SPACE – WhatIIIF? 2023 in Rotterdam

WHATIIIF? is happening again, yay! 😄

Please send us your research obsessions until 15 April if you want to join us on 2 to 6 October in the Netherlands!

If you like to read the below Invitation Call as a downloadable pdf, click here.

Hope to see you there!

Welcome to the sixth edition of the What IIIF? Festival to be held at WORM in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) from lunch on Monday, October 2nd to dinner on Friday, October 6th, 2023 !

This ongoing collective, interdisciplinary and international research festival is dedicated to answering the absurd question:
Can improvisation be documented (and how should that be done)?

Of course we can record a performance or improvisation piece, but is that actually a helpful documentation of the processes at play? What if we want to understand the processes in order to improve the way we can work together improvisationally across disciplines?

WHAT IIIF? brings together International Interdisciplinary Improvisation artists/researchers from Europe and beyond. We focus on a subject for several days, and through labs, discussions, performances and observations, we ‘document’ improvisation practices on an interdisciplinary level. This work feeds and develops the open source website

After Amsterdam, London, Gothenburg, Berlin and our pandemic inspired online festival (still ongoing), Rotterdam 2023 will be the sixth research festival since 2017. Look here for an overview of previous editions. This time we will focus on:


What role does SPACE play in your improvisation practice and/or reflection?

What kind of questions, obsessions, fascinations, discomforts or troubles come up when you think about this theme?

Here are a handful of possible SPACE-related topics, just to get your juices going. Next to these of course you will have your own!

  • The way space is described in your discipline as MATERIAL TO WORK WITH and how you use that frame of thinking for your improvisation practice
  • The various ACTUAL SPACES where performance can take place and the challenges and opportunities they create for improvisation (public spaces in the city, concert spaces, galleries, corporate meeting rooms, nature, …)
  • Different types of ‘spaces’ as described in DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES, also outside the performing arts (e.g.: use of a performance space = scenography, use of city spaces: urban planning & architecture, spaces in music (silences) = composition, …) 
  • And what about INNER SPACES, IMAGINARY SPACES, or the interrelatedness of TIME and SPACE in improvisation work?
  • … (so much more, please fill in!)

We hope that this theme resonates with you and look forward to your contributions!


Please send us by April 15th, 2023 an email in which you say:

  • YES !  I want to come to WHAT IIIF? Rotterdam for the full five days (2-6 October 2023 – from lunch on Monday to dinner on Friday)
  • you tell us which country you are based in and give us your email and telephone number
  • you give us a general idea about yourself – your discipline(s) / instruments / passions …
  • you send us a proposal for what you would like to do in Rotterdam. The frame for this is:
    • it should be related to your obsession/questions/passions about the theme of SPACE and IMPROVISATION
    • it should contain the curiosity towards another discipline (other than your own)  
    • It can be an idea for research/workshopping, or for directly improvising in a (semi-)public setting, like a performance. Both are possible, and it depends on your interest what frame you prefer.
    • It can be short, and your plans can change later-on!  But make it as precise as you can in terms of what you concretely imagine to do.

Please send your mail to Shelley via



The idea of a WhatIIIF? Festival is that the things which are going to happen during this week will be prepared and decided by the improvisers who commit to work together on those five days. 

Therefore, the programme will emerge from the interaction between artists prior to the festival and during the festival in a self-organised way, and it has just two reference points as a compass:

  • The obsessions/passions of each participant with the proposed theme
  • The dream of documenting processes of improvisation on an interdisciplinary level
    (which includes further developing appropriate forms/vocabulary for this on

Within these parameters, the floor is yours!

From receiving all proposals, we will couple you with another researcher from a different discipline. As part of the further preparation of the festival, you will have at least one online meeting with the person that you are coupled with before arriving in Rotterdam. The idea is that you help each other to crystallise the research proposal that you want to bring to the festival.

We will strive to couple local artists with people from further away as much as possible to create organic interactions with the Rotterdam scene!


The festival is free, peer-to-peer and based on generosity.  We are a community of professionals who make this festival happen.  We don’t have organisational money to pay ourselves or each other – we do it for love !
We do have a small budget to provide shared meals and drinks for everyone, and we can also offer a limited number of bursaries for people who need financial help in order to attend (we will then provide for your travel costs). For accommodation for people from abroad, we will try to provide simple lodging at people’s houses through our networks in the Netherlands where possible.

Accommodation/travel help is in first instance for people who can commit to the full festival (October 2nd to 6th inclusive).

If you want to come for a shorter time, do let us know your availability during those days – we are planning to make room for open sessions for people who just want to fly in and out.

If you need an official letter to apply for funding in your own country (e.g. for your own costs), we can provide you with an official invitation letter.

Looking forward to hearing from you and possibly meeting you in October in Rotterdam!

Shelley Owen, Thomas Johannsen, Catharine Cary, Esmeralda Detmers, Danielle Davidson

(The What IIIF? Organizing team 2023)

& Lukas Simonis


Any questions? For now, Shelley is your point of contact:

Poster image WhatIIIF? 2023 – once more – by the amazing Catharine Cary!

One thought on “SPACE – WhatIIIF? 2023 in Rotterdam

  1. Thomas!! Very happy to receive this and as always, very interesting and wonderful invitation! 😀 In this period it would be very difficult for me to think something for the whole festival… but I will see if I can come up with a little proposal to do something small. In any case thanks a lot for your invitation!! Always inspiring with your work!

    Big hug! M

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