Night Shift is our playground for the month
Night Shift returns in an updated form: three summer nights of showcasing work by 30 emerging artists in OHK, Ostend. Supported and organised by 12 different organisations around the country, all participating artists had the chance to work on their practice with a view of the sea during the month of July. With this residence, the project wants to emphasize community-building, care and the act of creating without the dogmas of the regular season. On the 26th, 27th and 28th of July, you’re welcome to get some sand between your toes and see the genre-bending art the residents of Night Shift have to offer. We talked with co-organiser Marie Umuhoza and participating artist Rosie Sommers.
Marie and Rosie, can you introduce yourselves to me?
Rosie: I’m 26 and I studied theatre in Ghent; I used to be more into acting, which led to making performances. For three years after my studies, I was working in a bar and was kinda out of the art scene. I picked up art again through a small solo project, Ne Mosquito Pas. I had the chance to perform at Decoratelier, which is where I met Marie.
Marie: I’m Marie, also 26. I work as a programmer and coordinator in Decoratelier in Molenbeek which are also one of the twelve partners of Night Shift. I’ve always been an enthusiast for bringing together a community through art. I’m here to coordinate the artists and to engage in artistic dialogues.
Night Shift follows a different recipe than other editions. What can we expect this summer?
R: Thirty artists were invited to experiment with different media. Because the focus is not necessarily on showing something, the event is a low-threshold opportunity for artists to invite an audience to come to see their art. The residency stimulates experimenting leading up to the event. Night Shift is our playground for the month. At the end of it, we invite an audience into that playground. It’s exceptional: most ‘standard’ residencies require a whole worked-out idea before even beginning your investigation. This residency gives a platform to artists who like to work in less dogmatic environments.
Usually, when applying for residencies you do it a year before it even starts. It goes against my flow of working: my ideas take on new forms so quickly that I can not pinpoint my research in such an early stage. The way our system works, there is not much place for artists to work in a direct way and follow their ideas as they come up. This is where Night Shift is exceptional.
M: The project was initiated by Gouvernement, which is a nomadic presentation platform. Before Covid, Night Shift used to be hacking an institution from dusk till dawn. Night Shift will show a presentation on the 26th, 27th and 28th of July, but the residency that comes before that is just as important.
R: There is a big community aspect between the participating artists. We all share this big place; I get very inspired by seeing other artists do their thing. Everyone can look out for one another and use each of their individual skills to help each other further in their project or research.
We all share this big place; I get very inspired by seeing other artists do their thing
It’s the first time in Ostend as well. I can imagine the view of the sea and the warm breeze have a positive effect on creation.
R: Ostend is nice. Everyone is out of their regular zone, I feel like I’m on holiday. And the warm weather is a plus. This automatically creates a different way of working, more easygoing, relaxed and fun, perfect for a soft mind that clears judgements and picks up on instant desires.
M: Ostend kind of feels like it doesn't belong to anyone, because our OHK is not a regular residence. OHK is a youth organisation that hosts screenings and concerts. On nights of presentation, some artists will do something on the beach, in the building, or in the parking lot - everywhere. I’m looking forward to creating a micro-community with the audience and hopping from place to place.
I’m looking forward to creating a micro-community with the audience and hopping from place to place
You’re one of the artists in residence here, Rosie. Can you lift the veil of your artistic practice here in Ostend?
R: I’m working here as a performance artist. I want to invite people to take part in a structured improvisation. One of those improvisations is based on my practice ‘Tantra For Beginners’: we do exercises together and build from our own imagination on what tantra could be. What happens when we put these practices on a stage? Somatic practices are often used to prepare yourself as an actor or performer, and preparation often becomes a performance on its own.
I like questioning the friction between reality and fiction through the lens of care therapy and somatic practices. There is space for anyone to join these (performative) practices, even when you are not familiar with performance art. I like it when different realities are present and become blurry: doing a tantra practice while performing a workshop while preparing yourself to perform it.
I like it when different realities are present and become blurry
How did you curate the artists for Night Shift?
M: The artists we invited come from different disciplines and artistic scenes and backgrounds. Through Decoratelier, we rarely do open calls because we’ve noticed it usually tends to favour only the audacious artists. Which is great - be audacious! But a lot of emerging artists don’t feel represented in the small text of an open call because either their practice is not so easy to narrow down or they are not that good at ‘selling’ themselves. We send a letter to all of the artists, sounding out their interests and expectations as well as telling them ours.
The project is based on care. We were able to take a lot of time to organise this event, which usually isn’t the case, but it made it possible to reflect on each of our values: what caring for a community and caring for individual artistic practises might mean. We gathered all of our visions, desires and fears and concluded that after two years of uncertainty, a steady connection is vital. We’re holding on to our core values throughout the whole of the project.
Can you share some of those values?
M: Being transparent and working horizontally, not in the sense of everyone doing everything, but more like: we are gonna walk this road together. That also shows in the way the works are going to be presented. The timetable will be announced quite late because we want people to visit for the whole of the project instead of coming for one name. Artists will not present their work at the same time, so you won’t have to miss anything. It breaks the typical festival dynamic where you have your main stage and the side stages. Every artist is a mainstage artist, basically.
Another value is caring for each other and for the project, being together. We are taking our time and are making room for experimentation.