• The Story Behind Bridgedale360


    I just had to leave…


    I had been walking aimlessly, as if my body just carried me along, for what seemed like forever. I still didn't know where I was heading or what was propelling me forwards. Except the reverb of that thought - I had to leave - and a name. Bridgedale360. My fist tightened around the scrap of paper on which it was written. I didn't have to open it, again, to see it. By now the name and the X that marked it on the spidery map was already etched into my mind. Instead, I looked up and wondered whether the turn in the road was starting to look - not exactly, but still - like the curve of one of the lines on the map. Like one of the spider´s legs. All roads lead to Bridgedale360? I first heard about it from a friend a few months ago and then later, overheard it in a bar. Just people talking over loud and dull pop - but I heard it for sure - and then I found this map, or it found me. I had to leave, my heart needed to believe, I had to believe.


    I picked up the pace, my heart beating out a rhythm for my legs to follow, and my right side stung. Exhaustion and fear tugged at me, and perhaps it was regret that made me look back every now and again, but this time I wasn't going to let it get the better of me. Not this time. I threw some of what was left over from my bag of dried fruits into my mouth, hoping it would hush my hunger. My feet yelled out in pain; my new boots had still not been broken in. Instead, the boots seemed bent on breaking me in. Blisters and all. My insides screamed at me in revolt.


    Suddenly I heard voices. I got cautious, a bit afraid, but my curiosity brought me closer. My ears twitched like antennae, trying to figure out where the voices came from. I stood still. There. “Bridgedale360”, I heard it. My heart rattled my ribcage. “Over there, not so far anymore.” I had to get to them. “Wait!” I think I said and cut through the row of trees, hesitantly at first, but then found myself pushing and shoving shrubs aside, until I saw them and they saw me. “Hi,” said the woman, smilingly. I gasped and smiled back and my insides kept quiet, for once.


    We were walking for days, mostly quietly. But there was a sense of unity that I had never felt before. We were all following our dreams somehow, but without really knowing what it was. Layla showed me some pictures of her family, and said that she didn’t know any longer where they were, if they were alive. Could we blame the “system crisis”? But I also felt conscience-stricken, because I saw how privileged I was. Yet, I was unhappy. But happiness does not come with abundance, I learnt it the hard way. I could not imagine myself continuing like before. I desperately needed Bridgedale360 to be more than a silly fairy tale…


    Once we started off together, everything fell into step so to speak. We moved as if we were one, people from the west, people from the east, just people...fleeing the old system and searching for that unknown place. Conversations bubbled up here and there, naturally without any haste, but then we would retreat into a silence again, as we mulled over things we had just heard, and I imagined how life was for them before in the countries where they were coming from, and how much it sounded like my own in some ways; while in others, mine was completely foreign to theirs. I remembered the things I used to enjoy, but that was in the past, I told myself, as I shook off an all too familiar sense of heaviness. Excess does that to you, somehow. But, here on this dirt road to Bridgedale360, I was just like them. Bridgedale360 was and will be the great equalizer for us all.   


    Arriving happened by surprise. We came to a stream and a little further up a girl was playing in the water, singing for herself. We came closer and when she saw us she smiled. “Ahoy there, comrades!”, she said. And she smiled and waved at us. I was surprised by the openness with which she was greeting a bunch of strangers. In the middle of nowhere! But it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, we soon found out. Further up the stream we saw a mill and some mechanism pumping water. And then it all just opened up. Without waiting for us, the girl skipped ahead and we followed, not skipping like her, but feeling a slight hop in our own step. We exchanged glances and before we knew it, buildings and gardens and people working appeared from behind the trees. Everybody stopped to greet if only briefly, and smiled before they got back to doing what they were doing. Cows grazed past us. Even they seemed to smile.


    Our little guide, we could see, had come to a stop before the most impressive of all the buildings that we had passed. A man stood there rubbing his hands and then approached us, as if he couldn´t wait for us to get to where he stood. “Welcome,” he said, while his hands rubbed and patted our weary shoulders, ”first some rest and then I´ll show you around Bridgedale360, ok?”

    • The Amphitheatre and the Studio

      ART & CREATIVITY, SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART

      “If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution!”

