Backbone Berlin is a platform that aims to facilitate and foster long term support to artistic practice within the independent dance scene of Berlin and beyond as well as to question current issues related to precarity of artistic work, commoning of resources, mutualisation, alternative models of long term development, ecology and sustainability of practices within the field of dance and its wider community. Backbone Berlin is currently hosted by independent performance and visual art producers Barbara Greiner and Sarah Parolin.


During 2021-2022 Backbone is hosted by Barbara Greiner and Sarah Parolin, and joined by practitioners: Agata Siniarska, Alice Chauchat, Angela Alves, Clement Layes, Giulia Messia, Gretchen Blegen, Ixchel Mendoza Hernandez, Jared Gradinger, Julia Rodriguez, Kasia Wolinska, Lea Moro, Louise Trueheart, Manon Parent, Maria F. Scaroni, Olympia Bukkakis, Roni Katz, Sheena McGrandles, Siegmar Zacharias, Xenia Taniko.


Supported by: DIEHL+RITTER/TANZPAKT RECONNECT which is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the NEUSTART KULTUR initiative, Tanzfabrik Berlin and SPIN VZW

In partnership with: Radialsystem and Sophiensaele

Website: Anna MagniAlex Piacentini

Note Taking: Etaïnn Zwer, Micha Tsouloukidse


Backbone Berlin GbR
(Barbara Greiner, Sarah Parolin)
Schwartzkopffstr. 19
10115 Berlin

Responsible for content according to §5TMG/ §55 RStV: Barbara Greiner, Sarah Parolin

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Backbone 2021-2022

Backbone Berlin emerges as a platform in October 2021 with the launch of a 18 months pilot program structured in two parts: Sessions and Support, run in close collaboration with practitioners working independently in the field of dance, choreography and performance, with an interest and commitment to practices of self-organisation.

In 2021-2022 hosted by Barbara Greiner and Sarah Parolin, the platform gathers: Agata Siniarska, Alice Chauchat, Angela Alves, Clement Layes, Giulia Messia, Gretchen Blegen, Ixchel Mendoza Hernandez, Jared Gradinger, Julia Rodriguez, Kasia Wolinska, Lea Moro, Louise Trueheart, Manon Parent, Maria F. Scaroni, Olympia Bukkakis, Roni Katz, Sheena McGrandles, Siegmar Zacharias and Xenia Taniko.

The platform acknowledges each artist / practitioner as an ecology of inter-dependencies and labour structures made of collaborations. Both Sessions and Support are open to the participants own collaborators with the aim of expanding the circle of involvement as much as possible as well as empower already existing working ecologies.

Have participated via via: Annegret Schalke, Caitlin Fisher, Laurie Young, Heather Purcell, Maya Weinberg, Tammo Walter, Tiphaine Carrère Loquet, Etaïnn Zwer, more tbc.

The Backbone Sessions is a serie of invitations to gather in order to investigate what sustainability and long term support of artistic practice can look like within the dance scene, going beyond the model of the classical dance company. What are alternative models of organisation, long term support, production support, mutualisation and solidarity? How the scene can re-organise in a more inclusive, less fragmented, more empowered way?
How can we, as a community, share resources, risk, trajectories, co-finance each others work, commit to a deeper, healthier inter-dependency, use it to grow and feed our peers, the scene, the wider community? An active network of arts practitioners will design a first, rough, map of possibilities and future grounding work directions for the scene, the institutions as well as the funding bodies.

The platform organise and coordinate four meetings dedicated to questioning, analysing and discussing models of organising long-term support and production in the dance field.

The four chapters of analysis proposed are:

  • Individual Practices (how do we work, what do we need, how do we plan, how do we activate)
  • Ethics (what are the values and politics leading our working environment, how to we account for fairness, asymmetries, ecology and sustainability)
  • Governance (how information flows, who is accountable, hierarchies, how do we come to decisions, how do we share, if we share, responsibility, how do we evaluate our actions)
  • Resources (bodies, finances, time, knowledge, tools)


With more than ten years of experience in the field, the hosts of Backbone Berlin will offer training and mentoring to the fellow art practitioners involved in the project and their networks. Backbone Berlin offers support and hands-on solutions finding dedicated to analysing together the sustainability of projects, their international development, touring, financial viability and long term trajectory.


Fortuna is self-organised space and community center, which hosts both regular workshops and collaborations, as well as individual research and performative/sound gatherings of various kinds. The three-storey building is located in the bustling Neukölln neighbourhood at Karl-Marx Str.

Currently the Fortuna members are Backbone Berlin, Olympia Bukkakis, Jule Flierl, Hermann Heisig, Tümay Kilincel, Thomas Proksch, Social Pleasure Center (Maria Scaroni, Heather Purcell, Cait Fisher with their community), the TENT Collective, Anne Zacho Søgaard, and Anna Zett.

Fortuna is a space for artistic and social practices. It has a deliberately open and flexible structure. The monthly contribution is paid according to individual needs and requirements of the members. The members are free in the design of their projects and the use of the space. A common tool is a shared calendar and a monthly meet up. The shared understanding of the group is an open, experimental, collaborative, care centered, and multi-sensory way of working and thinking. Public events can be hosted through each member’s specific approach and spreading trough different channels in their respective communities and networks.

Fortuna was created as a result of a temporary interim use in November 2021. The choreographer and performer Hermann Heisig and the producer Leonie Kusterer had rented the former betting studio in order to bring together a number of artists and performers for a collaborative research. Some of the participants looked for ways to further develop the former shop as a project space.





19, 20, 21 April 2022


Radialsystem, Berlin


Xenia (they/she) - Siegmar (they/she) - Agata (she) - Gretchen (all pronouns) - Tiphaine (she/her/hers) - Giulia (she) - Angela (she) - Roni (she) - Laurie (they/she) - Annegret ? - Barbara (she) - Sarah (she) - etaïnn (no pronoun)


10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 12h00 EXCHANGE #1, THE PURGE
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 BODY #1, MARIA


(12 people)
(a room with a Spree view)
(coffee and jeans, chat chat chat, 1 pair of yellow shoes, unusual)


Sarah: i like that we chose a very business setting while we had many options laughs. this is the first session, sit back and enjoy the program. a word about the space (we can expand) and tools (we can play with) for these coming 3 days. you can stay longer in the studio, that's the best studio ever, nobody should bother you, just say "i'm here for the workshop", for whatever that means. here's etaïnn, they gonna take notes, we want to experiment with note taking, everyone will access the notes, and you can say what you want to stay of record. (Self Care Club sweatshirt) so let's dive in. and go backwards a little, Backbone is an invitation to gather and create a context to have meaningful and non meaningful discussions about conditions in the art, ethics, researches..., that we use, share or could share better. Barbara and i have production based pratices, and are involved with structures and in mutualized systems that we wanted to share. there will be 4 different topics: individual practices / ethics of labour / governance / ressources. so that's the vague and vast dramaturgical contract we gonna play with and disrupt, we proposed a program but in no way we gonna try to get really anywhere laughs. this is the mega meta. when preparing the session we had a lots of discussions about what we mean when we say "individual practices". the definition we use, don't know even if there is a consensus with that laughs is: the ecology of ways of doing thinking understanding embodying that has to do with everything we do, from the moment i wake up, open the fridge, enter a workspace, take care of my body my children my lovers, or how i chose to spend my time, productive or not, from money making venture to rest, we intended practice as a way of thinking a human body in the world and in its system of interactions and connections. this has a lot to do with political activism, how to make decision...
Xenia: when we thought how to structure these days, we had a blank page. i can maybe add that individual practice is also the structure-making not only something that exists in the structure. the first session brings a little structure but can be very different in the next ones.


