The Belluard Festival invites artists from Fribourg, Switzerland and from all over the world to propose artistic projects that deal with the phenomenon of solitude. Solitude is ambivalent: on the one hand, individual isolation is a malfunction of today's society; on the other hand, self-chosen isolation can also be an act of resistance and self-empowerment.
Neoliberalism encourages competitive selfishness and extreme individualism. The lonely and isolated self-entrepreneur is presently a widespread mode of production. And numerous elderly people in the western world are experiencing the end of their days in solitude. But human beings are socially living mammals, who, as experiments have shown, chose even physical pain over isolation. It is not without reason that isolation is regarded as one of the most effective penal instruments in prisons, and social isolation undoubtedly provokes health problems too. So what is wrong in our society, which is constantly hysterizing individual intensities, at the expense of true communion and lasting relationships?
The need to be alone, however, is deeply rooted in the human psyche too. Hermits, misanthropists, ascetics, loners and mavericks have existed at all times in recorded history of all cultures. Many turn their backs on the world for religious reasons, looking for a closer bond with a higher power. Others are opposed to civilization because they reject the world as it is - wars, destruction of the environment, crime or excessive consumerism. And finally, there are those who want to be alone in search of artistic freedom, scientific knowledge or a deeper self-understanding. Is solitude an act of resistance against the established order?
In the specific context of Fribourg, solitude is also expressed in concrete places and practices: in the historical and contemporary isolation of the retreat to the monastery (of which there are three in Fribourg), or in the historical and contemporary seclusion of rural life (for example the alpine herdsmen and dairymen).
Which space does today's society concede to those who do not want to follow the mainstream ideology of happy life within the consuming community? Does an event like a festival necessarily have to create a community, or are the most radical artistic experiences possibly the loneliest ones? Or is community a condition to be able to be alone in a fulfilling way?