      -Emma Goldman



      Introduction

      Antonij, (protest) artist and dance instructor


      Art is creativity. Without creativity there is no art. And art also brings us into creativity. It’s like there is a constant human struggle between creativity and routine, between life and monotonous sleep-walking. Art is life, it’s being in alignment with life, the freedom of creating and manifesting. Art is about breaking out of the boxes in which we tend to live our lives. Imagine that right now you could do a little dance. Just let go of your thinking for a while, go into your body, your sensations, and freely express yourself. Maybe you prefer singing or screaming? Whatever comes out of you when it isn’t driven by fear or the mental recipes stored in your head, it’s in alignment with the life force, inner creativity, an authentic expression. Puff! And as simple as that, we’re out of “the box”.


      But personally I got into art for other reasons. I wanted to change the world and I thought that the most effective way to do that is to reach people through art. Incessantly repeated messages of poverty, worldwide suffering, global warming and our never-assumed responsibility didn’t seem to go through, there was no reaction. I was becoming increasingly anxious and apprehensive, I was angry at the world and everybody, it felt horrible to be part of a world that knows what is wrong but is paralyzed and unable to act. It seemed so irrational. In a society that always claims to be so rational. I could not get my head around it, I was perplexed.... But one day, a couple of friends were setting up a flash mob, a public, unexpected performance, and I said ok, I’ll join. We wanted to bring attention to the refugee (system) crisis and the many people that lost their lives at sea while trying to get to the EU. On the main square in town, we put on wet life vests and started pretending as if we are drowning. We were about fifty people and there was maybe hundred more on the square. Many of the random passersby started joining us. It was so powerful! Caught up in this moment of surprise, people were able to receive, to absorb with their hearts. I especially remember one middle aged man, stressing back home from work, with his suit and everything. He stood absolutely still for a while, then he started to cry. In the end I went to give him a hug.


      For me this was the beginning. I understood that through artistic expression I could draw attention to social issues, I could make people feel and ultimately - make them act. Make them join the fight against social injustice. I was tired, I had been hammering my messages into the heads of my family, grandparents, my old friends, for years. But oftentimes with very little positive results, to say the least. I had become  the source of negative energy for my surroundings. Thanks to art, I was able to channel that energy into something positive. Apart from continuing with flash mobs, protest art and different types of performances and socially engaged art, I started to work a lot with used and recycled materials. For me that was an obvious choice, since my main goal had always been to bring attention to what we labelled as “the sickness of our capitalist-driven consumer society”. We were destroying everything as if it didn’t matter. And it was driving me crazy. The used materials carried the message in themselves, without me needing to say anything, I thought. I remember one piece, a two meter tall peace symbol made out of used tin cans and pet bottles. It got a good response, went into the local newspaper, and then the city I lived in asked to buy the rights to show it in an exhibition. It was in relation to a peace summit, where UN and world leaders would be present. I thought, good golly, what are they thinking, the piece is after all an obvious critique of the establishment, of its hypocrisy and lies. That behind the sweet peace talk lies a malicious destructive force, woven into the very fabric of our culture. I thought that everyone saw that! But here I really learned a lesson. The piece was exhibited at the summit and I saw well-dressed men and women watching it, commenting. I never knew what they said, but at least they stopped for a brief moment. They stopped and stared, even if it was for a very brief moment. And all it took me to do that was...well, discarded tin cans and plastic bottles. In other words, garbage.


      A piece of art always brings its observer into it. This is what makes art so complicated. But also so interesting! You can never really predict what effect it will have on other people. So making political art is a real challenge, since it wants to affect people in a certain way. Here in Bridgedale360, some people’s social commentary can also be more peaceful. My art is about inspiring structural changes in society at a political level, but some other people’s art is more about recreating relationships to the planet and to each other. Expressing our innermost feelings. Healing. And that is ok, as we all have different ways to go around things. But there is one thing that unites us in Bridgedale360 in terms of art - we view art of utmost importance for bringing positive change, both to our inner self and the world. It serves both purposes - after all, “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”.


      Learning Outcomes

      • To share creative expressions

      • To use art as a driver for resistance to the system and structural changes

      • To understand the power of art in self- and group-actualisation

      • To perceive (social) media as a tool for transformation

      • To realise one’s own creative potential
    The DojoThe Beehive