Sarah: we're cool? let's break the ice, we got 1 hours and 10 minutes, we gonna do a game called THE PURGE, very simple, now we gonna focuse on the future. i hope my introduction was vague and inspiring enough. try to imagine and make a list of the things we want to get rid of, burn, dismantle, have disappeared, withing this perspective of our own practices, feel free to share what you want to or not, truly, feel comfortable, and if not let's find ways to check on that. write one thing and fold paper and pass it on, give your paper to somebody, and then we gather when timer buzzes.
someone: fold it backward, it's easier, just saying laughs

people sitting at the tables, standing at the comptoir, lying down, reflecting, writing, changing places and postures, and passing their sheets. time's up.

Sarah: it's a way to get our minds to imagine change, by trying to gather this material that, again, does not need to make any sense. it's a game of imagination, that focuses on negativity, but tries to creates funny tensions in conceptualising things. it's just an invitation to organise concepts, and if a strong contradictory arise in you, name it and we will invent another category. read out loud the list on your paper and make a proposal where that sould go on the board. whoever?
Xenia: i can start. it says "pressure" and i'm gonna put it under PRESSURE laughs
someone: how many "pressure" do we have?
someone: "pressure to produce".
someone: i have "time pressure".
someone: i think "pressure" can also go under PLEASURE.
someone: i don't understand PLEASURE...
Sarah: in the practice proposed to me in the past, it's to facilitates articulating disagreement, someone can see it as negative and someone else find joy in competition, so all readings can coexist. it's more useful to think about negative inputs as potential pleasures. if it does not resonate, leave it.
Agata: "financial anxiety", there's no pleasure in that for me, so, TENSION or PRESSURE. what is the difference between TENSION and PRESSURE (folx make gestures, tension is horizontal and pressure vertical)
Roni: i have "i don't want to do taxes anymore just pay a fix percentage" laughs
someone: it's not about getting ride of taxes.
someone: i'm adding p(l)ay in the PLEASURE box, because that would make things easier.
someone: "don't want projects to indue fiscal year", so all the projects have to finish by a certain date.
someone: do we need a fourth category?
someone: what's the feeling of the room?
someone: "time pressure" can also be activating you, like MOVEMENT? it's a general GENERATOR? TRANSFORMATION?
someone: "mansplanning by anybody", oh god everything's become play with me (while writing mansplanning)
Sarah: "end of human centric thinking", which i guess is a PLEASURE.
Siegmar: oh that's a good one.
Laurie: "to get rid of the expections that the art maker creates towards the projects", i put it under PRESSURE.
someone: but the end of anything is a pleasure then...
discussing what "end/ing" means
someone: "glorification of distructive behavior", PRESSURE.
Xenia: basically, everything was about ending, how it was written counts, i mean it's not clear to me...
someone: it makes you understand the tension about clarity, where you would put it and where someone else would, then you can see another perspective.
Barbara: "valuing productitivity as creativity", PRESSURE
Xenia: "don't want to predict how i'm gonna spend funding money", PLEASURE
Roni: "to get rid of competition", would be pleasurable.
Sarah: and i put "competition" in TENSION.
someone: i have "competitiveness".
someone: "i want to get rid of time pressure working towards deadline" > PRESSURE.
Barbara: i have a very different one, "the end of the pandemic" > PLEASURE.
Agata: well maybe question mark laughs that means also the end of pandemic funding...
Siegmar: "class" > PRESSURE and TENSION.
Angela: "politics of othering", in TENSION?
Siegmar: if you feel it should go there, then yes.
Gretchen: "don't wanna be pigeon holed" > TENSION.
Roni: that means that you're categorized into somethin specific according to identity or...
someone: "agism" > TENSION but could also go somewhere else.
Annegret: "gossip" in TENSION, also PLEASURE come on, laughs
Siegmar: "get rid of distinction between friendship and relationships", where to put it? wow, that's a lot, then i say it's a TENSION.

discussion about how sentences are phrased and how that matters

Laurie: "disconnect", so ending disconnection, that would be > PLEASURE.
Barbara: i have "disconnection from nature", but where to put it?
Annegret: i find it difficult to get ride of things, instead of listing things that i want.
someone: ok so PLEASURE.
Roni: all the things that separate me from my playful curious and enthousiastic inner creative child", PLEASURE.
Siegmar: all the things that, that's a great trick.
Sarah: "racism, medical gaslithing and violence", in PRESSURE, all three
Siegmar: could you add "patriarchy"?
Agata: and "misogyny".
Sarah: and "reductionism", in TENSION.
Siegmar: is presomption the same as asumption?

trying to define, laughs

someone: "get rid of back pain" > PLEASURE. many nods

written on the board > TENSION = feeling alone with what's hard / insecurity becoming overprotection / social anxiety / emails, the laptop / deciding theory vs practice / judgment internal and external / inhibition to rest / shameful resting / comparison...

someone: where do we put "i dont want to travel for one day"? PRESSURE, there's a big pleasure part also in the "don't want to", so PLEASURE too.
someone: "all political parties", i have no opinion.
someone: PLEASURE, "work hard play hard"
someone: and "growth"?
someone: oh not gross, growth.
someone: PRESSURE, "abuse of power", "overworking", can you add "impatience"?

written on the board PLEASURE get rid of backpain / get rid of factor 2:1 time needed: time planned...

Annegret: i have "lack of accessibility", PRESSURE, maybe TENSION?
Xenia: add "feeling of insecurity".
someone: "paralysing pessimism about future" > PRESSURE.
Agata: "all political parties", please, in...?
Barbara: "housing issues" > PRESSURE.
Roni: "prioritazing", "purge us from collective power games" > PLEASURE, and "chips for dinner"?
someone: "unnotiger Stress" > PRESSURE, a very good sum up for everything.
someone: "to get rid of product oriented structures" > PLEASURE.
someone: "jalousy" > TENSION.

written on board PRESSURE to be consequent / comparison / deadlines
there's energy in the room, everyone writes down, and stand looking at the board

someone: "following trends in your work" > PRESSURE.
Gretchen: "artists choosing the curators and structures" > PLEASURE.
Laurie: "restrictions", "feeling impossibility", PRESSURE.
Sarah: maybe we could take 15 minutes now, trying to not have a circle talking because we hate it, but we need it maybe? so get comfortable, and maybe each can present themselves and say what came up for you during the game, and then we have lunch in the sun. the initial idea was to burn all that list, but we need a fireperson for that, so Radial said no, then to connect it to Maria's practice but she's sick so she won't come.
Siegmar: what can be beautiful about that is the "feeling alone with what's hard", it's a great list of what is hard, and it brings this feeling of "i dont have to feel alone with that", that's what came up for me, it makes me very soft and also very angry at the same time, these lists.
Annegret: i wonder about finding negative ways, how conditionned i am to think positively, cause you mention political activism, so everytime something brought some rage i would emphasize on connection and rephrase it, reformulate it. what's the good balance here, to embrace also the anger that can be a productive force, and i'm not good with that.
Angela: i feel relieved because it's a practice of the invisible, and seeing all of you taking pens, and all the colors, and all this action, now i feel like yeah schön. in relation to what you said Annegret, it feels more comfortable to put things in a positive way. it's hard to think about your motivations in life, you need big motivation in the future in order to cope with all of these, it's much more easy to follow this road, but on the other hand what do we do with oppressions and discrimations? the action of looking at it and acknowleding it is super important. now maybe the relief is connected to me searching for a community that aknowledge that dynamics of oppression.
Xenia: relating to this, i have a visceral sensation, putting it on a wall and now sitting with it, the inbetween, it's a heavy weight on my head, looking at this, and i'd like to push it away but something feels like to stick, i have this image as glued things in your muscles. while doing this, and having to look very closely at it, the specificity of not saying immediately what i want but going through what i don't, what i want to get rid of, feels good.
Roni: it would be nice to hear how people deal with these, we all develop our own strategies, and i'm curious how you do it.
Tiphaine: it's interesting to write on our own, and then collectively, it's a coping tool we can use together, we all struggle with these independently and addressing these collectively, being vulnerable together, was empowering, as a group.
Agata: even though when we share and cary as a group, we have individual experiences with these, it's also a difficulty in this kind of discussion, we have completely different backgrounds, families, economical situations, education, and this build our experiences. it's very personal, so difficult to give space to this in a group. how can we recognize differences in a group?
Siegmar: the specificity of experience needs space. it would be good to start to really talk about each of us, how to understand each other's history and what do we have to learn and practice in order to start breaking it down, so it does not happend anymore. how do we stand in for each other? but not only in this room, with fundings, premiere evenings, taxes... what can we actually do? who needs a kick in the ass, who needs... sometimes i need that "you wanted to do that, so do it!". it would be interesting to practice.
Angela: i have the strong need to put "fear of boundaries and limits" in PRESSURE and not only in PLEASURE.
Xenia: for me it's a question mark...

