I’ve just returned from Belgium’s Kikk Festival thoroughly inspired and creatively refreshed, after two days of talks, art installations and a live sausage-making demonstration incorporated into a club night. Kikk is that sort of place.
With a loose theme this year of ‘Species and Beyond’, the festival mixes the arts, science and technology and explores the interesting spaces when these areas are combined. Being conceived by the creative minds at Dog Studio and Superbe, the emphasis is always on the creative.
My highlights of the conference included Nikita Diakur explaining his unique approach to animation in Developing an Ugly Idea, Margot Myers on designing an experience to get teenager interested in Charles Dickens, and Kate Dawkins explaining how her studio animated a whole stadium for the London Olympics. Kate’s talk especially captured our one year old’s attention because it started with a photo of a dog.
Installations, set up inside Namur’s many grand buildings, were truly weird and wonderful. I was pleased to finally see a generative digital work by Refik Anadol in person, and explored a UV jungle of sound-responsive plants in Miranda Moss’ Timid Wilderness. The audio installations were very impressive, I had my voice sampled to produce a full choir in Superbe’s installation SMing set in a grand church, and strangest of all I attached tubes to my nose and mouth to experience Jo Caimo’s interactive Human Organ Concerto.
It was one of those festivals where no matter what you do see there will always be more good things you didn’t see, especially in my case as I was chaperoning our one year old for part of the time while my other half prepared for her talk. Among others I was sorry to miss DBLG’s Grant Gilbert (known for their work on the Channel 4 rebrand), MoMA’s Paola Antonelli and also François-Joseph Lapointe talking about microbiome selfies.
On top of the conference and installations, there was a bustling marketplace of innovative projects to try out, two club nights plus (at extra cost) a range of in depth masterclasses and workshops.
It’s one of the few festivals where children are welcome, with a selection of child-friendly events, some well-behaved babies to be spotted in the conference and plenty of weird and wonderful art installations for children and adults to explore.
Most importantly, this is a very social festival, with lots of chances to chat to the friendly speakers, artists and attendees over a pre-lunch Belgian beer in the grand conference theatre bar (it seems much more sophisticated doing this in Belgium than back home in London) or around town at the installations.
Amazingly, and of particular interest to fellow freelancers out there, the festival is free to attend, thanks to a host of government and commercial sponsors and volunteers.
Thank you Kikk for giving me a creative ‘kikk’ up the backside, long may you continue to evolve in your strange directions!