'Liquid Becomings' wins €500,000 award to produce The European Pavilion 2024

A vessel created by artistic collective MS-FUSION sails on Vienna's Donaukanal
A vessel created by artistic collective MS-FUSION sails on Vienna's Donaukanal Copyright Rainer Prohaska
By Tokunbo Salako
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Four boats on four rivers on a journey to make new stories and help redefine culture across the continent. The European Pavilion 2024 will be produced by a young artistic collective that includes creatives from Austria, Serbia, Poland and Portugal.

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The European Cultural Foundation has revealed the much anticipated winning bid to host its second edition of The European Pavilion, an ambitious pan-European mixed arts project aimed at uniting people through culture.

The independent artists’ collective espaço agora now won the award for their innovative experiment “Liquid Becomings”. The consortium includes the organisations FLOW, MS-Fusion, Teatro Meia Volta and United Artist Labour. 

It aims to put a crew of artists on four boats on four European rivers - the Danube, the Vistula, the Rhine, and the Tagus. They'll sail for 28-days in September before gathering together in Lisbon for a final artistic programme in November.

"Too many people in our society feel alienated and left behind. The simple act of going to meet people where they are seemed urgent. Because of the European dimension we felt it necessary to reach as many territories as possible," said Naomi Russell, founder of espaço agoranow.

Naomi Russell co-founder of espaco agora now accepting the award to stage The European Pavilion 2024
Naomi Russell co-founder of espaco agora now accepting the award to stage The European Pavilion 2024Sander van Wettum/European Cultural Foundation

The collective will share a €500,000 prize given by an international jury looking to reward a challenging concept dedicated to uniting different and diverse communities across the continent.

Voyage into the unknown

The collective consists of artists from Austria, Serbia, Poland and Portugal.

Each of the vessels will have a theme throughout its voyage: “Ruins and Monsters”, “Perimeters”, “Togetherness” and “Bodies and Politics”.

While the boats are simple crafts offering sustainable and slow mode of travel, the tasks of the crews are potentially monumental, requiring close cooperation and flexibility with so much of the journey, and the people they will meet, unpredictable.

From 7 to 9 November 2024, all the boats will join forces in the Portuguese capital. A three-day artistic programme celebrating polyphony, liminal spaces and itinerancy, will link the old port of Beato with Quinta Alegre, a socio-cultural complex located on Lisbon's northern outskirts. 

The programme will open with Public Kitchen, a community and artistic event based on the cuisine of all the inhabitants of the parish of Santa Clara. During a multicultural dinner served by local residents, stories will be shared about travel, migration and wishes for the future. 

The crews mission is to create, converse with communities and explore ideas for alternative future living. 

Ready to take to the water? European Pavilion 2024: Liquid Becomings

There will also be specially commissioned new work by Portuguese artists, including writer Gonçalo Tavares, performative, sound artist and musician Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, theatre maker Paula Diogo and collective Teatro Meia Volta.

Additional sources • European Cultural Foundation

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