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Home / Resources / News / First results – Transeuropa Festival 2012: Opening a common space for European alternatives

First results – Transeuropa Festival 2012: Opening a common space for European alternatives

Transeuropa Festival, between 9th May and 3rd June, dealt with some of the most burning issues currently facing Europe: the financial crisis and austerity, new democratic processes and the possibility of mobility and migrations in Europe.

The 2012 edition was a resounding success, with more than 15 000 people taking part around Europe. Thanks to its rich, diverse and innovative programme, Transeuropa Festival benefitted from rich media coverage – reaching as far as China! Have a look at the Festival press clippings.

Transeuropa Festival’s appeal relied on the creative formats and approaches the festival proposed for its events: including and mobilising the audience in a common research and exploration and in drafting and consolidating common alternatives proposals for Europe.

Here are some of the first festival results and feedback…

Transnational Urban Walks to inaugurate a Common Transnational Space

The Opening Transnational Walk on the 9th of May brought all cities together in a transnational space. Locally participants were led to unexpected places in their cities through urban city games, artistic installations and performances, stories and reading by story tellers and actors.


Transnational Walk     


Talking with books from across the continent

One of the greatly appreciated events of the Festival was the living libraries in Bologna, Barcelona, Paris, Cluj-Napoca, Warsaw, Cardiff. The library contained human books, people who told their story, mostly on the topics of migration and civic activism. See videos from CardiffCluj-Napoca and Paris.

Art and the activist imagination

The artistic events – indoors and outdoors – required the active participation of the public. Tania Bruguera in Paris read the Migrants Manifesto in front of a symbolic building for violence against migrants, Saint Bernard Church, Chinese artists in Rome and Bologna engaged in a debate with local curators and organised live performances (read article in Italian);  Hiwa K in Berlin invited the public to the event ‘cooking with Mama’ during which the artist and participants cooked following the instructions given through Skype by the mother of the artist based in Iraq; Dan Perjovschi selected and produced specifically for Transeuropa a series of drawings which were used to illustrate the Transeuropa Journal and were commented by the artist himself during a talk in Rome Agorà Transeuropa.

Dan Perjovschi at Agorà Transeuropa

Also the experimental short film programme Histoires, curated by the Cinémathèque de Tanger, that presented short films from North Africa on citizens’ and political engagement before the revolution, was shown in almost all festival cities. It was accompanied by debates in all of the cities ranging from the situation for experimental creation in North Africa to more political discussion on democracy in Europe and in North Africa and the Middle East. You can see more in the videos from the debates in Bratislava (in Slovak) and Paris (in French).

Finally, concertstheatre and musical performances gave the opportunity to celebrate new forms of being together.

Performance in Warsaw

A space for discussion around new ways of thinking

Of course we had the chance to exchange views, ideas and proposals either with recognized thinkers and philosophers during keynote lectures and interviews such as those by Franco BIFO Berardi on the cultural reactivation of the social body (in Sofia and Rome), Guy Standing on precariousness in London and Rome (read interview), and Niko Paech in Berlin on alternatives to growth.

But in addition to lectures, workshop and assemblies were at the core of Transeuropa 2012, bringing together activists, thinkers and artists from all over Europe, including Serbia and Montenegro, to prepare common actions.

Proposals for change: The commons

The concept of the commons appeared relevant to create synergies between various movements such as shale gas activism, water movement, and the fight for environmental issues or the fight for the recognition of the cultural commons such as in Teatro Valle, Rome. A caravan of the commons brought artists from Teatro Valle Occupato in many festival cities: Sofia, Belgrade, Cluj, Rosia Montana and Berlin, which transformed into an Eros trip. A short report is available in Italian.

Economic and Democratic crisis: For alternative organisations of human exchanges

In all cities of the Festival, a wide range of alternatives to austerity measures were discussed: from implementation of financial transaction taxes and citizen’s audits of public debts to the link between the economic and environmental crisis and other forms of exchange that may be brought such as the bank of time and alternative currencies.

In London, these discussions took place during the forum on European economy which underlined the link between democratic and economic deficit and enlarged its scope to include a focus on the Balkans (read article); In Prague and Bratislava, debates on participative budgeting proposed new ways of approaching the management of cities’ budgets.

Moving away from the detention of migrants

In Bologna, Paris, Sofia, Amsterdam events have been organised – in the framework of the Open Access campaign – denouncing the detention of irregular migrants in Europe. In Bologna a national forum brought together activists and organizations, to discuss the possible ways of dealing with migration fluxes that do not imply a criminalisation of migrants – with a commitment to further analyse them and promote them while calling for access to detention centres for civil society and journalists in the mid-term and the closure of the detention centres in the longer term.

Opening of the transnational space, beyond European borders

The exchanges between the cities took place through the common events such as the walk and the film programme, which gave a highly symbolic unity to an otherwise disperse territory, through the participation of speakers, activists and artists from other countries in one or more cities of the festival, and also thanks to exchanges of ideas through Skype, Twitter, emails and Facebook. The 2012 edition of the Transeuropa Festival was closed by the Agorà Transeuropa, which took place on the 2nd and 3rd June at Teatro Valle in Rome, with the participation of people involved in all the festival cities and activities.


Agorà Transeuropa in Rome

At the core of the transnational exchange is the Transeuropa Network and European Alternatives local groups, who have mobilised and exchanged all year long, involving in the formation, curation and implementation of a truly transnational programme to make Transeuropa a platform of discussion, experimentation and decisions to go beyond the usual way one perceives and thinks about Europe. 

More articles will be published in the coming weeks on the result of the festival – keep an eye on the European Alternatives website

If you want to know how the festival looked like, check the photo galleryYou can also check out the Transeuropa Journal for the programme, interviews and background articles about the festival.