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!

Tune in to IF 2022 – online & Worldwide this weekend

This Friday and Saturday, 26 & 27 August, the 24 hour IF festival is kicking in again!

Like last year, we are with WhatIIIF? again one of the official partners of the festival.

Watch new work by 150+ improvising artists from around the world!

Check it our here on the festival website.

What is IF 2022? 

IF 2022 is a festival celebrating improvised arts. This 24-hour event will feature pre-recorded video and audio performances from multi-disciplinary artists around the world—musicians, poets, dancers, theatre practitioners, and more, starting on August 26th at 7PM (EDT)—you can find your local start time here!

IF 2022 also features a free in-person/livestreamed closing concert by Toronto-based Japanese drumming ensemble Nagata Shachu that will take place at Branion Plaza (University of Guelph campus) at 6pm on Saturday, August 27th.

This year’s Festival is connected to an online conference called “Curating for Change: The Work That Music Festivals Do in the World,” (Aug. 26-28 and Oct. 14-15) put on through Queen’s University and the University of Guelph, that examines music festivals as resonant sites of activism, equity, environmental stewardship, and community-building. Patricia Nicholson and William Parker’s Keynote address, which will open up IF 2022, is part of this conference as well. You can view the full conference schedule at

IF 2022 is put on by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of Guelph, with the support of sponsors and partners from around the globe.

When does IF 2022 start and end? 

Given that IF 2022 is an international festival, it will begin and end different times depending on where you live. To find your local start time, please use the handy tool on our website.

Who is performing?

You can view the full list of the participating artists on The Artists page.

Where do I watch / How do I tune in?

The festival will be streamed on the IF 2022 website ( under the “watch” tab. You can access the event through this link. We welcome you to treat yourself to a full festival experience as much as you can at home: invite your loved ones over and host a viewing party; bake a special dessert; lay in the hammock; make a blanket fort; ride the stationary bike—it’s up to you!

To attend our connected conference, “Curating for Change: The Work That Music Festivals Do in the World,” (August 26-28 and Oct. 14-15), register for free via Eventbrite. You will be sent a Zoom link through which you can access all online conference events.

 Is there a schedule for IF 2022? 

In the spirit of happenstance discovery, this festival has no posted schedule. Depending on when you tune in, you may catch a performer you already know and love, but you might instead discover an intriguing performance by an act you’ve never experienced. As we become more and more used to experiencing art on-demand, we feel it’s important to invite chance, surprise, and ephemerality into our experiences of artistic performance, especially in an online context. 

What if I miss the festival? 

Much like an in-person festival, you can only experience IF 2022 on the days during which it is taking place: August 26th and 27th. This means that performances will only be available for the 24-hour duration of the festival.

Who do I contact if I have a question? 

General inquiries can be sent to

WHAT “IIIF” you watched us on Saturday, May 15 ?

12 hour telematic live performance tomorrow – instead of meeting for WhatIIIF? festival in Berlin!

Telematic improvisation is when we use zoom to make art instead of marketing meetings.  WHAT IIIF? 10 to 10 is a telematic live performance from 10 locations around the globe from 10 am in Amsterdam to 10 pm in Berlin, passing through Rio, Stuttgart, Pisa, Teheran, Manchester, Nice and Guéthary on the way. Tune in anytime.

The improvisers intended to be in Berlin for four days now (WhatIIIF? 2021), combined with the artists who kept the WhatIIIF? Nowhere & Everywhere festival going for a full year now, will all gather for this durational performance, leading into a streamed concert at Exploratorium Berlin in the evening.

The actual physical meeting in Berlin got a new date: 17-19 September 2021, and you are still invited! (the Call for May stands as it is for September, read it here.)

But first this Saturday:

WhatIIIF? 10 to 10

Focussed around the theme Memory and Water, this layered, interdisciplinary, duration instant composition can be witnessed by following the facebook stream here:

Doubled in the evening (20:00-21:30) with a stream on the youtube channel of Exploratorium Berlin, combining live performance in Berlin with the images streaming from all the other locations, and with traces/memories captured during the day via a Taswir Atlas.

