Transeuropa Festival 2013. An interview with Ségolène Pruvot

Transeuropa Festival 2013 is starting soon under the slogan “IMAGINE. DEMAND. ENACT.”
We have interviewed Transeuropa Festival Coordinator Ségolène Pruvot, who tells us about the Festival, its reasons and visions.

Why a trans-European festival?

Europe is too often perceived as a union of nation states, while Europe is far more complex. It is a network of links and interconnections between places and people. It does not respect the boundaries of the nation state. Places and stakeholders of political decision-making are often beyond the nation states, which unfortunately makes national democracies in many respects obsolete. Democracy at the European level is to reinvent in order to maintain the ability of Europeans to decide themselves of their future.

Transeuropa Festival acknowledges this reality and offers to build it further. A truly European Festival cannot be that of one location but must be multifaceted. Transeuropa Festival stimulates exchange and discussion between people who do not physically live in the same place, but share common interests, want to build together the future of Europe and affirm their commitment to democracy.

“Imagine. Demand. Enact.” What do you aim to accomplish under this slogan?

Europe is often presented as an institutional construction, which should be accepted as such because in a globalized world countries cannot act, cannot be influential and powerful if they act separately. Th
e sentence “There is no alternative” prevails in the political discourse around Europe and created a certain form of rejection of Europe, maybe as the only alternative. 2013 is ‘The European Year of Citizenship ‘ that was most likely unnoticed by the majority of Europeans. The Elections to the European Parliament coming up next year will probably mobilize few voters, for whom they have little meaning and impact. Transeuropa Festival is a proposal to give a meaning to the term ‘European citizenship’, which Europeans could appropriate and invest. 

“Imagine” calls for everyone to mobilise in a creative activity. Through various activities, participants are encouraged to think about what a shared political community and what European society are. The Festival program includes artistic activities, which do not directly refer to Europe, but open up new ways to think about the ‘living together’. Transeuropa Festival opens with the artistic performance ‘Air Time’, which asks listeners/actors on what is ‘the collective’, and this in 10 European countries simultaneously.

“Demand” is one of the key elements of active citizenship. To be heard, it is necessary to have articulated one’s demands in an understandable way for those to whom one wants to demand change and those who may want to get involved. European Alternatives — through the process of the Citizen Pact — has worked for three years to formalize specific requests for political changes in Europe. We want, through Transeuropa Festival and activities such as the (Mani)fests or through the Final Forum of the Festival in Berlin, to invite all those who would like to participate in this movement, and we would like to make it easier for them formulating their own demands for Europe.

“Enact” is a call for action. It is not necessarily a call to political action, but to reinvention of modes of action in the community to think (and rethink) Europe and what binds us to others. Transeuropa Festival proposes participatory activities in urban areas (urban games, bike rides, walks, living libraries) which offer to participants the possibility to be actors and not just spectators. European Alternatives also tries to use all opportunities to act as a citizen at the European level. Therefore, we launched a European Citizens’ Initiative for Media Pluralism, for which we currently collect signatures. This initiative will be represented in the Festival.

What are the Festival’s highlights? What are your favourite events?

The art performance Air Time, which will open the festival in 10 countries on Saturday 5th October at 1.30 PM (London Time), is an original creation by 13 artists. It is a performance in which every listener is part of a community of listeners and players for a joint action in an urban area where passers-by become spectators only of their presence.

I love activities in which one can both move and think, such as the Transnational Walks that will take place in Bologna, Berlin and Barcelona, made of urban games, which take walkers through a city but also invites to discover two other cities. The Living Libraries, in which one can ‘read a book-person ‘ with ‘books’ moving between cities, proposes this year to rethink precariousness and ways to cope with is. There are also very rich programs in cities like Lublin and Cluj, which annually question usual wisdoms and common representations. The opportunity to interact with members of the European Parliament and ask them to respond to proposals Citizen Manifesto seems also to be a rare opportunity to have a dialogue with representatives of European citizens.

The Transeuropa Forum in Berlin on 25th, 26th and 27th October 2013 will offer a kind of ‘best of’ Festival where activities offered in the cities will be taken to Berlin’s audience and to the participants coming from Festival cities for the occasion. Saturday the 27th of October will focus on ‘Demands’ – What do we demand for Europe?: a highly meaningful discussion to be held in Berlin after the re-election of Angela Merkel.

Whom does the Festival aim to reach?

Transeuropa Festival is open to all those who may they have a critical analysis towards the European construction and European policies are interested in the idea of Europe and believe in its potential, or to those who wish to make their voice heard via artistic and cultural contributions, or as an active citizen with a more political approach.

Transeuropa Festival activities are free and open to all. Festival organizers (i.e., members of European Alternatives) will be present at each event and will be available to provide information on the Festival, on the organisation and on the opportunities to get involved.

What is European Alternatives? Which role does it want to play in the European political arena?

European Alternatives is a transnational organisation, with individual members across Europe, who are at the source of its actions, and – to a large extent – implement them. It is a movement of people who advocate for equality, democracy and culture beyond the nation state. Transeuropa Festival is organised by its members in each city of the Festival, in partnership with many local and national actors.

European Alternatives is not a partisan organisation, but it could be described as political in that it proposes to think and activate a transnational political community in Europe. The organisation wants to make it possible for everyone to become an actor in the political construction of Europe, while acting for more democracy, culture and equality.

Please visit: www.transeuropafestival.eu

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