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‘Being selected by Aerowaves has definitely open doors, but it’s more than that’

What does it mean to be an Aerowaves artist? Andreas Constantinou, selected in 2016 and 2017 reflects on what it brought to his personal and professional journey and on the importance of presenting bold queer work to broad audiences in an interview with Lars Kjær Dideriksen (Bora Bora - Dance and Visual Theatre, Aarhus, Denmark).

"We have been selected twice with "WOMANhouse" and "WOMAN". That worked out amazingly. We got a lot of bookings and toured a lot around Europe afterwards. With both performances we have been to 26 different destinations around Europe in the last two years.

The reception has been amazing. Standing ovations and really, really warm receptions from the public. Many of the destinations we have been to have had a very varied demographic. We been to queer art and gender themed festivals, but also a hell of a lot of other places where those themes are not on the table. The discussion at gender festivals is valid and really important. But we've also got standing ovations for "WOMAN" from a mostly 60+ years old audience in a predominately white and heterosexual area. It's important to present our work in both environments, but I must say that my personal preference is presenting work not only to LGBTQIA+ communities but to broader demographic audiences. There's a real meeting point of diverse identities connecting there. It starts a real, true discourse and has more impact. That's what I love and that's why I do this. It's what I always wanted. Being selected by Aerowaves has given me that opportunity.

'It starts a real, true discourse and has more impact. That's what I love and that's why I do this'

The last five years has been a huge journey. It came from a very personal drive. My entire life I've identified myself as queer and as gay. It's been with me, but not something I have adressed as an artist. But then I started to see an influx of artworks in Denmark around topics of masculinity where I didn't feel it represented me at all. And I thought, okay, it's time now to jump into the topic of queer masculinity. But I knew it couldn't be done with one performance. We needed to talk about gender and do a huge project over six years with many different collaborations, performances and types of projects. Through that process I experienced a lot of self-realization about myself as a person and as an artist as well as about the world.

'Being selected by Aerowaves has definitely open doors, but it's more than that'

Being selected by Aerowaves has definitely open doors, but it's more than that. Within the last five years Aerowaves as well as other things have had a significant part to play. A lot of different successes came at the same time. I realized that since I started working creatively at 22 until now at 37 I've always been the underdog. The queer young man, the weird one. I've always been fighting my way in the arts as well. With all these successes and with Aerowaves something has changed! From being the underdog in the shadows I've moved into a more public view. And it's amazing how well-received the works have been. This has done a lot for me, because it gives me strength. And allows me to come into myself with confidence. That my authentic self is okay. And that my expression is okay. That I don't necessarily have to conform to what people want.

Artistically I think there are different strands to this. My artistic essence has not changed. I'm not "selling out", because there is more attention or success. Actually it's been an opportunity to dig in to what I want and present that. But what definitely has changed is that there has been more support. It has allowed my ideas and my artistic vision to grow. I can polish and finetune it.

'From being the underdog in the shadows I've moved into a more public view'

If I don't have money then I have to work with what I can find on the street. But with more opportunity it allows me to realize ideas that actually require money to do. I can now find the aesthetic that I actually desire. I can make it raw and low budget or a fine and high quality production. It's amazing to have that range to work within.

On another level Aerowaves has made it possible for me to establish myself not only as an artist, but also as a creative business. Both me and my company has been growing with all the different networks, partnerships, sales, collaborations. I have a part-time producer in Aarhus, a UK-based producer and an accountant. The whole thing has been growing and I'm planning five years ahead strategically both artistically and on a business level. Thinking, how does this keep growing and how does it remain sustainable? It's many different strands, and I definitely say that Aerowaves has contributed by opening up opportunities for my company by presenting my work in front of a large European performance network.

'Be open, be yourself and get on with it, really'

About giving advice to fellow artist applying for Aerowaves, I don’t particularly feel there are any tips to give others as it doesn’t really work like that. It's not a formula to follow. I would say be open, be yourself and get on with it, really. That's about it."

Interview with Andreas Constantinou, HimHerAndIt Productions by Lars Kjær Dideriksen, November 2017.