Writer and performer Christopher Green

The Artists’ International Development Fund is a joint partnership between the British Council and the Arts Councils in England and Northern Ireland which opens up international perspectives for artists to expand their horizons.

The Artists’ International Development Fund is more than just a way to put on an exhibition in another country. It gives artists the chance to share their passion with others and get their names out there. Artists build valuable connections and strong networks during their time abroad, as well as immersing yourself in a completely different culture.

Making Scandinavian Theatre Connections: Christopher Green

Project Title: Making Scandinavian Theatre Connections 

Artist: Christopher Green

Dates of travel: May 2017

Countries: Sweden and Denmark 

London-based Christopher Green is a performer and writer who has appeared all over the world as many different characters and who has worked for some of the best cultural institutions in the UK, not least Wilton’s Music Hall and the British Library. In his own words, Green has ‘nice hair, is a Buddhist, a recovering depressive, and a very keen baker’. The Guardian has called him an ‘entertainment maverick’, while Stephen Fry has added that ‘Christopher Green's Tina C is one of the great comic creations of the age.’ Leaving behind his career as a TV producer, Green began making performance work that has since combined cabaret, comedy, original music and theatre. But it is his enduring love of music and hatred of the fourth wall that unites his enormous productivity. Connecting with the audience remains a key objective, thus immersing spectators and viewers Green’s own experiential entertainment.

Green’s current theatre piece, Prurience, is an experiential entertainment about our ‘private pleasures’. It will be shown at the Southbank Centre in late July. The piece questions how society understands the effects of porn and invites the audience to attend a fictional self-help group to take a playful look at the way in which sex and pornography is consumed. As part of his research, Green visited the University of Copenhagen to interview the world’s greatest expert on pornography. The trip led to a realisation that the Scandinavian understanding of experiential theatre work is essentially limited, particularly in the context of entertainment as opposed to what Green terms  ‘heavy artistic practice’. 

Helped by an AIDF grant, Green was able to work with theatres in Denmark and Sweden with the idea of creating a new, experiential piece that hinges on the difference between artistic practice in the UK and in the two Scandinavian countries. One of his collaborators was Kitte Wagner, scriptwriter, champion of stand-up comedy and Artistic Director of the Malmo Stadsteater in Sweden. ‘I think we were separated at birth’, says Green of Wagner, ‘we are learning so much from one another. In any case, working in the Nordics is all about drinking coffee.’ Green showcased his new piece in collaboration with Malmo Stadsteater in April as part of their Hipp Night. Unsurprisingly, it was a sell-out. We look forward to seeing Green back in London in July!

Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway

Project Title: Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet 

Artists: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway

Dates of travel: 1-30th July 2016

Country: Greenland, Denmark and Sweden

With assistance from The Arts Catalyst, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway applied for the Artists International Development grant in order to develop a research project whilst living in Greenland for one month during the summer of 2016. 

What evolved was a film project entitled Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet, which investigated perceptions in Greenland at a time when the population is deeply divided on the issue of uranium mining as a means of gaining national autonomy, social progress and financial independence. The project explored a country, which is traditionally and emotionally bound with the natural environment, whilst struggling to find independence from colonial ties to Denmark. This path is currently defined through foreign mining companies and what appears to be one if the biggest uranium deposits in the world.

Autogena and Portway spent the summer travelling in south Greenland, meeting residents, politicians, sheep farmers and government officials in the mining region of Kvanefjeld, the rare earth geological site and focus of uranium mining. The final artwork portrays a region where pristine nature and traditional ways of farming and living from nature does not sit easily with the government’s plans for big investments from foreign mining companies. It portrays the conflicting issues of progress, inclusive and informed decision-making and the fight over the vast unknown consequences of siting uranium mining right next to a town and Greenland’s only food producing land regions. 

Both artists were struck by the harsh climate, which the sheep farmers in south Greenland have to endure to work on the land, just as their forefathers did before them. Experiencing the light of the Greenland summer, the land and the people of southern Greenland was an unforgettable experience. 

The film Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet was commissioned by Bildmuseet in Umeå, in Sweden. Curated by UK based Ele Carpenter, Perpetual Uncertainty / Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene brings together artists from Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and deep time. The exhibition can be seen until 16th April, 2017.

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