Biennale of Western Balkans

Mina Kouvara,Woven Women, BoWB, Images are licensed under CC BY- SA 4.0

The Biennale of Western Balkans announces the completion of its digital programme and the development of a dedicated Zine publication

The Biennale of Western Balkans (BoWB) and the History of Art Laboratory of the University of Ioannina (Greece) developed “Art Pluriverse”, a series of community science annual editions for uplifting intangible cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and their communities of practice in the Balkans, which ran online during December 2020.

The 1st Art Pluriverse edition focused on textile communities in Greece and the wider Balkan region. The programme included two modules, the Artist-Community Synergies and the FAIR Community Archives course, where communities engaged in humanities research together with artists and researchers. The Artist-Community Synergies included the co-creation of research-based artworks where traditional textiles were explored along new media and contemporary art practices. The digital community archives were developed through an educational course that documented the communities’ work as digital cultural heritage based on openness principles. In addition, the programme included two parallel activities, a VR meeting space open to the public, developed through an exam-long digital design workshop based on 3D modelling experimentation with the forms and semantics of traditional textile patterns, and an open-ended interactive map of textile communities and GLAM textile collections in the wider Balkan region in a online format open for contribution.

Drawing on open knowledge, social practice art and participatory digital humanities, the aim is to engage and empower communities that safeguard traditional practices, by documenting their artistic heritage and cultural knowledge in open, educative and participatory ways. Art Pluriverse engages members of communities and the public in the creation of new scientific knowledge through co-creation research methods, together with artists and researchers. The community science series aim to enhance the accessibility of intangible heritage and the visibility of its related communities through annual editions, for collectively experiencing, researching and sharing tradition anew.

The upcoming open-access zine publication includes reflections and thoughts shared by communities, artists and researchers regarding their experience, as well as further input on open and ethical community science practices in arts and culture.

SEN Heritage Looms
“Since the fabric has always been a vessel of human culture, we wish for the documentation of the modern textile art in Greece. In the context of documenting our cultural heritage, the study of the tools, materials, ways, but also of the symbols that were used to decorate our body and space, with a blissful variety truly, makes a permeation into our history, which continues indissoluble from antiquity to the present day.”

Artist Mina Kouvara collaborated with the FEX Progressive Union of Xanthi
“It has been an unexpectedly liberating process, despite the current circumstances. I feel that our overall experience—having discovered qualities, prospects and limitations in community and research based artwork—will comprise a valuable contribution towards the potential of open knowledge and open artistic practices, as well as to the promotion of innovative ways of engaging with cultural heritage. I am so grateful to have been part of it!”

Researcher Kirila Cvetkovska documented the Rizarios Crafting School
“The FAIR community archives workshops provided space for sharing insightful knowledge on the importance and the possibilities for documenting cultural heritage. The opportunity to understand profoundly the potential of open-access content through direct community engagement as well, has been an invaluable experience – a ‘food for thought’ for future endeavors.”

More practices, processes and outcomes of the programme are included in the post-event open-access zine publication, which will be published by the National Documentation Centre of Greece and designed by The Athens Zine Bibliotheque.

For more information
Website: https://bowb.org

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