Change Edition

A marriage of art and sustainability in Differdange
Review

A marriage of art and sustainability in Differdange

by Natalia PIKNA 3 min. 05.08.2022
A contagious if sometimes puzzling collaborative art project comes to an end this weekend
Neckel Scholtus (left) and Cristina Picco are two of the artists participating in the Nomadic Island art camp
Neckel Scholtus (left) and Cristina Picco are two of the artists participating in the Nomadic Island art camp
Photo credit: Marc Wilwert / Luxemburger Wort

A gathering of tents, zero-waste workshops and art installations makes for a stark contrast with the carefully trimmed football field across from the camp  near the Differdange forest. 

While “Nomadic Island” is an art project exploring collaboration and sustainability, the well-watered sport field is intensely green, even as the heat wave holds Luxembourg in its spell.

The camp, which you can still visit this weekend, was masterminded by choreographer Gianfranco Celestino and photographer Neckel Scholtus and takes places as part of Esch 2022. 

The pair had dabbled in similar projects, and the European Capital of Culture gave them a first chance to showcase their ideas in a three-week long residence.

Visitors to Nomadic Island admittedly will sometimes need to look for meaning in how the 11 artists the organisers invited to the project, but the optimism and willingness to find alternative modes of being are contagious.

Collaboration is key, and public and local youths often work together on the art works. One of the projects, led by Matteo Demaria, focuses on the link between work and art. He has built a small contraption representing a library with prints of several books about art, which people can read, annotate and discuss. Valentin Poudret has built a transparent tipi, that “serves as a cocoon where you may still observe the exterior world”, while participants can create booklets with drawings and texts in his project Terra Poetica.

No hierarchy of importance exists in what gets created, said or decided anywhere in the project. The idea of interaction was at the heart of this project, Scholtus says, and this is palpable. The projects themselves seem to communicate, and there is a generally convivial atmosphere encouraging exchanges of all kinds.

Next to collaboration and community, sustainability is perhaps the most important theme of the site. No material is wasted. Everything used to build the different structures is recuperated, usually from the Formida Centre, a local workshop where youngsters and professionals can work with handicraft tools and materials for hobby or work.

The kitchen of the encampment - which feeds its inhabitants as well as guests - is local, zero-waste, and vegan, in collaboration with Foodsharing Luxembourg, an environmental non-profit organisation. Another art project is linked to the same idea. Germin’art is led by two women, Françoise Rod and Madeleine Doré, who want to encourage our relationship with seeds and plants, “[which] we do not notice, [which] make us breathe.” They have sprouted avocados and lemons and made clothes which allow you to walk around and connect with your baby plant. After that, you can take the sprout home with you!

The experimental nature of Nomadic Island means mistakes are not possible. This is in line with the philosophy of the Theatre of the Oppressed, a troupe from Munich which puts on performances at the site. They are part of the activist theatre movement, focusing on climate justice. Their interactive performances explore heavy issues and possible solutions. Hopefully, this will lead the audience to feel empowered and feel no situation is hopeless.

While the hope of concrete change can sometimes seem futile, here is a project that does what it advocates, and offers possible alternatives along with it. A place where art, ecology and community co-exist and thrive. There is something to be taken away from the experience, and it is not just the young sprouts you have carried around with you.

Closing events take place tonight, on Saturday and Sunday.


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