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17th European Arts Therapies Conference​

11-14 September 2024



Singing about the dark times
Creation and Resistance in the arts therapies

Zingen over donkere tijden: creatie en verzet in creatieve therapie

Chanter les temps sombres:création et résistance dans les arts thérapies

by Bertholt Brecht (1939)

In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing 

About the dark times.

ECArTE conferences aim to unearth and address challenging themes. This call for papers, workshops, panels, performances and posters invites you to engage with the idea of creation and resistance. How are we to respond to pressing geopolitical challenges as artists, psychotherapists, and educators? How do we locate ourselves politically, personally, and professionally within these structures and systems and what motivates our participation and engagement? How do we reckon with the tension between psychotherapy as an internal psychodynamic process and the drive for social change? 


The title for this conference in Ghent, Belgium, is inspired by the final sentence in Stéphane Hessel’s essay ‘Indignez-Vous’ where he states, ‘create to resist and resist to create’ (Hessel, 2011). Hessel’s call was for a peaceful, non-violent insurrection which was to be generated by creativity and collaboration. At the heart of his manifesto is the dignity of the individual and a resistance which inspires hope. How as arts therapists and arts therapy educators, might we consider Hessel’s invitation for an animated and dynamic response to the infringement of human rights? Hessel calls for people to ‘take their place’, a phrase which we can transfer across to arts therapies’ positioning in contemporary contexts. 


The phrase ‘singing about the dark times’ is from Bertold Brecht’s poem “Motto”. We invite you to engage and respond to this symbolically, critically, and radically, exploring its many interpretations and reverberations. Brecht was fascinated by dialectics, by the need to critique the author’s work, by an urgency of the audience to engage and participate rather than to be simply entertained. Brecht developed drama and theatre as a social and ideological forum, in which he disrupted reality by making the familiar strange and the unfamiliar familiar. In this poem, there is too, the idea of the unassailable capacity in the human spirit in the face of suffering and the role of the arts in giving this expression, shape and opening the possibility for change.


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