In the former Museum of Literature and Music, Riga, Latvia September 4 – October 4, 2020
The eleventh edition of the festival is titled Being Safe is Scary and will be curated by Katia Krupennikova.
Being Safe is Scary takes its title from a site-specific piece created in 2017 by artist Banu Cennetoğlu for documenta 14. The phrase comes from graffiti on a wall of the National Technical University of Athens, noticed by Cennetoğlu around the time of the signing of the EU-Turkey refugee deal in March 2016. Violating international law on refugee protection, the contract forced every irregular entrant to Greece to be handed over to Turkey, causing reception facilities and temporary camps on the Greek islands to be turned into detention centres. By adopting this heavily charged title, this edition of Survival Kit connects itself to wider, ongoing discussions around security and political violence.
The notions of safety and security are central to today’s political imagination. They are used to provide rationales for wars, nationalist agendas, racism and inequality, and to legitimise and normalise extensive surveillance and self-surveillance, aggression, hatred, insularity and other reactionary attitudes and policies. The politics of fear feeds upon precarity. Whole systems of domination are built upon the fierce illusion of protection, encouraging brutal competition and enforcing both financial and moral indebtedness.
It is usually the most marginalised members of society that are classified as threats: those stigmatised due to sexual identity, race, class, religion or gender. The figure of the migrant, as deployed in populist discourse, is one of the key phobic objects of our time. In addition, those who organise and participate in resistance against the status quo are often viewed by the state as security threats. If these people are threats, who are the endangered subjects that need protecting? And what are the real threats and dangers that are covered over and pacified by this construction of social dangers?
This exhibition aims to explore why it’s urgent and necessary to transform the suppositions that undergird such discourse and calls for safety to be reconnected to practices of love, intimacy, sharing, commonality, mutual support, attention, care for each other and for the environment, and social alliances.
Survival Kit is organised by Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), the largest institution of contemporary art in Latvia that curates and produces contemporary art events of national and international scale. As of 1993, it has researched and curated contemporary art processes both in Latvia and abroad to provoke critical reflection on issues topical for contemporary society. We are widely recognized for our annual international contemporary art festival Survival Kit, regular exhibitions at the Latvian National Art Museum, as well as Latvian participation at the Venice Biennale, São Paulo Art Biennial, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Rauma Biennale of Contemporary Art. LCCA holds the only archive of Latvian contemporary art.
“We need oil to breathe“ (2018) painted steel, inkjet print on glass-fibre wallpaper, shaft (found in Turku 2018)
“Two months of black plastic bags mixture II” (2018) newsprint, polycarbonate, synthetic rubber (found in Paris 2018), steel
“Blueprints_silver_room“ (2020), Metal holder for emergency shafts (found in Turku 2018) laser print on overhead projector films, spray paint
THE EXHIBITION/SCREENING – event at ASI (Agency of Singular Investigations) space at FABRIKA 4.9.2019 and ZARYA Center for Contemporary Art, VLADIVOSTOK 21.09.2019
As a part of a project ’IN VARIOUS STAGES OF RUINS’
[INFO OF THE PROJECT: This screening, and the event of exhibiting, is a part of a project that deals with the concept of knowledge – its formation and distribution tactics – and the notion of a ‘ruin’. The method that the project has focused on is exploration – conducted as a set of visits, tours and trips – but linked integrally to the element of thinking about what ‘artistic practice’ entails; What kind of form of knowledge production it is? And how does the element of installing and presenting the activity as the artefacts connect into the field of factual knowledge formation? With these questions in mind we have embarked on to form some ‘outputs’ or ‘outlets’ – which this event is one part – that we have chosen to formulate some commentary to these issues.]
CURATORIAL NOTES by MIINA HUJALA
In a life-cycle of materials, as chemical, structural compositions, they are in fact never ‘ruins’ as they constantly shift, reform – become something else. This reaction, readjustment, regeneration in the composition – like that of the compost making constant dissolutions, transitions, metamorphoses – is a situation that to remain as a ruin, something must be up-kept as a ruin – the decay has to be so slow – or so instant as in destructive event (a blast) – that to be visible as a ruin ‘now’ (contemporarily). Evident in the notion of a ruin – is past present as visible.
Dreams and dreaming can enlarge and cultivate the present consciousness by stripping this same consciousness of its tangible present – in ‘dreaming’ the inability to attach onto something points to a meaning that evaporates consciousness.
Consumed by constant daydreaming (with its consumerist materiality) with its corrosive neglect – things demand our attention and desire but only to be discarded – thus it is to be asked who looks at the waste, notices the ruins of “our times”?
Noticing a ruin as a ruin of interference – a standstill – (to borrow a temporal term from Benjamin) – is to look at something that has stopped reproducing, that has remained, been left without a time of continuity, that is “out-of-time”.
For Jung the archetypal symbol was a sort of “left-over”, a piece of the past that lingered, brought in conscious presence within a dream’s blooming symbolism but without a fixed interpretation.
There is no entity to be built with fragments, there are just fragments. To be depicted and to be interpreted. We escape to the “virginal past”, because seeing the decaying presence makes us feel dirty and sick. But we are (everything that is alive is) dirty and sick by necessity. We decay, ‘remain’ but in traces, always when we clean, we clean “purposefulness” to be visible. Remove the unwanted or unneeded in the reference to something pursued.
