Paradigm Festival 2023 is drawing ever closer and everything is coming together at a rapid pace. In light of this, we sat down with co-founder Paul and creative managers Hanna and Anna. They talk about their three-way work ethic, vision for the future, and the Paradigm Festival 2023 creative plans with a special focus on the performance art programming on Sunday at the Dome.
So there have been some recent changes within the team. What does the team look like now?
Paul: “Well, there are three of us now. It was just me at first, but the workload became increasingly difficult to tackle by myself. So, we decided to post a vacancy for a creative manager, and quite a few people applied for it. One of the people who responded was Hanna from Leeuwarden. There was a lot of chemistry right away, but Hanna didn’t have a lot of experience with the job yet.”
“A good acquaintance of mine named Anna-Lucia, knew about the position as well. She worked on multiple Paradigm projects and I thought she would be a strong candidate. On the other hand, I also wanted someone young to rejuvenate the team and give it a breath of fresh air – someone with a new outlook, bonding ability, and who shares an age range with the people on our dance floor.”
“A choice had to be made between Anna-Lucia and Hanna, but this proved exceptionally difficult. After talking it over, we concluded that it was best to split the position into an operational role and a strategic role. In this setup, Hanna, Anna-Lucia, and I would essentially team up. Anna-Lucia would handle the coaching and the long-term vision, while Hanna would focus on operations. This seemed to make the most sense at this early stage – pairing our seasoned Paradigm-goer of seven years with a very excited newcomer who offers a fresh perspective.”
Anna-Lucia: “Hanna executed her tasks beautifully and without any issues during Backyard Festival, so I also had to search a bit for how to provide direction in coaching, as it almost seemed unnecessary. Then we concluded that my coaching component truly came into its own once we could complement Hanna’s executive duties with my development of a long-term vision. This way, my vision was taking shape more and more.”
Hanna: “It also gave me a lot of insight about the vision. Anna-Lucia helped me to understand how things work here, where everything is, who I need for certain tasks, and so on.”
Hanna, you saw that job posting and you thought: I’m going to respond to that?
Hanna: “That’s right. I graduated from pop culture-studies at the academy and I always knew I wanted to work in the creative sector. In the broadest sense of the word, I was always involved in music, painting, drawing, making animations, making videos, singing and stuff like that. A friend of mine eventually forwarded this job offer to me saying: this is really for you! So I went full steam ahead. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and I was given an assignment afterwards to design the Dome stage and create programming for it.”
Paul: “This year at Paradigm Festival, the Dome is going to serve two purposes: as a dance floor on the Saturday and as a theater on Sunday. I had the candidates create a lighting plan and a deco-plan that you can use for both purposes, including budget, budget schedule and programming for Sunday which is full of performances and theater. Because it’s a completely new interpretation, I thought it would be fun to take this challenge out to the final applicants of the vacancy. This way you immediately get interesting input for different ideas and you can see who knows how to strike the right chord with this case.”
So Hanna hit the right chord, then?
Paul: “Definitely on a creative level. I was so impressed with Hanna’s plan that we are actually going to implement it in the future and we are now looking to implement certain elements in a permanent place at the Dome.”
What can we expect for the Paradigm Festival program? What will it look like?
Paul: “We’re already known for our performances but we have also said internally that we would like to grow from small acts to larger, more in-depth performing arts performances as well. This has been in development for some time and this year we are going to program the Dome stage on Sunday exclusively with performing arts. That’s been quite a challenge, considering we normally put down all kinds of smaller acts. We’ve already partnered with Teddy’s Last Ride last year during Paradigm Festival to feature their performers in multiple venues. This year we want to take that to the next level with the plan for the Dome stage on Sunday.”
And what does that stage look like in terms of content? Can you say anything about that?
Paul: “What makes it fun is that it’s fundamentally different than programming a dance floor from the start because there’s room between performances on Sunday when it comes to the schedule. Anna-Lucia came up with the plan to do something with that time between performances with an installation by an artist that captivates the audience in the downtime.”
Anna-Lucia: “What I actually missed in the programming was a bit of rest with, for example, psychedelic images or works of art that you can just look at for a while, since the performances themselves are pretty bombastic and a lot happens. We talked about ambient and when we were philosophizing about the plans, these open time slots came up. We thought we could try to program the aforementioned psychedelic images into the LED screens that are hanging there for the performances anyway. So in a way we are going to test this setup to see if we want to expand upon this in the future!.”
Paul: “We’ll also put bleachers there, so it’ll have a chill-out vibe between acts where you can just sit back and enjoy those images and soundscapes.”
