In tenuous times of war, disease, and uncertainty, our MusicMakers Hacklab program in May at CTM Festival held a special energy. Here’s a look back at this open performance lab for music, just as the deadline for the 2023 edition approaches Sunday.
This edited film will give you a small sense of the project energy – it’s the result of a six-day process of collaborative, original performance creations by invited artists. They had never worked together before, and were given free reign to create a new performance night together. Uniquely in this edition, they produced a through-composed live show collectively.
Hosted with CTM Festival since 2013, the MusicMakers Hacklab has become an annual ritual of live performative experimentation. I’m fond of saying that the primary technology to hack in these events is human collaboration. But the meaning of that has had to shift with a changing environment.
In 2021, we moved to an all-online format while still presenting the performance in an empty performance space – I wrote about the ensuing adventures in tools and working processes for CTM Festival’s magazine. (Huge thanks to Olivia Jack, the creator of live coding tool Hydra, who co-hosted that edition – plus the insights we got from all our adventurous worldwide participants.)
For 2022, after a delay from winter due to COVID restrictions, we stepped back to in-person events – complete with daily rapid testing. It was also an opportunity to focus on local community, too, as travel for participants was still uncertain. That had Hacklab artists in the cozy environs of AL Berlin, itself a community hub focused on the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) diaspora. Sure enough, the focus on Berlin meant an even more diverse group of artists’ backgrounds from around the world – from multiple hemispheres, from Ukraine war refugees.
Co-host Ariel William Orah, apart from being a hacklab veteran, is also a community force in the city, with work on the culinary-social experiment Lokarasa, label LK_W, and sōydivision platform. Those are all binding together Indonesian and southeast Asian diasporas and just last Friday connecting southeast Asian and Latin American platforms in a series that landed at Kantine am Berghain. Just dig into Ariel’s linktree to find out more.
I could try to write to say what happened, but I feel like the performance embodies that message; I hope it’s in some way captured in the video. People were sewing each other together, literally – even someone with a fear of needles, who said ultimately the experience was healthful and affirming. Shopping carts were banged. Electrical contact turned bodies into synthesizers. We do weird stuff, unapologetically, and find like-minded radical souls.
Each one of these artists is incredible, and they continue to spur new collaborations after the event – without any structure required, even.
There’s still time to apply to next year’s edition, which, reflecting on the festival theme Portals, takes on “Rifts.”
2023 will feature the extraordinary Verónica Mota.
With Cecilia Nercasseau Gibson (Cecilia Pez)
Dan Su (su dance110)
Jacky Kommers (JacqNoise)
Kyrylo Shum (Kirill)
Hosted by Ariel William Orah and Peter Kirn
The MusicMakers Hacklab is a performance laboratory that aims to invent tools and strategies for improvised play.
After a fully virtual year in 2021, the CTM 2022 edition of the Hacklab took a first step back into in-person collaboration by focusing on participants based in Berlin. The year’s fellows were invited to consider intimacy and physical proximity in their Hacklab creations, but also how they might reshape their artistic identities or local communities/scenes, building unfamiliar selves while remaining in a familiar city/place.
Recorded live in Berlin at Kunstquartier Bethanien, Studio 1 on 29 May 2022.
Here is the full-length video:
Photo: Eunice Maurice, 2022