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WIDOVOCE: Transcending Space, Time and Artistic Boundaries

Plenary Speaker
23 August 2023
14:30 - 15:15 hrs (GMT+7)

WIDOVOCE, derived from the ""voice of Wido Island,"" is an innovative hybrid music festival that embraces digital technologies, aiming to address the sustainability concerns surrounding traditional festivals in the wake of COVID-19. Functioning as an interdisciplinary art platform, both physically and virtually, WIDOVOCE reimagines festival accessibility. It is part of the grassroots non-governmental non-profit initiative called ""WEDO WIDO,"" which brings together local and visiting community members of Wido Island to tackle the multifaceted issues faced by the island.

Located 14.6 km from the mainland, Wido Island is a remote fishing village with a dwindling population of less than 1000 residents, predominantly aging. The island's traditional musical rituals, centred around prayers for peace and a bountiful catch, have been fading due to the decline of the fishing industry. WIDOVOCE seeks to revitalise the island's economy while remaining sustainable, accessible, and respectful of the local community's cultural identity. The festival program celebrates, intersects, and reconnects the ""voice"" of the island's past, present, and future.

During its inaugural year in 2022, WIDOVOCE invited a limited number of visiting artists and audiences (less than 300 in total) to the physical site, while capturing live performances and the island's picturesque coastal scenery on film for online broadcasting. Through a digital location-based web, WIDOVOCE offers a multimedia tour of the island, granting access to recordings of live performances and audio-visual storytelling that enriches the understanding of the island's history, people, and culture through local collective memory archives. The digital content of WIDOVOCE is also available at various physical locations on Wido Island through QR codes, enabling the celebration of WIDOVOCE to become a permanent fixture on-site. 

Breaking free from artistic boundaries and redefining the conventional notions of festival space and time, WIDOVOCE successfully facilitates artistic interactions and cultural exchanges between local and visiting artists and communities. The digital accessibility of the festival enhances the live experience, extending the sense of festival communitas to virtual spaces beyond the post-festival phase and reaching a global audience.

However, WIDOVOCE faces unique challenges on the ground due to existing tensions between visiting and local communities. To prevent WIDOVOCE from becoming an elitist branding of Wido Island solely focused on cultural tourism, it is crucial to actively engage with the local community. Challenges related to problem-solving in areas such as local infrastructure and leadership necessitate active cooperation, interaction, and shared responsibility. Nonetheless, this process may be hindered by communication barriers, governance issues, and limited resources.

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