Mads Floor Andersen / the story of one project

Mads is a Danish artist and one of the first EVS volutneers in A4. He likes to explore connections between body and its enviroment by participation in this system of relationships. As he left a huge impression in A4 surroundings by his author project, I decided to speak with him about it.

Mads Floor Andersen, photo by Erika Hudcovičová

1. What is your connection with A4, tell the story behind.

My connection to A4 is that I was an EVS at the organisation from Sep 2015 - Sep 2016. As my background is art, I wanted to work with a cultural organisation, where I could get an inside into how cultural bodies function and to gain professionally experience, as well as develop my project Nomadic Arts Festival.

Back in 2014, I spent a lot of time in Poland, where I set up the first Nomadic Arts Festival. This was my first time in central Europe and I got curious to know more about this region. I therefore applied for different cultural organisations in Bratislava, Kosice, Prague and also in Beograd. However, I actually did not hear back from any of the organisations initially, so instead I travelled to Rome, where I had another opportunity (not EVS). Then half a year later, I was contacted by A4, who remembered my application and wanted to invite me for an EVS. I remember I needed to make a very fast decision, so I just jumped on the chance.

Plan and program of Nomadic Arts Festival 2016

2. About your project  can you tell us more about the process and result?

Nomadic Arts Festival (NAF) is a project I began in 2014 and I knew that by doing a EVS NAF would be incorporated into it. It was part of the reason for doing an EVS, to develop this project.

In its simplicity the concept of NAF seeks to create festivals that engage and have relevance to the local contexts. In this way it both highlights and celebrates the qualities and activities that happen in a specific place, while simultaneously combine it with wider social questions (relevant to the place and wider communities).

The point of departure for NAF 16 was A4’s wish to connect to their neighbourhood. They had moved there 3 or 4 years previously, but still felt they had not connected as much to their neighbours as they wished. The focus of NAF 16 thus became ‘Neighbourhood and Territory’, with the aim to explore and map the neighbourhood, while asking the questions ‘what is a neighbourhood?’ and ‘when does a neighbourhood become exclusive and/or defined?’

So during the EVS period, I worked with a little team (Dominika Belanská, Viktorija Ilioska – fellow EVS at A4 – and Anna Ulahelová, as well as Petra Nagyová, Lucia Dubačová and Philo van Kemenade – Unfold). We spent a lot of time getting to know the area, speaking to people about the idea and thinking of how to create connections between neighbours. In the end the festival became an interdisciplinary constellation of 16 neighbours (NGOs and initiative e.g. Vagus oz and Proti prúdu) and volunteers. Here 26 local and international artists present work in different locations in the neighbourhood (Zilinska Market, Namestie Slobody, Mačacia kaviareň Mačinézy, Mobilná záhrada Karpatská,, mini art, Amnesty International Slovakia, susedia na dvore, A4, Divadlo bez domova, the main train station with Salónik and in the streets) and around 1600 people from the local communities and the wider Bratislava came to visit.

The interesting thing about the festival was that a lot of people came together and made it a special experience. Compared to previous festivals, it was a constellation of people, NGO and initiatives who made the festival. In retrospect I have the impression that it was a type of community festival/theme, which people really wanted (or perhaps needed), so it was a really special atmosphere within the festival, since everyone brought a lot of good energy and had a real desire to participate. If I have to point out one thing, which really was a success, it is this – that everyone wanted to participate and made it their own.

Fontána by Jonáš Gruska, photo by Brano Bibel

NAF symposium, photo by Mercedes Ortego Gonzalez

3. The decision about going for EVS - when you think about it from time perspective, would you change anything? Do anything different, give any advice to the “past” yourself?

I am very happy for my EVS experience, as it gave me an opportunity to develop my project and bring it to a dimension I had never expected. Further, I received a lot of valuable knowledge, both from A4, but also from my own engagement and activities – and the EVS provided this frame, which I am thankful for.

I do not have a lot I want to change, though I might have wished I had less fixed expectations, when entering into the EVS. Instead I wish I had met A4 first and after that began to shape my wishes, goals/dreams and expectations. I think I perhaps expected too much from the beginning, which was impossible for A4 to provide (as they were, rightfully, something else).

So entering into a dialogue with my EVS organisation, would have been a better way to find my own place within A4. In this sense, it took some time to find my place, which was both frustrating and took energy. So this aspect I would perhaps change, if I could. Though on the other side, it gave me great knowledge, which is useful for me, within other contexts I am experiencing now.

4. How EVS in A4 influenced your life, what benefits and chances did you earn? Did it help you work on other current projects? Tell us more about your present work.

The EVS gave my the opportunity to create NAF 16, which simultaneously also gave my a very good network in Bratislava. Now a year and a half later, I have moved back to Bratislava, where I am working with Nova Cvernovka (where I have an artistic residency and a curatorial role for an upcoming festival in September). I am also presenting work as part of’s upcoming exhibition ‘Start and Finish!: Reflections on Project-based Culture’, where Dominika Belanská and I will reflect on NAF 16 and create a few activities based on it.
[the opening of ‘Start and Finish!: Reflections on Project-based Culture’ will happen on the 5th of April 2018, stay tuned! – ed.]

5. Share some tips for people thinking and hesitating to volunteer.

What I have often said to people who ask me about EVS, is that you have to do a bit of research of the organisation your choose, as it determines a lot on how your experience will be like. Here I am not thinking of A4, as such, but I have heard many stories from others people’s experiences.

Though EVS is a great opportunity, with the possibility to learn many personal and professional skills. Here I am thinking of both wonderful experiences and challenges – they are all valuable and the EVS provides a good framework for them to appear.

Market Stall by Brian Connolly, photo by Erika Hudcovičová

So fa So good na Šanci by Milan Hudek and Július Glass, photo by Erika Hudcovičová

The ills, photo by Mercedes Ortego Gonzalez