discussion about how to understand this sentence

Angela: if this is about overcoming your boundaries, there is a sexiness in that.
Xenia: i did not mean it in the sense of oh you're afraid of these limits, so go and get it.
Annegret: the double negation is tricky, is it overcoming or accepting?
Xenia: i get ride of the fear of having boundaries, being afraid of them.
Angela: so it would be "embracing my boundaries and limits"?
Xenia: yes.
Angela: so i add it in TENSION.
Sarah: i like how you forget these words belong to someone else. it happens weirdly without a suspicious feeling of collective ownership. in the absurdity of this operation and doing it with words of somene esle, not buildinge something that translate all but a space where any voice can exist in an imperfect way. reflecting on change, i find that building languages and structured conversations that allow differences to coexist is very useful. and i'm glad we're going there this morning. there is consensus a lot, the last one on the question mark was very funny and was not compelling, obviously, but interacting with our way of thinking, i find it very intimate to play and share with a group of strangers. there is fear in the body of these elements we do not get rid of. but all can be put in the pleasure box. it builds the ability to complexify without the fear of complexity.
Xenia: Maria was supposed to guide the afternoon session but she's not here, so it's nice to do something with this. the theme of afternoon session is "the body", because it's about indivual practices, we thought each could share a tiny bit of their practice. and i have a proposal, bringing voice practice in here, and one is making slogans and singing together, and usually we come out with non sensical things. we could sing or shout them, and make a litanie, as we talked about how all the voices can be heard here, and also something was said about anger. so it's nice to come together and sing them together. you can participate or listen. and everyone can propose. Roni proposed making boats with the papers. and we can decide how we want to close the session.

(11 people, Sarah left)


Xenia: propose a singing practice i take the opportunity to share a regenerative voice practice, to stimulate the parasympathetic system, to rest and feel good, and some things inspired by Pauline Oliveros, so also deep listening stuff. i invite you to do accordingly to your capacities. and after that, we'll go through the words, and make a list, and proclaim them. maybe outside? we gonna talk about how we want to do it, after the singing. i'd like to start with some vibrating, we gonna focus on the inside.

everyone moves in the space, lies down, find their place. humming by themselves, changing posture, getting louder, then joining in a circle. sound-silence exercice, several rounds. then reading the board, some add words: ableism / white supremacy fragility silence / social media...

Xenia: intention is really important for this ritual, so we agreed to spit it in the middle. we can have some sentence to start.
someone: "no more"?
Xenia: no more, yes, we'll try to find a rhythme. no holding back on the voice.

after first round of reading-shouting

Siegmar: i feel a bit rehearsing the revolution here, i can go to TENSION now.
someone: what about the "?" category.
someone: we leave it for later.
Annegret: can we find a way of saying "no more" in a pleasurable way?

final humming for closing, and going through tomorrow's program

Siegmar: i'm wondering if we can have time to exchange our practices in the group during these 3 days, share and connect in different ways, seeing how different we are. how you deal with these problems yourself?
Roni: and also collect wishes for session 2, at the end of the third day.
Angela: we can have a collective sharing, where each says about their practice, i'm really interested how others do it.
Siegmar: The Common Wallet is great but they're also very advanced, i can't myself present something final, because i'm at the beginning of things but i can share how i'm doing it and where i'm at, and someone could pitch in and give advice. also, should we leave the words on the wall? because we were supposed to burn them.
Xenia: i think we gonna leave them.
Roni: yeah, and maybe we gonna add some stuff.


Siegmar: i've been part of many groups, in one we were reading My grandmother's hands, by Resmaa Menakem, on somatic abolitionnism, by practicing affinity groups, when addressing big questions like "how to build culture of support?" can we dare to do that here? when we discuss what we wrote on the board like "white supremacy", can it be discussed in affinity groups, and what would they be? just wanted to put that into the group, and voice that we doe not stop to analyses, but also practices.
Roni: and also what is the culture of Backbone, the culture we want to build here? what's nice is it's long term, it's just the beginning. we did one week with Ada, last year, and i wished then to continue. and what kind of very practical tools we want to build and use? this is nice, it feels very familiar, these gatherings, which stopped because of the pandemic, but i feel an exaustion of the format, i'm looking forward to rebuild touch, connection with community.
Xenia: structure making.


10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 12h00 INPUT #1, COMMON WALLET
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 EXCHANGE #2, THE BAG OF NEEDS


(11 people)
(conversations about fashion, the group has some taste in outfits, Agata makes her own clothes inspired by Vilanelle's look in Killing Eve serie, talking about sleep strategies, and Christmas decoration...)


