Since 17 years BONE Performance Art Festival BERN has been a meeting point of the national and international performance art scene and a fixture of cultural life in Bern. The Schlachthaus Theatre in the old town of Bern – a trusted co-production partner since the early days of the festival – as well as the new performance venues Stadtgalerie and Kunstmuseum / Fenster zur Gegenwart at Progr Centre for Cultural Production traditionally devote the first week of December to performance art.
BONE aims to establish Bern prominently on the international map of performance art and to encourage interdisciplinary artistic networks. Very much in the spirit of performance art, BONE eludes simple categorizations, thus making the trip to Bern particularly worthwhile. BONE simultaneously makes and describes the history of performance; it integrates historical work of the young genre with current performative practices to create a program of exceptionally high quality.
Since its foundation in 1998 by Ralf Samens, the festival has been dedicated to contemporary artistic practices. Under the direction of Norbert Klassen (2001 - 2010) the festival increasingly focused on thematic issues, such as Performance Scene Switzerland (2001), Performance by Female Artists (2003), Performance-Duos (2004) or Performance by Gay Artists (2010). Since 2011 the festival, now directed by Valerian Maly and co-director Peter Zumstein (until 2012), was able to expand its networks both in international and national contexts. This change in direction was also reflected in the content of the festival. BONE increasingly moved performance art out of the auditorium and into the city. This exit goes both ways and also implies an entrance: leaving the theatre, performance art engages the unpredictability of public space, while exiting public space it invades the defined space of the theatre.
The directors of BONE foster cooperation with important cultural institutions in the town of Bern: apart from Schlachthaus Theatre, Kunstmuseum and Stadtgalerie, regular festival partners include the University of the Arts Bern, the Institutes of Art History and Theatre Studies at the University of Bern, as well as the upper level schools Kirchenfeld, Neufeld and Campus Muristalden, which are involved in the educational formats «bucky’s classroom» and «symposium».
From year to year, the festival reaches a growing public of all age groups and from all the linguistic regions of Switzerland. This year the co-directorship has been replaced with Maya Bösch as co-curator. Building on her previous tenure as director of the Théâtre du Grütli in Geneva, the festival this year will particularly encourage relations with French-speaking Switzerland. Intending to remain an essential hot spot during this cold week in December, the directors and the new team are striving to engage high-profile guest artists and exciting partners in the region for the upcoming edition of the festival.