The notion of participation has recently gained noticeable weight in discussions on coexistence in modern societies. At the Pina Bausch Centre, participation will be more than simply involvement in pre-existing projects or processes; it will be investigated, tested and applied from artistic perspectives. Experiment, challenge and interrogation have always been important roles in art. In this sense, Pina Bausch’s art, which can be seen as a forerunner of this kind of artistic interrogation of social conditions, will provide a source of inspiration for the activities of the Pina Bausch Centre.
Just as millions of people worldwide can compile a collective treasure trove of free knowledge over the internet, through the Wupperbogen Forum the local community can organise its own participation. The ‘Wupperbogen’ is the bend in the river Wupper on which the theatre is sited. At the forum the citizens – simply spectators in classical theatre – change from consumers of a participation process to agents, defining their needs, developing goals and creating events on their own initiative. The Wupperbogen Forum will serve the role of a mediated site for negotiation, providing a space for new forms of conveying knowledge, of social debate, experimental social praxis, and the creative challenging of lived realities.
The Pina Bausch Centre will thus update the notion of participation, integrating it into the social structure of the city. As such it will be unique within Germany, serving as a model for other projects throughout the country and beyond.
This form of participation needs to stay one step ahead of developments in society. It takes its subjects from the urban and lived environment, but also draws on current and future artistic, political, societal and economic developments. This cannot begin soon enough: the forum will start work as soon as possible and accompany the creation of the Pina Bausch Centre on the bend in the river Wupper.
The Wupperbogen Forum will be activated initially in three key areas:
1. Artists’ Open Invitation
Artists and groups of diverse make-up working with adults, children and young people, will develop games and instructions for discovering and conquering the city. Artists will activate sites throughout Wuppertal in unusual ways, creating access points to the new ‘playgrounds’ of the city, creating awareness of street corners and squares normally crossed unnoticed each day.
Conversely the Wupperbogen Forum will also invite visitors into the Pina Bausch Centre, opening it up for a dialogue between art and society. The encounter with unusual artistic approaches, spaces and situations will lead both to exchange and understanding, as well as to productive misunderstandings.
Any of the varied spaces at the Pina Bausch Centre could be used for assembly – for discussion, exchange or simply as a public space where activities can be presented and individual interests find expression. In assembly, developments going viral in society can be addressed. It will provide a space for discursive events and presentations of all kinds, from lectures to science slams to TED conferences. People of varied backgrounds and differing privilege can connect with a network of social competence and mutual trust.
3. Knowledge Portal
The Pina Bausch Foundation and the Tanztheater Wuppertal are already passing on their knowledge, in exhibitions, workshops, by conveying pieces to third parties or through innovative discussion formats in which knowledge is both passed on and collected for the future. Such formats will live on and be further developed at the Wupperbogen Forum.
In co-operation with schools, universities, art schools, the Junior Uni, as well as with skilled partners such as the Wuppertal Institute, the Duisburg Centre for Global Cooperation Research and internationally active institutions from diverse fields of expertise, the portal will hold events in newly conceived formats beyond classical conferences, exhibitions or talks. The emphasis will be on discussion and presenting examples from practice, for instance on the subject of participation with amateurs, artists, academics and experts from various backgrounds.
The Wupperbogen Forum will therefore be much more than a site of encounter for the citizens of the city. It will be one of the supporting pillars of the Pina Bausch Centre, proof of a democratic society, in a literal sense. This will make the city more exciting, improving the quality of life of inhabitants, and an attractive magnet in a globalised world.