Sarah: Tiziana is based in Bruxelles, she's a friend and a very good friend of good friends. she joins today to talk about the experience of Common Wallet, an experimental economic practice a few folx started few years ago. we found that it could be interesting as a close input for the group. so we gonna dive in this story, and then will have time for questions. Tiziana speaks english, italian and french, if you feel more comfortnble in other languages.
Tiziana: i'm a bit sick, so i might follow my notes more than usual, otherwise i'm very happy to talk to people into dance, because this project is much connected to body, you'll see.
Sarah: great, you have the floor.
Tiziana: reading Backbone presentation, i see some common language: precarity, common ressources, mutualisation, more inclusive, empowered, less fragmented... the Common Wallet project started in 2019, with 10 people working in the performing scene, who decided to share a common bank account. i joined later. each member commits to add their individual monthly incomes, fees, child benefits, wages, author rights. each has a nominative bank card, with both their name and Common Wallet name on it. each uses the money according to their individual needs and independently from their contribution. all expenses can be rent, mortgages, telecom bills, expenses for children, going out, any personal savings. on the side we keep our personal account. the Common Wallet is not legally recognized, so we still have our own account. the project was initially created because of the conditions artists and workers live in. to replace the logic of control with the logic of radical trust, experiment on kinship solidarity and transparency. each member takes responsability for the whole group but also remains free to live the lifestyle that suits them better. if not it means it failed. it's a think tank, everyone dissociates the notion of work from the notion of money. we are performers, makers, visual artists, dramaturges, producers, one teacher, and an NGO worker since a year, so some have fixed salary, some contracts, others are freelance, some unemployemnt benefits (which is a belgian thing). most come from abroad, some are couples, have children, some not, the younger is 35 the older 51. we dont live together. at first they created a cooperative, in a spirit of mutualization, to push the usual limits, what would it be to replace control by trust, what would we gain in terms of time and ressources and energy if the structure remains dedicated to creativity and not controlling and functionning? people had to commit for 3 months. the cooperative did not succeed because it was too much energy needed for the administrative part but it became a live project pooling a longer term of saving account money and radical trust. it enties money from its hugly emotional idea of self esteem and social worth. in our relation to others, money is mostly used as emotional black mail or pressure. we examine the psychological tricks money plays on us, how does it shape the relationships, and leads to mistrust, fear of others, and the belief of one can only trust oneself. the highly transformative power of the Common Wallet stimulates the forming of the radical generosity by collectively addressing and resolving money issues: you're not alone anymore facing money. we're 7 other beings bearing that issue with you, in our case. learning or unlearning redefines your way to be in the world, on a psycho, ethical, social, professional level. we need tools, a bit boring for some, and some beautiful. we do weekly breakfast meetings every Friday morning, a check-in, we share where we're art, discuss possible problems and solutions. it's important to keep the project alive, we also have a Telegram chat, we talk cash flow problems and bills, etc. we have a rotating role of the monthly secretary so to keep tracks of the in and out and to keep the group updated on cash flow -is there extra income coming this month... and we have an Excel sheet to get an overview per month of expected incomes and costs. as we're most freelancers we got money in chunk. and we also have full working reflecting days a few times a year, to go deeper with certain issues. the rule is we don't have rules but basic principles, there are implemented in the way we act. our needs and desires define the values. keeping personal account is a must. what we need comes as the project goes, so if members change, the state and functioning then change, according to the needs. values instead of rules. we move from a contract of policing to a contract of trust, embodied in our breakfast meetings, the attitudes, the tone of voices, it really builds the trust. we also committ to a non judgmental attitude, it's difficult, and also not. when i joined, i had a lot of judgment, thinking it was about others, but in fact it was about myself, how i perceived money and work. first, look at your own shit. we commit to provide each other with less anxiety, more pleasure, hapiness. there is love, we could call it a polyamourous relationship also. the transparency is a huge pillar to the project. it's not about what one spends but how one feels. an important pillar is also: unreciprocitiy, it's an active contribution, it does not matter how much money you bring. there's no exchange of services, they tried at first, but that created some slave dynamic, so they dropped it. it's a pilote project for a broader society, it can be very accessible, it does not mean it's for everybody, and it can also be many other things. but radical trust and transparency can be cultivated, cherished, developed, yes. what is it about and not about? if the project lower the quality of life of each it failed (if you earn more and spend more and then you have to lower because of others earning less, no). it's not about making a successful economical model but creating a shared living interdependency. also it's not direct proportionnally, it detaches money from work and work from the individual, so the ownership. it allows us to expand the notion of familly into kinship. i had professional questions, was single, without children, was 46. my pleasure was to enjoy this security and this being together, not being left alone about money and also other parts of life. and the unkowning part of it is big, as principle, you can't anticipate, if one leave the balance changes, the personnality and expectations of a member can change it all. it's not about equality, money is not redistributed equally, you take what you need and bring what you can, so it's accepting that. it's not because i give that i have to receive back. if you have savings, it's a way of being we developped, keeping money aside, in case, for later, and we don't use this money. i want to share personal perspective. i'm talking about the Common Wallet by myself today. other members would give another presentation maybe. we all have priorities in perception to the project.
Sarah: it would also be interesting to hear about the failures.
Tiziana: failures, a very important point. i joined a year and a half after the creation of the group, so it was a process, i was given space-time to find my place into the project. so you put your money in and commit to trust. you don't get guidelines to follow, you learn by observing the process. i'm gonna read a love letter. during the confinement, we could not meet, and missed each other, so someone wrote that, and we answered, so it's very linked to the body.

Tiziana reads the LETTER

Dear Common Wallet,
Thank you for this text, Luigi. I see it as a perfect opportunity to make a first assessment. For my part, it's only been 8 months since I joined Common Wallet so I'm still learning to explore and integrate the language of this safe haven.
Since I did not participate in the construction of the values as the project was being set up, I think it would be more interesting, in my case, to tell how the encounter with these values occured during these 8 months.
I often link the idea of the liquidity of water to the Common Wallet. Wiring your income for the first time can be like diving in the open sea. Getting our momentum is not easy with the habits and protections we're taking with us.
Once in the water, you can see your own functioning more clearly: the muscles that you have overused and those that have atrophied. The muscles on which the relative balance was based were probably those of the sense of guilt that money induces and the state of insecurity it can generate. On the other hand, the activation of muscles related to the sense of sharing, gratitude and radical trust required a conscious effort.
Once immersed, the body gradually comes back into contact with all its faculties of movement. It finds itself carried by the water, by something bigger than itself, with the constitutive and fundamental needs of 9 other human beings as its guide.
What first struck me at the time of the first meetings was the radicality of the project and the intelligence with which the members communicate: direct and unvarnished exchanges. Everyone being aware that the viability of the project rests on transparency.
I remember being astonished that it did not lead to more concrete initiatives. At the time, it even gave me an impression of wasted energy. As time went by, I realised that, although it depends on money, the investment is fundamentally human, not productive. Although it did not exclude the possibility of future initiatives, the project was self-sufficient.
I had brought with me the burning intention of buying a flat, while living from professional activities that did not suit me or no longer suited me. Whatever the cost, my main objective was to ensure the security of my old age. And that's it. Being single and childless at the age of 45, it is easy to see one's future through the agreed prism of individualism.
Through the Common Wallet, I learn to be more sincere and flexible about my ambitions and perspectives. While ensuring my old age remains currently relevant, the urgency has changed since I joined the project. I think I would like to buy something with happy money, which I will have earned with a certain satisfaction.
Isn't security first of all to feel integrated in the way we earn our living before deciding to invest? If not, what kind of atmosphere will the house of my old age exude?
This project also teaches me to appreciate my need for dependence on others, or rather interdependence, and to take a different look at the constraints and benefits that this implies.
This practice helps me to integrate the subtleties of the project into my daily life with ever greater openness and flexibility. Every numb muscle is stimulated, every enlarged muscle relaxes. At times, certain individualistic automatisms reappear unexpectedly, or I sometimes try to get rid of a questioning too quickly or too practically, without taking the time to really go through it with the group. Whenever this has happened, the mere presence of each person helped me to get back on my feet, without any confrontation or judgement.
Will the Common Wallet keep us together for the rest of our lives? There can be no certainty about that and I don't think we're particularly interested in that question. But it often comes to mind, with the fear that the project may stop one day. Once you get a taste of the rightness of such an experience, a point of no return is created. Because one has no desire to leave a place that allows such diffuse notions as money, transparency, daily routine, love, fears and listening to converge coherently.
In the last 8 months, certain taboos have been broken, delicate questions are less frightening and judgement is losing more and more of its strength. Quite honestly, I think I can say that I feel closer to myself than I have ever been and at the same time I am becoming a little bit of each of us.
Perhaps the added value of such an experience would be to access with more consistency and constancy the best part of oneself.
Thank you to all of you!

