Zeerijp Cross-Arts Intensive Programme (2018)

The second intensive programme (IP) took place in 2018 in the Netherlands in two small villages, Zeerijp and ‘t Zandt, at the country side north from Groningen. Institutions sent teachers and master students for a ten days of cross-arts collaboration and exploring cross arts making.   

The programme was prepared the cross-arts working group. We used the outline of the last IP (2017) as a point of departure for organising the programme. Building on the experiences and reflections of the previous IP we developed some new ideas for the Zeerijp IP. The most important changes are described here:

Artists in Residence

Aiming for more audience engagement during the IP we connected to the local residents of the villages Zeerijp and ‘t Zandt a few months before the IP started. We asked them if they were willing to become the host of a ‘residency’ in which a LAB group could work during the IP. The local residents embraced the idea and were very generous in offering spaces to us, such as two monumental 13th century churches, a mill, a garden and a farmhouse. The different residencies would function as a source of inspiration and as a context to respond to for the LAB groups. We also invited the locals to become active participants during the IP and share their stories about their places and villages with the IP community so we could use them as a source of inspiration.

LAB groups becoming Communities of learners

We discussed new approaches for working with the LAB groups. Students of the IP 2017 indicated that (teacher) guidance in their LAB groups would have been helpful. As teachers we felt that we also needed to honour the experiences of our staff training in Visby, where we created a non-hierarchical and non-judgemental environment in which we shared leadership. We decided to involve teachers in the LAB groups, not in their usual role as coach or teacher but in the role of an artist, contributing to the process art making and collaboration equal to the students.

Presenting art as a work in progress

The LAB groups had the opportunity to share their work in progress after two days, and after five days of working together. We made sure that this was understood as a moment to share experiments, show or demonstrate what happened during the collaboration, what worked for them and also what didn’t work. This could be done by performing some work, presenting some ideas, evaluating with the audience in whatever form seemed suitable for the group. It was made clear that this was not meant to be a final performance but a sharing of the work and collaboration. The locals that had helped with the project participated in this sharing as well. This was a different approach than the sharing moment of the IP in 2017, where we scheduled this on the final day of the IP. This time, we didn’t present the sharing publicly, to avoid students perceiving sharing the work as a performance for an audience. The work of the LAB groups was shared in the six places of residencies they had been working in.

Mentoring

Objectives

The objectives of the implementation of mentoring in the programme was threefold: 

  1. Introducing and explaining mentoring and its place in the general NAIP curriculum and in the NAIP Intensive Programme August 2018.

  2. To create a critical awareness, a sense of understanding and reflexivity. Having a fluid conversation about the meaning, purpose and relevance of the mentoring praxis in today’s learning environments. This was discussed in the context of dominant and emerging social-,  and learning theories with themes such as horizontal morality, equality in dialogue, reflective practice, socialisation in the teacher-learner dynamic, critical social complexity and network thinking. 

  3. Doing mentoring (daily embodied praxis) and offering students an actual experience with mentoring as a group activity and as a one-to-one activity, and to create space for the emergence of moments of co- and peer-mentoring between students-students, students-staff members and staff members-staff members. 

Process

Two representatives from the mentoring group of this strategic partnership, Þóra Einarsdóttir and Marc van Roon, started with leading a large group mentoring session. In the first group mentoring session the focus was on creating an open, safe and undefined atmosphere for being present, reflecting and sharing. Thora choose a format based on the Bohm dialogue (a freely flowing group conversation in which participants attempt to reach a common understanding, experiencing everyone's point of view fully, equally and non-judgementally). And to give the session a repetitive ritualistic feeling Thora used a large Gong and a talking stick/stone.  Afterwards Marc reported briefly on the outcomes of the mentoring group and gave a first impression of what mentoring can be like. Marc pointed at its inherent and implicit open undefined and highly relational character, the emergent properties and possibilities, and even more importantly; he pointed at what mentoring is not (eg. form of therapy, scientific research, a management/entrepreneur course, psychology, coaching, instructive lesson, or a form of self-help).

From the third day onwards, which was also the day the students broke up into the LAB groups, mentoring was offered daily, in the following format: After a brief group dialogue (Bohm-dialgue), the participants broke into groups by country or institute. In this intimate setting the both students and staff were invited to share any topic, sensation or experience related to the cross-arts process at the intensive programme. These smaller mentoring groups were led by mentors of the NAIP institutes.

Reflective LAB

Mid-way through the IP various ways of artistic reflections were introduced to the students, which strongly resonated with the mentoring reflections.

These were facilitated through Artistic reflection practices, introduced by Niels Vermeulen, the Sharing-on-the-Marketplace game led by Marc van Roon, and Wilhelm Carlsson introduced the awareness of personal professional roles and responsibilities in regards to leadership and support in the LAB groups. 

At the end of the IP there was a day of reflection. This day which we called reflective LAB, was dedicated to reflection on IP experiences. Instead of expressing reflections in a verbal way, work forms were introduced for participants to express reflections in an artistic way. This day included reflective moments, including group reflections and group silence.