What has to change in the present so as to enable the futures we desire? This is the core question behind a three weeks collaborative investigation into the possible futures of the performance festival organisation alkantara, based in Lisbon. Futures for alkantara has been made within the project It Will Be What We Make It. STEALTH joined the three weeks process through which an international group of theoreticians and artists from various domains (theatre, dance, music, literature, architecture,…) have been brought to work together in the just acquired and still baren space of alkantara.

Planning the set of testing activities in the still “rough” space

For the first time, alkantara (the former Dancas na cidade, Lisbon, Portugal), is moving into a space given by the city of Lisbon – an event that will determine a change in the course of the development of this organization. Before starting off with bank loans, architectural plans, construction works, equipment lists, organigrams and programming calendars, this project has been made to experiment the potential of the space – in the unmarked state it is now.

Taking for its motto Immanuel Wallerstein’s – “The future is uncertain because it will be what we make it” – this three weeks long investigation deploys some methods of futurology to devise alternative possible, probable or preferable/desirable futures for alkantara. Consisting of two stages – an investigation of the spaces used within the festival during its 14 year long existence, and a set of speculative scenarios – the project examines the potentials towards the future for alkantara as an organisation with a spatial platform of its own.

[lisbon hijacked]

Lisbon Hijacked investigates through a series of photos more than 70 locations in the city of Lisbon used for performing arts and dance festival Dancas na cidade / alkantara in the period 1993-2007. Numerous locations, from theaters, former factories, abandoned buildings, cultural places, public spaces, (botanical) gardens, private houses, were registered in their current states during a period of two weeks in November 2007.

The photos are accompanied by a video with comments on the spaces, places and cultural lanscape of Lisbon, by Mark Deputter (director of alkantara), made on 27-28 November 2007. In this video Mark Deputter speaks about the places used by the alkantara festival, while the story reveals undercurrents in Lisbon’s cultural landscape, appearance and disappearance of venues and cultural organisations, (failed) city investments in culture, gentrification process.

[the future is uncertain – scenarios]

Looking back from 2019 into the present date (2007) as our past, the group conducted a future study on the possible scenarios for alkantara – a futurist fiction, a kind of collective hallucination or brainstorming on what alkantara in its new space could become.

Many institutional parameters may change when alkantara, after 14 years of inhabiting numerous sites in the city with its biannual festival and various other programs and projects, moves into a building. Will the profile or orientation of alkantara change? Is it a moment to reflect on its role and function in the performing arts scene in Lisbon, Portugal and in a wider international context? Or to rethink its mission? Should its organisational structure change? Who will be its future audience? And so on.

The question what has to change in the present so as to enable the futures we desire – triggered three scenarios that have been presented in to alkantara and the audience in format of a walk-through performance entitled ‘Future is Uncertain’, on November 30, 2007.

Scenario: alkantara as an exchange platform, presented in the press conference by Ana & Cláudia Jardim

The first scenario, alkantara as a venue, by Sasa Asentic and Pedro Penim, a guided tour through the building of alkantara in 2019. The center of the building is a small scale theater, with 128 seats and program focuses on intercultural relations between Europe and Lusophone countries. (*A Lusophone is someone who speaks the Portuguese language natively or by adoption.) In the second scenario alkantara is no longer an institution in the traditional sense, it has no fixed programme, no permanent organization. Instead it is based on temporary projects. Presented by Bojana Cvejic and Gustavo Ciriaco, as a powerpoint report of different projects and spatial interventions made in (two)yearly time frames from 2007 until 2019. In the third scenario alkantara as an organisation doesn’t exist any more. This scenario depicts November 2019, through a press conference by Ana Dzokic and Claudia Jardim, as the moment when the building given to alkantara in 2007 was bought from the city of Lisbon by a number of local performing arts peer organisations who formed here their common exchange platform.

  • [team ] Lisbon Hijacked: Ana Džokić, Marc Neelen, Pedro Penim; Future is uncertain: Sasa Asentić, Gustavo Ciriaco, Bojana Cvejic, Ana Džokić, Claudia Jardim, Pedro Penim
  • [background ] From November 12 to December 2, 2007, alkantara and the AlmostReal program of the European Cultural Foundation co-organized the project It Will Be What We Make It in the future space of alkantara (calçada marquês de abrantes 99, Lisbon). An international group of theoreticians and artists from different fields of art (theatre, dance, music, literature, architecture, …) was invited to develop over a period of three weeks an instantaneous program of collaborative creations, debates, seminars, concerts, readings, dance, theatre, film, … The doors were open to the public (free entrance) for events created and announced during the course of the project. All participants: Ana Džokić (Serbia / The Netherlands) – architect, theoretician of architecture, Bojana Cvejić (Serbia / Belgium) – writer, performer, theoretician of performance, Carlos Pez (Belgium) – choreographer, dancer, Cláudia Jardim (Portugal) – theatre director, actress, Estela Lloves (Spain) – choreographer, actress, dancer, Federica Porello (Italy / Belgium) – choreographer, dancer, Gustavo Ciríaco (Brazil) – choreographer, dancer, Marc Neelen (The Netherlands) – architect, theoretician of architecture, Nuno Rebelo (Portugal) – musician, composer, Pedro Penim (Portugal) – theatre director, actor, Saša Asentić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – performer, Tarek Atoui (Lebanon) – composer, active in new media.
  • [timeline ] november 2007