The Gathering 2022

Whose stories do we tell and how do we tell them? How do we engage with knowledge and sources of inspiration? As makers, how can we engage in a more reciprocal dialogue with communities, practices and knowledge centres that have inspired us? How do we connect the work we created years ago and continue to perform to today’s needs and demands?

How do we deal with knowledge and sources of inspiration? This was the key question that researcher and conversation facilitator Obiozo Ukpabi asked us as a company in 2020. The Gathering’s programme was inspired by the text written by Obiozo Ukpabi at the invitation of Building Conversation. The text is both an introspection and an appeal.

“As storytellers, we should ask ourselves: whose stories are we telling, how do we tell them and why? And when we say ‘we’, who (and who don’t) we mean?” As makers, how can we engage in a more reciprocal dialogue with communities, practices and knowledge centres that have inspired us? How do we connect the work we created years ago and continue to perform to today’s needs and demands?

Based on this text, we identify two issues that we will engage with during The Gathering. We look at the fine line between inspiration and appropriation and explore the relationship between the free conversation spaces we developed earlier and the current need for safe spaces.

We work with (inter)national guests:

  • Bruce Naokwegijig is the Artistic Director with Debajehmujig Theatre Group, a position capping a nearly 30-year journey that began with his onstage debut, at the age of 11. In the interim, he has performed internationally as part of the Global Savages, and excelled as a writer, actor, director and workshop facilitator. Bruce is valued as a major creator for the company, with skills ranging from improv to more technical aspects including lighting, film, and sound. With his deep understanding of theatre, he has become an important mentor, helping to nurture successive waves of new, young talent. Bruce’s recent work includes directing, creating and performing in ‘The New Elders,’ ‘Maamawi’ and ‘The Quest.’
  • The experiences and text of Obiozo Ukpabi, written at the request of Building Conversation, also play an important role.
  • Winny Ang has Chinese-Indonesian-Belgian roots. She loves small and big stories that cross her path daily. From that passion she became a child and adolescent psychiatrist and further specialized in cultural psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. She teaches communication and diversity to future doctors at the University of Antwerp, where she recently started a doctoral research on ‘diversity in medical education’. She also works in the group practice ‘t_story. Winny feels at home in border areas: she likes to come up with stories that have resulted in three children’s books by Studio Sesam and De Eenhoorn.
  • Guillermo Armand Blinker is an MC, singer songwriter, spoken word artist and dancer/choreographer, born and raised in Amsterdam. His extensive background in performing arts started at the age of 11 at the Lucia Marthas Institute for Performing Arts. After receiving his BFA in Contemporary Dance and Choreography from the Rotterdam Dance Academy (Codarts), he was granted a scholarship to study at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. Now based in Amsterdam Guillermo creates his work under the name OTION. Inspired by hip hop culture, neo soul music and his afro Surinamese roots he finds himself standing in the middle of the ancestral and the futuristic as he aims to create magic in the moment. As a facilitator in The Gathering Of Men he uses his creative experience together with his acquired coaching skills to guide the group session, creating a safe space for mindful and transformative conversation.
  • Lucho Rubio Reparaz is a curious and passionate sociologist, teacher, editor and trainer/advisor. Discovery, (ethical) reflection and implementation are central to him. In both Spain and the Netherlands he gained experience in diversity and inclusion, migration, youth and ethics. Now he shares his knowledge and experience with the students and teachers of the Faculty of Social Work at the Hogeschool Leiden, the Municipality of Amsterdam and the Natuurwijs Foundation.


The Gathering is a four-day programme during which we work with international guests and artists, and with you. During the first two days, we will shed new light on existing work in different in-depth working groups. This will be followed by a two-day public programme with performance and debate. You can participate in the four-day programme with working groups or only in the public programme.

In-depth working groups | Thursday 20 & Friday 21 October
In in-depth working groups we shed new light on existing work.

Drawing on performative conversations previously developed by Building Conversation – Thinking together– an experiment (2014) and Time Loop (2016) – we engage with issues and topics relevant to today. What is our relationship to our inspiration sources? Where does the responsibility of a maker begin and end? What is (still) possible in the public debate? Where do the sensitivities lie and what forms of conversation do we need now? We invite you to share knowledge and strengths and explore these issues together, both for Building Conversation and for your own practice.

Click on the working groups for more information on the topics.

Working group Inspiration or appropriation? – Time Loop Revisited
Working group Safe or brave? – Thinking Together Revisited

Practical information in-depth working groups

Public programme | Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 October

By revisiting and sharing old work, we shine new light on the times we live in and the change that is needed.

The public programme consists of two days of performance and debate. You can choose to join the full programme on both days. Or opt for a separate day or a separate conversation. Each day we focus on a topical issue from our own practice, which we share with you in an open and honest way so that we can learn from it together. By participating, you have an opportunity to jointly reflect on the experience. You will take part in one of the performative conversation Time Loop Revisited, the Agonistic Conversation or Thinking Together Revisited. This will be followed by a debate in which, on Saturday, we will consider the relationship between inspiration and appropriation and on Sunday, focus on the relationship between free space and safe space.

Saturday 22 October | Inspiration or appropriation?
A public programme exploring the fine line between inspiration and appropriation.

Time Loop Revisited or Agonistic Conversation (choose on the day) | 10.00 – 14.00 | includes lunch
Debate | 14.00 – 17.00

Sunday 23 October | Safe or brave?
A public programme on the question of whether or not we should adapt works of art to the spirit of the times.

Thinking Together Revisited | 10.00 – 14.00 | includes lunch
Debate | 14.00 – 17.00

c: First deep field, James Webb Space Telescope, galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, 2022 © NASA ESA CSA STScI
The Gathering is an annual international gathering for people involved and interested in conversation and dialogical art and the work of Building Conversation in particular.

The Gathering is a programme with international invitees, with English as the working language.

‘That’s what the problem is, I think, there’s a kind of paucity of discourse around the way that white artists in particular, in their encounters with Indigenous cultures, exert or act from a place of privilege and I think that that’s a really big and really complicated conversation that needs to be happening. [..] In other words: she [Abramović] is a white person who has the privilege of skimming our culture for the parts that are useful or interesting to her, whilst failing completely to engage with the muck and pain of dispossession and coloniality and her own complicit position as its beneficiary.’

Sarah Jane Norman, a cross-disciplinary artist and writer of mixed British and Indigenous Australian heritage in an interview about the Marina Abramović controversy.