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


UPDATE of the below post: The edition of WhatIIIF? at La Soulane has been moved to 2023 — more info soon!

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.