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The research festival WHAT IIIF? will be held in the south of France this year, will nestle in the Pyrénées this year, will be longer this year because we are welcomed by @LaSoulane, (and because it’s far to go, so let’s stay longer). Now in its 6th edition, WHAT IIIF? meets annually to answer the absurd question “Can improvisation be documented? ” Our work feeds into this site, and into a variety of mindmappish TASWIR atlases and TUMBLR notebooks, distributing marcaroon crumbs of learning into the universe of the craft of improvisation. It’s an enormous task, and we love it, and welcome your collaboration. The dates of this year’s research festival are being confirmed, but it’s something like October 14 – 23, 2022. To receive the call to attend, click on contact to let us know.


Last night, I was invited by Anis Gras (Le Lieu de l’Autre), Le Fondeur de Son and SHARE to JAM. And I think I found the key to quality. Everyone in the space took up the deep and sacred responsibility that everyone in the room, even the small child and a smaller dog, is responsible for the quality of the performance. Musicians, dancers, voicers, the pizzaoli and public alike were attentive like a bee sting, were listening with care, were sitting in configurations to spawn newness, were tuning their instruments gently, were asking for help, allowing for new meetings, open for 4 hours to whatever happened. There were familiars, newness, kindness, tolerance, excellences, excedences, jokes and joy. Quality in this case could be measured by how each new set made up a new barometer for the one to follow. Don’t need statistics or questionnaires. Just come, be, dance, play, be absolutely undividedly present. And eat pizza.


 Catharine Cary_latagueuseélégante_2021


Welcome to the fifth edition of the What IIIF? Festival to be held in Berlin from dinner on September 16th September to the afternoon of September 19th 2021 !

This ongoing collective, interdisciplinary and international research festival is dedicated to answering the absurd question: Can improvisation be documented ?

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

After Amsterdam in 2017, London in 2018, Gothenburg in 2019 and our pandemic inspired Nowhere & Everywhere festival online in 2020 (and ongoing) Berlin 2021 is our fifth peer-organised research festival. We will be hosted by Exploratorium Berlin, whom we wish to thank for their ongoing support.

In Berlin, we wish to focus on:


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

How can we use strategies of remembering, reminding, forgetting while improvising?

What questions, obsessions, fascinations, discomforts or troubles does this subject bring for you?

What types of memory are particularly relevant to your practice?

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

  • memory as traces — in language (writing) or images and figures (symbols)
  • long-time, ultrashort and short-time memory
  • embodied memory
  • memory and (personal/cultural) identity
    Memory is a narrative that constructs your personality (you can remember things that have not happened)
  • memory filters: insignificant/ waste/ fragment/ forgetting/
    Is fragmented/faulty memory a problem or a chance for improvisation?
  • digital memory vs. analogue memory and their usage in performance

We hope that some of these topics resonate with you and look forward to your contributions!

We will explore this theme by deepening the research practice we developed in previous What IIIF? editions – it is ripening into a form we could call ASSEMBLAGE. 

As examples, see the ever-developing knowledge base on or this tumblr book that came out of the London edition of the festival.

ASSEMBLAGE could be described as a continuous moving between performing and reflection, resting, eating, writing, drawing, playing, and being. All stable in movement. 

A new artistic research tool that we are going to use for this in Berlin is the Taswir atlas developed by House of Taswir, an international platform for artistic research and diasporic thinking ( 

The Taswir atlas is developed as a collaborative art work by Shulamit Bruckstein. The atlas “allows for the display of an open number of artifacts, objects, soundclouds, film clips, texts, that may enter into variable, unpredictable, and dynamic relations with each other.”

Here is the atlas that we made together at WHAT IIIF? 10 TO 10 on May 15, 2021 that was live streamed on Facebook :






Please send us by August 10th an email in which you say:

  • YES !  I want to come to WHAT IIIF? Berlin from 19:00 on September 16th (Thursday) to 16:00 on September 19th (Sunday).  
  • you give us your email and telephone number
  • you give us an idea about your discipline(s) / instruments / passions …
  • you send us 2 or 3 sentences, 2 or 3 pictures and/or a poem, reflection, photo about how MEMORY plays a role in IMPROVISATION for you. 

Please send your mail to Reinhard at reinhard.gagel (at)


Please send an email to Reinhard at reinhard.gagel (at) expressing your interest and your city, and he will send you the parameters for sending content. 


The festival is free, peer-to-peer and no-budget in the sense that people are responsible for their own costs and we share costs if we for example have shared meals. If you need an official letter to apply for funding in your own country (e.g. for travel/lodging), we can provide you with an official invitation letter.  Thanks to Exploratorium Berlin for hosting WHAT IIIF? 2021. 

@esmeraldadetmersWe can help you find housing if you need help. There are very cheap hotels nearby and we have several couches/rooms available with friends. Please contact ulrikebrand.vlc (at)

Due to the corona situation, we expect to have a limit of 16 participants that can gather physically at the Exploratorium in Berlin for the full four days. We will likely create a mix of online and offline participation, and outside-performance possibilities. After hearing how big the group is that likes to physically travel to Berlin, we will inform you how we will proceed.

Thank you for your interest. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

THE BEGINNING // Benedikte Esperi/Thomas Johannsen/Catharine Cary

THE CURRENT CREATIVE TEAM // Thomas Johannsen/Shelley Owen/Danielle Davidson/Esmeralda Detmers/Catharine Cary

THE BERLIN DREAM TEAM // Reinhard Gagel/Ulrike Brand

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)

Improvisation in Dance and Music

We love the messy interstitial space of interdisciplinary improvisation.



Click here to read more and how to join us!

Interdisciplinary is bigger than you and me

Over the past 9 months, a space has been held by WHAT IIIF? online – a space called WHAT IIIF? Nowhere & Everywhere. This space allows improvisors from Anywhere to meet for 40 minutes of open improvisation. No commute, no hello nor goodbye … a shared moment of presence as if you joined in as you left the lunch or breakfast table, before leaving to run an errand, take a nap or write a paper or a song.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. For me, this space opened wide the definition of interdisciplinary improvisation. Yesterday, my computer’s camera was focussed on a window – the grid of the panes pleased me and not showing my face, pleased me. The architecture played in direct relationship to the players – it wasn’t about how I interpreted in through my body. I moved the camera around slightly to capture different angles and light, and the sun suddenly shone in the corner of my ZOOM rectangle, a blinding light that stopped cold the harmonica in the next square. And suddenly the clouds were moving across the screen faster and faster, and as they passed by, they became the leitmotif of the moment. The sun and its shadows have played this role as well. The wind has erased my voice, the wind has moved leaves for others to dance to. Weeds have been plucked, water poured, cold has sent us inside then outside again. Suddenly interdisciplinary is no longer just Are we musicians, dancers, actors, writers collaborating ? It is this. But it is also : Are we trees, rocks, plants, buildings, carpets, planets, orbs, wind, water, vapor, shadows and sun ?

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

WHAT IIIF? GOTHENBURG: 16-19 May 2019 – you are invited !

What IIIF logo Gothenburg 2019
poster design: Catharine Cary

The third beta edition of the What IIIF? gathering is coming up in Gothenborg, Sweden!

From all niches of Europe and beyond a good handful of improvisers will gather 16-19 May 2019 to play, eat and bend their heads together around the maybe impossible question:

How to document and reflect on improvisation in a meaningful way when it comes to interdisciplinarity?

Read up on the participant invite here and join us if you can:

What IIIF Gothenburg 2019 – Closer Invite