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Taking cross-artform poetry across borders (and back)

Posted on 20 November 2012

Nathan Jones performs and produces experimental cross-artform poetry with creative agency, Mercy. Having enjoyed success across the UK, the next step was to look for international partners. Berlin was the ideal city to target. But developing new contacts in a foreign city is never easy. With funding from our Artist International Development Fund, and support from an experienced curator, Nathan was able to foster new partnerships. He also managed to stage six shows in Berlin and invite fellow artists back for the Liverpool biennial.

Performance and digital work shed fresh perspective on language

As creative director of Mercy, Nathan produces collaborative and experimental approaches to poetry. Their work as been staged at events as varied as Trigger in Edinburgh, Cornerhouse in Manchester and PitM in London. He also helped form Syntax, a network for collaboration between poets and coders.

Berlin seemed the perfect choice of city to expand internationally. With a reputation as centre for international artists, Nathan was confident he could forge relationships in just a short stay. The city’s high number of English speakers would help reduce barriers to his poetry. And Nathan saw similarities between the artistic environments of Liverpool and Berlin which both use cultural regeneration in their development. 

Objectives of the project

Nathan applied to our Artists' International Development Fund to expand his contacts internationally. We were able to fund Nathan’s five-day trip with £4,004 that would allow him to network and develop international creative partnerships.

Nathan expected to arrange at least eight meetings with artists and curators in Berlin. To help find the right people, curator Sam Skinner, researched contacts. Sam knows Nathan's work well and chose artists who could influence his practice and collaborate in future.

Ultimately Nathan wanted to perform at Künstlerhaus Bethanien to showcase work, receive critical feedback and foster potential partnerships – with a view to inviting at least one Berlin artist to Liverpool in September 2012.

Outcomes of the Nathan’s networking in Berlin

  • Nathan exceeded targets by meeting 20 artists in Berlin
  • an event – Electronic Voice Phenomena featuring six live performances – was staged in Berlin and attended by 115 people. The event featured poetry as well as fine art and music. Nathan presented his own work and there were also opportunities for networking
  • Nathan brought Sam Skinner and five artists to Liverpool during the Biennial to take part in a workshop – the Electronic Voice Phenomena Think Tank – with UK writers and performers
  • Nathan now has a significant network in place in Berlin with the potential of setting up a new project