Night of the Arts and Science

Night of the Arts and Science

09 July 2019 by Bianca
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On 8th June, Groningen was a buzzing hub of activities and I was one of the many many people buzzing around town all night. If you were wondering why the city centre was full, and why there were lights and music everywhere, here is the reason, the Night of the Arts and Science returned.

I imagine, now you are thinking ‘great, but what exactly is the Night of the Arts and Science?’ Well, it is a one-night festival, during which the whole city centre is transformed in order to entertain and educate visitors. This year, it was one of the main events of the ten-day Lustrum celebration programme in honour of the 405th anniversary of the founding of the University of Groningen. There were more than 150 acts to enjoy, including scientific experiments, exhibitions, lectures, interactive installations, debates, workshops, various shows, dances, and music. The Night presented a platform for several up-and-coming young artists and scientists, as well as for established professionals, who work either in the field of the arts or the sciences, or combine the two.

At first, I was hesitant to attend such a big-scale event, as all my close friends were either studying for their exams or were sick. Going into lecture halls, exhibitions, and listening to music alone was scary in the beginning; however, now I couldn’t be happier that I collected all my courage and decided to go. It was definitely one of my best experiences in Groningen. My journey for the evening looked as follows.

I started my night at the Academy Building, as I was curious about the lectures and debates. At 20:15, I attended a discussion with Clarice Gargard, who is a successful journalist, NRC columnist and program maker. At 21:00, I left the Aula and joined the already full Senaatskamer to listen to Linda Duits’s ‘Diversity and Netflix’ lecture. I don’t want to bore you by reciting these discussions. If you are interested in power structures in society, inclusion, diversity, equality, and similar topics, then check out Clarice Gargard’s work and start considering the messages Netflix – and movies in general – convey.

From the Academy Building I went to the University Library, which was a host to events, such as beer yoga, music shows, interactive installations, and much more. Before entering the building the first thing that struck me was the light (see below) – the library is usually not lit up red, which made me especially curious. Now, I don’t know about you but I am a firm believer that good lighting is key to conveying a certain atmosphere. Listening to Cynn’s music in this purple-pinkish lighting (see below) immediately transferred me into a relaxed, peaceful, and magical mood.

However, my journey had to continue so I searched for my bike, and cycled to the Aa kerk, which was transformed into the Church of the Sciences for the night. The church hosted countless interactive exhibitions starting from strategies to design and create sustainable cities through a relaxing session with the help of virtual reality glasses to experiencing the workings of human robotic arms. The exhibitions didn’t only take my breath away, but they also transported me into the future. A further addition to the experiments and installations was a live theatre performance called ‘Who to Tango’, which was a modern act combining music, dancing, balance and aerial acrobatics. It was a truly nice way to round off my stay in the church, so again I moved on.

My penultimate destination was the Minerva Academy, a building in which I have never been before. When I arrived there, I was slightly worried about what was waiting for me inside but as soon as I went in I felt that I was in my element, in the house of the arts. I haven’t been able to figure out which music performance I saw but these people were moving their hands and toes in such a speed that my eyes couldn’t comprehend it, but the music they made was magical. When I went upstairs I found an interactive exhibition called Photovoice: The Future of Performance… Is Inclusive. It dealt with individual experiences of stigma, aiming to bring about destigmatisation through the act of talking. At 23:15, Travis Alabanza, an award winning theatre maker, performance artist and writer dumbfounded us with their performance. Throughout the act, they talked about existing as a black, trans, gender non-conforming person in public space. Their performances are absolutely amazing so you should have a look!

Finally, I went back to the Academy Building to enjoy a beer with a group of people at the end of a long night, or so I thought… As it turned out my newly made friends were planning to go to the Glamarchy after party, so the night was not even close to an end. However, my post is and thus on a final note I recommend you visiting the Night of the Arts and Science next year! As you can see, it was a truly inspiring event.