Tiziana: i read it as an assertement. the plus value of a Common Wallet is to share vulnerability through the money and the playfulness in finding solutions, the mental charge is distributed, as long as the problem is openly addressed to the group, so you have to share, and put emotions in the dynamic, it's essential. an important question is: we trust each other genuinely, it's radical and real, so we try to understand how come we actually trust each other as we do, not the other way round. the Common Wallet is build on the same attention as love, looking at each other, gestures... it's not possible to not produce thoughts and judgements. empathy transforms the judgment, that comes naturally, but it needs the decision of not going through that direction. it needs time to reflect on many things about your life. when you drop the judgement on yourself -this is what i am, want to be- automatically you drop judgment on others, so you're an observatory for the project. then the failures are very important. they were 10 in the beginning, one left because she wanted to find ways to eradicate money at all in her life. i arrived after, and came with different perspectives of course. i was very enthousiastic, now it's pretty different. and the dynamics changed, with Corona, zooms did not give a nice feeling, so we went to the park -we live in the same area, it's not on purpose, it's a fact. it was 3 degrees outside, and it was more chatting than a deep conversation, this fragilised us, it's a proof that it lies on the presence of everyone to come to the meeting and be transparent. then two members announced they wanted to leave, one because his father died and he had financial issues with legacy to pay, and a baby. we're still in touch but so far he did not come back. another left because she has children and works a lot, so she could not save enough to invest in her flat, she saved some for her kids and the future but it was not enough, so she left. then an NGO worker joined, we wanted to try out

how it goes with people who are not connected to art. so that person did not grow with the project, like me, and had a lot of questions, and struggles. another left because they dated someone in the group who also left, so he had too many various bank accounts to handle, a couple one, the Common Wallet, his own. the failures come from what you are and want now, actual or future perspectives and needs. Corona fragilised us. for some it's good for now, for some it's good for ever. and it's all acceptable, we don't need to anticipate and count in each other for the future, it's energy wasting, like the administrative work with the cooperative, and we want to keep this energy for our art. we respect decisions, still, there is some deception, because of the kin. we'd like to give more security and stability to the group but in the art field there's a lot of invisible work, the quality of what you do is not linked to the money you're paid, you work a lot and got paid little, so the project is that people find happiness and we deal together with the money problems, to put it aside. it's a force, and a failure, having to check anytime the common account -is there enough money? it's work, still. the commitment has to be strong then. but what is failure? it depends on how you look at the glass, half empty, half full...


Roni: i wanna thank you and share a little, i was triggered or irritated, for many reasons: i lost my wallet recently, i'm a failure of a version of a the Common Wallet, and yesterday my mother called me and said she was so lonely. she was born and lives in a kibboutz, in Israel, and when this system fall apart, common money disappread and women suffered from that, first line. how do you consider all these differences? i imagine the Bruxelles Common Wallet as a group of white middle class Europeans. also i have a kinship group here in Berlin, a strong chosen family, but we never discussed that as a possibility. if i was married, etc. i would already have a common wallet. were people friends before the Common Wallet? was there a ground before?
Tiziana: it's very interesting your irritation linked to the social precarity of your mother, one member in Common Wallet has grown in a kibboutz and brought lots of inputs into the project, she left at 18 and brought inspiration from that structure's experience. when we think about social structures, like communism, like kibboutzs, they are very defined by rules. the difference is with Common Wallet there are no rules but values that we adapt, so every week we'll have another thinking, adapting to what the group is today, not anticipating or looking backwards.
Roni: trying to be in the now with money is so interesting, and i do it in my private life, i bearly saved, my future is insecure in that sense, and what triggered me was that this is what my ancestors were doing, and i'm here doing the same.
Tiziana: what we save for the future is our personnal account, the individual is accepted, not refused because the group has to exist.
Roni: it's a huge difference. the fact that individual has space to make their own decision, and you think of it as an experiment, and not ideologically dogmatic, and your approach to do something, trying to create an alternative to your life, is different. you're chosing to do that from a place where you already tried other things and want to try something else. when they had not much choice, to live in a kibboutz. i'm curious to reflect more. the fact that she experiences that, she's from a younger generation, different from my mum's experience, and it depends from which kibboutz and the actual communality. and what about the friendship and love parallel?
Tiziana: C, M and LC made a show about money, A was C's partner, so the question was there, and they caught other people not in their circles, whose vision could be interesting, so when i joined i knew some of them and others i knew only their names. we don't very like to use "friendship" for our relationship, it's more a kinship. sometimes the trust can be stronger with someone that i don't know very well, than with someone i know, knowing their personnality (oh i trust her but she's not good with numbers).
Barbara: i have a practical production question, how does it work legally for your tax declarations?
Tiziana: we have no recognition, legally. if the state checks in, they gonna look through my personal account, not the common one. there are constraints from the bank, you have to be active with your account, so the amount that arrives on the Common Wallet is already minus rents and all... so you wire the all amount in the Common Wallet then i wire the money back.
Barbara: it could be money washing like.
Tiziana: indeed, but in case of control, we have all access to the transactions on the common account and can easily show it to anyone who would want to control. we also have press articles that make the project sort of a little official.
Siegmar: coming back to the social economical background. it's a life and live project, so some people are building property and some are not, so we're not equal. it's great and at the same time, can you engage in a mortgage with a Common Wallet? what's the relation to that acquiring property, if there's no financial future perspective. i'm curious about this. in Berlin, artists live a precarious life of the now. i'm thinking about the person who left because she could not redoe her kitchen. it should be possible then. i mean, i'm going to die financially poor but safe in the Common Wallet...
Tiziana: it's on the table, this issue, since a while. we shared the inheritage situation of everyone, who rents, who owns... some are financial cautious, some can advance more money without getting it back. owning a house, how far does it belong to you or to the Common Wallet? we don't go that far, what is important is to preserve individuality. we haven't found an agreement or solution for a long-term account yet. there's a discrepency doing things together and individually. now it's easy for me to commit. i don't have enough savings to ask for a loan, or regular income right now. but i know i can ask the other members who have more money. some are investing time in land and bought a common house, but not with the Common Wallet, so it's very separated from the future. what i'm building here is the ability to learn how to share and rely on others, so the stress is less strong as before, for me.
Siegmar: i don't want to become an owner. i found interesting the twist in there, on one hand there's immediate safeness, and on the other there is consideration about how to relate to money and society, i find interesting that it goes in different directions.
Tiziana: totally, i think about one member who just subscribed to a pension, a life insurance, she's not an owner, but it's how she sees the future. it's her decision, we're happy she find her way and that the Common Wallet could help.
Xenia: while you were speaking, a lot goes inside of me, just hearing about it, one i was interested is to accept inequalities so the differences, instead there is solidary. i'm curious about what solidarity means in this context? the failures were when people left. when the needs don't match the agreement. what about the inbetween zone, how you deal with different needs and ways of spending money? maybe you could give us an exemple?
Tiziana: what solidarity means... to commit so that the project fulfils the needs of the others. the group makes the situation possible for each to get their needs met. of course, we talked about the buying a Ferrari in our discussions -maybe this person should preferably not work in the art field then -it's a spectacular example, but we also take desires in account, they're as much important. about the grey zone, two years ago one member had to reimburse a huge tax to the governement, so we asked if all uf us could not buy Christmas presents that year, that was a problem for only one person because it was an important way of showing love in her family. as long as the problem is addressed, there is no problem. we're happy this person can offer expensive or not expensive presents to her family and that this person can pay their taxes. the ones who can do it do it, and if not not. does that answer your question?
Xenia: yeah, it's great examples of how to accomade different desires and boundaries.
Tiziana: that's why weekly listening is important in the project, new elements come and transform each person and need, so listening to the needs help cover the grey zone as much as possible.
Barbara: about insecurity issue, you said you are worried when the account is low or at zero. so it's a shared precarioussness then? you feel more responsible for a group, or alone?
Tiziana: indeed, it happens. i'll give another exeample, a bit serious but so eloquent: during Corona, a working loop solidarity was organised in Bruxelles, artists had to find other activities to live, they were invited to meet, and someone said they had to prostitute themselves to eat. this person said also that just the fact of sharing that with the group transformed it. being alone with a problem is killing, but sharing in words to others who are entitled to understand you, then it transforms the experience. so here's the shift when you experience it alone vs many. having 9 other brains to deal with and think about solutions transforms everything. so the secretary rotation role helps to moderate. if i'm stressed with other things i can not be stressed about money on top. of course, we try to avoid having a zero account, and for that we need to transform invisible work into paid work, it's the field and the world problem, so we invest energy to make that recognized.


