For many years I was a member of the programming staff of Paradiso, the musical venue of international reputation in the heart of Amsterdam. Making ‘a program’ would include monitoring trends, connecting with stakeholders, conceive of a concept for a show for a night or a conference of several days, find and organize the money to be able to do it, invite guests and prepare with them, publicise and market the event and finally run the show after which post production had to be done. Paradiso has been one of the best working environments I ever met and I still like to be there. In my dissertation I discuss two programs at length.
My Paradiso programs focused on social economic changes that affected the way art and popular culture were evolving. In small debates and and larger conferences current political drama’s and debates were addressed. An example of such a conference is “Decolonization of Imagination”, organized by Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Philomena Essed and Oussama Cherribi. People from all over came to Amsterdam, shared their views and research and an impressive book was published afterwards: The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, Zedbooks, London 1995. While having all famous scientists and political activists in the house for the conference, we also organized a debate with the Maghreb youth and the Arab philosophers in a few hours of downtime of the formal conference. And this had as much impact, even though it is hard to trace and prove. It was sensed so at the time.
When the war in former Yugoslavia broke out, with people from the Balie, Index on Censorship and several people who had fled the country, we started Press Now. In a series of programs we linked up with places in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and so on, using phone lines we put up on the PA system, connecting with local and national radio stations and finally we could use the Internet to make these connections viable against censorship and political violence. The network and expertise has grown and makes a difference today.
A lot of my programs were concerned with the rapid changing media landscape and the rise of Internet end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. We because of the rise of Internet it became possible to produce significant international programs working in a low budget environment. Around these programs an editorial group assembled whose input was crucial for the success of these programs (including Rop Gonggrijp, Patrice Riemens, David Garcia and Geert Lovink and many others). Some of the current networks of media critique were established in those days. It was an ongoing conversation from which these programs resulted, and because programs were made a variety of ideas and connections travelled after and beyond.
Nettime about media and ‘net critique’: www.nettime.org
Next 5 Minutes about tactical media: www.n5m4.org, www.next5minutes.org/about.jsp
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