My Wild Flag
This week sees the fourth edition of My Wild Flag, an international dance and performance festival in Stockholm presented in collaboration with MDT. In the midst of preparations, we had a quick chat with the two founders; choreographer and visual artists Pontus Pettersson and Karina Sarkissova.
C-P: Hello Pontus and Karina, I’m imagining you guys to have your hands full as I’m typing. This year’s edition of the festival marks the fourth. First of all; congrats! What were some of the considerations that went into this year's festival given the current state of things?
MWF: Well miss Corona have put us all on our edges in one way or another, that's to say the least. We had to really question our reasons why we do this festival. In the end it is something about being together that is in the core of MWF and felt we had to continue in some way. So we started thinking how to make the festival as safe as possible, while not compromising the spirit.
C-P: What prompted you guys to found My Wild Flag in the first place?
MWF: A lack of queer performance and platforms in Stockholm and the very homogenous crowd occupying both stage and seating needed to change. We were looking for an option. We also know a lot of works that have not yet been presented in Stockholm and would like to show the locality.
C-P: I love how democratic the event is in the sense that most tickets are offered free of charge. As wonderful as that is, I'm curious to know how you make ends meet financially.
MWF: We try to make the festival available for a broad audience, in order to affect the scene more long term and to create meeting points at the venue. It is mainly through the generous collaborations and transactions with the venues and institutions we collaborate with. They provide us with space for the festival and we provide it further with giving space to a broader audience in the local queer scene, arts scene, students and the dance and choreography field. Sociality is an investment from our side, and it helps us to create long-term effects in the locality of Stockholm. C-P: Nodding back at past editions; what might have been some of your personal highlights?
MWF: We are extra happy about Florentina Holzinger's destruction lab mayhem two years ago, also back then at MDT. The beautiful work of Edith Hammar who was our in-house illustrator for the first three years of the festival. We are so grateful to Kristallmatrixen and Malin Kent, our set designers who have been collaborating with us from the very start... Oh, there have been so many highlights. All of it, really!
C-P Looking into this year’s programme; I’m particularly struck by the presence of artists stemming from the Latin American region which is pretty exciting considering the overall lack of diversity in the local art scene. MWF: Yes! We are very happy about this too! It feels urgent, exchanging aesthetics and urgencies in different ways. Also highlighting very different approaches to the themes and logics that come into being with the proposals. C-P: Both of you have a background within dance and choreography while also holding MFAs in Visual Arts (Pontus from Konstfack and Karina from Dutch Art Institute). What are some of the matters informed by your own practices? MWF: We talk about the festival having a spirit that is seen from the point of makers and doers. We come not only from this background but also from our side jobs of waiting tables, standing behind bars, activism and bike messengering. This aligns us differently with the 'task at hands'. We think being artists ourselves really makes us unpack and invite artists in a different way, which really helps making this monster of a festival move forward each year!
P.P: My work is really a mix of everything with a strong emphasis on materials, text and movement, building spaces and textures, as well as the hospital aspects is super important for me, Audience as well as performers need to find their own agenda within the universe I propose, I think that is a strong wish of mine.
K.S: I work with choreography and performance, through writing, performing, dramaturging, creating infrastructure. I have also run a podcast on art and theory called Navegante.
C-P: For people who aren’t familiar with the festival or perhaps not even particularly exposed to the realm of contemporary dance and performance; is there a work you would like to push a little extra?
MWF: Suutoo (Alx Darbo) who some people might know more from the music field is a good example of an artist we are interested in hosting, and therefore also what one could expect to see. They are on for Saturday. Also it's their first performance in Stockholm so that's pretty exciting!
Images: 1) Bas Czerwinski 2-4) Pontus Pettersson For more info about the festival, please visit: www.mywildflag.com firstname.lastname@example.orgA journal about contemporary art © 2020 C-print