(10 people, Julie left)


Xenia: we started yesterday with the future, and what we don't want, so today is about the present, we gonna share what your needs, your boundaries and your desires are. and your intentions. we had a conversation with Siegmar to facilitate this, also according to what was said and exchanged yesterday, so title and practice changed and it's called now MAP OF HABITS AND PRACTICES.

someone: nap of habits?

Xenia: MAP laughs
Siegmar: we talked about the board list, what we wrote yesterday, and how to find more about individual relationship to these, and thinking that there are practices and things that people are doing, sometimes intentionnaly sometimes not, and find out what that is. i did a workshop about what would happen if you consider something that you consider a habit a practice, so for example how would it be to consider procrastination as a practice instead of a habit? what changes in the relation and the agency of it? what does it do to make it something intentional, to first of all look at the habit and not put it aside as a bad habit, and ot see what changes if reality would change, without functionalizing it, not in order to be more productive. what does this do in the world and with me? another format i've been doing, and we can adapt, we draw, we take a constellation of 3 things from this map that for you are in constellation to each other, that you are engaging with at the moment. and think about what kind of habits and what kind of practices has it produced in you and your relation to it. and then to draw a map of that. and i brought very colorful pens.

someone ask a question

Siegmar: let it be up to you. and maybe that's the conversation we can have. it's a good question about individual. it produces you as an individual body in relation to your social body. you can draw numbers, symbols, lines, up to you. we have 15 minutes for that, the first inital drawing, your own map. then in a group of 3 people, we practice radical listening, one describes their map, one asks questions, one just listen, then after 10 minutes we stop, and we all draw an aspect of the person's map, take 5 minutes for that, and then each tells what they draw. and we turn and repeat the procedure, whe shift roles of listening, asking, explaining. the redrawing takes to considerate what moves, after the conversation. so we go deeper in everybody's practices and we start smaller conversations.
Xenia: there's voluntary and unvoluntary practices, and the unvoluntary practices may call habits then, but so the idea is really to initiate the three things you're busy with at the moment, the question is what habits and practices you have developed because of these, either as a coping mecanisme or a thing that inspires you, it has all these different angles but i think it's interesting to see how the practices are coming out of the dealing with these things.
Siegmar: a lot of this circulates around the question of agency and wellbeing. some people call it freedom but it's a problematic concept i think. but the question of agency is it in reaction to or in attempt to change or...? what is the relationship to agency and the relationship to wellbeing, of the individual and the social frame? no need to answer that, it's just another component.

15 minutes, everyone focuses on their map, sound of the gong, then reflecting in groups of 3

(i go from trio to trio to listen to and have a snippet of how the exercise works, so notes are more like a very short collage here)


they discuss Angela's map

Angela: it was hard to pick 3 words, i made packages, RESTING gives me deep shame, it's also a huge topic in my work, my bed is central they switch to german ...CLASS/ABLEISM... i wanted to play tennis when i was a kid but had no economical environnement for that desire... CAPITALISM and glorification of destructive behavior... "STAY SICK". drawings on the sheet: nature, a bed cover and a fist coming out of it but also a tree and some water. your body is political, how can i manifest from my bed?

Agata's map shows CLASS in the middle of the sheet / pretending the future does not exist / thinking about others / wanting to improve myself, and Laurie and Roni react

Laurie: time is also a ressource, the term "back" came often, "who has my back", it's linked to body and security...
Roni: we have opposite coping strategies, i wrote "everything is so exciting". to rename and redefine is a form of healing...
Laurie: my map is messy. DISCONNECT: i'm coming back to Berlin (earth, contact with family in Canada, home) TAXES: (financial) during pandemic in Australia i could not do artwork so i learned new skills, sign langage, composting and somatic trauma therapy, i feel it's deeply informed in my artistic work... physical movement is essential to my well being but i don't do it enough.
Roni: what is your relation to discipline?
Agata: trees connected communi through micellium and roots, even if not visible, you have a grounded balance always present.
Roni: yeah it was almost organic how you talked about it, an active healing and interconnectedness.
Laurie: it's interesting you reflect that back to me, i was not aware of it.
Siegmar: explains her map ...organs, this is a kidney but it can be a mushroom if you want, bubbles that can burst quickly, these harsh paralleles are practices of interruption, sometimes they unvolontarily cut what's supposed to be soft, and this is more about how can we build something else to be in the world...

reformulations by Sarah and Gretchen

Sarah: i saw wetness everywhere, the all system leaks constantly... this is an intentional space, and here there is an anarchic one.
Gretchen: i was touched by the wripple, going out but also up, and what i interpreted as a bubble, and how they intertwined, and the softness... the floating nets could be breaks up of what comes after the body...

talking about Moebius clouds and pancakes and energies circulating


Sarah: some of these habits are not even mine.
Siegmar: what are the things i do that are implemented by my surrounding? do i want them? can i change them?


10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h00 - 12h00 INPUT #2, SPIN
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 BODY #2, ANGELA


(11 people)


Sarah: i can do my presentation two ways, a very theoretical one and a very much concrete?
all: concret!
Sarah: this morning it's the presentation of SPIN, it's very much correlated to the Common Wallet, on a different angle. so we'll talk then we'll navigate the material together -some already know that presentation. SPIN is the official producer of Backbone, there's a financial relationship. it's all about how to turn things around so the governement think there's a collaboration. we're good, everybody's cosy? so SPIN is an organisation borned in Bruxelles 10 years ago, created by three artists of the performing scene, HB, KM and DP, when artists questionned how to make work outside of a company model that was done, in the beginning of 2000, all over Europe. in Belgium in particular the answer to that need for this artistic practice was what they called production büros, offering services to artists, but it creates then the gate keeping of the gate keeping of the..., one more layer of burocratic trouble for the artists to be able to reach the tools they needed. these three artists started a büro but in this they could not make long term decision about their own money, it was a project based system, that actually did not fit their art practice -the system does not fit everyone. they are very slow makers, H. produces a piece every 10 years, K. every 5 years, it was very stressful, they could not fit their own tempo inside the tempo proposed by the governement and the production system. how to build a long term support structure that can facilitate work in long term scale, that was their question and the basis of SPIN. it was 10 years ago. i came in 7 years ago and joined the second republic of SPIN. the first republic of SPIN was a very simple model: three artist, one producer, working to get Basisförderung, and then applying for fundings for the projects the artists wanted to make. and it failed in a second, the producer burned out, not cool, bodies on the floor. that's when i came in, and we enter the second republic of SPIN, that was a moment of restructuration, in

the artists life and also in the general artistic environnement, performing art in the north of Europe in 2018 went under a major crisis, everyone talking about austerity, artists were said they could not tour anymore, and at the same time a lot of european money funding circulates, just for the big companies to be used, and this create a lot of confusion. at that point these artists are quite established, they have visibility power in Bruxelles scene and internationally, they're doing great, so the situation and needs are very different when we design the second republic of SPIN. the second SPIN we have this clear vision to support long term artistic practice, research, between projects fundings, the only way to do it is to really look at each practice and to meet each individual need. that's why having one producer for all will never work. so every artist receives 15 000 euros cash money for a year that they can use however they want. either they need a producer this year, or to go to Mexico for research or... that was the key, regular cash money. so once things are clear, everything is possible. this is the model now we operate on. so there is common costs and separately everybody runs their own business. it works very well, but why letting it keep working, let's fuck it up. so now we're redesigning SPIN, it's the third republic, we're transitioning to a cooperative system where everyone is the director, all equal, wether we have artistic practice or not, producers, activists... and we want to invite more people.

