BIRTH is a transnational, cross-disciplinary project that aims to gather on one interactive and easily accessible map birth stories of people worldwide, from all layers of society, all ages, gender, race, religion and beliefs and engage them into artistic dialogue through different groups and companies of performing arts.
Conception and initiation Rita SEBESTYÉN (Othernessproject)
Project coordinator Ágnes Székely (Othernessproject)
Rita SEBESTYÉN (Othernessproject) and Ida DANIEL (The Mighty Mighty Pressure Cooker)
Design concept Simon Ohlsen
Through the subjective and emotional relation towards the common and yet very personal experience of each and every human being, BIRTH project aims to:
– outreach and give voice to underrepresented individuals and communities to speak for themselves;
– initiate volunteerism and participation culture for democratic discourse;
– initiate a collaborative artistic discourse to foster empathy;
– disseminate ideas of democracy;
– raise awareness of human rights;
– help developing collaborative networks;
– foster participation and social inclusion;
– commemorate historical events through personal perspectives;
– offer an endless and ever-renewing resource for remembrance, reflection and development for societies;
– foster inter-disciplinary, intra-sectorial, transnational, intercultural networking;
– disseminate artistic and theoretic outcomes throughout debates and documented for wide accessibility on the site.
Importance of personal stories
This project lays emphasis on personal birth stories – subjective, unique micro-histories that add up on the one hand to an idiosyncratic history of a region, culture, habits, rituals, viewpoints and reveal a social, economic and even politic background of the storyteller and the community they are part of; on the other hand the personal birth stories unite all storytellers in the common and unquestionable, inalienable experience of us: that of being born as humans.
When telling personal stories, one can relate to their core experience of birth, of being human on their own ways, words, imagines, discourse – they become the editors and authors of their own story, they are empowered to give voice to their own feelings and experience, they are free to express themselves and create their individual message.
Stories can be articulated as follows:
• written in no more than 300 words
• visuals of no more than 3 items (pictures, drawings, paintings, etc.)
• short videos of no more than 3 minutes
• soundscapes of no more than 3 minutes (transcripts should be attached)
Language: storytellers are encouraged to use their own mother tongue – translator programmes are used by editors, users, readers to access written materials.
Stories have to contain the date and the place of birth. Any other details or data is left upon the storyteller to decide whether it should be published or not. Anonym stories are also accepted.
Stages of the project
Stage 1: The project as a first step collects and displays on a site both location and time of birth, offering a geographical and historical community site to which all are invited to contribute their own stories. Stories should be sent to an editorial board in order to assure that ethical, moral standards are all completed, i.e. the stories do not hurt any dignity, human right or general moral principles.
Participants: volunteers to share their personal stories.
Experts included: social workers, educators, sociologists, cultural activists.
• on the site that disseminates the simple rules of storytelling there is published a call for personal birth stories;
• widespread in the media;
• social workers and cultural activists reach out to inaccessible individuals and communities to explain the project and gather personal stories;
• storytellers are fully informed about the project, its aims, the importance of the stories and the fact that they will be published and become part of a large artistic and research discourse;
• collected stories are assessed by editors in order to not surpass any ethical boundaries, human rights;
• stories are published on the site and advertised again on the media mentioned above – storytellers are constantly kept informed about the stages of the project.
Stage 2: The map that offers a large amount of birth stories of people from all walks of life both locally and in time become resources for performing artists, visual artists and writers – selected on curatorial base – in order to perform events, performances, readings. Artists can relate to any personal birth story from any spot on the map, this way the outcome, the artefact itself will be a celebration of all differences through the fusing act and morphology of arts. Artistic event and artefacts shall also be displayed on the site, showing in the same time the intrinsic and complex relations the way artist from different spots are related to different stories merging into an artistic event or object of art.
Participants: volunteers for networking, artists invited by open call.
Experts included: unbiased and international artistic curatorial board, cultural and artistic activists.
• on media channels and site the stories are displayed together with the call for artists;
• the call for artists explains the project and its stages and aims;
• a curatorial board of 5 unbiased curators is set;
• the artistic proposals are assessed and selected;
• artists present their works to the wide public, widespread in the media and presented on the site;
• if both sides wish, artists can connect with storytellers.
Stage 3: On research level we facilitate and perpetuate networks that should continue a fruitful process and debate upon historical events, mutual understanding and also nurture theoretical discourses on cultural and historical awareness of diversity, of differences and similarities, of connecting generations, nations, cultures, languages and religious views and stimulate positive future scenarios.
Participants: volunteers who shared their stories, artists, cultural and social activists.
Experts included: sociologists, historians, philosophers, futurologists.
• stories and artists’ work are exposed to the site, shown also the relation, cross-references between stories and artistic projects;
• artists, storytellers are invited to workshops, events, conferences – on a volunteer basis – to furnish further information on their work;
• research work, conference material, theoretical approach is stimulated by platforms, conferences, calls for papers – researchers, theorists, experts set the framework of these events and the publishing materials;
• research outcome is published on the site and widespread by media;
• if all parties wish, storytellers, artists and researchers are connected to comment and further continue their network and induce an information flow.
The three phases of the project connect and reconnect among each other over the time: they continue to inspire stories and artists and theorists to produce, tell and retell discourses, think and reflect upon this common experience that unifies humankind – thus giving birth to ideas and practices of social inclusion, democratic practices and varied networking.
The mapping can be stretched out at later phases to more countries, more languages, this way exponentially growing the resources.
BULGARIA: The Mighty Mighty Pressure Cooker/ Artistic Director: Ida Daniel
DENMARK and ROMANIA: Othernessproject/ Artistic Director: Rita Sebestyén
FINLAND: European Theatre Collective Association/ Artistic director: David Kozma
HUNGARY: Mozgó Ház Társulás/ Artistic director: Hudi László
UGANDA: The Budondo Intercultural Centre/ Representative: Denis Muwanguzi https://budondo.wordpress.com/