MOMO Create & Perform

Concerts and festivals were not possible in 2021, but the creation of music, visual arts and theatre did not stop. MOMO Create & Perform therefore payed tribute to creation. Artistic director Harry Hamelink and programmer Enoma Amayo told more about the program.

Harry: ‘I have always been very interested in the motivations of artists that I like. What is the story behind an album, performance or work of art? What search, what choices preceded this? If you follow a maker’s creation process from start to finish, you will get answers to these types of questions.’

Enoma: ‘At MOMO we have been working on this production process for some time. In 2019 we launched the Liquid program line, entering into a long-term collaboration with a number of makers.’

Harry: ‘They were all artists who were looking for their roots in their own way. We wanted to make that search possible and not only offered them a stage, but also the necessary guidance in the production process. So it’s a kind of co-creation.’

Enoma: ‘After the outbreak of the pandemic, we saw how the pop sector came to a standstill. Concerts and festivals were cancelled, there was a feeling of: what should happen next? But you also saw that the creativity of many artists did not suffer. To highlight this, we created the online video series Perspective last year. In it we let various musicians, artists and entrepreneurs talk about their working methods and motivations. I find the resilience and power that you see in those videos very inspiring. MOMO Create & Perform is actually a continuation and an extension of this: as an audience you get the chance to see an artist from a different side. The creation process really becomes part of the program.’

The beauty and struggle of the creative process

Harry: ‘Art and culture – and especially pop music – is often about the end result: an album, a work of art, a performance, a concert. And it is also magical, those sixty minutes on stage in front of a sweating crowd. But there is also a beauty in everything that comes before it.’

Enoma: ‘It is very special to see how a work of art was created – the research an artist did to create it, the obstacles he or she encountered, the mistakes that had to be made to arrive at the final product .’

Harry: ‘Create & Perform started with Eefje de Visser and visual artist Nick Verstand, who entered into a collaboration and wanted to involve MOMO. And so last year I went on a site visit with them to all kinds of places in Rotterdam. I then thought that it would be nice to involve the public in the project at this stage. It was exciting to ask Eefje and Nick that: the production process is often also a struggle – crying fits, throwing tables. But they were immediately enthusiastic. That proved to me that there are artists who really dare to show a very intimate side of themselves.’

Enoma: ‘We slowly started approaching more artists: first two, then four, then six. And ultimately there was a program of twelve makers, each with their own way of working and creating.’

‘Now that they are all working, I also see many similarities: many of their projects are about a search for yourself and where you come from. For example, theater maker Mathieu Wijdeven created a one-man show based on a theater text by his Surinamese great-great-grandfather. To do this, he had to delve deep into his family history. It was new for him to be so concerned with his heritage, he told me. But when he found out that his great-great-grandfather had also performed on stage, he immediately felt a connection.’

‘And then there is Lisette Ma Neza, a slam poet and musician. She is often concerned with major themes such as sexism, trauma and roots. For Create & Perform she now always sits down with one musician to talk about this, write lyrics and translate this into music. She records these encounters as a podcast. What is nice to see: she is also super enthusiastic about this process, because it is a completely new working method for her.’

Harry: ‘The Create & Perform program is actually everything MOMO stands for: we work with young talents and big names, people who push boundaries and are not so concerned with genres or boxes. As always, we also focus on special locations in the city. For example, Eefje de Visser and Nick Verstand were inspired by the space where they will perform: AVL Mundo, the studio of artist Joep van Lieshout in the M4H area. And since all this has to be done remotely, we have also asked international bands to become part of the program. The members of Black Country, New Road – one of my favorite bands – give an insight into their working methods from London. And the Prairie WWWW formation from Taipei, one of the highlights of MOMO 2019, takes us along in its search for Taiwanese identity.’

MOMO in your living room
Harry: ‘The intention was actually that the public would also be able to be physically present at a large part of all these production processes. For example, that a select group was allowed to attend the rehearsals. We took into account that this would not be feasible due to the corona measures, but I still cried when we made the decision.’ Enoma: ‘It’s a shame, but you also immediately look at what is possible. If the public cannot come to MOMO, MOMO will come to your living room.’ Harry: ‘The result has actually become a kind of six-hour TV program. With performances at all kinds of special locations, interviews, behind-the-scenes looks. Theatre, visual arts, music, you name it.’

MOMO Fabrique 2021

It’s great that we were finally able to organise a live event again at the beginning of September 2021 with the MOMO Fabrique festival – for the first time in almost a year – and brought audiences and artists together. MOMO Fabrique was a great success, with sold-out routes and great reactions from visitors and artists.

During this two-day festival in the form of a route through the Rotterdam city port area, we visited three places with a rich history, but which are now in full development thanks to great new residents: De Huidenclub, Hallen aan de Schiehaven and BITTER.

Inspiring program

Participants were presented with an extensive and inspiring mix of programs: the pop-up exhibition The Circular City with innovative products from Rotterdam biodesigners, Dutch-language alternative pop from Froukje and her band, the powerful new dance performance Kali from Amenti Theater Company (Gil the Grid), a reclining concert with handpan act Kava & Cohen in OASE, followed by an explosive performance by freerunners and cheerleaders from Rush World, and the compelling collaboration between N0ise Cr3at0R C00, performers Noemi Calzavara and Wessel Boot, and light artist Nick Mansveld.

Unique concert experience

Finally, on Sunday evening we rolled out the red carpet for Froukje, her seventh performance of the weekend, together with Parfum de BoemBoem. During this Red Carpet concert, the meeting between musician and music lover is central. Froukje now played her normally extremely danceable pop songs solo and acoustically for the visitors who, one by one, received their own song at a distance of one and a half meters from Froukje. “A truly magical experience,” said one of the lucky people who managed to get a ticket for this.