Roskilde Festival, in the midst of common meshwork

Roskilde Festival a Sustainable Átopos?

It is contradictory to say “an átopos”.  Átopos, or atopy in English, is defined as “placelessness”, a place or a state that resist classification. If normality is something we imagine somewhere between the thresholds of dystopia and utopia, the Roskilde Festival is an átopos, an atopy. The festival cannot be placed somewhere on the plane of normality. As an ex-tension of placelessness Roskilde Festival is an annually reoccurring state of exception. It is a socially accepted escapism, place bound and confined within a set temporal duration. The excessive celebration of exception is a contemporary cornucopia. Offering an abundance of music, performance arts, installations, DIY-projects, the festival demands corporal collaboration and immediate attention of its subjects. It is a loud concretization of open-ended interaction and creative response usually muted in the noise of obligations and mundane preoccupations.

The festival has taken many measures to become more sustainable. Thus professionals and scientists perceive the festival as a laboratory for innovation. All the while this is a positive development, sustainability is not only a question concerning material resources, thus, we must also ponder whether the idea of the festival is sustainable on the existential level of the subject. Tired and hung-over from emotional accelerations and toxins what have we carried home from this “atopia”? The question inevitably arises, whether or not an event bracketing normality can serve as more than a catharsis, a release of our emotional tension that will eventually facilitate our acceptance of the existing structure of civilization. Is the festival as an exceptional escape from normality more than a mere condition of possibility for a successful integration within the regularities of our civilization?

With the low frequency pressure of a bass resonating in the ribcage, at the epicenter of the constant flux of individuals seemingly senseless crisscrossing, one either drowns or one is immersed in the sensuous-entanglement. Pure rationality and determined teleology will not take you all the way in an ecstatic hub of exception. In the enigmatic rush of the festival, there is only one way, it is to surrender and resonate with the creative madness rising on all sides.

In contrast to the straight lines of a cityscape, the determined rationality does not exist at the festival. In the ecstatic chaos one is intertwined in a hedonistic meshwork. One concrete experience of the participatory engagement in the festival meshwork is the walking. Crossing the festival area is not merely propelling ones body in a straight line from A to B, it is mode of interweaving, continuously responding to the dynamic streams of people. Moving in-between dancing crowds and drunken beer carrying hordes demands interactive responsiveness. This mode of responsiveness is characteristic for a high level attention, but in contrast to the mode of attention that is traditionally seen as definitive for our engagement with the environment, this mode of alertness is not reflective and rational. Rather than extending a preconceived rational outline into the concrete reality of the surrounding environment, this interactive responsiveness is immediate and sensuous. Thrown in the midst of the chaotic becoming the body responds without reflective delay to the torrents of people.

In a moment of sober self-reflection or retrospective reminiscing one might catch sight of this immediate interaction surging beneath rational calculus, but whether or not one manages to get a distinctive impression of this creative capacity within oneself, the trace of the immediate interaction will be stored in the organism. While the festival undoubtedly serves as a catharsis, the experience of the sensuous correspondence with environment might remind us that there are alternative paths than the straight lines of the city, that we may crisscross ahead and in the twisting and turning be intertwined in the meshwork of a creative common.

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