Freedom in Europe - how is it formed and what restricts it?
© Vanessa Ifeoiore
Europe is poised to change. Populist and nationalist parties are gaining support in many countries. Scepticism towards the EU, such as was expressed in the Brexit referendum, for example, is not confined to Great Britain.
The Goethe-Institut sees itself as an institution with a European mission. It stands for a vision of European integration, propounds a common European cultural space based on multicultural diversity and autonomy, and is committed to a corresponding set of values embracing inclusiveness, openness, generosity and justice. At the same time, it is conscious of the processes outlined above and the present situation, widely felt to be critical. Against this background, clinging blindly to the erstwhile narrative of European unity can easily be taken for a denial of reality. Europe has got to rise to this challenge, and in the same way, the Goethe-Institut must stress its continuing Euro-political commitment.
One contribution to this new orientation is the important "Freiraum" project which takes place from 2017 to 2021, during which each participating location developed a question related to the concept of freedom. As well as developing these local projects across Europe, each Goethe-Institut is partnered with another in order to encourage the cross cultural exchange of ideas and solutions at a European level.
After the first phase ran until the beginning of 2019, autumn 2019 marks the beginning of the second phase of the Freiraum-Project. The initiated projects in the respective cities and countries are intended to be continued and establish themselves sustainably.
Art and creativity, community and easier access to higher education - a path to freedom in Europe?
The local Freiraum project in Dublin deals with economic inequality and the limits of freedom in Europe. In this context, Goethe-Institut Ireland is working with Trinity College Access Programmes (TAP) and Dublin City Council to address the factors behind unequal access to higher education in Dublin.
Dublin's City Centre has a wide range of social and educational challenges, including a student population that is half the national average.
As part of the collaboration for Freiraum, two independently running projects have emerged: The Creative Arts Programme and the European Languages and Cultures Programme.
Freiraum-Programme in Dublin
Travelling the continent of Europe has never been easier: For example, flights to the mainland often cost less than a taxi. The aim of this project is to get to know the cultures and languages of European countries. During the programme, students have the opportunity to discover the food, language, literature, theatre and cinema of European cultures.
What has happened so far...
The aim of Fighting Words is to help children and young people, as well as adults who did not have the chance as children, to discover and use the power of their own imagination and creative writing skills. At its core, it is also about something much broader and more inclusive. Namely, using the creative practice of writing and storytelling to empower children and young people - from all kinds of backgrounds - to be resilient, creative and successful in shaping their own lives.
In the one-day online workshop, a group of Transition Year students were able to try their hand at storywriting, playwriting, songwriting and poetry. You can find the results here.
12.11.2020 Virtual TAP Orientation
As the „European Languages and Cultures“ Programme took place completely in digital format this year, an orientation was held for the students prior to the event. The Freiraum Project was presented by Julie Deering-Kraft from the Goethe-Institut Irland and Daniel McFarlane of the Trinity Access Programme (TAP) and questions regarding how the week would proceed were clarified. Also, the students became acquainted for the first time with their “ambassadors” Peadar, Dove and Klaudia, as well as the interns of the Goethe-Institut's Cultural department, Muireann and Brit, who accompanied them throughout the week.
16.11.2020 A Virtual Day at the Goethe-Institut Irland
The first day of the “European Languages and Cultures Festival 2020” began at 9am for the students with a welcome and introduction to the Goethe-Institut Irland as the head of the institution, Ulrike Gasser, gave a presentation on Germany. This content was then tested in a quiz and the first winners of the Goethe-Institut Irland tote bags were announced.
After a “walking debate” on the theme of freedom with the ambassadors, the students divided into smaller groups and took part in taster language classes. In these sessions, they learned how to greet someone, introduce themselves and say goodbye in German. Afterwards, the students were sent outside to take pictures of freedom in their immediate vicinity which later would be joined together to create an Insta Gallery. After lunch, everyone watched the short film “Rhinos” and a workshop was held on the topic of “Communication without Language”. As part of this, the students played charades and won other prizes.
The day ended with a live stream from Berlin as the students took part by asking many questions.
17.11.2020 A virtual day at the Instituto Cervantes Dublín
On day two, the students found themselves in Spain as the Instituto Cervantes Dublín hosted a day full of activities. In the morning, the students listened to #EuropeansAgainstCovid19 stories of solidarity, and tummies rumbled as they later discovered Spanish gastronomy. They then had a language class and learned how to introduce themselves in Spanish. After lunch, they became acquainted with Spanish literature, illustration and music. The day wrapped up with a virtual live stream from the city of Salamanca, where the students got to ask lots of questions about the Erasmus programme, university life and the standard of living in Spain.