Participating artists are:

Chris Parfitt (Wales, UK)
Ulrike  Brand, Simon Rose, Ingo Ruelhke, Reinhard Gagel (Berlin, Germany)
Shelley Owen, Henry Dougal McPherson, Connor Elliman (Manchester, UK)
Esmeralda Detmers, Loes Rietkerk (Amsterdam, NL)
Genetic Choir (Amsterdam and beyond), Chandana Sarma (Rotterdam, NL), Petra Pieck (Utrecht, NL), Thomas Johannsen (Amsterdam, NL), Jeannette Huizinga (Amsterdam, NL) Irene Rametta (Pisa, IT)
Shaghayegh Bagheri (Teheran, Iran)
Danielle Davidson (nomadic in the Netherlands)
Oorcontact (Leiden, NL)
Clarice Rito (Rio de Janeiro)
Emmanelle Pépin (Nice, France)
Tommaso Rolando (Genua, Italy)
SAAL FREI Plattform für Improvisationskunst (Stuttgart, Germany)
the PerformanceImprovisationGroup Instant
PIG//Stuttgart and guests:
performance and dance: Martina Gunkel, Alexandra Mahnke, Claudia Senoner, Lisa Thomas, Magda Agduelo, (Meltem Nil?)
music and sound: Oliver Prechtl
(piano, electronics and diverse instruments)  Kurt App (saxophone and others)

photo above: WhatIIIF? Nowhere and Everywhere moment featuring Kamura Obscura and a tree and a clip of Titian)

WhatIIIF? goes online!

Now that WhatIIIF? Berlin had to be postponed to 2021, we decided not to stand still this year… (never waste a good crisis, as they say 😀 )

We started two distinct projects that accept the limitations due to the covid-19 situation and try to create momentum from these circumstances in their own ways – and you are very much invited to participate:

WhatIIIF? 2020 – Nowhere and Everywhere festival

How to improvise via technological tools like tele-conferencing?  What are the limitations, what are the joys of these modes of live gatherings, extending into the living spaces of so many people at once, making all those places performance spaces to be used!

Instead of waiting for the moment that physically coming together is possible again, we attempt the impossible and invite everyone to do their own performative research in the possibilities and restrictions of performing via Zoom (or other tools).

We started this in May with the interdisciplinary group of improvisers who had been planning to come to Berlin. We now want to open these performance and research sessions up to anyone out there who is interested.

We have a WhatsApp group in which we announce the online gatherings. Fixed appointment for performing together are for now Wednesdays at 14:00 hours (CEST). With an optional aftertalk/afterdraw session afterwards. Also other performance or research gatherings can be announced through the same channel.

Click here to read more and how to join us!

An Expandable Networked Universe for the Art of Improvisation

We also started gathering our network and are at the moment hunting for funds to build a website as a platform and interactive library for all improvisation artists, from any country, from any discipline. We want to connect improvisation artists and audiences now that physical proximity and travelling is so much prohibited and most of us might still be sitting at home for months to come. A website to research, get inspired and connected and engage about the art of improvisation – with each other and with our audiences.

Read more about our ambitious plans here.

You are very welcome to join this network of now already 83 artists and organisations from 20 European countries who support this idea and want to be involved.

Contact if you would like to be part of this idea!

Once the project starts happening, we will post more here.

Berlin in May: Come to the WhatIIIF 2021 edition!

We postponed the 2020 Berlin edition of WhatIIIF to May 2021.
The new dates will be:

13 May – 16 May 2021


Upcoming in May, and this time in Berlin, Germany, is the 2021 edition of the yearly research festival WhatIIIF? – a meeting of interdisciplinary improvisers. And you are invited to join!

Find the what, when and how in the open call for participation here:

Invitation Call WhatIIIF Berlin 2021

WhatIIIF 2020 logo by Catharine Cary, photo below by Fabien Collini / performance by Constantin Leu and Catharine Cary

WhatIIIF 2019 in full swing!

Dear improvisers,

the 2019 edition of WhatIIIF in Gothenborg, Sweden, is going into its second day and the work is expanding, connecting and thickening. What a wonderful, intense time.

If you happen to be close enough, come tomorrow for witnessing more of this process of exchanging about the art of interdisciplinary improvisation performance at Galleri 54 (11:30-15:00) or in the evening during the Tiny Festival where we will do the opening performance at Theater Trixter (18:00)

participant-performers-observers-researchers-editors-authors of WhatIIIF? 2019:

Tuva Hildebrand, Nathalie Fari, Marianthi Michailidou, Catharine Cary, Reinhard Gagel, Thomas Johannsen, Shelley Owen, Esmeralda Detmers, Benedikte Esperi, Alexandra Mahnke

Early invite to WHAT IIIF Gothenburg – May 2019

We would like to give you an early wake-up call, mark your calendar, fireworks zap ! to join us for the beta 0.3 version of WHAT IIIF?.    We will be gathering from noon on the 16th of May to the 19th of May 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

This rendition of What IIIF? Gothenburg is organized in collaboration with The Tiny Festival Producers,  Galleri 54 and Teater Trixter.


