Unlocking Cambridge

In October 2015 Circuit Cambridge produced a one day arts festival in collaboration with Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX.

SUPERFLEX brought a wealth of participatory experience to the project, giving a voice to the group and encouraging members to experiment with their ideas.

Here, Rasmus Nielsen from SUPERFLEX blogs about his reflection on the festival concept: Unlock Cambridge

Unlocking Cambridge. Wait a minute. Is the city locked ? Are the gates to the city closed or might this phrase refer to other and perhaps more invisible locks.

Encountering the Circuit group just a bit outside of Cambridge at the Wysing Arts Centre, this was very much the impression that came to my mind. That Cambridge, in spite of its obvious virtues, felt quite inaccessible to this particular group of young people. Rents were crazy, a great deal of the city was literally locked campuses and in general a sense of exclusion was dominating the group’s relation to the city.

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In any sort of cultural production such a sentiment can under the right circumstances be turned to a productive asset. In the following months we were fuelled by a sense of finding ways to Unlock Cambridge, by whatever medium necessary.

Someone said: “It’s truly annoying how people walk the streets of Cambridge. Massive tourist clusters in the summer and gangs of academics pretending to own the streets”.

Someone replied: “Yes, there should be a license to walk”, and from this grew the Trottimus Institute of Bipedal Locomotion where one might, just might, get a license to walk.

A different walk was also “The Alternative Tours” theme. A dreamlike walk through the secrets of the city. A mad poetic tour. I still can’t get my head around what a tourists on the tour might be telling their grandchildren in China or Poland.

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Adding to that: “Model Cambridge”, a model building rave in the main square of Cambridge. One could only hope that city development could have just a tad of the same crazy energy that the workshop created…And not to forget the “Ducked Off” game which in a hilarious way created ways to show your true feelings about the sky rocketing rent and housing prices of Cambridge. And the locking dancing and installation and video works. Some of it curated by the Circuit group and some made by them.

At this point when Cambridge is back to normal, one might hope that the Unlock Cambridge Festival has made its point. That regardless of how exclusive a city can be there is always ways to unlock it, even if it might just be for one day. It takes patience, momentum building and a gang of people who are focused on trying something they never did before. Circumstances, institutional support and funding definitely helps but the success of Unlocking Cambridge is based on the commitment of the young people in Circuit group. Their crazy (at times) ideas and willingness to take them all the way.

I am very happy to have been part of this journey.

Rasmus Nielsen, SUPERFLEX

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