Echigo festival

The Plan: July 2018

Events to aim for this month


July 2-15, London, England


Strawberries and cream, picnic hampers, lush green grass: it may be clichéd but the Wimbledon fortnight holds everlasting appeal. It’s the international sporting event that most resembles a village fete, a chance to experience all the delights of a traditional British summer whatever the weather – oh, and catch some of the best tennis players in the world in action.

Air Drive

Until Oct 10, Dubai, UAE


It looks for all the world like another classic car photoshoot – except for one rather obvious difference. None of these amazing automobiles have wheels. Air Drive is the result of French artist Renaud Marion’s lifelong obsession with futurism, a fascinating and deeply surreal exhibition in which some of the most iconic cars of our time are digitally manipulated to become hovercraft.


June 29-Sep 2, Obonjan, Croatia


A private, previously uninhabited and stunningly beautiful Croatian island that doubles up as a summer-long festival and wellness retreat for adults only: what’s not to like? DJs are booked to play poolside throughout the season, while the accommodation – in bell tents and lodges overlooking the Adriatic – is spectacular.


July 29-September 17, Echigo-Tsumari, Japan


A remote corner of mountainous Japan full of rice paddies and abandoned schools is an unlikely setting for a cutting-edge contemporary art festival, but Echigo-Tsumari has been wowing audiences every three years since 2000. This year’s theme examines the role of architecture and the power of art and will include intriguing work and performances from Japanese, European, North American and African artists.


July 6-16, Dartington, UK


Q+A: Ziyad Marar

Why do we judge other people? And what good does it do? Ways with Words upcoming speaker, and author of The Value of being Misunderstood, discusses

Judgement. Why was the phenomenon worth exploring to you?

Judgement has a real relevance to my history and the idea of who is an outsider and who is an insider. I was born in Baghdad to a Jordanian father and moved to the UK. Having that perspective has always brought up the question what it takes to belong. On top of that, the fundamental fact of human nature is that we are profoundly social animals. We are constantly being judged and judging one another, it’s never-ending: but we are also very poor at it.

ziyad marar

How might it benefit us?

Quite often people think about confirmation bias, where one favours pre-existing beliefs or availability bias, where one uses information that comes to mind to make a judgement – and all of these things are described as problematic. But they are there for a reason. We’re overwhelmed by information and need to reach quickly and make decisions with only partial information. These biases can be handy shorthand to turn our social wheels very quickly, over a short course of time.

Are you seeing the increase of any specific biases in our globalised age?

 I don’t think the digital age created these biases, but it can certainly magnify them. When you look at Facebook, it increases its community by algorithms that optimise this dimension of relevance and engagement. The para

doxical affect is that it is a micro culture of tribal loyalties, where you get same feedback you are thinking already. It invites people to exaggerate their traditions and creates a kind of vicious circle of thought.

Do festivals like Ways with Words help to combat this?

Ways with Words has people with a wide range of experiences, from politics to academics, and so there are rich forms of conversation. I’ve been to Dartington a few times before and I’m particularly fond of it because its so idyllic, and surrounded by goodwill. The thing I want to get across there is that everyone has been misunderstood at one point in their lives. We’re all in the same boat so we can be a bit kinder to each other. And at the same time, we don’t want to be too known… we need elbow room, to grow and to change. As humans, we are not set in stone.