not to be missed in June and September !

16 Jun

My first academic year as head of Sint Lucas Antwerp – School of Arts is almost over. The least one can say is that it was an unconventional year. I was appointed in full lockdown. We left Malta without being able to say goodbye in a proper way. The year started in a semi-ok way, but after a month we were again in a lockdown with restricted possibilities to lecture and coach students.

But here we are, proud and happy to present the exhibitions of our bachelor, master en premaster students. Times have been challenging for them, but the results are there based on passion, drive and skills supported and coached by a super dedicated staff. I’m honoured to be their dean.

When you are around do not miss the shows 

Oh … and colleagues and friends in Malta. We are planning to come over in September to have the goodbye party 😉

 

it was a pleasure to lecture this

16 Dec

and not just a pleasure, also an honour to give a lecture on feminist perspectives in art as part of a very interesting series of lectures Epistemologies in Gender Studies put together by JosAnn Cutajar within the department of gender studies at UM. It was a challenge to tell the story because it is rich, divers and still very relevant. One would possibly know where to start, but then what to select, which articles, publications and themes to address … The seventies were crucial, but the developments through time were so too.

Although a lot has already changed, still it is a challenge for female visual artists to get the visibility they deserve. As a dean of an art school I can confirm that there are a lot of talented young female artists leaving the campus each year. Let’s give them the space they deserve.

As a curator and a head of a higher arts institution I want to take that challenge. We have to be the change. For me the challenge is wider than the feminist perspective, it is the inclusive perspective and as such reflecting society in a better way. Within education we can widen the view and break the canon. Make it richer, make it more recognisable, make it more divers. During one of the plenary sessions of the ELIA biennial in November Coco Fusco made a passionate mark at that level, she is right. We can be the change.

The lecture concluded with exactly that. What can we add to this all from our perspective? This led to an interesting reflection with good practices and also with questions and challenges.

Let’s keep the dialogue going for a richer and more divers canon. The slides, that are just a mere snapshot of what feminist art is, can be found here: Feminist Art

 

A nice thing to do is … to walk and discover Art by young talented artists

27 Nov

COVID restricts us to go to Museums, but it does not restrict us to walk. To be Antwerp 2020  developed a parcours through the theatre quarter in Antwerp showing  a highlight of young talented artists that graduated this year from the Royal Academy of Arts and Sint Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp.  

So if you are in Belgium between today and the 11th of December, walk the walk and enjoy Art!

You can find the locations here. 

 

Publication Meeting of Minds on Placemaking, Co-creation and Storytelling now available

11 Jul

Placemaking is about people, about living together, about a sense of belonging and carving spaces together, about co- creation and sharing stories. And it is crucial for society, especially now as it enters a new dimension in times of a global pandemic that affects us all. What will placemaking look like after COVID-19? What did we learn and what can we take with us to the future? How will we socialise, move from one place to another, (inter)act with and in public spaces after the pandemic?

These questions guided a series of four online sessions which were held between the 7th and 30th of April (2020), connecting placemaking with the future of cities, tourism, the arts, urban design and digital storytelling. Experts and other interested persons were brought together across borders to discuss possible ways forward by learning from good practices. The response was overwhelming, both from the speakers that were contacted to take part, and from the diverse participants eager to share and exchange ideas.

The discussions were rich, intense and generated much food for thought. This publication is the result of an inclusive thinking process with all participants, offering a reflective and critical lens on placemaking. It works as a toolkit, gathering the presentations and giving insight in the main topics and strong examples that emerged from the discussions. It also lists key points to consider whilst working with communities and involving people in a co-creation process. This series ends with a non-exhaustive reading list as there are many interesting papers, reports and links to learn from.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants, because without them there would have been no publication. A special thank you goes to Nika for helping Stefan and myself with proofreading.

We hope you will enjoy wandering through this publication and get inspired. You can access the publication here.

And you can have an impression of the meetings thanks to this nice feature by Maltarti.

Meeting of Minds on Placemaking, co-creation and storytelling

1 Apr

We are excited to share that between 7 and 21 April, Experienced Design (being Stefan Kolgen and myself ;-)) will facilitate 4 online meeting of minds on placemaking related to urban design, tourism, arts and digital storytelling.  Each session takes about 1hr 30min and includes two presentations followed by discussion and reflection.

With the current crisis at hand, it seemed important to us to see what placemaking means now and how it will evolve once the crisis is over. So get inspired by the guests speakers and join the discussion.  Your insights are crucial 😉

The platform that will be used is Zoom. Participation is free and everybody can join, but  there is a maximum of 100 participants so you need to register  here  and let us know why you want to join in. We will provide you with the link to the meeting and will explain how to participate once you are selected. The link will be e-mailed the day of the session.

