What if you could build a social agenda at a festival? And not any kind of an agenda, but an Agenda for Social Transformation. On the 23rd–24th of September we are going to give it a go. Every session at the Untitled festival builds towards our agenda for transformation.

The 2021 Untitled festival is not just another event after which we go back to our daily lives and the world remains unchanged. It brings together new perspectives, narratives and models for reorganising life. We all know this: In order for civilised life to exist on this planet, we must uproot our ways of living and fundamentally reimagine our central institutions: how we come together to produce, consume, govern, relate, care, share and create. 

Most people understand this need for change. Most agree that the current decade is critical. But we are still lacking a clear transformative agenda, and this is why we constantly revert back to our previous ways of thinking.

In other words, we should start envisioning an agenda for transformation. This agenda should not be just for sustaining, protecting and mitigating risk to current institutions built for an era of pursuing individual success at any cost. It should be one that honours the fundamental truth of interdependence of all things living and material.

UNTITLED is an experiment on imagining a transformative social agenda – we will start building it together at our second annual Festival on the 23rd and 24th of September. It brings together activists, theoreticians and practitioners of social change from the Untitled Alliance and beyond.

Three components of the agenda

But, what do we really mean by this agenda for transformation? We at Untitled Alliance have sensed a demand for a deeper understanding of at least three components of current social agendas – narratives of change, models for organising life and novel perspectives on our world. To help us improve on these components, there are three kinds of sessions at the festival:

New Narratives

An agenda for transformation needs to improve upon the currently dominant narratives on change in society. That is why Festival’s participants are hosting a number of sessions dedicated to jointly developing new narratives of transformation. Some of these include: Politics of Being, New Geography of Living, Anti-Rival economies and Heat Resilient Cities. We further invite proposals for other novel narratives of social change.

New Experimental Models

An agenda for transformation needs radical ideas on how to reorganise life on our planet. That is why there are a number of sessions where new experimental models are developed by their initiators and co-creators, such as Free Houses, Trees as Infrastructure, Long Term Care Centers, Biodiversity Buildings and Civic Spaces. We encourage you to propose new experimental models to be included in the agenda. 

New Perspectives

An agenda for transformation must not only offer narratives and institutions, but it should also offer entirely new ways of seeing the world, and use these perspectives as a basis for our future thinking. That is why we have a number of New Perspectives sessions for artistic, novel and weird ways of working with the world, including Grief as an Overlooked Force of Change, Freedom is Relational, Breaking through the Sugar Glass, From S-curve to X-curve, Everything is a Citizen and Expanding the Rave.

A journey into the unimagined

Untitled festival collects people who work at the forefront of social and ecological transformation to a journey into the unimagined in order to return with an agenda for social transformation. 

The festival is the first step of this process. It will initiate a debate on the agenda for transformation. We fully acknowledge that the first version of an agenda will be contradictory, yet believe that openness and inclusivity in the way it is built is crucial. It will be a work in progress, a living document. We are committed to allow the agenda to evolve until it becomes a description of the reality around us. In order to be able to reach the goal, we need to start, and define the untitled.

At Untitled Festival, you can become a custodian and organise a session. You can also join as an imagineer to contribute to the work set up by the custodians. Attendance is by invitation or by application.

Welcome to start the trip to imagine, work and play together.

Join the post-festival Saturday matinee / after party: Live Artists Think tank

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One of the new perspectives Untitled promotes is the idea of a new kind of freedom. Freedom as a relational idea, a freedom that is gained through interdependency to others – the living and non-living.

The idea of freedom as something that individuals own has run out of steam. We have the honor to offer to the Untitled Alliance and its wider community a ”Live artists think tank” that dives into, interrogates and performs this idea.

On Saturday the 25th seven artists gathered together by Andrea Pagnes will open their unique way of working with the world, how they see the agenda tracks of Untitled and what the artistic relationship to the society can bring to the transformation at hand. It is a way to digest, chill and innovate the imaginaries that the festival has presented to us.

This session is open to all public. Sign up and share the invitation with friends and colleagues on social media!

Meet the artists:
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, Nathalie Bikoro, Marcel Sparmann, Joseph Morgan Schofield, Benjamin Sebastian, Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes from VestAndPage.

Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha is the Community Engagement Officer of ‘A Space Arts’, a Southampton-based arts support group. Chinasa graduated from Aberystwyth University, School of Art in 2014, after which she worked for the Welsh Government, having been awarded the Windsor Fellowship. Since then she has worked with various arts organisations, focusing particularly on working with isolated communities in Norfolk, and recently in Portsmouth. Chinasa is also a professional artist; performing at both national and international festivals; including recently at SPILL Festival of Performance Art.

Nathalie Bikoro
Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro merges installations, sonic radio, live art performances, film & archives. Her work analyses processes of power & fictions in historical archives critically engaging in migrational struggles. Much of her work has focused on marginalised communities, such as the voices of African women’s resistance movements and the architecture of racism in cities. She is the recipient of several awards, including Fondation Blachère & Afrique Soleil Mali for Best Artist Dakar Biennale (2012), Arts Council England (2016), Goethe Institut (2016) and many more.

Marcel Sparmann
Marcel Sparmann is a German visual artist, working in performance art, theatre, dance, public art and installation. After studying Theatre, Performance Art and Environmental Art in Germany and Scotland, Sparmann now works internationally, both as artist and researcher in Residence. Furthermore, he has presented as a guest lecturer for Performance and experimental theatre including theatre pedagogy all over Europe, North and South America, China and Japan. 

Currently holding guest teaching positions at several German universities, Sparmann lectured at international institutions. Supported by Goethe Institute, he participated in renowned Performance Art festivals and Biennials, such as the Venice International Performance Art Week, 1st Bienal Internacional de Performance de Caracas, Xi’an Live Art Festival, the Houston Performance Art Biennale as well as many others.

Joseph Morgan Schofield
Joseph Morgan Schofield is an artist working with performance, moving image and expanded forms of writing. Articulating their practice as ‘queer ritual action’, their work is broadly concerned with desire, particularly in relation to ecology and queer futurity. This queer ritual action foregrounds the immediacy of the sweating, wanting, sensate non-binary body. Understanding art-making as a technology of divination, they consider their work to be a tool for the creation of contemporary myth; a site for the work of mourning, yearning, processing and communing.

Understanding acts of gathering and communing as central to their practice, Joseph’s work incorporates curating, producing, facilitating, mentoring and teaching. Joseph organises FUTURERITUAL, a performance and research project considering ritual and queer futurity, and co-produces Move Close. They are a co-founder and facilitator of The Sunday Skool for Misfits, Exprimenters and Dissenters and Live Art Club (London).

Benjamin Sebastian
Benjamin Sebastian is a visual artist and curator. Sebastian’s practice is born out of an anxiety of living. Examining the environments, Sebastian uses his body (and those of others) as a departure point, searching for reason in the irrational and the profound in the mundane. His work is interdisciplinary and not bound by any one medium, historically locating itself within lineages of appropriation art, assemblage, installation and performance. Paper, thread, porn, fire and gold make up many of the materials he returns to with imagery of intimacy and alienation utilised to evoke a sense of longing and familiarity. In the face of the inevitability of death, how should we live? With this question in mind, Sebastian attempts to make sense of living.

Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes from VestAndPage
Since 2006, German artist Verena Stenke and Venetian-born artist and writer Andrea Pagnes have been working together as VestAndPage, and gained international recognition in the fields of performance art, performance-based film, writing, publishing, and with collective performance operas and temporary artistic community projects. For over a decade, VestAndPage have been exploring performance art and filmmaking as phenomena of ‘thin places’ through their collaborative creative practice, as well as through theoretical artistic research and curatorial projects. 

They have produced their body-based art among others under Antarctic glaciers, at the Himalaya foothills, in the vastness of Tierra del Fuego, in abandoned factories, Russian enclaves, or inside the dark depths of Southern German prehistoric cave systems. Their works – a celebration of life – have been presented in museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas and a variety of sites worldwide. Their theoretical and poetic writings have been extensively published and translated for international readers.

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The Democratic Climate Model is an innovation for climate action at a local level. This model takes a systems approach to pathways towards climate resilience, making explicit the relationship between design, power and social justice, and where inequity and citizen disempowerment weaken governance and climate resilience. 

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: Some
Screen need: Needed all the time

Our Model aims to foster higher quality democracies and more participatory approaches by sparking conversations with public sector leaders, civil society and communities on more just, inclusive, community-led approaches. It seeks to shift ‘climate innovation’ away from a tech focus, influence governance and policy, and help cities think about what ‘scaling up’ for more durable, longer term change takes.

It is positively framed around four categories of ‘conditions’ we see for climate resilience:

  • diversity of actors
  • participatory culture
  • resourcing
  • subject-matter expertise. 

The Model is developed through our partnership in EIT Climate-KIC for achieving carbon neutrality, which runs across more than 10 EU cities. 

During this workshop session we will showcase the use of our model to date in local contexts and discuss potential levers for overcoming the identified barriers to climate action.

We warmly invite change agents for climate action in their respective fields to this session.

By including different community members (experts across sectors, civil society organisations), we aim to shift the conversation to longer term debates and discussions beyond a project cycle approach. In this way, our model can incorporate a shift to more democratic processes and decision-making on climate action. 

Democratic Society a European international democracy organisation, supporting our cities and residents to ensure that radical climate transformation is a democratic not just a technocratic process. Through democratic design, organisational development and practical participation exercises, they are building long-term resident participation in all the decisions, plans and projects that affect them. 

Twitter: @demsoc
Website: www.demsoc.org 

For our collective future, we are trying to steer somewhere between “business as usual” and “degrowth”, envisaging a world where our living standards change remarkably little, but our resource use more than halves, through the “Lean Green Model”. To create this world, nothing can be thrown away or squandered. We will present a model in which physical goods are tied to information infrastructures, which ensure that they are reused, repaired, and resold over, and over, and over again by hundreds of different people before they are recycled.

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some – lots of discussions
Movement level: None
Screen need: Good to have

This project started from basic research on climate refugees and how to provision physical systems for food, shelter, water and so on as we start to have hundreds of millions of displaced people around the world. There is a deep relevance to these ideas beyond simply reducing our environmental impact.

At Mattereum we have defined and developed an end-to-end ecosystem that brings security and trust to the intersection of distributed commerce and trade of physical assets.

The Mattereum Protocol combines a precise definition of the state and properties of assets in the Mattereum Asset Passport which sets out the unique nature, or non-fungibility, of the asset, together with legally binding mechanisms for dispute resolution. This enables NFTs to be securely linked to the ownership of physical assets for the first time.

The long-term potential of this technology can help untangle the legal grey area that exists between “smart” online contracts and physical contracts.

This capability to extremely securely bind information to matter gives us the ability to take completely new economic models, including shared ownership and complex financialization, and implement them on top of the material goods of the day. Almost any policy objective, from carbon taxes to a shared economy can be implemented: it is the bedrock for all other kinds of political experiments.

We invite circular economy activists and blockchain people asking for more meaning and substance in the blockchain world to this session. Together, we will run through the “lean green” model, and look at some concrete early examples, running on the Ethereum blockchain.

After the festival, we would be very happy to work with anybody working in the circular economy space, and have cheap turnkey systems they could use for prototyping and proof of concept work.

Vinay Gupta is Founder and CEO of Mattereum. He is a leading figure in the blockchain space, having coordinated the release of blockchain platform Ethereum in July 2015. He is also the director of the Hexayurt Project, a 20 year old volunteer effort working in the refugee shelter space. Mattereum is an impact-driven venture capital-backed technology enterprise with a new protocol for digital trade. Mattereum was founded in 2017, and is based in London. The organisation is setting out to change the world by redefining the relationship between physical assets and distributed digital commerce.

Twitter: @Mattereum
Website: mattereum.com

Sophia Wekesa
Imagine if this world would work so that instead of helping the underprivileged and marginalized to integrate into society and pushing for inclusion, we would focus on helping the privileged to face their uncomfortable feelings and let go of their unfair and unjust advantages. Social change is emotional work – through empathy and accountability we can move from saviourism to community participation.
Dancer and expert Sophia Wekesa will guide us on this rocky path on how to have a conversation with one’s internal oppressor, who is not just oppressing other people, but limiting ourselves and us as a society, asking “Why is this happening to me?”.
Discussion on social change is often focused on intellectual and academic conversations, but real change can only happen when we do the uncomfortable emotional work. After all, people describe their relations to social injustice and their own privileges with words about feelings and emotions. The avoidance of difficult conversations comes from avoiding the difficult feelings of shame, guilt, sorrow and fear.
In 2021 we often hear how people fear being called out or cancelled, more than they fear oppression. Conversations about empathy often lack building a safe space for others to express their insecurities about their own toxic and oppressive behaviours. This allows for taking responsibility for ourselves being problematic and working on it.
While all of the above are valid questions to reflect, I do believe they should be reflected together. We need accountability and empathy to make change. And we need to shift the conversation from intellect to healing and emotional work. This session is for anyone ready or curious to connect with their uncomfortable feelings in order to move social progress forward. Don’t be afraid, Sophia will make sure we also release them before we leave the session.
The transformation into more sustainable, fair and joyful societies won’t be complete in our lifetime. So the work cannot be motivated by personal glory or left to saviour-like leader figures. Collective change means that everyone takes responsibility and asks: “How can I be the best possible ancestor for future generations?” This session and Untitled festival are good places to start, if you haven’t yet.
Sophia Wekesa is a dancer, actor and expert on culture sensitive and antiracist youth work.
Photo by Caroline Suinner

In this playful event we share the struggles of living up to our values and ideals. Dr. Untitled is the first part of a series of events consisting of online performances, one-on-one sessions with members of the Untitled Alliance and a grand offline finale at Untitled Festival 2022. 

Agenda track: Heterodox Institutions
Session type: New perspectives
Interaction: Some interaction but mostly just lean back
Movement: None
Screen: Have your audio on but having your video on is strictly forbidden for participants! Video and audio is used by the performers, so have your screen available.
Day: Friday 24 September 11.30-12.45 UTC |14.30-15.45 EEST

In our experiment we want to understand how individuals – who are part of the Untitled Alliance – manage to translate the goals and ideals of their daily work into their private life. Do you advocate a basic universal income but don’t know how to deal with your kids’ pocket money? Do you implement national citizens assemblies but cannot decide on the family vacation?  Are you a vegan eating meat in your dreams? Do you have occasionally brief moments of feeling like a hypocrite? Then this is the right session for you. In full anonymity we share cases about such dissonances. 

The presented cases – your cases – will be discussed by our peer-to-peer support network. At the same time each case will be fed into an immature human AI system called “Åsa and Max” that is particularly responsive to so called intention-behavior discrepancies. Our system – while still in its infancy – will unapologetically try to produce recommendations for each case. It nevertheless needs to be trained by providing feedback on the presented recommendations. 

This session is intended for professional “re-imagineers” who work day in and out on the transformation of society. 

Join us in trying to apply big picture ideas on a very small scale.

Disclaimer: This session requires no imagination.

As a next step we would like to schedule one-on-one sessions with individual members of the Untitled Alliance. In those sessions we would like to go deeper into some of the dissonances that will be introduced during the launch performance.

The Concept and facilitation of this session is organised by Ceyda Berk-Söderblom, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, and MiklagardArts is responsible for its production. Actors Max Bremer and Åsa Nybo feature in the session as well.

Studiokalleinen.net, miklagardarts.com

Rather than seek answers to “what is right” externally to ourselves, Moral Imaginations invites a discovery of purpose and morality by directly cultivating imaginative explorations of our moral sense, deepening empathy and igniting prosocial creativity. The potential to build civic movements, local solidarity and networks of action from this place is exciting and under exploration.

Agenda track: 1 Nature – human, 3 Civic imagination, 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Possible to use audio only

This discovery is conducted through radical perception shifts and development of connection to humans and non-humans across the past, present and future. Important to our work is building on existing bodies of work such as narrative therapy and associated narrative methodologies, theatre and the arts, deep ecology practices, contemplative practices, futures thinking, and embodied complexity methodologies. Such practices lead participants to experience an expanded sense of meaning and deeper connection to their core values and purpose.

This session will run in two parts. In the first part, we will introduce people to a growing body of work and approach to use powerful imagination exercises with groups to shift perception towards more than human and deep time perspectives. Moral Imaginations is a collective, community and toolkit of approaches that was born out of the pandemic when people were craving an experiential connection to the possibility of better systems and a better society.

During this first part, participants will be able to experience an immersive collective imagination exercise where they connect to future generations. You will need a good internet connection, but video is not necessary, although preferred.

The second part of the session will be hosted as a collective imagining session around the potential for imagination to inform legislation and policy. We hope to attract those with policy-making experience and those who seek to innovate policy. 

Together, we will brainstorm and develop ideas on how the power of imagination could be harnessed to shift policy on the local, national and international level. This will be a participatory exercise and will be co-hosted with partners who are developing such thinking in their own work and projects.

We invite political and social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, policy-makers community leaders, movement builders, artists, activists, and local change-makers to come join us at this session. Jointly, we can use our imagination to open up new avenues for change.

After the festival, the next step will be to work out how to bridge the potential of imagination with legislation and the development of new and promising policy.

Moral Imaginations is a project that develops, designs and delivers rigorous imagining for moral futures. They develop and work with imagination exercises to develop empathy, meaning, agency, belonging and a connection to what’s important. They label themselves as a “feel thank” – A think tank, but for feelings. Moral Imaginations works to combine rational, strategic approaches to change with approaches that draw on intuition, imagination and the cognitive sciences to work at the level of feeling to affect inner change in people across local communities, organisations and policy.

@moral_imagining, @solarpunk_girl, @liamckavanagh, @lai 

moralimaginations.com, phoebetickell.com 

 

Our liberal democracies have traditionally based their legitimacy on a stance of near-omniscience and self-righteousness. Unfortunately, in a world of high uncertainty and continuous crisis, such a position leads to political stalemate. This impedes our society’s ability to change at a time of great transformational need.

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Most of the time
Movement level: None
Screen need: Needed all the time

Many of our governmental processes work against solving long-term solutions to the global and complex challenges we face. They are remnants of a bygone era of linear predictability. Humble Governance is a new stance adapted to the 21st century. which could fully unleash the still hindered energy of governments, politicians and civil servants to actively solve these issues.

Humble Governance is a new but tested approach that fosters political and societal trust despite political disagreement, and enables ambitious reforms under current conditions of uncertainty.

Using a current real-life case from the US State of Colorado, we invite you to jointly explore what innovative solutions, benefits for citizens, and challenges can come from humility.

Together, we hope to be able to develop first-hand understanding of this new governance paradigm and ideas on how to share, implement and adapt it globally.

The session is hosted by Demos Helsinki, and based on work co-developed with RadicalxChange.

Vincent Lassalle has been a practitioner, a consultant and a writer on organisational innovation and societal change for over a decade. He is the author of Bridge Builders: Learning from those ushering the future of society, a personal essay following a year-long international study on post-industrial transition.

João Sigora is works on Governance Innovation at Demos Helsinki. The core of his everyday work involves experimenting with new approaches to governance and building public servants’ capacity for reimagining and co-creating desired futures.