Siegmar: so the project was founded through other projects funding?
Sarah: yes. it shows that 1, this kind of system works when diverse groups of people unite to generate tools and 2, that honesty

being an active or passive or no financial provider having a pot or not,
some are making money, some are spending money. we do not talk about our work collectively, unless we want to do it, then privately. there's no artistic control of a sort, art practice needs absolute autonomy and we agree on that. even if we go see each other shows, and don't like it maybe. sometimes we do things together, mostly activist or advocacy work for the scene and for everybody.

Barbara: why do you make this separation between money makers and money suckers?
Sarah: me as individual i know how to generate money and i enjoy doing it, K. if she needs to make 20k or is interested in making money she needs to hire someone like me to do it, so that stress does not affect her art practice, so either you carry the structure either you lean on the structure.
Roni: when are the moment where people switch the roles?
Sarah: the tempo of our organisation is very slow, it's a cycle of 4-5 years, so you commit for this period. for the cycle to come, i'm gonna have a fellowship from SPIN to be supported by the organisation for 2 years. with the actual model we don't need necessarily someone else to take my role, let's see.

some confusion, more questions

Guilia: it's a structure that precisely respond to the need of precise people.
Xenia: so any who has a pot, can use this year money?
Sarah: we work from 5 years to 5 years on the financial system, you build a sustanbility plan, so you won't need to top on. we take conservative decision about money. you agree with everybody and you jump in. if i change my committment in the middle, mathematically the only person hurt is me, if i unplugged, for the next cycle we will have less money. when i make money now for the organisation, it goes in a big reserve pot for the future. the new model of SPIN is cutting edge. SPIN applies for a basis, and has a structural funding for wages of direction, administration (we're booked as we all work for SPIN, so we get two thousand five a year).
Barbara: commissions and co-productions are different here in Germany.

shared feeling in the room that it's frustrating, and indivualising

Siegmar: so each artist don't put these costs in their project application? great.
Sarah: it's piracy, we pay the artists to be the producers of themselves. in Belgium taxes are very different, in the German system the administrator would have to pay the others and prove it. nobody invoices. it's between a Verein and a Generalversammlung so every year we decide with the account what goes into commercial and into art. we have a lot of people working to make it legally possible (lawyers, accountants...) we pay for development, a typical belgian money laundry system. when you need to transform something into cash, you put it in DEVELOPMENT. and infrastrucstures and technologies because we live in different spaces. So when you got a POT, you add your own resources, coproducers, project funding, and you can use the pot for research or writing a book or... you always give back to SPIN to the solidarity fund (used for emergencies, like the pandemic, we were able to pay wages to everyone) and the rest sits under your name on SPIN bank account, and when we design the next SPIN we start with that money. one IBAN, savings don't go under 150 000, that's the solidarity found. in the eye of the governement we are one. to distinguish we use Airtable, it's a fictional tool, to label each one's money, and we have guests. everything you do, you add it on your account, expenses, workshop fees, performance fees, everything SPIN makes an invoice for, your income... each artist looks at how much they made and decides how much they want to leave on SPIN and how much for themselves. so artist don't pay taxes on it, and others can use that money. K. gives a workshop in Vienna and SPIN invoices 3 000 euros, K. decides to be paid by SPIN only for 1 300. every 20th of the month we have the wages discussion, you send your contract request. the difference with the Common Wallet is that there's no solidarity. at the end of the year you need to be self sustainable, you can borrow more that you brought, it's supported by common savings.
Xenia: it prioritizes security then.
Sarah: i prefer not to pay taxes and support others with my savings.
Siegmar+Roni: so you don't do it for yourself, and you don't do it yourself, there's a whole organisation that does it for you.
Roni: this is what we try to do at PAF.
Sarah: some years SPIN needs a push, some years not at all. it's easy to open it to guests, a lot of people plug in, they don't get a pot but use SPIN for administration, and contributes to SPIN with a % (minimum is 3%) and leave their savings. so you learn to use a SPIN wallet and get a prepaid of 10 000 euros. it's useful for those who have no european administrative base. so now, the last generation of SPIN, we give for granted thatwe have a safety net (so we're able to borrow from the bank if the governement does not fund us) and offer a year contract. artists are SPIN employees (and you got insurance). in Belgium you pay a huge lot of taxes. it's now based on income. we're all equally present all the time in the organisation, but we can chose how much % you work for SPIN and % for yourself (you can't put it in SPIN if you're teaching at university). and we have a residency program where artists can try the system for a few months without giving to SPIN. or you can use a wallet for a year and you give back to SPIN. SPIN is one company and we work with all the structures the artists inside work with, so it's a force to support less legitimate artists.
Roni: is there anything in Berlin like this?
Sheena: yeah, we started something in Tanzfabrik.
Roni: but historically?
Barbara: politically, artists wanted to get out of the strucure system but now we're going back to discussion, we need structure.
Xenia: there's more fundings than before, in the last 10 years, and it works for the artists who make it, who cut it.
Barbara: it worked for a long time, until the pandemic.
Xenia: or it never worked and it was invisible.
Siegmar: within SPIN, these are all very established people, so there's a huge flow. it's like basic income.

talking about Tanzpark program, Guilia shares her experience about this

Angela: SPIN is an organisation that actually hacks the system. we should maybe not discuss the funding structure and how it supports us, but find ways to hack the system. so how to do that? where are the ressources to start?
Sarah: Backbone is basically the old SPIN republic.
Barbara: we got Tanzpark for a year, but we see long term.
Xenia: so if Backbone wants to apply to Vorderung in Berlin...
Roni: i know that in the year to come i'm gonna make a piece, so i can prepare very well.
Xenia: sounds like a plan laughs
Sarah: it's good to start to play with the system. in December we'll have this discussion and need to show the governement what is this long term support, and how to credit Backbone, as a co-production?
Roni: let's start to talk about this already now.
Siegmar: if we start to mention Backbone as a co-producer then we create visibility.

going back to the words listed yesterday, discussion about having a common wallet, a common PR structure...

Xenia: we're lacking curators, i mean there's a reason why maybe laughs
Sheena: i have a +1 curator. we can invite people too, with the money.


(11 people, Sheena joined, Guilia left)


Angela: it's a crip tool and also an access tool, a way to make your production work accessible to folx specially with chronic inflammatory nervous system. how can i crip my own work? adapt the structures that i'm thrown into to my needs? so of course i need to know what my needs are. i try to connect practices of self care with artistic work. if i think about body practices, my aim is not to prepare my body for a working day but i can use this time to connect to my body, check in to my body, because the conditions disease i have is unpredictable, i have to really take time in the morning. i tell you what, showing us the screen EMBODIMENT OF PASSION this is science-fiction, it's not happening, it's a concept, my dream is in the future.
Barbara: it's a fake practice, it's very popular laughs
Angela: i'm showing this for the first time, i'm not rooted as Sarah. it started with an invitation for a residency called "New Techniques", 4 weeks, the task was developping a new dance technique. i thought it could be a possibility to take this time to think about practices that support me in a way that i can stay sick and work healty laughs. i want to crip things, i like the word "crip" because it's an action, to make my life sustainable without overworking, stressing myself. of course i do. it's not a game, if i don't respect my boundaries, i'm gonna pay the consequences so i'm forced to find solutions. it's not negative, it's also good: it pushes you to self advocate, learn how to communicate. i wanted to see if there was some embodiment i can use for my practices. so for these 4 weeks i wanted to lay down, rest, read. but then sure it was pure stress, we got all this money, and they asked to spend it. i invited then friends into the project, and i was the host of this whole group. the benefit out of this is i learned about working methods. we all do embodiment of passion. it's only a concept. this is why i cannot teach it to you, it's more a task for everybody to find their own embodiment of passion practice. if you're in a production, working with people, the first part of the day would be the embodiment of passion part (warming up, preparing for the day). the first part is a practical part, each does their own practice, or share a practice: walking in a park, having a bath, going to the studio... this practice is to calm down the system. in dancing we work a lot with flesh, bones... i wanted to work with more visualisation, how does the nervous system look like? it's only visible in a fluid, it lives in water, it's impossible to see it outside of the body. so we were finding images for picturing the nervous system, the most beautiful part of the residency for me. that's the Perel (someone at the residency) releasing technique, that we could do, it's about 25 minutes, they're gonna guide it, it's an audio. and the other part of the practice is more active, about where the passion comes from. neuroscientific fact: if you want neuroplasticity, the nervous system to redesign and heal, movement is a very important thing but not only, you need not a functional movement but a movement with an emotion, a strong curiosity or pleasure or passion. i chose passion instead of pleasure, because when i thought about what gives me pleasure in dance i have to be passionnate. i'm into sports, i always wanted to play tennis, my dream was to become a pro while a teenager. when i have physical limitations, sometimes my feet get numb and i can't walk, i have this feeling of as if they sleep. then i got a passion for flamenco, that is very feet activating, so i was executing the movement and feeling healing at the same time. if now i'm in the dance industry, i want to find the passion, create myself and spaces where i can do it. we could all play tennis now.
Barbara: we don't have all this passion i guess.
Angela: when you start a project, you need to set the structure and prepare the working space. we did too many things in this residency. if you're in the leading position while being sick it's problematic. what about your needs? how to do that: when an artist applies for funding, get the money but then does not want to lead?

