Schmiede launched its new call for participation for its annual summer camp, to happen this year from September 22 to October 2nd in Hallein, Austria. Schmiede proposes a special theme this year: WAR. Makery interviewed its director, Rüdiger Wassibauer.
Since 2003, every year, an abandoned industrial salt refinery on an island in Hallein, Austria, opens up, for ten days, to host around 300 Smiths and their ideas. Artists, makers, hackers and creatives physically gather in order to get inspired, network, create, present and share. Schmiede provides a basic cooperative prototyping environment and an infrastructure full of impulses and passionate people.
Makery: The readers of Makery know a bit about Schmiede now, since we’ve been following the last 2 editions, but can you tell us what is Schmiede and how you see its evolution with the time?
Rüdiger Wassibauer: Schmiede is a festival, a playground of ideas, a temporary co-creation island. Around 300 participants (Smiths) unite annually for 10 days to network create and present. Schmiede started as a club driven co-party media tech format in 2003. Over the years our niche morphed with its protagonists to find a harbor in the intersection of maker, science and arts. Today Schmiede is the core of a large, diverse, participant and partner driven array of events, artist in residence programs, mini festivals, workshops, project development teams and so on. Schmiede counts on our participants to lead the way, the core team produces an annual theme, a framing program, facilitates and matches.
Is there some changes compared to past years regarding the conditions of participation?
For the past 19 years, our network has grown organically and participant driven. Today we can offer much more reach, depth and quality, hence options and perspectives, for our participants. In the early days we, the core Team, were much more involved in many Smith projects. We even brought many of our own. Today Schmiede retreats more and more to a reactive, administrative position. We see it as very relevant for our protagonists to enter into a conversation with each other and find their autonomous process.
If necessary or asked we are happy to facilitate or mediate and to point to possible matches. However as pairings are relationships between people, there is only so much we can do. It takes time and trust and much is taste. Our learning is that it is necessary to heavily rely on the autonomy of our participants. Schmiede builds the playground. The Smiths and their ideas come to play. Dimension wise we harbor all levels of projects from individualistic processes, over EU projects like Feral Labs, to institutional corporations.
How did you manage last year with the pandemic situation and how you envision this year edition since we’re still in restrictions times?
As so many, we had to redesign our year on the fly, without the privilege to go outside. So obviously went into overdrive and initiated a new festival, YnselZeit. YnselZeit, meaning YslandTimes, was a direct reaction to this encircling as well as isolating reality. YnselZeit, August and September 2020, helped us to prepare “Schmiede20: horses” with around 100 participants, which then happened pandemic save and according to the governmental restrictions. In Hallein everything locked down right after Schmiede.
However we did not count a single case. I am personally very proud that we managed to provide an island of sanity in this year of whatever. So with this experience in our bag we are quite positive that Schmiede21 will happen as long as we are not in the middle of a lockdown. Currently everything looks very good. YnselZeit will now encompass Schmiede, expanding our potential time frame over a month. A month of artist in residence programs, festivals, events and yes Schmiede. As strange as it might sound, the pandemic pushed us forward.
What is the theme you choose this year and can you explain what is behind the concept for you?
Schmiede21 circles around the three letters W A R and their perception. In a super charged time we see emotions and opinions flying wild. Opinions are mistaken as facts and facts are altered to fit opinions. Much of this is quite painful and unsettling. So we decided to stop arguing and enter into a conversation about perception. I am convinced that everyone’s opinion is always right and hence I would like to stop arguing about opinions all together. At Schmiede we seek action and provide community.
Arguing about uncertain opinions seems a redundant and tiring waste of time. I am not saying people should not argue or form their opinion. I am saying that there is no imperative for Schmiede to participate. So as a lightning rod we have created the Reflector Collector, a basin where your opinion is stored for later communication. I have learned that it is quite healthy to write out what bothers me. We hope that through this option we can avoid unnecessary opinionated discussions about meta realites that are falling onto our heads and start to act about it. In our ongoing series “War and meaning” you can find the first 300+ opinions about W A R and you will also find a link to feed the collector. We are also offering a few calls.
Did the pandemic years has changed your vision of the event?
Yes. Now we have the relevance we never wanted. In a time that circles around velocity and division now more than ever we see the need to offer a decelerated action oriented community. Covid has not changed the world, it crystallized our problems and smashed a mirror into our faces. What we see is not very pleasant but I guess it is too late to avoid the impact. Like La Haine pointed out “c’est pas la chute qui compte mais l’atterrissage”. Now we can only roll with the punch. So yes nothing has changed and the game is a new one.
You participated in the Feral Labs Network (2019–2021). We heard rumors that it may continue, how did you experience it on Schmiede side ?
Thank you Feral Labs Network, Uros, Tina especially and all our partners. Feral Labs Network was a beacon of hope in dark times. Yes, our very ambitious Network of dislocated hubs was cut short in its process, but the collaboration is promising and in the pandemic year it gave us all a perspective. I would not want to miss FeralLabsNetwork and we hope for many feral years to come. We are ready.
Schmiede21: WAR, September 22. – Oktober 2. 2021. Hallein, Austria.
Apply till May 31st.