Saskia Burggraaf on her Relation to Cyprus and the Role of Politics in her Art

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Questions by Anastasia Prokopi Taki


What brings you this year to the mountainous village of Polystipos and to Xarkis Festival?

Thank you for your interesting questions.

I have a connection with Cyprus as one of my best friends lives here. I feel very at home in Cyprus and through the Dutch Art Institute, where I study, I met Anastasia McCammon as a fellow student and she is part of the organisation of Xarkis. Anastasia performed for my presentation earlier this year within the Dutch Art Institute, and she mentioned Xarkis festival as something that would suit me. 


How did the interest in studying matters in relation to gender, politics and activism come about?

My work always has been very political, since my life always has been about activism (I was running a give away shop with volunteers), it’s very intertwined.

I see the function of art as a collective process to see through the mess, through things that are broken. To see potential futures or alternatives (and not yield for capitalist norms). This can not happen without looking at politics.

I am from a squatter background, which is living through the failure of capitalism and improvising to deal with it, but now I live in a ‘normal’ house ; it gives me more time to reflect and write and share, as constantly being and living within the action itself doesn’t always provide that space.

I find it important to work collectively, as it’s not about my voice, but about relationality while living in these dominant structures of society and its affects.


In which way can some “alternate narratives” be presented and how can they function as a form of resistance?

I think it is very hard to think about huge structures that surround us, like capitalist values and patriarchal history and present. Through performance and (visual) language we can amplify alternative narratives that are already present within daily life, fighting these structures, not only as a negative and as a (also very necessary) counter action, but also as a necessity, not being able to not do it. By queer desire for instance.

This happens all the time in daily life, we take action within tiny moments, we are already not functioning as society expects us to do, but  we don’t always think about it. We can appreciate those moments as parts of resistance. 

Thinking through language, aesthetics and re-evaluation of those elements, we can think about what resistance actually is : a form of refusal (of the norm, of ideas of failure, of success and own desire). Through education and sharing, we can break down barriers in people
‘s minds and group dynamics, and with that every resistance starts. It’s not as linear as one revolution, there are multiple needed. What is already there to use and to remix and break down existing hierarchy?


By using sound and voice as a conceptual tool, letting other spaces resonate with stories and frequencies, Saskia Burggraaf improvises, telling alternative storylines in a non-linear way as a form of resistance. Trauma and the negative outcome of that, (mental issues) can be away of rethinking, fragmenting, reconsidering and reconstructing vulnerability without the capitalistic claiming of it. Shame as rethinking borders. Sound and resonance used as a tool is the first step to create alternative anthems to find value commitments not relating to capitalism, but to care and listening.

Saskia will be active on both Saturday and Sunday, hosting workshops in the mornings and reflecting on their outcomes in the evenings. If you want to join the workshop on either day, please join us at 10:30 at the Cultural centre and after lunch at 13:00. We will have a break in the afternoon and meet later for the public performance of the workshop on Saturday 19:50 : ‘The people’s microphone’. On Sunday the public performance ‘The people’s microphone’ will start at 18:00.

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