The research festival WHAT IIIF ? asks the absurd question, ‘Can improvisation be documented ?’  What IIIF ? Gotenburg is the third beta version (the first was in Amsterdam in 2016, and number two in London in 2018).  WHAT IIIF? brings together International Interdisciplinary Improvisation researchers from around Europe. We focus on a method or a concept for several days, and through labs, discussions, performances and observations, we ‘document’ improvisation.  Our thought is that this work will feed and develop the open source website  .


For the first two beta festivals, we focussed on documentation methods – video in Amsterdam and writing in London.  This time we are interested in the way we connect to other people with our improvisation work. We want to think about the fact that we are always addressing someone and within that awareness, on a meta level, ask how do I use material in the improvisational moment, put it out and put it forward.

Over the next few months, we look forward to developing the particular way we will spend these four days in May working with the circle of people committed to come.


  • being in the same space (an open to the public ‘white cube gallery’ named Galleri 54) for the entire time, creating the space, covering the walls, ongoing ongoing, ongoing.
  • observers will be invited, to participate or witness, in the space, or through the windows. Passers by are the instant witnesses
  • collaboration with the TINY FESTIVAL PRODUCERS and TEATER TRIXTER which provides the spaces and an opportunity to perform
  • time to reflect, listen and document on why we do this
  • time to eat together

There is no official participation fee.  You are responsible for your travel and housing.  We split the costs of the festival among ourselves, usually this does not exceed 40 euros each.

If you would like to join us, please write Thomas at

with a paragraph telling us why you are fabulous, and why you find a research festival interesting.

If you will be able to apply for funding for your travel and lodging, we can provide you with an official invitation letter from Galleri 54.  Please write to


IIIF beta 0.1: Three Open Sessions 9/11/13 March

IIIF beta 0.1 poster by Catharine Cary

fullsizerenderThe first ever edition of IIIF – International Interdisciplinary Improvisation Festival – will start with an open Carpet Session next Thursday, 9 March 14:00-17:00 !  (doors open at 13:30)

During this beta 0.1 festival, in which an international group of artist from Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris and Goteborg will work together intensively for five days, we will hold a total of three Open Sessions, to share and gather thoughts, insights, energy and play from any improvisers who want to join us in our quest.

The central question of this edition is “How to document improvisation principles and processes?”, which the research group intends to tackle with a healthy mix of practice, play and reflection.

Next to the opening session on Thursday there will be one mid-festival open session on Saturday and an open session on Monday to close the festival. 

You are welcome to join, also spontaneously! Note that only the Thursday session is at the Carpet Session studio, the other two are in the beautiful studio of De EesterRental cost sharing: if you join, bring a self-chosen amount (5-10 euro) so we can cover our costs.

9 March, Thursday, doors open: 13:30 / 14:00-17:00
dansstudio Vredenburgersteeg 31-35, Amsterdam

11 March, Saturday, doors open: 13:30 / 14:00-17:00
studio De Eeester, C. Van Eesterenlaan 266, Amsterdam.

13 March, Monday, doors open: 13:30 / 14:00-17:00
studio De Eeester, C. Van Eesterenlaan 266, Amsterdam.

We are looking forward to play/exchange/perform with you!

See you next week,

the ‘Research Group’ of IIIF beta 0.1

Andrea Hackl
Benedikte Esperi
Catharine Cary
Esmeralda Detmers
Jagna Anderson
Maria Michailidou
Shelley Owen
Thomas Johannsen

Inviting you to IIIF beta 0.1 – International Improvisation Festival in Amsterdam

IIIF beta 0.1 poster by Catharine Cary

Hey all improvisers, instant composers, dancers, musicians, actors, philosophers, pudding makers far and wide !

IIIF beta 0.1 poster by Catharine Cary
IIIF beta 0.1 poster by Catharine Cary

From the 9th to the 13th of March 2017, we are proposing IIIF – a beta festival 0.1 that looks at the artistic practice of interdisciplinary improvisation. This festival will feel like performers mingling and playing together, it will feel like serious scientific researchers trying to grasp and record what they are doing and it will feel like a lot of nice people gathering to cook and eat together. Would you like to participate ?