18.11.2020 A virtual day at the Alliance Française Dublin
The Alliance Française Dublin transported the students to France on the third day. After an informative welcome session and video tour, the students took part in languages classes and prizes were won. These taster classes had a significant purpose as the students were given the language tools to then complete a virtual escape room task in groups. After a busy morning, the students relaxed as they enjoyed a "musical nap", listening to the voices and sounds which fill the streets of Paris. The day concluded with a virtual tour of the city as the students asked questions and learned about the significant monuments dotted throughout the city.
19.11.2020 A virtual day at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Dublino
On the fourth day, the students travelled to Italy. During a virtual mini-tour, they learned about the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Dublin and took part in an Italian language taster lesson. The high point of the day was the entertaining pasta workshop with Giuseppe which prompted numerous students to eat pasta for lunch. As well as that, a special live stream took place from Italy as an Italian professor showed off the city of Florence from his balcony due to the lockdown restrictions.
20.11.2020 A virtual day at the European Commission and the European Movement Ireland
The final day of the language and cultural journey through Europe began with a visit to the European Commission. Here, the students acquired lots of information about the EU, its activities, the EU Parliament and multilingualism, as well as career paths. They then went on to the European Movement Ireland which was followed by a Q&A session on Erasmus and living abroad. At the closing ceremony, the Insta-Gallery from Monday was presented.
Following COVID-19 restrictions, the Freiraum Festival 2020 included an online summit and various local events all over Europe. The three-day pan-European, hybrid festival highlighted two issues that have been heightened by the recent global pandemic: the “State of Freedom in Europe today: the ongoing biopolitical crisis and emerging social movements", and the “State of the Arts: new formats and audiences”. Voices from local and wider audiences from across Europe came together in the form of talks, discussions and artistic interventions made purposefully for the online platform.
Ireland’s contribution came in the form of a podcast, entitled “The Confines of Freedom: Expressions of Youth Voice in the COVID Context". This online discussion was hosted by Daniel McFarlane from the Trinity Access Programme and supported by the Goethe-Institut Irland. The voices of underrepresented students were gathered in the production as they consider their lives and understandings of freedom before and during times of restriction. Such questions posed include: What does Freiraum mean to them? How has their idea of adolescent freedom changed? What does freedom mean to them right now? As these students have previously participated in Freiraum workshops and activities in pre-covid times, they examine how new limits of freedom impact identity and representation in society.
24.10.2019 A day in Trinity College Dublin and the galleries of Dublin.
On this day, the young people were introduced to the creative arts and the Freiraum Project in Trinity College Dublin. In the morning, there was a tour of the Douglas Hyde Gallery followed by lunch in Trinity College's dining hall. Afterwards, there was a walk to the LAB Gallery. The young people first engaged with the gallery's exhibitions and then had a workshop with Jane Fogarty, who is an artist at the gallery.
28.11.2019 A day at the Goethe-Institut Ireland
The second Freiraum excursion went to the Goethe-Institut Irland in Dublin. The young people were given a guided tour of the newly renovated rooms and library, as well as an introduction to cinematography and made their own film using their smartphones.
23.01.2020 A day at the Fishamble Theatre
Fishamble is an Olivier Award-winning, internationally renowned Irish theatre that discovers, develops and produces new work on a range of scales. Fishamble has staged its productions to Irish audiences as well as in 19 other countries. Each year Fishamble supports 60% of the writers of all new plays produced on the island of Ireland - through its extensive programme of training, development and mentoring opportunities.
27.02.2020 A day at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM)
The Royal Irish Academy of Music is a place of musical excellence and dynamism, a place of teaching and learning whose aim is to instil and maintain the highest standards of performance and appreciation in all musical disciplines and consistently achieves this. Founded in 1848, the Academy is Ireland's oldest musical institution. The day at RIAM included workshops on music appreciation, introductions to music theory and hands-on interaction with instruments.
This series of six workshops provided an interactive introduction to different aspects of European cultures and languages. The workshops took place on the second Thursday of the month from October 2019 to March 2020. The students participated in one morning, lunch and afternoon session at each cultural institute. The schedules for these events were as follows:
10.10.2019 A day in Trinity College Dublin
On the first day, the young people were welcomed to Trinity College Dublin and introduced to the Freiraum Project and the European Languages and Cultures Programme. They became familiar with the campus through an Insta-tour and ate lunch in the university's dining hall. During the afternoon, they were advised on their oppertunities with languages at third level. This was directly followed by a German quiz with the TCD Germanic Society. The day concluded with a poster design on the topic of Freiraum and Freedom in Europe.
