats and Borderline from the public space of the City Garden in the centre of Odessa on the instructions of the Vice Mayor.“
This event appears on the following Productions: