The Osek workshop: “Visible/ Invisible”

29 November 2016

The event series that took place in the Osek village, Slovenia between 29.11. and 9.12.2016 was gradually prepared through regular meetings with the representatives of the local cultural and tourist association, between mid September and late November 2016. After the public and open invitation to the workshop through posters and flyers distributed within the 3 villages of Vitovlje, Šempas and Osek an introduction or kickoff event took place, including some 30 locals. There the PAIC project was introduced briefly and the artists introduced their works and methods, suggesting some possible artistic approaches to the topic of “Visible/Invisible”. The workshop method was then discussed with the community members over a social (catering) event. The workshop sessions then took place during 7 afternoons and evenings, culminating in a final public event, visited by over a 100 people (a big turnout for the locality), and an evaluation on the next day.

The community workshop method was agreed to depart from gathering old photographs and stories of the important local people and events that people disposed of privately, such that were probably not to be chronicled or archived otherwise, and were likely to be lost in time. These were then discussed and selected; the faces of key persons of the community historical events, families and landmarks were scanned in and digitally edited, then printed life-size. Facial masks were produced, and mapped onto relevant locations throughout the community. Stories were recorded on audio and/or video to document these connections. A selfie-photographing activity was held throughout the community locations. A rich-media google-maps based mapping of the locations and stories took place on a dedicated web page, that was also displayed for interactive use at the final event, next to the facial masks and selected “selfie” photos and other documentation of the workshop process.

The approach they took was in line with Jane Bennett’s conception of materialism and new ways of thinking about positive, productive power of things  or “dead” material and their ability to animate, to act and to produce effects. Thus, the idea of the PAIC „archive “as an artistic tool was spread from being a collection of thematic documents or objects to an accumulation of conceptual objects or material capable of becoming a force of active, vivacious intervention in the present. Participant’s activities were consistent with Bennett’s basic argument that everything is alive, interconnected, and in process: not only plants and humans, but objects and environment.

To be able to give the unique opportunities to communicate social and cultural information and develop the greatest level of access to our activities and resources which can improve the quality of the lives of people in the community, the PAIC team worked closely with local audience in all phases of workshop activities, including the evaluation. The local community representatives were invited to express their satisfaction and evaluate efficiency, effectiveness and workshop results with focus on what changed in their performance resulted from the process and the extent to which the they gain new skills, competences and knowledge.

The workshop strands were separated into the “community” and the “professional workshop” that involved primarily the PAIC project group, however the two strands or groups interfaced increasingly on last 3 days, between December 7th and 9th.