Meet an agora artist – Olga Uzikaeva

by Espaço Agora
Tuesday, 05 March 2024

espaço agora now is a growing artist-led movement 300+ strong, representing 49 nationalities. Belgrade-based dancer, choreographer and actress Olga Uzikaeva, is a founding member of the movement and is key to its current and future development. We asked her to tell us more about why agora and its work is important to her.

What inspired you to join the espaço agora now movement?
Given that my creative practice thrives on interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration, when I met Naomi [Russell, co-founding member] and learned about agora from her, my immediate response was, “I want to be part of this community.”

agora prioritizes the needs of artists, amplifying their voices and empowering them to manifest bold creativity while fostering an environment conducive to nurturing ideas. It serves as a shared space where creativity, integration and collaboration converge, embodying the essence of a resilient and vibrant artist community.

What do you want espaço agora now to ultimately achieve – in an ideal world or utopia?
I aspire for agora to have a global presence, with representations and physical spaces established worldwide, empowering artists and fostering creativity on a global scale.

The global expansion of agora would provide numerous benefits for artists, including increased stability and access to spaces for sharing their work internationally within the network, resulting in heightened visibility. This expansion would facilitate a dynamic international intercultural exchange, enriching audiences and citizens with diverse artworks and avenues for creative expression.

Additionally, audiences would have the opportunity to attend workshops and talks featuring various international artists, further enhancing cultural exchange and collaboration.

Has agora changed you in any way, so far?
Participating in espaço agora now has heightened my awareness of being part of a significant structure aimed at transforming and empowering the art world. This realization fuels my motivation to contribute as much as I can to this impactful endeavour.

If you had to sum agora up in a sentence…
espaço agora now is a powerful living structure that nurtures creative ideas and brings them to life.

March 2024 sees the start of two of agora’s innovative residencies – one in Rotterdam with artists Kenny Gomes and Maria Magdalena Koslowska, and one in Buenos Aires – a South-South collaboration between Juan Onofri Barbato (Planta, Argentina) and Idio Chichava (Converge+ Dance, Mozambique). Here, Olga explains what the agora residencies mean to her and how she wants to see them evolve.

I envision these residencies being open to as many artists as possible, prioritizing diversity and inclusion. In my ideal residency scenario, artists would have the space and time to experiment freely and make mistakes without the pressure of presenting a final product at the end. This freedom is often lacking in our daily lives as artists, where there’s little room for error.

I believe art spaces must be open to citizens, allowing them to experience the art-making process first-hand, interacting with artists and engaging in conversations that enable them to contribute to artistic practices. This inclusive approach empowers citizens to address the pressing questions that matter to them in the present moment.

At the end of the process, I would like to hear that participants felt recharged and had discovered new avenues for connection during the residency.

Finally, espaço agora now is proud of its values of awareness, diversity, resistance, co-ownership and experimentation. So how does Olga see these demonstrated at the residencies?

Awareness Promoting ‘slow’ style residencies that enable artists to concentrate on (re-)gaining awareness of their artistic process and intentions.
Diversity can be emphasised through the residency’s inclusion and accessibility policy.
Resistance Resisting societal pressure to constantly prioritize productivity and utility.
Co-ownership Encouraging collaboration between artists and citizens in creating art together.
Experimentation Providing space for making mistakes and exploring solutions.

Find out how your can join our growing movement today. Email us at [email protected]

You can read more about Olga’s work here.

Images: Borders – an interdisciplinary performance. Choreography – Olga Uzikaeva, live video – Aleksandar Lazar & Paulina Marron, sound – Milos Dimitrijevic & Igor Stangliczky. KC Grad, Belgrade, 2022. Photography © Tanja Drobnjak

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