Theme Nights: HERE AND NOW


On December 1, 2 and 3, Media Art Festival in collaboration with the RUG Campus Fryslân and Hanze University Groningen presented three interwoven online Theme Nights full of discovery, discussion and artistic inspiration.

Central to each evening was a theme that was further explored and unravelled by special guest researchers and artists. We zoomed in on the appreciation of culture and economic value in the cultural sector, not-knowing in times of uncertainty, and we took a closer look at our relationship with nature.

Did you miss the livestreams? You can watch them below.


DECEMBER 1st, 2020 | 20.00h

During this first Theme Night we will explore how culture is experienced and appreciated in our society and whether our understanding of culture is still up to date. What the Corona crisis has brought to light is that culture is much more than just theater, dance and visual arts. The whole cultural sector was affected, and so were festivals and the performances of Dries Roelvink. Culture and today’s cultural production is much more comprehensive than what we learn about it at school.

Prof. dr. Barend van Heusden takes us along in his analysis of our understanding of culture and pleads for a fundamental revaluation. A plea with radical proposals with potentially far-reaching political and economic consequences for the sector.

Director of New Geneco Esther Gottschalk then explores various forms of collaboration and economic models to make the cultural sector circular. Models that encourage the money earned in the cultural sector to flow back to its creators in a fair way. Gottschalk explores inspiring global examples of a Fair Chain in the free arts, and new forms of collaboration between government, business and local communities. 

Speakers: Prof. Barend van Heusden, Esther Gottschalk
Partners: University of Groningen, Campus Fryslân


DECEMBER 2nd, 2020, 20.00h

In light of the crisis which is currently in the making, we are all confronted with uncertainty. Unexpectedly, we are face to face with a new unprecedented reality that no longer rhymes with the familiar patterns of our predictable daily lives. As we reevaluate the new situation and at times drown in the deep seas of uncertainty, MAF has invited and encouraged a group of artists to research and experiment with the power of not knowing.

A search in which “not knowing is encountered as an opening in the fabric of what is known, which requires a reciprocal openness, receptivity to its potential” (Emma Cocker); a choice that also means one needs to “tolerate the slight discomfort or anxiety” (John Cleese) caused by it.

This Theme Night is the performative result of previous encounters (themselves unstable situations) between artists, researchers and philosophers. By means of jointly developed work, experiment and dialogues, they invite the audience to come along and seek renewed confidence in not knowing, while avoiding getting lost in the immediate Here and Now.

Speakers: Hannes Arvid Andersson, Henry Byrne, Marcelo Agustin Martinez Caram, dr Anke Coumans, Linde Ex, Inbal Ann Hershtig, Simona Kicurovska, Hermen Maat, Kevin A. Perrin, Adri Schokker, dr Bibi Straatman, Pol Taverne, T.S. Anna
Partners: ARC Artistic Research Community in the North and research group ‘Image in Context’ (Research Centre ‘Art & Society’ of Minerva Art Academy, Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen)


DECEMBER 3rd, 2020, 20.00h

Over the last few decades there is increasing scientific evidence that our—particularly Western—assumptions about nature are quite faulty. Particularly in media art, it can be seen that artists too wish to question prevailing views through experimentation and creation.

Often operating on the edge of art and science, they attempt to gain new understandings about our natural environment, urging us to reflect on who we are as a species and rethink our ways of being. Their works help us to reimagine our dominant approach toward our other, fellow living beings. Maybe most importantly, art often dares to envision futures that may offer alternatives to the fragile systems that we have created over the centuries.

This Theme Night is all about art and earth. Professor Jan van Boeckel of the research group Art and Sustainability at Minerva Academy and visual artists and researchers Theun Karelse and Paula Nishijima provide insight into their research and artistic process in which the complex relationships between all people—including humans—but also our place within the terrestrial system, are important themes.  We use the word people to imagine—if just for one night—that we have more in common with all the beings on our planet than we like to think.

Speakers: dr. Jan van Boeckel, Theun Karelse, Paula Nishijima
Partners: research group ‘Art & Sustainability’ (Research Centre ‘Art & Society’ of Minerva Art Academy), Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen