Path 12

Conference, discussion and exchange of experience about the processes of contemporary culture in Latvia and Norway

2022. gada 19. decembris

With the launch of the project “Me, A Human Being in the World”, A Tool for Fostering Contemporary Culture Processes, in addition to working with children and young people and preparation for unveiling the next murals in 2023, we are also raising the awareness of the importance and availability of contemporary art in Latvia.

At the beginning of December, project partners from the Nordland region The Cultural Schoolbag Nordland (Den kulturelle skolesekken i Nordland) visited Latvia. Together with the project partners, we explored several contemporary cultural experiences in Riga and organized an international conference dedicated to contemporary art.

The main topics of the conference concerned international exchange of experience and examples of contemporary art in Latvia and Norway. The conference speakers were art curator Auguste Petre, board member of the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation Elīna Vikmane, artists Ingūna Skuja and Melisa D. Braden (Skuja Braden), head of The Cultural Schoolbag Nordland programme in Norway Ida Hevrøy and head of Ziedoņa klase (Ziedonis Class) Elizabete Pavlovska.

Conference plan:
11:00–11:05 Opening (Elizabete Pavlovska)
11.:05–12:00 The Example of Contemporary Art in Norway (Ida Hevrøy)
12:00–12:20 Coffee break
12:20–14:00 Discussion Exit Point for Contemporary Art in Latvia (Auguste Petre, Elīna Vikmane, Ingūna Skuja, Melissa D. Braden, Ida Hevrøy, Elizabete Pavlovska)
The conference was be held in English language – both in Facebook LIVE format and open to attendance in person, in Sporta 2 Quarter, Riga. The recording of the conference is available here.

The insights regarding the international conference Exit Point by Elizabete Pavlovska, head of Ziedoņa klase – the educational direction of Imants Ziedonis Foundation Viegli:

“The presentation and visit of the Norwegian partners reminds us that the contemporary art first of all places an emphasis upon experiencing it, not to understand it. This closely relates to the recent events in Latvia. In the first part of the conference, the colleagues from Norway, The Cultural Schoolbag Nordland, noted that any cultural offer which is provided to young people must necessarily always be of high quality. In the second part of the conference, we discussed the current affairs of contemporary art in Latvia. Participants recognized that the culture of “cancellation” or abnegation of art is more dangerous than the discussions about contemporary art that are presently taking place in our homes. Both our experience working with young people and statistics prove that young people are interested in experiencing culture and contemporary art, but if it is prohibited and censored, it has no chance to reach the young people at schools. The conference revealed many surprising facts that prompts to consider our society as a whole. We jointly contemplated the things that prevent us from being worldly, contemporary and development-oriented. The findings of the discussion brought a conclusion that education, communication and the lack of the Museum of Contemporary Art certainly are among the obstacles. However, the main realization is that we must continue to talk about contemporary art and its problems, and we must be honest. And being honest doesn’t mean being hurtful, harsh, or unethical. It is a responsibility towards society and ourselves so that history does not repeat itself and we continue to develop.”

Below, the new conclusions and reflections on the experiences in Latvia, forged together with project partners from Norway:

► In Norway, the same as in Latvia, the goal of “School Bag” is to provide high-quality products, as well as to reflect and enable young people to experience diversity in culture;
► Contemporary art can be of help when talking about different topics, for example, in Norway, the Knut Hamsun Centre – the writer’s museum – reflects one of the most widely recognized Norwegian authors through contemporary art;
► In Norway, there is a belief that an artist should be independent, as well as free from censorship and restrictions. The discussions in Latvia in recent weeks highlight the fact that this is not the case here;
► The Norwegian guests were delighted and inspired to get acquainted with our escape room Blēņas un pasakas (Twaddle and tales) in Sporta 2 Quarter, outdoor exhibition of Ziedonis Museum Perpendikulārā karote (Perpendicular spoon) and other activities of the Viegli group of Imants Ziedonis Foundation;
► Particular gratitude is extended to Riga Circus for the exploratory tour and narration about current and future projects, introduction to the contemporary circus;
► The new RSU Anatomy Museum is very inspiring. We were greatly impressed by the museum’s strategy – to talk about sensitive topics with and through contemporary art;
► Special acknowledgment of the Latvian National Museum of Art for the opportunity to look into the techniques employed by museum in its work with young people. The more people go to the museum, the sooner Latvia will have a home for contemporary art.

Imants Ziedonis Foundation Viegli educational direction Ziedoņa klase is implementing a project “Me, A Human Being in the World”, A Tool for Fostering Contemporary Culture Processes with the support of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism for the period 2014–2020 programme Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Cultural Cooperation (project No. EEZ/2021/1/28) ), awarded under the open call Support for the Creation of Professional Art and Cultural Products for Children and Youth.

Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe