Congolese performance and theater group Studios Kabako from Kisangani was announced as the 2014 Curry Stone Design Prize winner this past weekend at an awards ceremony in Brussels. As one of the most well-known social impact design awards, the annual prize highlights emerging socially engaged practitioners and their influence in strengthening the lives of their communities.
Studios Kabako was established to address the various emotions linked to the aftermath of civil war. Located in a city that is isolated geographically and culturally, the studio has provided its community a safe creative haven of dance, theater, and music through its urban interventions and cultural programs.
2014 Curry Stone Design Prize winner: Studios Kabako
They will receive a $100,000 grant prize, and were also featured in a short documentary by the Curry Stone Foundation. Studios Kabako will also start a U.S. tour including in New York from October 21 to November 1, 2014, with two performances at the BRIC theater in Brooklyn.
Find out more below.
"The Congolese performance and theater studio, founded by Faustin Linyekula in 2001, was created to address social memory, fear, and hope in the aftermath of civil war. Through its cultural programs and urban interventions, the studio aims to create a network for dance and artistic expression in a city that is geographically and culturally isolated, and that has been the theater for a series of major battles over the last decades.
Studios Kabako presents art not as a form of entertainment but as a form of political empowerment. The studio uses different tools—among these, dance, theater, and music—to help local communities imagine an alternative to the hardships of daily life, and understand that they can have a hand in creating a better future."
"At the time the studio was founded, Linyekula was just twenty-seven years old and already a renowned African choreographer and director, traveling throughout Africa and Europe. When he returned to the DRC, decades of dictatorship and conflict had devastated the country, which is still contending with the displacement of large numbers of refugees, government corruption, economic instability, and significant human rights abuses. Studios Kabako was founded in recognition that under these circumstances, the Congolese people, especially young people, were living without hope, completely immersed in their daily survival and unable to imagine an alternative.
Linyekula had been drawn to dance because he felt no other form could adequately express the violence he wanted to expose—he knew by his own experience the transformative power of art. Studios Kabako strives to provide the citizens of Kisangani with the skills that will allow them to use creativity not just as a professional means, but also as a way to build a new approach to life."
"Over the years Studios Kabako has steadily developed its presence in Kisangani by producing and performing works in the city; offering youth programs in many artistic forms including dance, choreography, video, cinema, music, theater, and literature; and providing the facilities and technical expertise to help residents produce art that exposes the city’s most critical issues while building the possibilities for alternative developments. While touring around the world, the company has reinvested more than one third of its revenue into Studios Kabako’s activities in Kisangani."
"According to renowned theater, film, and opera director, Peter Sellars, 'Faustin is training a generation of kids to challenge everything about their surroundings. He has created this energy among youth in Kisangani that insists on moving forward. His work is never self-pitying, there’s always this alertness, this awakeness, that has the spirit of challenge in it. It refuses to say ‘Oh, poor Africa.’ It says, ‘OK, pull your life together. Lift your own game'."
"Studios Kabako practices urban acupuncture. Though the studio maintains offices and recording and rehearsal studios in the city center, it has brought its work to the rural fringes and to vacant areas of Kisangani by organizing a series of mobile performances. Studio Kabako is currently working with Viennese architect Bärbel Müller to build two more facilities within the city and through these projects is experimenting with environmentally friendly technologies, communal living systems and educational models, all of which are unprecedented in this region."
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