With this production, Cirkus Cirkör continues to change the world through contemporary circus by asking the questions – Is it possible to actually knit peace? Can a worldwide knitting for peace movement make a difference?
Why would anyone choose to spend their entire life walking on a thin line? The chance of becoming rich or famous is minimal and the risk of injury is great. What drives us? What are we aspiring for? What makes us cope with it all?
Many philosophers and theologians believe that the desire and longing to have a better life is what keeps us alive. The worst that can happen is reaching a goal and then not finding something new to strive for. Circus artists often strive to make the impossible possible. Is striving for world peace an impossible quest?
Can the desire for change create change? Can a worldwide knitting for peace movement make a difference? It is easy to give up when confronted with one's own insignificance in comparison to the world's greatness and complexity. Nevertheless, each movement begins with the individual. In this show we explore the meaning of our aspiration and we’ll find out if it’s possible to knit peace.
Welcome to our world of leftovers of yarn, ropes, tangles, straight lines, knots and complex knitwork! With this performance, our intention is not to give answers but rather to ask questions. Questions about striving.
In the beginning there was white. After five years of research on crossing boundaries, risks and possibilities that among other things included a world tour of a trilogy of performances, I knew I wanted to immerse myself in something new. A clean slate. A new beginning. White.
For me, creating a performance entails a long process that engulfs me and at times even completely devours me. I raise my antennae in search of the question worth spending my time on. I don't want to waste life-time, so the question must be life-affirming: a life and death one.
At the same time at Cirkör LAB – our space for artistic research – this scene: It beings with threads. Alex' lines. A playful quest to discover new possibilities through practical trial and error. There are concrete structures in place. Cause and effect. Can you walk a rope and hoist yourself up at the same time?
I meet Aino who is busy knitting monumentally on stage using thick white yarn and her own body as knitting needles. What until then I've only be able to see when closing my eyes now becomes real through her.
My seven year old son learns to knit. Why am I so moved by the fact that he's a boy and that he knits?
I start doing research on knitting. Suddenly everyone seems to be doing it, or knows someone who does. Has this always been the case? Knitting groups meet at various cafés, nighttime knitting campaigns take place out in the city. Facebook, Youtube, the entire web is awash with knitting movements.
I start to get a sense of knitting's potential as the starting point for a performance.
Circus artists strive to make the physically impossible possible. Often risking their lives. Why do they choose to subject themselves to this? When I'm on the verge of giving up, I find myself inspired by them. I often perceive my own endeavors as a matter of life and death, even if I don't take any physical risks (unless, of course, a burning heart and fuming brain count?). All this constant, difficult striving... Perhaps the ultimate goal is to strive towards giving up striving? Lovely. Relief. But if I have nothing to strive for? Disorientation. Why live if I don't want something bigger, something more?
Is striving in and of itself – in actual fact – the very meaning of – this very life?
Yes, there it is! That question without any easy answers, worth being engulfed by and investigating through a long process.
I start looking for artists who either have a close physical relationship to ropes, knots and knitting (Alex, Aino, Ilona, Niki and Quim) or who have a more philosophical relationship to tangles and threads, who want to use their circus discipline to explore this material (Jens and Matleena). I also need a musician who works with different types of strings/threads (Samuel). They are all very different yet strong personalities who share a common urge to be part of a context, a collective process, without relinquishing their individual strivings.
The process begins and we work inward towards some sort of core, try to peel away everything superfluous and unnecessary, finally deciding to make this our starting point:
1. each participant's personal striving and longing
2. each person's material, that is Alex' och Ilona's ropes and Aino's yarn (made up of leftovers from a knitwear factory) plus Alex' and Samuel's strings. The goal becomes to explore everything that can or cannot be done together with the material in its various forms, from neat balls of yarn to straight threads and unruly tangles.
To knit peace. That must be one of the most impossible strivings it's possible to strive for.
I begin interviewing people around me about what they strive for. I start to realize that it's considered fine to strive for a new car or personal happiness but that striving for something bigger, like wanting to change the world or for peace, is seen as silly and embarrassing. How did this happen? I'm a child of the 70s, raised to view striving for world peace as a given. Then, I had to keep my princess fantasies under wraps.
John Lennon was shot in the middle of his peace mission. I start unraveling my teens with John and Yoko.
”War is over (if you believe it)”
Is it possible to knit peace? Is striving for world peace an impossible goal? Can the act of striving for change in itself change anything? Can a worldwide “knitting for peace” make a difference? Giving money to a relief organization is a concrete act. You are given a receipt as proof of your contribution. But what about what we do from the inside? Does this have any value? Immeasurable non-concrete art...
The premier is only the beginning. The beginning of a long tour where questions will continue to arise, be asked, investigated, shared and spread together with you, dear audience.
”Breakneck poetry in a homespun world /…/ a charming and sympathetic work where the whole trumps the individual efforts – like stitches in a knitted piece.”
”an esthetic whole, a well-composed image poem, executed with scenic, contemplative calm."
"Physical skill in combination with beautiful poetry creates fantastic art."
Press quotes about Knitting Peace
Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter
Margareta Sörenson, Expressen
Aino Ihanainen: handstand, live knitting
Alexander Weibel Weibel: slack rope, equilibrist, violin
Ilona Jäntti / Nathalie Bertholio: aerial acrobatics, rope, aerial ring, floor ring
Matleena Laine: aerial acrobatics, singing/lyrics
Mikael Kristiansen: handstand, acrobatics, knots and tangles
Samuel ”LoopTok” Andersson: lyrics, live music
Olof Göthlin: knitted live musik
Director and concept: Tilde Björfors
Composer and sound design: Samuel “LoopTok” Andersson.
Set design: Fanny Senocq, Tilde Björfors, Stefan ”Drake”Karlström, Joel Jedström and the ensemble
Knitted set design and knitted costumes: Aino Ihanainen
Costume design: Anna Bonnevier
Mask design: Helena Andersson
Light design: Ulf Englund
Choreographic advisor & artistic coach: Cilla RoosProps and scenics artist: Tomas HelsingTechnical coordination and constructions: Joel JedströmCircus construction: Ulf “Poly” NylinStage master and rigger: Ingrid StenssonLighting technician: Mika KnutssonSound technician: Kent AnderssonTour manager: Emma TherkelsonAssistant director: Maria WallinCostume production: Anita DahrmarkTechnical producer: Stefan ”Drake” KarlströmProducer: Amy Fee