Anna-Lucia: “I’m so curious to see how the audience reacts to that. So I started to shape the program that’s going to fit between those acts. I ended up with Julius Horsthuis, a well-known Dutch artist. He works a lot with mini-fractals that you get totally sucked into, accompanied by music. Those LED screens lend themselves nicely for testing this.”
Paul: “He has recently made an installation for the Nxt Museum in Amsterdam, a major art expo in New York, and performed at Boom Festival in Portugal. I was actually discussing the possibility of him joining us for something before COVID struck. So when Anna-Lucia mentioned this plan I immediately agreed.”
Paul: “Furthermore, we chose to build up the day. We start with a quiet, in-depth performance by Susanne Luurs, integrating various artistic disciplines through collaborations with Jolar Drim for live music and visual artist Wang Xu, as well as Alter á Go. The performance lasts two hours where Susanne goes through different layers of the associated elements; wind, water and clay. Through her work, she vividly illustrates our interconnectedness with the earth and all its living beings. Every creature is part of a larger whole. We intentionally selected a two-hour performance duration to accommodate her incorporation of physical sculptures.”
Anna-Lucia: “Next up will be Pixel Pocket (Charlotte Beerda and DJ Irie). Charlotte, has performed with us before along with Word Bites (spoken word poetry) where they addressed many social issues. DJ Irie, who is a DMC Visual DJ World Champion. He plays a mix of hip-hop, electronic music and futuristic sounds. Basically a hybrid DJ set with visuals linked to his music. Regarding the build-up to the day, this performance already gives more energy, then it goes back to Julius Horsthuis.”
Paul: “Pixel Pocket will be followed up by Teddy’s Last Ride. Last year we asked Teddy’s to use the festival grounds to showcase their performance at multiple spots. That was a great success, so now we wanted to take the next step this year. They have started developing a new performance since March, titled Goodbye_porn. Goodbye_porn, created by Agnese Fiocchi and Iacopo Loliva and directed by Iacopo Loliva, is an exploratory club experience about queer intimacy, club spaces and sexuality that aims to portray different ways we can be intimate with each other by deconstructing pornography and by removing the shame and taboos that often follow sexuality. The idea is to broadcast images to the screens during the performance that are related to porn without actually being porn. This is an ongoing artist in residence performance project where, as part of the overarching project, they perform at three of our events throughout this year. This was at APOE, Planet Paradigm and now also at Paradigm Festival. The performance will last 45 minutes, accompanied by music from Italy-born, Groningen-based ELA // 404.”
Hanna: “In order to keep all of these performances captivating enough for our audience, we wanted all the performances to be guided by music. Our audience is not the same as theater audiences after all. Our artists were commissioned to make sure that their performances also match the music of our festival. As such, we provide a musical performing arts journey that people can take on Sunday.”
Anna-Lucia: “The final performance of the day is Lady Joker. It’s going to be an interdisciplinary show where electronic music comes together with theater, dance, live singing, poetry, video art, and outrageous costumes into one theatrical club performance. Their performance is a true thought-provoking piece that explores the various phases of the Joker archetype and why we need more of this playful character in the world of today. They question power structures, artificial intelligence and traditional ways of thought, whilst reflecting on the tragedy of revolution and laughing at the absurdity of it all. A super fun challenge for our organization, also because performance makes use of lighting a lot and is therefore programmed last.”
Hanna: “They told me about the different Joker archetypes that will be shown. You can watch it casually as a visitor or you can be immersed in the deeper layer of the audio-visual spectacle.”
Paul: “Besides the performances on the Dome stage, we will also open the Romney stage an hour earlier this year for a performance of Richard Bolhuis. We created the stage design in the Romney Stage this year with him. He creates images, music and drawings. He is currently working on a very large installation between the Dome and the Romney Loods: a big white wall drawing of mycelium-like structures. For the Romney Loods’ stage design, I asked him and VJ Wendy Eggen to use his video footage as an art installation. Richard’s images are about stillness and transcendental experiences. Where a VJ often mixes many images at high speed, he mixes a contrasting quiet images, which are more like a long trip. I thought it would be beautiful to combine the Romney’s deep techno with these images. The soundscapes he developed for those images can be seen at the Romney an hour before the DJ programming begins from 14:00 till 15:00.”
Hanna: “Last but certainly not least, our in-house performer Tim will also be joining us. He has developed a performance that we’d like to save as a surprise for everyone!”
Thank you so much for this preview of what we can expect in terms of performances! It there anything else you want to say?
Paul: “Our pleasure. We can recommend everyone who loves performing arts and electronic music to come and visit us on Sunday. We have also been nominated for the Cultuurprijs Groningen. A few years ago the vision was changed to offer more space for different art disciplines and try to reach a higher level in this. The implementation of this started last year and we are very curious to see what is to come.”