IIIF 0.1 – International Interdisciplinary Improvisation Festival Amsterdam, Holland

9 to 13 March 2017

An invitation by : Benedikte Esperi (SW) Thomas Johannsen (NL) Catharine Cary (US/FR)


supported by the Carpet Sessions Amsterdam, Genetic Choir Amsterdam, Instant Pudding !, Dansverk and the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art in Gothenburg, Sweden.



One of the crucial elements of advancing an art form is artistic research. Research and documentation, and the process of doing it, allow the form to open, consider, grow and take pauses to understand. All three of us, and many others around the world that practice instant composition within one discipline or across many, are interested in growing the knowledge and practice of our art, and increasing its public.


IIIF 0.1 will be held in Amsterdam, the next ones probably in Gothenburg and Avignon, followed by other European cities where connected improvisation artists live and work.
This first meeting is meant to better define our and your ambition for a connected international community of improvisers that collects and makes useful the various approaches to improvisation. The intention of this work would be to further connect, inspire and develop pathways between the various communities in Europe and around the world.

One of the great things about today is that there are more and more festivals, workshops, meetings, practice sessions, and movement around interdisciplinary improvisation. Yes ! This is just one more, until the cup runneth over, and suddenly our art form is everywhere, contaminating everything, and making a lot of people inside and outside of it really happy.

We are proposing 4 “research circle” sessions to people who have expressed to us a specific interest in the process of documenting artistic research in interdisciplinary improvisation, and we are proposing 3 “open circle” interdisciplinary improvisation practice sessions.



The initiative is started by Benedikte, Catharine and Thomas, but we are very open to include more people into the core group of enablers of IIIF. Come participate if you can, and even if you cannot, let us know if you would be interested, and on what potential level of engagement. (e.g. being associated as an artist in the research, proposing content and being present during all the festival sessions, carrying the project artistically/organisationally with us, supporting IIIF 0.1 by providing sleeping place for someone from abroad, just hopping on and off…)

More extensive information, and also how to get in contact with us you can find in this pdf: iiif festival invitation



Thursday 9 March:
The first open session to start the festival is at the usual Carpet Session studio:
dansstudio Vredenburgersteeg,
Vredenburgersteeg 31-35, Amsterdam.

Friday 10 to Monday 13 March:
All other days/sessions (except the brunch) are at:
Studio De Eester, C. Van Eesterenlaan 266, Amsterdam.



9 to 13 March 2017

are from 14:00 to 17:00
on Thursday 9, Saturday 11 and Monday 13

– doors open at 13H30

RESEARCH CIRCLE SESSIONS include all open sessions, and are in total all four days 10:00-17:00 (only Thursday, we start at 14:00) .  More detailed info in the pdf.




That’s the idea of this IIIF – how to document? – it will be however we imagine and test it out – drawings, entries in the website, texts, songs, videos, scholarly treatises …

For this IIIF beta, Benedikte will be in charge of video documentation that could result in definitions, small instructive moments, or explanations of a technique which sharpens our ability to be present, to notice and to compose in the instant. The target is moving and the work is evolutionary, we may invent new forms of art and of research during these 4 days. If you come, you need to be OK with your image being used. If you like to take video and like to edit, click here. (Benedikte)

Otherwise, bring an open mind, a big glass of water, a camera if you can shoot video and like to, an instrument. And a notebook. Wear comfortable clothes.



sliding scale of 5 to 10 euros per session.


And here’s who we are :

Benedikte Esperi (SW)

Holds an MFA in Contemporary Performative Arts with practice in dance for screen, physical performance in public space and sound art. She has run the company Dansverk since 2007 which produces solo and ensemble performances. Since 2011, She is also a part time lecturer in dance at The Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg.

Thomas Johannsen (NL)

Performer and performance maker who works on the borders between fine art, theatre, dance and music. Improvisation and open systems of meaning creation form a strong current in all his work. ( He is founder and artistic director of the Genetic Choir ( ) and created the international platform for Interdisciplinary Instant Composition, with its Amsterdam emanation of the Carpet Sessions.

Catharine Cary (US/FR)

A visual performative artist known as ‘‘la tagueuse élégante”, Catharine Cary is a painter, a dancer and female. She is co-founder of Instant Pudding!, a platform that provokes opportunities for sharpening skills for scenic improvisation across Europe.