OPEN CALL 2014 #

2014-01-13 12:47

In 2014 the theme of the festival is ‘The Utopian City’, which invites to view the city as a complex and incomplete structure, a place that does not exist. Which would be the best possible or perhaps impossible city model, where the spatial, political and social dimensions harmoniously complement each other? The artists are invited to submit proposals (until 24 February, 2014) here:

"Searching for answers, we focus on a city that exists as a container of meanings, as a space where norms and identities are formed, as a multicultural environment, as a ritualised place and at the same time no–place, junk space, which consists of supermarket plantations and decreasing public zones, ripped by city development trends of liberal economy.  

Looking for references in utopian visions by Plato and  Thomas More, as well as revisiting Campanella’s City of the Sun or architectural utopias by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux and Étienne-Louis_Boullée, we find ourselves in relatively recent past, characterised by attempts to carry out modernist utopias, splendour and misery of Marxist  ideas, as well as awareness of alternative living space and place proposed by varied subcultures.

One likely imagines ones own vision of a utopian city thus leading us to heterotopia – a non-homogeneous world imbued with alongside existing otherness, an interspace that exists somewhere outside, in parallel, beyond the mirror, that is simultaneously physical and mental and that by its very existence makes utopia  possible.

Following M. Foucault’s call, we can build a society and city with many heterotopias existing simultaneously in harmony, not only as varied places affirming co-existence of different, but also as a means of helping to avoid authoritarianism. Philosopher compares heterotopia to a ship that is “…a floating piece of a space, a place without a place, that exists by itself….” He continues: “In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.”  We invite you to imagine a city on the board of which you would like to set out for a journey!"

Solvita Krese, curator of the festival


‘Survival Kit’ is an annual art festival that has run since 2009, when it began as a reaction to the global economic crisis which forced the public to find new strategies of survival and encouraged artists to discover fresh means of existence. Previously the festival has represented works by such artists as Oliver Ressler (Austria), Harun Farocki (Germany), The Yes Men (USA), Gabriel Lester (Netherlands) and other internationally well-known authors.

‘Survival Kit’ is curated by Solvita Krese, the director of the LCCA. In 2014 it is co-curated by Aneta Szylak, the director of Wyspa Institut of Art in Gdańsk, Poland. This year the festival is also a significant contribution to the programme of Riga as the European Capital of Culture. For the first time the festival will also take place in Umeå, Sweden.

Interview with Francisco Camacho #

2013-10-14 11:10

Foto: Reinis Hofmanis


During the 5th international festival “Survival Kit” we met with Francisco Camacho, a Colombian born artist, who lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The artistparticipated in the festival with a video installation called the Group Marriage Initiative, conceived in 2009 as part of the art manifestation “My name is Spinoza” in Amsterdam. In the course of 6 months, Camacho developed a political campaign, aiming to collect 40,000 signatures for the legitimisation of group marriages in the Netherlands.

Camacho argues, that today in the Netherlands, there are no socio-economic, cultural or moral obstacles to the existence of group marriages. Free citizens should be able to decide how many people they want to share their lives with. Therefore anyone who, for whatever reason, prefers to share their life with more than one partner has the right to be recognised by the state and to be accepted by society. In the course of this project, the artist also signed a symbolic marriage contract with two other supporters of the campaign in order to proceed with this case in the court.

The Group Marriage project is still on-going and aims to create a public discussion on how the state ensures the freedom of its citizens and prevents the marginalization of certain groups.

 Foto: Reinis Hofmanis

My favourite subject to work with is a society of the future. I love it! It is important, that as an artist I have an autonomy and flexibility to generate images depicting the problematic of social space, comment on what we are lacking in the present and show what the future might look like. The images produced during my projects are very dynamic, they have a potential to generate public discussion and leave open questions. This is something that contemporary art allows you to do.

The Group Marriage Initiative is about repression. Think of a common Western family where a couple raises their kids, has a job, pays taxes, observes the law, respects their neighbours and overall are on their best behaviour. This model fits perfectly our social logic, unless we speak of a non-heterosexual couple. In many countries gay marriages are prohibited by law and same-sex couples cannot have legal rights to raise children. People representing LGBT minorities can be discriminated by society, employers, colleagues or even members of their own family. I can assure you that many people from your most immediate surrounding are constantly fighting for their rights to be recognised. Legitimising the same-sex and group marriages could solve many of these issues because being officially married means being officially recognised by law, the government and the community. This contract is symbolical, but also very powerful.  

Some people understand the others and some people just understand themselves. The Group Marriage Initiative comments on social diversity within public space, indicating that there are many different and equally valid scenarios of organising your daily logic. Hence the project is a very positive action which aims to create some sort of utopia where everyone can claim their rights to be happy. I do believe that tackling these issues bit by bit we can reach a mutual agreement.

Homosexuality is not a myth. Preparing for the show in Riga (Latvia), I made a voice record of a Latvian girl, recounting a journey she made, searching for her own sexual identity. She argues that here, in Latvia, homosexuality is still a taboo, something that people have heard of on TV, a myth or some sort of a parallel reality. Only by traveling outside the given social and cultural background, she could finally understand herself and learn to open up about it.

I started to work on the Group Marriage Initiative in the Netherlands in 2009 and noticed that the Dutch might not be so much pro group marriage initiative, yet unlike Latvians, they do have a culture of talking about social issues, raising public awareness, being involved and having an opinion. I think this is related to the country’s historical past. For instance the Westerners who were never oppressed by other nations are more predisposed to an open social dialogue. Whereas countries with a long history of national oppression, more likely will continue to oppress themselves from within. In Latvia even today people continue to build barriers where sexual minorities, homeless people, mentally ill, disabled and elderly people, etc. are pushed to the social margins, receiving a very limited recognition.

People don’t have to go out of their standards. They have to accept that the standards are changing. Such topic as heterosexuality always has a very ethical position and tends to question how you live your life, what your beliefs are and what is acceptable for you. 

Working on the Group Marriage Initiative I made a very interesting observation. For instance the elder people in the Netherlands were predominantly against the proposal. The people from the 60s, the sexual revolution, the former hippies would unanimously support the campaign. Surprisingly, coming to my generation, people are a bit more conservative and doubtful of the group marriage legitimisation. The younger people today live in a relatively comfortable background, they don’t feel an urge to fight for something and change the way things are.

It takes time to change the way things are. The Group Marriage initiative was conceived in 2009 as part of “My Name is Spinoza” art manifestation in Amsterdam and I there were only six months in my disposition to achieve the set goals. Although we did not get all 40.000 signatures, I do believe that the campaign was a modest but powerful gesture that has a potential to make the world a better place for everyone.  

By Victoria Kasperovich

In retrospective - Survival Kit 5 #

2013-10-10 10:53

Foto: Māris Morkāns

Sebastian Mügge: "I really appreciated the diversity, how each artist had his/her unique way to reflect and deal with the topic slow revolution and I think that this big mixture with all the different voices was the biggest surprise and a huge strenght."

Gabriel Lester: "What was my personal discovery, surprise or astonishment in the festival? It must have been hose footsteps leading one through the building."

Sasha Kurmaz: "One of the most important discoveries of the festival , personally for me, it's the people who work with the event. It's fantastic to have so many good professionals in Riga! It was a pleasure for me to see all of you who do this, also have the opportunity to get acquainted with the participants from other countries."

Kim&Dai aka FASTWURMS: "The festival reminded us of certain techniques and approaches that are still effective. For example, making a stencil with paper and tape and a knife; creating quick images, entering into a public discourse with an initiative of limited means...

Our personal surprise factor was not limited to the exhibition, but mixed into our appraisal of the culture of Riga and Latvia in general. This was our first visit so we were interested, for example,  in the novelty of Soviet infrastructure such as the trains and rail system.

But in terms of the exhibition, we would say that the local art culture is at an important point in terms of negotiating the Utopian impulse, creating the future. The marketplace is not yet dominant, there is room for new thinking, opportunities for different models."

John Huntington: "I think the exhibition was relevant in the way that it gave a wide variety of strategies and mindsets of how to address contemporary society and politics. Not so much concrete agendas or political aims, but creative and thoughtful expressions that expand the ideas around politics and change. I thought that this widening of both the notions of slowness and revolution was the most relevant thing, not the individual artworks.

The festival encouraged both hope and despair, as usual when it comes to issues about political change. There is a certain power in many artworks in the exhibition, especially when it comes to inspire and show examples of how to take control of your own life and situation, and creating alternatives modes of living. But you also get the usual hopelessness that comes when thinking about how the current global situation is today. But that is why these issues must be addressed over and over again, and a theme like slow revolution never goes out of date.

The work by Ane Hjort Guttu was very interesting, it was my personal favorite. The boy encapsulated all the issues about being subversive and critical, in a really straightforward way. The issues he had with authorities are very similar to the issues adult activist have. In that way he was both a source of inspiration, and an annoying kid. And he delivered fantastic one-liners."

Yulia Bardun: "For me the exhibtion and all the events are a kind of one integral text, very rich. Also, socially, the whole program allowed a very nice environment for communicating with the other participants and Survival Kit team. I think it is very important that we had a chance to spend a lot of time together, talk, walk, discuss, eat - through that we get to know each other better from the professional point of view and human experience.

I would say this experience sharpened a leftist in me, inspired to read more and motivated more to work with critical local issues in my projects, perhaps, to do more participative things.  And I would be really interested in developing cooperation between BB NCCA and LCCA."


Interview with Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, Maija Rudovska and Juste Kostikovaite #

2013-09-23 13:53

Foto: Andrejs Strokins

During the 5th International Contemporary Art Festival “Survival Kit” produced by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, the UK based artist Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad in collaboration with Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) curators Maija Rudovska (LV) and Juste Kostikovaite (LT) as part of a “Lose&Find” workshop proposed to embark on an expedition to one of Riga’s neighbourhoods – Sarkandaugava. In the workshop a game format was used to discover the locality and invent models of alternative action, collaboration and communication.

Can creation of games and rules act as a research tool that aids in acquiring knowledge? Can one learn the new by becoming a teacher rather than a student? Victoria Kasperovich met with the artist Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad and curators Maija Rudovska and Juste Kostikovaite to talk about games, spatial qualities, public interventions and learning strategies that we can adapt to our everyday life.

 Festival “Survival Kit” was conceived in 2009 as a reaction to the economic crisis in Latvia. Since then every year the festival has been inviting artists and public to engage with the most current and socially important issues. This autumn “Survival Kit” focuses on slow revolution, which emphasizes the importance of margins and aims to overturn positions of power. Why are you using “game” format as a strategy to look at today’s situation from a different, alternative angle?

Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad: For us the idea of free play is very important. If you think in terms of children’s play, it is absolutely non-instructive and mostly self-led. Having no boundaries, in a game, children can be imaginative and interpretive of space. They have completely different approach to gaining knowledge. Adults are less predisposed to a free play, therefore to a different, alternative model of looking and interpreting things. In “Lose&Find” workshop we proposed a parallel engagement with the city and defined it as a site of experimentation. Participating in a game we were overlaying new rules and flexing the existing ones that govern public space.

Juste Kostikovaite: For us it was a double curatorial gesture. We were responding to the brief and thinking in terms of marginal tactics that can initiate impulses for social change. But also we wanted to introduce a new format that has not been used in “Survival Kit” festival before. At the beginning we were in conversation with curator Janna Graham who initiated The Serpentine Gallery’s (UK) Edgware Road Project. She has a very interesting approach to art practice and looks at how grassroots or social movements can accommodate and develop certain ideas.

In Bahbak’s workshop a “game” format is used as a strategy to transgress social and spatial barriers which we encounter in our everyday life. For instance, we embarked on an expedition in Sarkandaugava as complete outsiders who had a very short encounter with the area. I have never been to Sarkandaugava, although I have been to Riga many times. Maija never visits the neighborhood, although she lives in Riga. Bahbak has never been to Riga and Latvia. To some extent the local people from Sarkandaugava can also be described as outsiders – they live in this district but for instance, many have never been to the beautiful Dauderi museum next door. Could we all be referred to as outsiders of the same locality? Participating in a game as a group, we erase these barriers that are imposed by spatial, geographical, social, economic or political topicalities.

Many of your projects focus on interventions and interactions with different localities from London to Tokyo. Now you have also added Riga to this map. How do you approach new unfamiliar space? Can your projects be re-enacted across the globe?

Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad: I initiate projects that are not only culturally or historically specific, but also spatially engaging. I usually start with observations. I have a very personal approach and always ask myself what can I do for this space? What knowledge can I share?

For me learning is very much a self-led process, it is an attitude or a way of thinking, rather than action. In “Lose&Find” workshop we created our own instructions, learning strategies and performed them in public space. This format can be re-enacted in any locality, by any group of people and the result will always bring new understanding of spatial politics, create new layers of information.

Maija Rudovska: When we decide to make a public intervention as an artistic practice, we should focus on a locality we work in, its needs and specific characteristics. Instead of occupying the so called “marginal” space or transgressing the borders between “centre” and “periphery” by bringing art to the people, we should think in terms of being here and now, asking what do people in this particular locality need.

You work a lot within social space. Do you see “Lose&Find” workshop as part of slow revolution movement that has a power to increase activity in mass community?

Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad: In my opinion searching for direct signs of slow revolution is misguiding. I would describe it as an alternative way of looking, thinking and producing knowledge. An impact of slow revolution allows you to have a critical distance to your immediate environment.

My projects in general don’t look for strong answers and are not intended to change the system. At least not immediately. I am more interested in byproduct of interventions. “Lose&Find” was a temporary situation, in and out kind of project. However, I do believe that it has a potential to leave a trace, create a system which can be adopted after we leave. The work we did in Sarkandaugava can create an alternative way of looking at space, interpreting from it and switch to the parallel view of peoples current situation.

What are the future scenarios of slow revolution?

Juste Kostikovaite: I think with the time the discourse of centre versus periphery will evolve into something else. For me this is no longer a topic I want to escalate so much, because every centre is a margin of another centre. One could argue with Terry Smith for example if New York is still the site of production and centre of contemporary art discourse. I haven’t read his new book ‘What is contemporary art” yet, but maybe he gives a new view on this question. At the moment I am more thinking about the marginalities as spatial and living conditions, something that we construct within ourselves. I would agree with Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who describes our current conditions as “liquid modernity”. Bauman argues that the only thing that is certain is that everything is uncertain. ‘Liquid modernity” also means that in the neoliberal conditions there are no margins and no centre anymore. Apart, maybe, the capital, that relentlessly feeds on the liquid state of relationships: social, economic and political.

Survival Kit 5 - just around the corner #

2013-08-08 14:31

With the strength gained from the peripheries, slow revolution is overturning positions of power and questioning the dominance of the centre. Evolving from the needs of individuals and neglecting hierarchy, the new strategy of survival in the present day is reflected by a variety of artists in the 5th International Contemporary Art Festival “Survival Kit 5. Slow Revolution”. The festival, produced by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, challenges the individual to pursue its desires.

The list of contributing artists includes Ane Hjort Guttu (NO), Anda Lace (LV), Ernests Klavins (LV), Eva Vevere (LV), FASTWÜRMS (CA), Francisco Camacho (CO/NL), Gabriel Lester (NL), Gundega Evelone (LV), Harun Farocki (DE), Ieva Kaula (LV), Ingrida Picukane (LV), Ivar Veermae (EE), Ivars Drulle (LV), Johanna Billing (SE), Kanslibyrån (John Huntington & Per-Arne Sträng) (SE), Kate Krolle (LV), Karlis Vitols (LV), Klavs Upaciers (LV), Kriss Salmanis (LV), Laura Kenins (LV), Laura Prikule (LV), Leonards Laganovskis (LV), Liene Mackus (LV), Matthieu Laurette (FR), Martins Zutis (LV), Maija Mackus (LV), Minna L. Henriksson (FI), Nicoline van Harshkamp (NL), Nina Kurtela (DE/HR), Oliver Ressler (AT), creative group “Orbita” (LV), Sasha Kurmaz (UA), Sebastian Mugge (SE), The Yes Men (US), Vilnis Putrams (LV) and Vladimirs Jakusonoks (LV).

The world is still in the midst of rapid changes – political systems and maps, as well as the balance of economic power is altering. Meanwhile, the activity in mass community is increasing, stimulating a wave of protest against the forces in control. Registering the world’s “hot” spots, one may look back on the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street actions in New York, which developed into a global movement within a surprisingly short period, reverberating also in Greece, Spain, Israel, Turkey and other countries. The protest actions in Russia against Putin’s regime cannot go unmentioned among them.

No longer are these events carried out by a handful of “leftist” intellectuals or activists, the protest actions are led by a massive and all-embracing movement, which continues to grow, creating a dominant mood in a significant part of the community.  The slow revolution does not have any national borders or leaders, nor does it have a political programme. The main demand is to change the existing system. What is the possible alternative? Has the tradition of criticism come to a kind of dead-end, criticising the existing situation, but being unable to provide a clear vision for the future, a new utopia?

In the framework of the festival, the symposium “Slow Revolution. Art and Culture in the Institutional and Territorial Peripheries” will also take place. During workshops, a seminar and other activities artists, activists, curators and local citizens will seek the answer to the question – in the period of increased civil activity, what can be done from the marginal position?

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art invites artists to participate in “Survival Kit 5”  #

2013-01-23 10:30

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) invites artists to submit ideas for the “Survival Kit 5” International Contemporary Arts Festival which will take place from the 5th to the 15th September, 2013. Each year artists have been encouraged to contemplate on some theme of importance in the community and reflect it in their works, creating alternative scenarios for survival in the modern world.

“Survival Kit 5” has focussed on slow revolution, which emphasizes the importance of margins, overturning positions of power and questions the dominance of the centre. It is a non-hierarchical movement which has evolved from the needs of individuals and develops direct democratic traditions. The slow revolution invites not to be afraid of reaching out for what you really desire.

Applications can be submitted online, by filling in the application form hereby March 10th, 2013, 11:59PM.

The director of LCCA and “Survival Kit 5” Festival curator Solvita Krese comments on this year’s theme: “Each year when we organize the “Survival Kit” Contemporary Arts Festival, we try to find out what has changed in the world, and what sort of survival strategies are being used in today’s society and how these activities are reflected in art. The world is still in the midst of rapid changes – political systems and maps are changing, as well as the balance of economic power. At the same time we can see an increase in mass community activity, stimulating a wave of protest against the system which controls political and economic power.”

Registering the world’s “hot” spots, we can look back on the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street actions in Ņew York, which turned into a global movement within a surprisingly short period. This reverberated in Greece, Spain, Israel and in other countries. The demonstrations and protest actions in Russia against V. Putin’s regime cannot go unmentioned among these. They are no longer events organized by a handful of “leftist” intellectuals or activists, but a massive and all embracing movement, which continues to grow wider, creating a dominant mood in a significant part of the community.  

The slow revolution does not have any national borders, or leaders, nor does it have a political programme. The main demand is to change the existing system or to create an alternative to the existing one. What is the possible alternative? Has the tradition of criticism come to a kind of dead-end, criticising the existing situation but being unable to provide a new vision for the future, a new utopia?

What can an artist do in such a “seismic” situation? Is influencing the situation even possible? What sort of strategies can we use, being in quite a marginal position, in opposition to the dominating power? The advantage of marginality and being outside the official organs of power is the possibility to exhibit a critical point of view. The most daring ideas arise right on the margins of power. It’s important not to get “bogged down” in the predictable, but to develop one’s own rules and game, and to take the first step before the control mechanism has been able to classify, subordinate, take over and make your extraordinary solutions into components of the existing system.

To submit the idea for your work to the “Survival Kit 5” Festival, an application form has to be filled in and submitted online her:, with the appendices indicated (artist’s CV, portfolio and visual materials) by 11.59pm on 10th March, 2013 .

Latvians participating in the collaboration project between Latvia and Turkey - “Urban Renewal”  #

2012-10-08 11:04

Foto: Didzis Grodzs

This fall several Latvian artists – Arnis Balčus, Iliāna Veinberga, Alma Ziemele, Margrieta Dreiblate, Alnis Stakle, Irīna Špičaka, Gints Grīvans – have been participating in the collaboration project between Latvia and Turkey “Urban Renewal (For Those Who Stayed)”. The artworks of both Latvian and Turkish artists were displayed in the international art festival „Survival Kit” in Riga, Latvia, then in Mersin, Turkey, and in November the exhibition will be open in the gallery „DEPO” in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Urban Renewal (For Those Who Stayed)” is a project looking to uncover the connections between changes a city goes through and the influence these changes can have on the habits and everyday movements of a city’s inhabitants.

The city is a convenient playground for anyone who likes experimenting with re-shuffling and arranging. Buildings in a city are built as visions of the future, as a step towards an ideal city. The emergence of new buildings changes a city radically – both visually and socially. Construction often requires demolition, and demolition can effectively halt certain ways of life while at the same time creating others. Already in the moment of creation, however, these new structures convey the possibility of their disappearance – especially considering the waves of economic unrest that we are currently experiencing. The financial situation encourages the consideration of alternative models of living.

Considering that the city, regardless of demographic changes, still retains a magnetic pull over people, the questions concerning the future of cities is multifaceted and ambiguous. How are dreams realized in new buildings? Do they improve the environment and the quality of life? Are they merely unwanted neighbours that one has to put up with?

Contemporary cities hold a lot of contradictions: inadequate architecture, decaying buildings, empty spaces between new structures, dark alleys and a lack of infrastructure. Changes in a city highlight our dangerous flirtation with these contradictions and give rise to questions. What is public space? Who do we share it with?

Artists: (Latvia) - Arnis Balčus, Iliāna Veinberga, Alma Ziemele, Margrieta Dreiblate, Alnis Stakle, Irīna Špičaka, Gints Grīvans.

(Turkey) - Sibel Yavuz, Zümra Hecan, Elif Köse, Tayfun Akdemir, Yakın Refleksler Collective, Bengisu Muazzez Kurtuluş, Şükrü Köroğlu, Özge Su Çalasın, Burhan Yılmaz.

Curators: Ahmet Karabulak (Turkish artists), and Zane Dātava (Latvian artists).

Design: Irīna Špičaka

Editor: Jūle Mare Rozīte

This exhibition is supported by the Latvian Embassy in Turkey and Turkish Airlines. It is part of the Tandem Cultural Managers Exchange Programme which is supported and organized by the European Cultural Foundation and Stiftung Mercator in cooperation with MitOst, Anadolu Kültür and Bilgi University.

The contemporary art festival “Survival Kit 4” has concluded #

2012-09-27 12:41

Photo: Janis Pesiks

The fourth – and the most extensive of all – contemporary art festival “Survival Kit” concluded on September 16th. Bringing together more than 50 collaboration partners and supporters, the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art managed to organize over 30 special events, involving 91 artists form 17 countries. For the first time in the history of “Survival Kit”, which was based in Riga, in the previous premises of Tobacco Factory, the festival had partners in Sigulda, Tukums and Aizpute, resulting in satellite-exhibitions and residencies for artists from abroad.

Johanna Hästö, the Swedish artist that surprised Latvia with her performance “Zipper Suit”, when returning to her home in Umeå, writes: “On my way back to Sweden, a guy working in the airport recognized me (even without the zipper suit). He told me that he had seen the injury on my thumb and remembered that I had had a plaster when I was on his flight a week before. Moreover, he told me that the captain of the plane had been so excited, when he saw the zipper suit, that he had searched the Internet to find more about me and found “Survival Kit”.  The guy said that everyone in the staff was thrilled and that it was a wonderful experience!”

The art curator and historian Elita Ansone comments on “Survival Kit”: “The festival was truly extensive and saturated. I was especially moved by the art work “Truth is simple” by Kate Krolle and Atis Jekabsons; however each and every one of the artists deserves recognition. When pondering on the subject of “downshifting”, I consider it an important theme in this day and age that has to settle in our subconsciousness to help us find means of how to slow down our every-day pace.”

The first “Survival Kit” was organized in 2009 as a reaction to the changes brought by the economic crisis in Latvia. The focus of the second festival in 2012 was new initiatives and creative quartals, whereas the third “Survival Kit” concentrated on the prediction and modeling of the future. Next year the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art plans to organize the fifth “Survival Kit”, introducing a fresh new focus that is essential to the society. The festival is constantly growing in order to become one the most popular and extensive art events in 2014 when Riga will be the Culture Capital of Europe.

The contemporary art festival "Survival Kit 4" begins #

2012-09-06 12:39

Photo: Janis Pesiks

From September 6th to 16th the annual international contemporary art festival Survival Kit will take place in Riga, Latvia. The focus of SURVIVAL KIT 2012, a tradition which began in 2009 as a reaction to the changes brought by the global economic crisis, is downshifting or “the escape from the rat’s race”. The concept encourages people to take a critical look at the habitual consuming standards and the traditional perception of success; moreover, it emphasizes the need to balance time for work and leisure, as well as to focus on personal fulfillment.

Each year SURVIVAL KIT attracts talented artists from all over the world, this time bringing the masterpieces of, for instance, Jaime Pitarch form Spain, Jussi Kivi from Finland, Nira Pereg form Israel, Camilla Berner form Denmark and many more. Latvia will be represented by such artists as Alnis Stakle, Kristine Alksne, Arturs Punte, Kristine Zelve, Krists Pudzens, Aija Bley and Izolde Cesniece.

“Downshifting” – the focus of the contemporary art festival SURVIVAL KIT 4 – is a widely discussed subject all over Europe. The whole concept of the festival toys with the idea of living slow, chasing after your own interests and possibilities of growth, being closer to nature and evaluating the egoistic wants and needs of a human being.