going through her powerpoint

Angela: with preparation, check in, check out... so at the end of the day you have 3 hours to work on your project and that should be enough. laughs in this residency people wanted to swim, and this is not allowed to spend public funding into swimming.
Barbara: but it's research.
Angela: yeah, if you bring a swimming pool to the dance studio laughs but going to a place and buying tickets, like going to a butoh class, no. in the end it worked but we had to write an extra letter, to justify it. people where asking, what is this? why do you need tennis and massage and all this, what are you doing? for the next project i do i have osteopathy included for everyone.

everyone is lying down and listening to Perel's audio message

Sarah: i'm wondering if we can have a wrap up also of the 3 days, it's in your hands.
Angela: it's a bit backbonish, me in residency asking someone to create a practice for me, and now sharing it.
Xenia: it releases the backbone.
Angela: it's a gift from them to me, that i use for my practice.
Siegmar: i was inspired by the sentence "i try to stay sick to work healthy", i have a collegue, after a burn out, she started to introduces her needs in our work session, without any guilt trip and control, but to make them center of how we work together.
Angela: i have been invited for a group residency and the person was really caring about my needs. in this context i need a place on my own, at least for 20 minutes, so i had my studio with a bed next to the space, and after a couple of days, everybody was in there, others asked to use it too, and there has been moments where we were all sitting in the bed, talking. others benefited from it, it became also a tool, not only my room, my personal access, not emphasising that i have special needs. and it was a wonderful experience. there's lot of shame and guilt, to sneak away when others cook, to have my private space when i need to rest.
Siegmar: (going back to the burn out situation of her colleague) what was great is this stepping in culture, how you re-enter the working space, more conscious, but also more fluid. it was a soft slow learning process with that group.
Xenia: that's why i enjoy being in PAF, to have the opportunity to be part for 10 days, in this architecture, in terms of a community architecture. stepping out and in, resting in the space of the community. so it's super nice to hear that experience.

thank yous


Sarah: so it would be nice to have a 15 minutes closing.
Barbara: i did like the clear structure you gave, the body inputs and exchanges, the exchange could be more extended. i enjoyed the conversations inbetween. it could be longer. the concreteness we spoke about was already planted in these days and could go further.
Gretchen: i'm very grateful. i also appreciated the structure and time frame, 5 hours a day felt good. a lot of questions came up while being together, about Backbone, and how that lands with individuals. me personally i was missing an introduction to people, i'm having a desire for a little bit of landing, how we are in the space together.
Angela: i was happy these three days, there were so many accessible things for me. having slices of time, like this arrival between 10h and 10h30. i love that there's lunch also. it's pragmatic but it has a huge impact on how i have to prepare to come here. for me it has been not concrete but this is something we will build up. Barbara and Sarah curated this group of people who're meant to do what we learn. and being in a female group also was good. it was intense, emotionally. thank you, really.

Tiphaine: it was great to be a guest, hosted, and interesting to reflect, being less active here. so it's precious to have these moments collectively and share practices, what was shared was very important, and a great potential of evolution for what we're doing.

Xenia: i'm still reflecting. i'm very grateful for having this time.
Siegmar: also super grateful to come together like this again. everything was super interesting, and i wish for more. just the Common Wallet and SPIN, what we can learn from that, is super helpful. i was quite busy with who is here and not here. i share Gretchen desire to not find out what Backbone is but what it could be, what we're trying to build. so on one hand i'm thrilled, excited, and i also feel the frustration of falling into patterns. we know how to perform spaces like these. so i'm wondering. the structure was great to start and be in the room. how can we build the structure not to stay general and abstract, and what is this "we"? there's a lot of questions. i'm happy and curious how to work through them. for me conflict is not a problem, i'm super happy to have friction, and frustration. it's worth it. that's where i'm at. i'm very grateful for this kind of deep start.
Agata: i'm very happy. i like the amount of people, with Corona it costs me a lot of anxiety to be in big groups. i appreciated having this half hour in the morning, i was rushing to be there at 10. as Siegmar said, we know how to perform this format groups and topics, already, the question for me is more like if we can approach them differently, i don't have specific ideas, i have no tools for that. i found super great the exercise we did yesterday in trios. i'm part of different groups for years and i had the feeling that this reached more than all the discussions we had on how we should work together. these are very emotional, for me, emotional topics and it needs space also for this, so always the particular and the structural can apply. how we see these different things, like jalousy, how we can state and discuss them and not just pretending it's fine and we care about each other. that all the dynamics have space in the group, how we can have the entire spectrum of these movements. as a starting point, it was very great.
Roni: i relate, how this time it can go to knew places, i'm super excited and also scared it will not. i like a lot the individual shine, so it would be nice if it happens more. i really like the possibility to invite collaborators, that's really important. so thank you.
Sarah: i was very happy with these days. the experiment was to have a weekly, a very constant potential gathering, which in the beginning would have been quite utopic. thank you Xenia for join the preparation last minute. it takes a bit of faith and time to dedicate. i'm happy to work together. and yes to the soft start, Xenia you were right. we were trying to have not much time for "me time", but i do miss free conversation, and more context, we did not open that space, to enjoy each other, but looking forward this moment more open. in terms of Backbone interaction, i love inviting guests, it makes a lot of sense, we would like it not to be a curated group. so make it your own. it's a paradox, we can work through. we have Wednesdays in Fortuna, all the Mondays, we can gather. i hope for the next session that the preparation would be more participative. this is the occasion. the structure is there, so everyone can reach out.
Siegmar: how to do it, with adding people? the in and out circle makes me uncomfortable.
Barbara: people inviting are hosting, so the communication does not get lost, with a huge group.
Sarah: we take care of administration work on your name, we can't do the care for all who join. so you give them the introduction.
Xenia: i really appreciate these sessions and would love that to be continued, the integration of the body, and emotion needs the body, it really grounds things, it's great, it can be really intense to be in this kind of groups, i would love that to continue.
Sheena: (who have a kid) i appreciate doing it also and would like to join online. i'm busy with the question of how to show up.


Session #1

19, 20, 21/4/22, @ Radialsystem

Session #2

23, 24, 25/5/22, @ Tanzfabrik

Session #3

7, 8, 9/9/22, @ Tanzfabrik

Session #4

10, 11/12/22, @ Sophiensaele

hello [at] backbone-berlin [dot] org