15. and 16.10., 16 to 21pm @ &TD atrium 

Lotte van den Berg & Daan ‘t Sas (NL): #BuildingConversationZAGREB2016 (* meal included)

Stretch your imagination. Switch perspective. Join in. Speak out.

Building Conversation is a long-term project which started already in 2013. Inspired on conversation techniques from all over the world, we develop new ways of talking.
The conversations at Pobješnjeli Ganz novi festival:

Parliament of Things (maximum 20 participants)
We are accustomed to humans speaking not only for themselves but also on behalf of other entities – the universe, the rain forest, the animals, and the city. The Parliament of Things is a Bruno Latour’s theory that makes a case for the rights of objects. In modern thought, people refuse to recognize the rights, autonomy and agency of objects and other entities, according to Latour. He argues for a human viewpoint in which the values (not the value) of objects and other entities play an active role. When developing this form of conversation, we want to take a distance from anthropocentric thinking in which humans place themselves at the centre of existence, and consider what the relation is between us and things. Can we speak on behalf of things? Are we in them? Are we opposite to them?

Another source of inspiration for Parliament of Things is the Council of All Beings, a worldwide practice that investigates our relation to nonhuman entities – namely, nature. Among other things, this “Council” refers to a ritual of the Aboriginals, who consider themselves connected with plants, clouds, and a mountain as if they were their ancestors. They use masks to speak on behalf of these entities. We want to use masks in a similar way in this conversation/performance and investigate what it means for us Westerners to speak on behalf of things, on behalf of nature. Will this remain a dualistic relation, from a person to a thing, or is it conceivable that a different relation will arise, that we give ourselves a different place in the universe?

Time Loop (maximum 20 participants)
Are we capable of going back in time before we were born, ahead to after we die? Indians from the Great Lakes District in Canada have the tradition to, before making an important decision, consult first their ancestors from seven generations ago, and after that, their descendants from seven generations in the future as well. Only in the third instance do they study what impact the eventual decision will have on the present. In the West, short-term thinking is what often seems to prevail over looking ahead and looking back. As a result, the future becomes an abstract, remote perspective, unconnected to the world we live in. Can being related to the distant past help us in relating to the distant future?

Inspired by the practice of the Indians from the Great Lakes District but also by contemporary thinkers like Giorgio Agamben, who speaks of the importance of being strongly rooted in the past in order to have a vision of the future, we are creating a method of conversation with various rounds in which the participants alternatingly talk from the perspective of their ancestors, their descendants and themselves. Can we expand our awareness of time, the time-space in which we live, and enlarge our thinking? There appears to be a shortage of time on all levels – daily life, within a person’s lifespan, in relation to climate change, etc. We feel like we are in a race against the clock. We are already too late, it seems. What would happen if we ‘zoom out’ in time? Does this put the decisions we make into perspective or does it make them extra urgent?

Agonistic Conversation (maximum 20 participants)
Inspired by conflict theory of Chantal Mouffe and by mode of conversing peculiar to the Maoris from New Zealand, we carry on a conversation between opponents; a conversation in which conflict and differences are considered sources of change and creativity. If you avoid conflict, you stand still. When you face conflict, not knowing where it will lead to, you are on the move.

About The General Assembly
The General Assembly takes place on the street with a large group of people. In addition to the people who have signed up for this conversation, interested bystanders can also participate. In this form of conversation/performance, we investigate our relation to the city and the ways in which we can make ourselves seen and heard in public space, now and in the future. We use the methods of the Occupy movement (hand signals, the ‘human microphone’, open space technology) but also take inspiration from the so-called idle chattering of oldsters sitting beneath the shade of a tree in the centre of the village, such as they do in Congo and elsewhere.
We want to work toward a form of speaking in public that is concentrated, focused and open. The conversation focuses on the group, on what is being discussed and at the same time is open to the surroundings, the city and the people who walk by. We form three concentric circles, with the inner circle being the most concentrated, the middle one being the place where people can take a position, and the outer circle being the place where people do not really participate, if at all. During the gathering, the participants frequently move from one circle to another in order to get different perspectives on the group and test their own position. What is being discussed also takes place in reality, turns into action. As we speak, we relate to each other in the city. This ‘Droste effect’ in the conversation allows the participants to continually test, enrich and confirm what is being said by what they are doing. The General Assembly ties in with the investigation into new democratic forms currently being carried out in many European cities.


Concept, development and realization: Lotte van den Berg & Daan ’t Sas

In collaboration with Floor van Leeuwen (NL), Dennis Molendijk (NL), Jonathan Offereins (NL), Bart van Rosmalen (NL), Floris Siekman (NL), Katja Dreyer (DE), Andreas Bachmair (DE), Peter Aers (BE), Ewout Bomert (NL), Adelijn van Huis (NL), Bart Capelle (BE) and others.

Local guides: Sodja Lotker, Zdravko Popović i Marija Šujica

Realization of the residency and the performances within apap- Performing Europe 2020 supported by European Union, Creative Europe.

Building conversations

Building conversations











Theatre maker Lotte van den Berg and visual artist Daan ‘t Sas started developing Building Conversation in the summer of 2013. Inspired by an interest in conversation techniques from various cultures and from a curiosity about the execution of a conversation as a place for meeting, they started exploring the phenomenon with the central question: How do we talk to each other and how could we talk to each other?

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that a conversation gives form to conflict. If good, the form of the conversation offers you enough security to abandon your own safe standpoint and undergo a clash of basic principles. Lotte van den Berg