New Project by Arkadi Zaides & Collaborators
A conference that examines the relation between movement, innovative technologies, and the future of borders.

What kind of choreography arises in the proximity of borders? Which strategies of restriction define movement? Zaides’ new work sets out to explore a dynamic system of action and reaction, limitation and transgression, stasis and mobility. The work is a response to TALOS, an EU-funded initiative that designed an advanced system for protecting European land borders. TALOS was a collaborative project between ten countries that was officially conducted between the years 2008-2012. It resulted in a demonstration of a surveillance system that could be deployed in a matter of hours at any location. The system included mobile, semi-autonomous robots that patrol border areas and gain physical and performative presence.

The original TALOS project as well as Zaides’ TALOS project borrow their name from Greek mythology. According to the myth, Talos was a giant bronze automaton presented by Zeus as a gift to his lover Europa, who was staying on the island of Crete. Talos’ task was protect Europa, to patrol the island, circling it three times a day, driving pirates away from its shore with volleys of rocks or a fiery death-embrace.

As migrants and asylum seekers continue to approach the outer borders of Europe, the EU meets this migration flow with strategies for closing down borders and plans to control and stop the flow of migration. However, much to the despair of the European leaders, these strategies and plans haven’t led to a stable situation and a clear containment of the flow. Instead, these precautions have led to new movements, which in turn are then met again with new strategies of restriction. Thus, rather than a static situation, what emerges is a condition where migration and protective apparatuses constantly influence each other in a pas de deux, through which new movements are produced.

For the TALOS project, Zaides put together a team of choreographers, dramaturges, video artists, and robotic experts. Since 2016, the team has been developing a conference model that references the original project.

The documentation material of the original TALOS project emphases the great collaborations between the different partners involved in its development, as well as its technological complexity. The encounter of the system with humans at the border area is never mentioned nor visualized.
Zaides’ team envisions a future reality in which machines will become fully autonomous and replace border guards, as well as ways to simulate or pre-enact this scenario.

Using documentary materials (footage, documents, interviews) as well as invented materials (animation) the team is interested in speculating various different possible encounters that could happen between humans and autonomous border-technologies in future scenarios: thinking what is currently still unthinkable in terms of interaction, ideology, dehumanization, ethics and law. Delegating the act of decision making to a technological agent envisions a protocoled system that acts via protocols and scripts only, deprived of ethical, political and human aspects. The mission of Zaides’ TALOS is thus to question this and other systems of inclusion and exclusion that create protected zones through protocols.

Zaides’ presentation will take the form of a lecture. Teleprompters spread on the stage will project interviews, documents, videos which will assemble his speech. His dependency, almost enslavement, to the materials provided by the screens will question his agency during the act.
On a large screen in the back of the stage Zaides will activate an animated environment. The animated materials will unfold different scenarios of encounters between humans and machines based on real and invented materials.

Concept and direction: Arkadi Zaides
In collaboration with: Claire Buisson, Nienke Scholts, Culture Crew (Olivier Liers, Vincent Jacobs), Effi & Amir (Effi Weiss & Amir Borenstein), Jonas Rutgeers, Youness Anzane
Administration, production: Simge Gücük
International distribution: Key Performance – Julia Asperska & Koen Vanhove
Co-production: Les Subsistances, Lyon (FR), CDC Toulouse (FR), NEXT Festival, Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai (BE-FR), La Maison de la Danse, Lyon (FR), CCNN – Centre Chorégraphique National de Nantes (FR), TanzQuartier Wien, Vienne (AT), Wiesbaden Biennale, Wiesbaden (DE), Teaterhuset Avant Garden, Trondheim (NO), K3 – Zentrum für Choreographie | Tanzplan Hamburg as part of the project Together Apart, funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (DE)
Residency support: O Espaço do Tempo, Montemor-o-Novo (PT), STUK, Leuven (BE), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (BE), Dialoghi Residencies for Performing Arts in Villa Manin/CSS Udine (IT)
With participation of: DICREAM
With the support of Transfabrik Fund – the Franco-German Fund for performing arts.
Institut des Croisements – Arkadi Zaides is supported by French Ministry of Culture and Communication – DRAC Auvergne Rhône-Alpes.