Note that the sessions will be documented, so by the end of the series a small digital publication will be available with the main outcomes of these Meetings of Minds.

Thank you already to the 8 experts that were willing to take part in this series. Here is some extra information on the sessions:

  • Session 1: 7 April 19:00-20:30 – Placemaking and the future of cities:

In this session we will focus on liveability and sustainability of cities through the lenses of digital placemaking and destination marketing.

Guests: Dr. Jo Morrison – Director of Digital Innovation and Research at Calvium Ltd (UK), Frank Cuypers – Senior Strategist at Destination Think! Professional Services Inc. (Canada/USA/Europe)

  • Session 2: 9 April 19:00-20:30 – Placemaking, co-creation and the Arts: 

In this session we make a connection between placemaking and the arts.

Guests: Kristina Borg – Visual artist and Art Educator (Malta), Nusquam Productions – Mariangela Ciccarello & Philip Cartelli (Europe/USA) and Stefan Perceval (Head of theatre company Het Gevolg).

  • Session 3: 16 April 19:00-20:30 – Placemaking and Urban Design:

In this session we will connect placemaking and critical urban design.

Guests: Joanna Frank (President & CEO Center for Active Design – New York) , Jacques Borg Barthet – Director of Practice at AP- Architect and Urban Designer (Malta)

  • Session 4: 21 April 19:00 – 20:30 – Placemaking and Digital Storytelling 
This session looks at placemaking within (digital) storytelling.
Guests: Dr. Shreepali Patel – Director of Storylab & filmmaker (UK), Stefan Kolgen – Transmedia expert (Belgium/Malta)
Keep also an eye on our facebook page , as we will be posting more background on the guest speakers and the cases they will present in the series of events.
See you online!

Visitor Experience Design and Valletta Baroque Festival: paper in progress

8 Mar

If you would ask me to give a good example of what high level cultural tourism can be, then I would without any doubt share the experience we had with the two last 2 editions of the Valletta Baroque Festival housed at Teatru Manoel; Malta’s National Theatre.

It is an honour to have been able to take care of the pr, marketing and ‘customer care’ for this beautiful festival which was set up by Kenneth Zammit Tabona in 2013.  Its unique selling position is the fact that it can present the best (inter)national baroque artists and ensembles in the venues the music was composed for … as Malta breaths Baroque.

2019 was the first year in which the festival and the research department of the Malta Tourism Authority was able to set up a survey to get more insights about its audience. The first edition of the survey was used as a pilot for the 2020 edition. Interesting to see is that the indications given by the outcomes of pilot were strengthened by the 2020 survey.

These are a couple of outcomes from the recent survey: The festival has a high NPS (high quality concerts, beautiful venues) so visitors are very likely to recommend the festival to others, 63% of the audience comes from abroad, they stay in 4 to 5 star hotels, they attend 3 concerts or more and for 65% of them it is their main purpose to visit Malta. So when looking at the typography of the cultural tourist  they are purposeful visitors, seeing themselves as concert goers not as tourists.

As a marketing team we used already the insights of the first survey and the experience we had whilst observing as well as talking to the concert goers in 2019 to create a strategic integrated marketing plan for the festival.  Since experience is key, we knew we had to focus on the overall experience. So we used a visitor experience map, mapping all the touch points a concert goer ( being it international and local) has, to implement the pr and marketing strategy.

This will be the basis for a paper we (Experienced Design) and the research department of the Malta Tourism Authority are working on, so that we can share this interesting case study in a proper way … so stay tuned 😉

Corpus Adflictum

3 Nov

The last couple of months have been a nice drive towards the solo exhibition of the much talented artist Aaron Bezzina. It has been an honour to be involved into this process. Challenge and being challenged led to an amazing result for all involved. It has also be a joy to do this curatorship with Stefan. We are still a strong team ;-).  More to come …

But enough about that. Let’s focus on the ‘now’ . This exhibition is for sure a must see, and it is not just because I say it ;-). The title Corpus Adflictum refers to the fact that humans quite often self-inflict oneselves to conform with society. It also refers to what drives humans to do that/or not in a playful way.

Thank you to Gudrun Rombaut to brainstorm with us about the title and to make sure we had the correct text on Aaron Bezzina’s gravestone for the 1st of November.