14.11.2019 A day at the Goethe-Institut Irland, Dublin
The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany and operates worldwide. It promotes international cultural exchange and the study of the German language abroad. The Goethe-Institut sees itself as an institution with a European mission. It stands for a vision of European integration, proposes a common European cultural space based on multicultural diversity and autonomy, and advocates a corresponding set of values that encompasses integration, openness, generosity and justice.
05.12.2019 A day at the Alliance Francaise
The award-winning Alliance Française Dublin is the third largest in Europe and the first in a non-French speaking country. The aim of the Alliance Française in Dublin is to promote French culture and create a space for intercultural exchange between Ireland and the cultures of the French-speaking world. The branch has more than a century of history, but has existed in its current form for almost 60 years.
16.01.2020 A day at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura
The Istituto Italiano di Cultura acts as an image of Italy and a useful source of information about the Italian system. It is the driving force behind a multitude of cultural initiatives and collaborations. It is the fundamental point of reference for the Italian community abroad and the centre of the growing demand for Italian culture around the world. By supporting the work of Italian embassies and consulates, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura network efficiently promotes Italy's image as a centre for the production, preservation and dissemination of culture from the classical period to the present day.
13.02.2020 A day at the Instituto Cervantes
The Cervantes Institute is a worldwide non-profit organisation founded in 1991 by the Spanish government. It is named after Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, perhaps the most important figure in the history of Spanish literature. The Cervantes Institute,which is a government agency, is the largest organisation in the world responsible for promoting the study and teaching of Spanish language and culture. This organisation has established itself in over 44 different countries and 87 centres dedicated to Spanish and Hispanic-American culture and language.
12.03.2020 A day at the European Commission
The European Commission Representation in Ireland is part of the network of Commission Representations in the Member States of the European Union. It is the voice of the Commission in Ireland and aims to communicate EU matters at both national and local level. It sees its main role as explaining how EU policies will affect the people of Ireland, and also providing EU-related information to governments and other authorities and stakeholders in Ireland.
In June 2019, the Goethe-Institut Irland and the Trinity Access Programme invited students from various schools in Dublin to a four-day workshop with Tatjana Pessoa and Gabriel Da Costa.
The workshop was developed with the two theatre-makers, participants of the internationally touring play, I AM Europe by Falk Richter, as part of the Freiraum programme with the tandem partner, the Goethe-Institut Nancy/ Strasbourg. After Strasbourg and Nancy, this event took place in Dublin from 4-7 June 2019.
The Summer School was aimed students from socially underrepresented areas of the city who wanted to engage with art and artistic processes during their "Transition Year". The group of fifteen highly motivated young people had already gained experience on the topic of Europe and European identities in the first Freiraum project (2018-19).
The workshop was oriented towards the creative work process of Falk Richter and his choreographer, Nir de Volff. Over a period of four days, the participants discussed, improvised, performed and wrote together to discover theatre as a means of expressing their own stories.
Who we worked with...
Gabriel Da Costa, 33 years old, was born in France. His parents are Portuguese. At the age of 18, he left his parents' home and moved to Brussels. Since then, Gabriel Da Costa has lived and worked in Italy, France, Belgium and Germany. He has a French passport, a Portuguese identity card, a residence permit in Belgium, an Italian tax number and an English social security card. Nationality is a strange concept for him. Being European, regional or local even less so. He is an actor and director.
Tatjana Pessoa, 37 years old, was born in Brussels. She grew up with her Portuguese mother, who in turn grew up in Angola. Later, Tatjana Pessoa met her Swiss-German father and lived with him in Germany for some time. For almost four years she travelled through West Africa. There she realised that she was not a citizen of the world. Since then, she has seen herself as European. Although of Belgian and Portuguese descent, she does not have a Portuguese passport. She doesn't know if being European still makes sense. She writes her own shows and performs from time to time, but only when she feels like it.
31.01.2019 A day in The Abbey Theatre
29.11.2018 A day in The Fishamble Theatre
25.10.2018 A day with Fighting Words
A Day in the Goethe-Institut, Trinity College Dublin and The LAB Gallery
10.01.2019 A day in the Instituto Cervantes
13.12.2018 A day in the Istituto Italiano Di Cultura
15.11.2018 A day in the Alliance Française
11.10.2018 A day in the Goethe-Institut Irland
As part of "Taking Spaces, Going Places", a full day of workshops and activities were organised for students of Trinity College Dublin and German students, who came to Dublin with the meet!- Mercator Europa Tour. This tour was organised by Stiftung Mercator.
Stiftung-Mercator is one of the largest private foundations in Germany. It has set itself the goal of actively contributing to the shaping of an open, solidary and just society.