Your place or mine?

Your place or mine?

A festival in February? On England’s wind-whipped Suffolk coast? Fear not, there will be few scenes of Hunter-wearing crowds knee-deep in primeval ooze at the winter weekend hosted by Aldeburgh Music. Titled ‘Place 2014: Occupation’, the cultural festival will be held entirely indoors – mainly in Aldeburgh’s Britten Studio, which opened last year for the composer’s centenary celebrations. And if you’re expecting high decibels and stomach-wobbling bass lines, you may be surprised by the relative quiet and general air of contemplation. Instead of live music, the focus will be on an intelligent exploration of landscape and occupation, with an esoteric band of writers, thinkers, film-makers and artists riffing around what it means to hold your ground and occupy a space.

‘At a time of funding cuts and shrinking cultural horizons, staying where we are might be a new measure of success,’ says curator Gareth Evans. ‘Ambition remains the yardstick but, freed from an imperative that demands that we always move forward, perhaps the chance to stand still and take stock can also make us better appreciate where we have come from, and what we actually have.

This desire to keep hold of what we have gained and not give it up can also be infused with a new consideration for the small-scale and the local, in which the refusal-to-move of the peaceful sit-down protest becomes invested with a heightened feeling for our immediate surroundings. As we occupy space, we gain a sharper knowledge of how the nuances and specificities of place inform us.’

The line-up includes poet Lavinia Greenlaw, John Berger, Paul Morley, Iain Sinclair and film-maker Patrick Keiller, whose London and Robinson in Space are classics of the psychogeographical ouvre.

There is one musical highlight – a performance by Mercury Prize-nominated Field Music, who have written a new score for John Grierson’s pioneering 1929 documentary Drifters, about a North Sea fishing fleet battling the waves. It may even inspire festival-goers to don a sou’wester themselves for the organised walk along the former RAF Bentwaters airbase, near Woodbridge, led by volunteers from the Cold War Museum.

‘Place 2014: Occupation’ takes place 1-2 February 2014 at various venues around Aldeburgh. Weekend tickets cost ?40. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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