Here is the text that we wrote for the exhibition:

CORPUS ADFLICTUM

CORPUS [Latin, noun, body, matter, substance, corps, flesh, physique, form] ADFLICTUM [Latin, adjective, afflict, crush, damage, ruin]

Machines and mechanical objects play an important role in Aaron Bezzina’s oeuvre. If something like machine art exists then this exhibition is most certainly an example of strangeness (and familiarity), distance (and proximity) and rejection (and love or intimacy)[1]

Bezzina uses the imaginary in a very down-to-earth way. He uses simple interfaces that are recognizable and that can boost ones ego. His work refers to the language of machines, rather than being machines. It refers to the 19th century aesthetics of industrial apparatuses and focuses on their mechanics in a playful and intriguing way.

Whereas his larger scale work keeps the roughness and rawness of the materials used, his small objects are polished and finalized in great detail. They become precious objects. Objects of desire. Objects one wants to touch, to own and to understand how they work even if it comes with a challenge.

This solo show immerges the visitor into an act of voluntary harm and bodily sacrifice. In today’s society it seems to be socially acceptable to display and advertise the perfect body and its modifications at the cost of self-affliction. We have become responsible for the design of our own body [2]. One can say that the body has become plastic, a lifestyle accessory, a thing to be sculpted, shaped and ‘stylized’[3]. Adding something to the body or transforming is part of the action guided by the self.

Thus the body becomes an object, an apparatus, a machine and the movement of the body becomes a mechanical motion. The action taken is an instinctive one. It is something one wants and feels the need to do. The action is totally driven by the desire to control oneself even if it contains a risk. It would be a risk that one is willing to take.

It is that desire that interests Bezzina. He questions through is work what drives people’s desire. He wonders what people would do if there were no rules and regulations. Would they go for the action or not. This exhibition offers the choice to engage with the apparatuses or not. It is at your own risk and/or pleasure to involve yourself with the mental picture of the machine.

[1] Broeckmann, A (2016) Machine Art in the Twentieth Century, The MIT Press, p.30

[2] Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Stanford University Press, p.102.

[3] Hancock et al (2000) The body, culture and society: An Introduction, Open University Press, p. 8.

 

The show is on at Valletta Contemporary till the 4th of December. For those who are in the neigbourhood go and see it! All credits are to Aaron. He did a great job 😉

Our article ‘Collaborative Design Thinking (CoDeT: A Co-design Approach for High Child-to-adult Ratio” has been published!

28 Jun

Delighted and honoured to have been able to contribute as a co-autor to this paper, which presents the 

Collaborative Design Thinking (CoDeT) co-design approach, its theoretical framework, and its application in a case study with 49 children aged 9 to 10 in two schools.  

CoDeT can be applied  in co-design settings characterized by high child-to-adult ratios (ca.1 adult for 15 to 20 children), such as schools, museums and maker spaces. In these settings, children have to work relatively independent from adults who become guides on the side. This can be challenging due to children’s limited understanding of the design process and their lack of skills to collaborate productively towards a shared design goal. CoDeT addresses these challenges by integrating principles of Social Interdependence Theory (SIT) and Design Thinking (DT), which together form the theoretical backbone of the approach. CoDeT was first applied in a case study and yielded promising results in terms of children’s collaboration and design thinking skills, yet possible improvements were found. The insights of this case study informed the revised version of CoDeT presented at the end of the article, in a what-why-how structure, allowing researchers and practitioners to apply the co-design approach in a wide variety of contexts characterised by high child-to-adult ratios.

You can find the article here (full text free accessible and downloadable for 50 days). 

CoDeT outcomes can be interpreted with the GLID method; a multimodal approach for integrating verbal, material and other co-design outcomes in a structured and coherent analysis. For more information, see the IJHCS article “The GLID method: Moving from design features to underlying values in co-design”.

With Maarten Van Mechelen, Bieke Zamman, Bert Willems and Vero Vanden Abeele.

So glad to see this …

28 Apr

Screenshot 2019-04-28 at 09.21.13In 2017 I had the pleasure to work with the great team of the Erasmus Hogeschool (EhB)  – Department of Design and Technology  – in Brussels on a new curriculum called Digital Design & Development. Design Thinking is at its core. The course trains young people to become critical digital experience designers and is completely based on project-based learning, combining play, creativity, technology, human-centred design, societal challenges and art.  It is so nice to see now that this is actually happening and that the gender balance is getting in the right direction, because technology is not just a male thing 😉

Working towards a Design Action Plan

17 Apr

Honoured to be part of this process for the Valletta Design Cluster. It is a proper example of co-creation 😉

Screenshot 2019-04-17 at 10.37.08

More news in a couple of months…