Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 9. Nr. Oktober 2000


The conference about "Processes in Theatre, Art and Literature" was held in Bergen, Norway, 22 - 24 September 2000. It was organised in cooperation between the Theatre Section and the English Department, the University of Bergen, INST (Research Institute for Austrian and International Literature and Cultural Studies), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen International Theatre), and the Cultural City Bergen 2000. A major focus of attention was Bergen as one of the Cultural Cities of Europe this year, which was reflected in the opening.

Representatives from Bergen itself and other cultural cities like Brussels and Helsinki presented perspectives, problems and questions about the longer-term consequences of being a Cultural City: The director of the Cultural City of Helsinki (Finland), Georg Dolivo, gave an insightful contribution with regard to issues like participation and commercialism. Hilde Teuchies from Brussels contributed experiences from a city which, seen culturally, is one of the most complex cities in Europe. Bergen itself and the projects in the city were discussed by Tone Tjemsland and Ingebjørg Astrup.

This conference has been successful because there were many contributions of interest to a broad range of scholars and because of the vivid discussions in the working groups.
One of the main reasons for its success lay in its bringing together people from areas which, in traditional terms, would be called marginal areas and centres. What used to be called centres are now the main axis points of modernism, and new developments have taken us into the notion of a circular understanding between the two locations.
Mapping is appropriate as a metaphor to describe what happens when references are brought together and exchanged in new ways and new contexts of thinking and understanding. Contextual dimensions have moved into the areas previously dominated by an aesthetics of the object. The aim of research as well as aesthetic praxis has increasingly become the act of communication as such, both in the will to communicate across cultural borderlines and in the shared experience of communicating. This aim received vigorous expression in the working groups of the conference.

Working group 1 "Context/Function vs. Autonomous Art" was devoted to the mapping of multidisciplinarity and regional versus local aspects in a European context. There were representatives from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and England, as well as countries ranging from the Baltic area through Eastern Central Europe to the Balkans, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Romania. References to this cultural range thus became crucial to understanding both uniqueness and common experiences. (Report)

Working group 2, "The Praxis of Transdisciplinarity" described and debated literary processes and global aesthetics. In spite of the group being not more than 9 to 10 people, participants from South Africa to Scandinavia, from the former Yugoslavia to the Ukraine and the United States discussed their points of view on issues including the reciprocal relation between the centre and the periphery, and theories and practices of the text in an age of globalisation.

Working group 3, "Performance Art at the End of Millennium" differed from the others in that artists from a performance art festival, End of Millennium, presented their work and reflections about it. The artists came from Poland, Ireland, Wales, Québec and Hong Kong. Their audience was restricted to those very few people from the conference who circulated a little within the conference.

Working Group 4, "The Arts in World Wide Web", examined different approaches to theory and practice with regard to art on the World Wide Web. Experts in both theory and practice stated their positions and discussed the presentations of scholars from Austria, the United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Belgium, and Japan.

Given the physical and aesthetic diversity of those attending, I think that mapping is an appropriate metaphor to use for all these working groups.

The aim is to publish the contributions on the internet in this issue of TRANS, internet journal for cultural studies , which is a good opportunity to extend the discussion and the mapping with contributions dealing with context, aesthetics and new media. A book containing a collection of contributions to "Processes in Theatre, Art and Literature" is planned.

Knut Ove Arntzen , main coordinator of the conference

Thanks to the chairpersons of the working groups for correction of the contributions:

WG 1 Context/function vs. autonomous art
(Report from Working Group 1)
Siren Leirvåg (University of Oslo) / Elin Nesje Vestli (Østfold College)
WG 2 The Praxis of Transdisciplinarity Stuart Sillars (University of Bergen)
WG 3 Performance Art at The End of Millennium Veronica Diesen ( - office for interdisciplinary artistic research, Bergen)
WG 4 The Arts in World Wide Web Herbert Arlt (INST, Vienna)

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