DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL is a festival for artistic encounters and new impulses, with a dedicated focus on the development of new original works of experimental and hybrid formats in contemporary music, theatre and performance.

DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL builds on the work and experiences from the FAR NORTH network, which has explored, played, envisioned, interacted and created experimental stuff in Greenland since 2013, through the artist residency ‘DISKOTEK SESSIONS’.

The first edition of DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL took place in Ilulissat and Oqaatsut in the Disko Bay area of Greenland, 2–6 August 2017. The festival gathered nearly 40 international and Greenlandic artists on the intersections of the contemporary music and performing arts field. Dislocated, they were all equal artists in residence, developing new work, dreaming, and realizing projects together.

The point of departure for the DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL and its evolving adventures is the limitless variations the notion of UTOPIAN DESIRE. The theme has been and will be explored by the artists from and in relation to a broad spectrum of philosophical and artistic reflections.

Utopian desire / heterotopian spaces

The main theme for Disko Arts Festival is ‘utopian desire’. We seek to create heterotopian spaces where the definition of utopianism is lived and explored through artistic practice, manifesting the desire for a different and better way of being. This is also reflected in the remote geographical location of the festival.

We recognize that utopian desire is not an innate, historical nor unchanging human trait. Utopia expresses and explores what is desired. There can be no universal utopia, as utopianism can be compensatory, private and ideological, just as it can be critical, social and revolutionary.

Narrow definitions of utopia are all undesirable. We believe any definition of utopia must be able to incorporate a wide range of forms, functions and contents. We see desire as a far more inclusive dimension than what it is frequently associated with — hope — since desire by no means requires hope in its ability to be realized. The transformation of reality and the realization of utopia depend not only upon wishful thinking, but also will-full action, and these themes will be explored during Disko Arts Festival.

Utopian desire as method in relation to performance

We seek to embark upon an inquiry into the ways in which performance might provide us with experiences of utopia. How can performance, in itself, be a utopian gesture? Why do people come together to watch other people labour on stage, when contemporary culture offers a myriad of other opportunities for representation and social gathering?

Live theatre remains a powerful arena for establishing and exchanging notions of cultural taste, to set standards and to model fashions, trends and styles. Yet people are also drawn to attend live theatre and performance for other, less tangible, but more emotional, spiritual and communitarian reasons.

Within the sphere of Disko Arts Festival we aspire to offer experiences that move people towards craving utopia in performance. We want to incite profound responses that shake the audience’s self-perception. Perhaps that – the idea that art can do those things – is already utopian?

Spaces of otherness: art as utopia-heterotopia

The French philosopher Michel Foucault described heterotopy as spaces of otherness, where multiple fragmented and incompatible theories and social practices exist side by side. Heterotopias are temporal and often hidden from public view, but are necessary enclaves for exploring non-hierarchical paradigms which challenge history, location and subjectivity.

Foucault recognized that heterotopias mirror aspects of the real world, not exactly as they are, but as reactions of multiple realities, including those of utopian ideologies. Art serves both a utopian and heterotopic function, as it links together and reveals sites and spaces separated by time and geography. The Disko Arts Festival will address the potential of crafting heterotopic spaces as forms of artistic resistance driven by utopian desire.