John Griznich from Estonia, an artist and cultural coordinator working with various practices combining sound, image, site, and collaborative social structures since the early 1990s, when asked about the term “downshifting” becomes philosophical, “Generating integrated cultures of language, food and art is so inherent to human life that only empires built from violence and systems of mass repression are powerful enough tools to create beliefs of mass deception to shadow these facts.”

“I think (in a way) we live now in a time similar to middle ages or – in some way – also like the Revolution time in XIX century France,”  says Julita Wójcik, an artist from Poland. “And this revolution has already begun: in Spain, Greece and those countries where the economy has recently collapsed.  People change their life to make it more personal, more “useful”. They eat less, build less, and produce less garbage. They do those everyday things that we all do but in “human proportions”. In my artistic practice I have always been trying to expose simple daily activities like flying a kite, gardening, peeling potatoes... to do that what for today’s world is to be “slow-living”…”

Søssa Jørgensen and Geir Tore Holm are part of the “downshifting” movement in Sweden, “We moved to the farm Ringstad in March 2010, and started up our life there, being looser connected to the city and the artists’ community. We are experiencing a change of workloads, but not a reduction, taking care of the land, growing vegetables, grass and fruit, berries. Our animals demand a change in our daily routine, the demand working dynamically bearing in mind the changing seasons. “Shifting down” is probably more of necessity in our individual lives, but in the broader sense, in societies there are cycles of changes based on resources, ideas and politics.”

Since 2009, there have been tree SURVIVAL KIT festivals in Riga, reaching approximately 65 000 people. Therefore, this year the art event has been taken to the next level, organizing 3 satellite-festivals in regional cities – Sigulda, Tukums and Aizpute. Participants of SURVIVAL KIT are not just artists but also representatives of various other fields – architects, scientists, new entrepreneurs, teachers and other energetic experts, developing and implementing creative strategies to survive the times of crisis.

The following artists and many more will participate in SURVIVAL KIT 4: Arturs Bērziņš (LV), Inga Brūvere (LV), Elīne Buka (LV),  Aija Bley (LV), Mihai Ieapure Gorski (RO), John Griznich (EE) and “bērnu rīts” (LV), Johanna Hästö (SE), Julita Wójcik (PL), Klāvs Upacieris (LV), Gitte Villesen (DK), Rasa Jansone (LV), Søssa Jørgensen (NO) and Geir Tore Holm (NO), Jussi Kivi (FI), Laura Ķeniņš (LV), Madara Lesīte (LV), Liene Mackus (LV), Maija Mackus (LV), Maya Mikelsone (LV/FR), Ivars Grāvlejs (LV/CH), Mickaël Marchand (FR), Nira Pereg (IL), Krists Pudzens (LV), Orbīta and Arturs Punte (LV), “Reloading Images” (Kaya Behkalam (DE), Roberto Cavallini (IT), Azin Feizabadi (IR), Carla Esperanza Tommasini (IT)), Krišs Salmanis (LV), Alnis Stakle (LV), Pilvi Takala (FI), Ginta Tinte Vasermane (LV/NL), Zane Veldre (LV), Mārtiņš Zutis (LV), Kristīne Želve (LV), David Zink Yi (GER), Jaime Pitarch (SP), Agency (Kobe Mathyss) (BE), Mickael Marchand (FR), Camilla Berner (SE), wooloo (DK), Vladimirs Jakušonoks (LV), Kristaps Gulbis (LV), Trulā grupa (LV), Kārlis Vītols (LV), Izolde Cēsniece (LV), Kate Krolle (LV), Atis Jākobsons (LV), Elīna Eihmane (LV), Iliāna Veinberga (LV), Dace Džeriņa (LV), Kristīne Alksne (LV), Andris Eglītis (LV) and Ivars Grāvjējs (LV).

SURVIVAL KIT 4 will take place in a pop-up art space in the artistic district of Riga – in the previously occupied Tobacco Factory on Miera – or Peace – Street. It is organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), a dynamic unit seeking connections between art and the current processes in the society, claiming the city and the surrounding reality as a field of creative possibilities, reacting to changes in the global art space by cooperation with artists and other art organizations, production work, information distribution, education, analysis, research, provocation, questioning, naming and frequently also trespassing the usual borderlines, as well as encouraging people to participate and be socially active. Survival Kit is curated by Solvita Krese, the director of LCCA.