Demos Helsinki is a globally operating, independent think tank. We conduct research, offer consultancy services, and reimagine and experiment futures with a global alliance, Untitled.

RadicalxChange (RxC) is a global movement for next-generation political economies, founded by Glen Weyl in 2018. We’re committed to advancing plurality, equality, community, and decentralization through upgrading democracy, markets, the data economy, the commons, and identity. The RadicalxChange Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the RxC movement, to building community, and to education about democratic innovation. RxC connects people from all walks of life – ranging from social scientists and technologists to artists and activists. 

@DemosHelsinki, @RadxChange

demoshelsinki.fi, radicalxchange.org

A fierce debate rages over the most effective ways to tackle the problems that our use of technology is causing for democracy, equality, and society as a whole. Built into the terms of these debates are a series of unhelpful assumptions that constrict imagination and undermine the perceived viability of truly radical approaches. 

Agenda track: New models of economy & governance
Session type: New narratives 
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Good to have
Day: Thursday 23 September

In this session we will interrogate concepts including data privacy, tech for good and the narratives deployed by big tech companies, to explore the individualising and extractive narratives that underlie the way that technology is thought about and discussed today.

Through group discussion we will work together to unpack the common foundations of these approaches, and explore more constructive alternatives, as the basis for practical steps that can help us reimagine our relationship with technology.

This session should be of interest to people working in technology as a founder, funder or policy maker, or anyone looking to improve the impact of technology in the world today.

Milly Shotter is Brand & Communications Manager at Bethnal Green Ventures, Europe’s leading early-stage tech-for-good VC firm. Milly has a background in creative production and communications. 

Daniel Stanley is Founder & CEO of the Future Narratives Lab, a nonprofit initiative that works to analyse societal narratives, design new alternatives, and create strategies to spread them. He has a background in community organising and social psychology, and is Creative Director at strategic communications consultancy Cohere Partners. 

@dajastan @narrativeslab @millyshotter @bg_ventures

 

bethnalgreenventures.com & futurenarrativeslab.org

We invite anyone interested in bringing concrete utopias to their communities, whether it is your workplace, housing cooperative, city council, home town, or football team. Session participants will get to experiment with new forms of transformative learning developed in the research project Pedagogy of Concrete Utopias. The research project develops pedagogy that supports learners to design new and even radical solutions and ideas for ecologically sustainable ways of organizing life and activity.

Agenda track: 1 Nature – human, 3 Civic imagination
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Most of the time
Movement level: Some
Screen need: Needed all the time
Day: Thursday 23 September

First, we will briefly introduce the ideas of concrete utopia and life-centric view. A concrete utopia exists between the present moment and a utopian vision. It serves as a stepping stone or bridge towards a more sustainable future, or as a laboratory of the future we want to build.  Life-centric views orient us to widen our circle of care and thought beyond humans.  

The introduction is followed by hands-on work in break-out rooms, where participants will experiment with the tools developed in the research project to envision and build their own concrete utopias. 

We will be closing with a collective discussion of the ideas generated in the breakout rooms, as well as critical reflections on the suitability of the ideas and tools introduced in the sessions for use in different settings. 

Our research project focuses on the public sector, and specifically on educational institutions as platforms for sustainability transformation. However, the session is for anyone interested in bringing concrete utopias to their own communities.

We believe that education can no longer emphasise enculturation into existing cultures that have shown to be unsustainable. There is a need for new ways of living, thinking and consuming. Concrete utopia is an exciting concept that opens up new avenues for radical imagination and experimenting with new ideas in practice. 

We’d hope that the participants will gain insights from the session about how to envision and build possible and impossible futures in different contexts in their work and personal lives. We also hope to get feedback about the applicability of our ideas and tools in different types of settings.

The session is hosted by the research group Pedagogy of Concrete Utopias. The facilitators are:
Antti Rajala, Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, University of Oulu
Pihla Soinnunmaa, Doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki
Aki Saariaho, Teacher, Otaniemi Upper Secondary School

@ConcreteUtopias