Jochen Stechmann

MOPA Museum of Performing Artists

A virtual network to match artist and audiences

The idea of MOPA is to create an interactive digital network-portale that connects and matches performering artists and and spectators for à la carte miniperfomances in public or private spaces (like the artists homes). The MOPA creates innovative theatre outside its traditional venues. The long-term vision is to establish ongoing, self-regulating system independent from institution and funding.


Reflecting the Medium - Reflecting the Medium Jochen Stechmann

On the MOPA online Internet portal, potential spectators can browse through profiles of performing artist offering small performances on intimate locations. In direct email contact with the artist, the spectators can inscribe for such performances and agree on a time for the piece to happen. They show up at the location and after a short welcome (and eventually a coffee) the performance takes place. The artist directly receives a payment for the performance. Eventually they have an aftertalk. The spectators have the possibility to publish a review or evaluation of the experience for the MOPA portal, which than can be browsed by other potential spectators.

Today artists have to face the fact that less and less people find their way into the "real" theatre. How can we motivate people to see our work? How can we continue to earn money with our art, using the possibilities of modern communication? The MOPA is an attempt to establish an alternative form of theatre as a multiplicity of independent decentralized meeting spaces connected through a digital network. It applies structures of modern social networks to establish this theatre.

The MOPA's main function is social, and quite similar to the function of ancient theatre: To provide and organize spaces for collectively shared experiences through observation. The physical structure of these theatre spaces is essentially contemporary: a branched wide cluster of intimate, partially even private meeting spaces throughout the city, connected by a virtual network.

The MOPA is an attempt to apply experiences from diffrent types of new media in order to develope a new way of organizing theatre:

- First of all online Dating Sites and the way the function. If we can get interested to have an erotic encounter just through the information provided by an online profile, we possible can be interested as well for an artistic encounter by profiles of artist at the MOPA. Probably it will spice up our theatre experience with an extra flavour similar to online dating: a sense of risk, the excitement of an anonymous encounter involving exchange of money, the satisfaction of voyeuristic desires and the possibility to dissappear after.

- second contemporary social networks. LIke on Facebook, on the MOPA people can leave comments on what they experienced, they can rate their experiences, tip their friends for special performances etc. The interactive functions are the tools to establish the self-regulation of the MOPA and at the same time guarantee quality and safety.

A set of features specific about a MOPA experience (making it different from a "conventional" theatre-evening) have to be used as triggers to convince audiences to participate in this project:

(i) audience experience
The high level of intimacy. This is a main quality of performances for small audiences or in private spaces. As the clear separation between stage and audience blurs it gives space to a more direct, intense encounter between artist and spectator, which is in itself already a very strong experience.

The satisfaction of a "voyeuristic" desire: the spectator gets the chance to intrude and investigate a human's private space without being questioned about this intention and without any further obligations (except payment). He can safely sneak into the live of the "other". As nowadays many people feel increasingly insecure about making contact, this can be a good motivation to participate.

The adventurous component: The MOPA gives the possibility to discover the city on multiple layers (spaces, communities, identities), to share a variety of individual stories and experiences.

The anonymity: Spectators can enjoy theatre without the necessity to participate in the common social context around it, for example the "what do you think of it" - foyer discussion. Being less integrated in that discourse, the MOPA could probably resist a conventional categorization. It could contain a huge range between high art and pop without the necessity to categorize these contents.

(ii) art production

During a MOPA experience, the material conditions of performance art production are integrated in a very concrete way: A price is set, a good is delivered and money is exchanged. That creates a bit of consciousness about those financial issues regarding art practice.

The MOPA could generate working opportunities and a bit of income for (poor) experimental artists. And it is a valuable and joyful performance practise as well.

(iii) environmental

A higher level of commitment: As spectator, my role is more active - I have chosen this specific show to watch, for my personal reasons. In that way, I beforehand committed myself to the performance, and will be much more open to follow it course.

Locality and Sustainability. The performances are related directly to specific spots in the city, and to the local artists. The MOPA uses and activates local artistic resources and aims to create awareness about the richness of these local artistic currents. Why should we travel so much if everything is so close?

-Winnaar Juryprijs KJO9-