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11.08.2020

Unsound Presents Ephemera Festival, A New Multi-Arts Event in Warsaw

Ephemera Festival

EPHEMERA is a new multi-arts festival based in Warsaw, presented by Unsound. 

Although this inaugural edition has been limited in size due to the pandemic, it nevertheless indicates the bold concept - a festival where music, dance, theatre and visual arts reverberate with one another across the city. With a focus on both the local and international arts scene, the event is presented with Warsaw’s vital cultural activists, organisations and institutions, in a sign of solidarity at a difficult time.


”The idea for an event connecting different forms of artistic expression, as well as people and places in Warsaw, came up a while ago - before the pandemic hit. It took us a lot of time to decide if this difficult moment is a good time for a new initiative. After speaking with the artists, partners and experts, we’ve decided to try, since we need art more than ever, and will implement a new and safe form of an event adjusting to the highest safety measures. Hopefully we will learn and somehow also be inspired by this experiment, which will enable us to grow and develop Ephemera further here” - said Małgorzata Płysa, co-artistic director of the event. 


Mat Schulz, co-artistic director, adds that "Due to the pandemic, the idea of a multi-arts festival has of course changed from when we conceived it, but one thing that hasn't is a strong focus on the local. Local artists, Warsaw presenters, travel by train and car rather than plane. These ideas feel almost prescient in the present moment, and the concept of Ephemera Festival allows it to adapt to the present reality in terms of scale and concept. In terms of our activities for the year, these few live events in Warsaw physical space also fit beside Unsound Krakow 2020, which takes place online at the start of October, and also manifests in a book of essays, album and ongoing online discussions.”


The headlining event is Chernobyl on September 12th, a live presentation of Hildur Guðnadóttir’s award-winning score for Chernobyl. This show follows on from Guðnadóttir last year winning an Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy for her scores for Chernobyl and Joker. 


Due to the pandemic, this is now only one of two Hildur Guðnadóttir presents Chernobyl (feat. Chris Watson & Sam Slater) shows taking place internationally this year, following on from a show at CTM in February, with the harrowing music having taken on new layers of meaning. Taking place in a former printworks, the show will be presented according to very strict rules to ensure that it is as safe as possible in respect to COVID-19, rules that will also become a part of the experience itself, an experiment in how live music can be presented in 2020’s harsh reality. 


Joining Hildur on stage for this immersive, moving experience are collaborators Sam Slater and Chris Watson, as well as Francesco Donadello (sound spatialisation) and Theresa Baumgartner (light design).


Artist and choreographer Alex Baczyński-Jenkins will present the long-awaited Polish premiere of Untitled (holding horizon) at Nowy Teatr. Baczyński-Jenkins draws on the box step (a basic movement used in many social dances) and gestures from the club space, which are layered, to create a choreography that reflects on queer desire, disorientation and collectivity. Performers negotiate between the individual and the collective, pursuing desires, making alliances and taking pleasure in synchronization. Interdependence is also present in the relationship between the dancers and the music and light which are mixed live. The sound and movement are in constant negotiation and generate shifting associations, between ritual, rave, mourning and the eerie. In Untitled (Holding Horizon), the box step becomes a container for the relational force that resides in moving with others.


Closing the weekend are two outdoor performances. Berlin-based U.S. artist Lyra Pramuk is a classically trained vocalist fusing pop sensibilities, performance practices and contemporary club culture in what may best be described as futurist folk music. Also a vocal activist and member of the queer community, she recently released the acclaimed album Fountain. On the same lineup is Warsaw artist Antonina Nowacka, who will present a concert version of her new composition Still life together with Michał Czachor and Grzegorz Artman. Inspired by the works of Joseph Beuys, the artists have created a “vocal sculpture” artists have created a “vocal sculpture” - a sonic structure analizing the potential of voice apparatus in the exploration of the idea of farewells with nature. The work is part of the theatre performance Still life by Agnieszka Jakimiak and Mateusz Atman, directed by Agnieszka Jakimiak and commissioned by Teatr Powszechny. 

Andrzej Nowak will perform with a concert taking place on November 14-15 in TR Warszawa. More information on this mysterious project will be revealed soon. 


Chernobyl live, Lyra Pramuk and Antonina Nowacka’s concert are presented as part of the closing weekend of Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, The Penumbral Age - Art in the Time of Planetary Change, exploring issues of the effects climate change has on humanity and the planet. To quote the curators of the exhibition, we agree that “art will certainly not protect us against catastrophe, but it can help us arm ourselves with ‘strange tools’ for the work of imagination and empathy” - a sentiment Ephemera Festival connects with.


All events included in this program will adapt and might change in response to the current COVID-19 situation.


We also encourage you to follow upcoming program announcements and discussions connected with Unsound 2020.