Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian documents “chaos and radical imagination” of Tour de Moon festival

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Designer Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian has created a film, shown exclusively on Dezeen, to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the Tour de Moon touring festival, which formed part of the UK’s Unboxed festival.

The film documents Tour de Moon, which took place in 2022 and was one of 10 projects commissioned as part of the government-funded Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.

Launched as a celebration of UK creativity in the wake of Brexit, the event was initially known as Festival UK* 2022 and was nicknamed the Festival of Brexit.

The film (top) documents the Tour de Moon festival

“It was a controversial festival in many ways – with Brexit, Covid and the overall divisive political national context at its inception,” Ben Hayoun told Dezeen.

“A lot has been written about it, but we wanted to have a film that will tell it how we saw it, how it was from our perspectives – the people who made it,” she continued.

“The Tour de Moon documentary documents what we did and how we did it; it celebrates new beginnings, youth countercultures and nightlife but also celebrating the multiple individuals who took part in the making of this festival.”

The festival took place in 2022

The touring festival of free live events was created to champion nightlife and youth counterculture.

It featured numerous creatives aged between 18 to 25 who each submitted proposals to the festival and were funded by bursaries worth between £100 and £3,000. In total, £1 million worth of bursaries were distributed.

Some of the events and installations are included in the film, along with the behind-the-scenes creation process.

The festival traveled around the country

“You get to see some of the commissioned artworks from more than 800 artists, but also the decentralised experimental production processes, decolonial practices, experiences and creative programmes behind our travelling convoy and festival,” explained Ben Hayoun.

“It is an urgent call to action, a call for plurality in time of division, it is both chaos and radical imagination – the chaos of putting such production of that scale together with such a short timeframe, but also the coexistence of thousands of people involved from contributors to participants and digital collaborators.”


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Creating the film also allowed Ben Hayoun to reflect on the impact of the festival, which commissioned 800 young creatives.

“For a majority of the 18 to 25-year-old contributors, this was their first paid creative commission,” she said.

“But let’s be real here, one million pounds of bursaries divided by 800 recipients, it doesn’t add up to a massive amount – so it’s not like we have resolved the situation for creatives in towns and cities throughout the UK,” she continued.

“But it’s a starting point to bring youths and nightlife workers to the front of national and international debates with regards to public support policies, and also to give them the platform that they deserve and frankly they own.”

The festival featured over 800 participants

Looking back, she also thinks that the festival’s format could have been better designed to have more of an impact.

“Possibly I would do a little less as it makes communication hard when you have such a breadth of programmes, but having said that, I think the best part of this project is also that we did a lot of various programmes and that meant something for everyone to participate,” said Ben Hayoun.

“There was a true experimental value in having this as a touring festival, being always nomadic in its nature, but we could have reached more audiences by staying a little longer in each of the locations that is for sure – so maybe something for the future!”

The festival was recently longlisted in the installation design category of this year’s Dezeen Awards. Ben Hayoun is currently working on a new film called Doppelgangers, which is to be released in 2024.

The film will be available on Dezeen until the end of 2024.

The post Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian documents “chaos and radical imagination” of Tour de Moon festival appeared first on Dezeen.

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