The DISTANCE Festival Opens Tomorrow in London

An interesting experimental performance festival is opening tomorrow in London, where it’s hosted by the more established LIFT Festival. Just in its second year, DISTANCE in an international festival of work that explores–you guessed it!–the idea of distance. Or the fact that distance is collapsing in the era of Skype, passport zones, and cheap international airfare. Or, you know, whatever.

Sadly, due to my late discovery of the event, I wasn’t able to coordinate an interview with the curators and founders in time (expect it soon). But anyway, here’s the run-down of what it is.

While the first edition of DISTANCE in 2010 featured some 40 events in one location (hosted by an airport in Surrey), this year, working with European organizations like F.I.T. (Festivals in Transition, a coalition of seven or more European festivals collaborating on large projects), DISTANCE has produced a half-dozen works to be staged over three separate weekends in two countries. Riga, Latvia’s Homo Novus played host Sept. 3-9; now London’s LIFT is doing it from Oct. 14-16, and it ends with a run at Newcastle’s Wunderbar Oct. 31-Nov. 6.

The projects range from Los Angeles-based artist Steve Levon’s “anxiety balloon” (your guess is as good as mine) to the UK-Canada duo Sorrel Muggridge and Laura Nanni, whose 2360 MILES TRAVELLED HAND TO HEART explores distance through scale.

But here’s the cool part–the part you can take part in from anywhere in the world (this is a distance based festival, after all): Field Broadcast. Step 1 is to download the custom software and install it. Step 2 is to keep an eye on the lower right hand corner of your monitor over the weekend. At un-scheduled times, one of three artists in Riga, London, and Newcastle, each of whom is serving a digital residency for the project, can jump on to a live feed. The software will alert you with a ping, and you can join in with God only knows who else around the world to get to witness a fleeting, live event. The process will repeat at the end of the month during the Newcastle edition, too.

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