Museums are filled with the remains of other (older) times mostly excavated from garbage dumps and graves. Our incessant focus on value as something “brand new” hides the traces of it always being of some form of material past.
History has no purpose, so placing things we “discover” on a setting is always a creative act, it’s an act of storytelling, of placing things on a relationship with the notions of trust. Believe is a component of trust, trust is a component of truth, knowledge is a formation of trustable perceived truthful.
Maija Timonen: ‘Total Atmospheric Mean’, 19min 15sec, 2010
Total Atmospheric Mean recounts a dream. A video essay on the topic of mediation, it stages a cinematic experience of and about improvised means.
Sauli Sirviö: ‘We need oil to breathe’(2018) painted steel, inkjet print on fiberglass wallpaper
The photograph depicting a terrain (with traces) is accompanied with a shaft that is meant to be used in public community shelter space in case of need for oxygen using diesel motor ventilation system.
Anni Puolakka: ’Timanttimaha’ (Diamond Belly, 2018), 11:15, HD 16:9, single channel
Staged as a conversation with an artificial intelligence chatbot, Timanttimaha (Diamond Belly) explores love and companionship between a human artist, the bot and mosquitos. The human offers her body as a nourishing ‘baguette’ to the diamond-bellied mosquitoes, envisioning their bio-chemistry in complementary with her own haematic cycle.
Elina Vainio: ‘Crossword’
Vainio utilizes signage (as words, letters) in her practice – in this occasion the Cyrillic alphabet – and by removal of threads from a fabric makes manifest connections between materials and formations of meanings.
Eero Yli-Vakkuri: ‘Mineral Water Exploration (with electronics and taste buds)’
Yli-Vakkuri’s presentation will illustrate how mineral waters are formed as rain passes through the soil. The characteristics of different waters will be explored using electronic gadgets, by short narratives, and by preparing a batch of mineral water for consumption.
Jussi Kivi: River Styx Main Stream Under The City, River Styx Northern Ranch, Subterranean Fountain, photographs
Kivi has done for several years various exploration trips venturing into the remains of different hidden sites and routes underneath the structures of a city or to terrains that are present but not seen – or allowed to travel. This series of images taken from inside of sewage systems.
Iona Roisin: Image on the poster and Instagram stories
From Iona Roisin we deliberately asked for an image to be used as a poster for this screening/exhibition event. She has participated as a part of the research trip group – on our previous Trans-Siberian train trip in 2018 alongside our trips to Karelia-area and Vyborg and she has stayed at the facilities of the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg. She uses the instrument of a camera and documents – also through images posted online – on these journeys. She has edited together all of her Instagram stories from three trips, totalling two hours, these are running in the space on a phone. We felt that with this activity she captivates something very essential in the project, with the act of observing and the method entwined.
In July 2019 Porin kulttuurisäätö collective is opening Sandstorm, a site-specific group exhibition. Located on the infamous Yyteri Beach, the exhibition aims both to question the concept of environmental and land art, as well as to create positive ecological impact on the already protected site. Despite all of the well-meaning practices art doesn’t only create aesthetical imprints but it often ends up producing excessive amounts of waste and other surplus material. In Sandstrom the collective continues its work in redefining art and its production, taking urgent ecological and environmental questions to the center of its practice and sustainable thinking into the creative process. While creating and mediating new knowledge art is a way of exploring possibilities for living among the new climate regime and the anxiety it causes. Through the project Porin kulttuurisäätö wants to make the unique Yyteri beach visible and accessible in a new way and suggest an alternative for how we use the fragile nature around us – while enjoying the beach!
Imported by de_nil Square shaped hall torn open. Sand beneath my feet. Standing inside post-industrial stomach. Dust covered fragments fallen from the cracked ceiling. They rest as feathers buried in the beach sand. Concrete elements laying on their backs. Chests toward the open sky. Slots, curved shapes and straightness. Thousands of kilograms of weight awaiting for lifting and embracing. The sun burns their surface. In the walls the fragile wires descend to the floor until they are absorbed inside the polyurethane foam. I put my hand on the sticky substance. A sun-shining yellow cerebral cortex with lost information inside. I walk out from the post-industrial stomach with a plastic object in my hand, which I think suits to Sandstorm exhibition. Sand, concrete, Brutalism… I’m lost. The starting points for my artistic work are in conflict with the nature of Yyteri.
Imported by de_nil is the result of a situation where the resources of the artist studio have almost collapsed. I have tried to use the material resources from my shelves as long as possible. Im distressed about the fact that I have to buy new materials for producing an artwork. I collect, photograph and archive waste. By combining these elements I get new shapes. In Sandstrom exhibition I brought up artworks, which are composed of the surplus. Over the years I have dreamed of immaterial archive, which would only have images of my artworks. Some kind of platform where I could work without heavy facilities. For a moment I was happy on Instagram until I became aware of the destructive power of visual representation. All this needs fiber-optics, data centres, computing power, satellites, energy, water… I admire how the wind blows Yyteri’s sand into my artworks. Gradually they disappear, leaving indications of their potential existence. In the midst of all this, for some reason, I start to think of Nile and its importance. How water and other nature together gave birth to the vital black sludge on the Nile beaches. Floods and sludge together enabled a culture of cultivation. As a result, education and numerous empires were born. Black sludge, water, sand, imperium, information, fiber-optics, satellites, data centres, energy, art… I dig up my phone from my pocket, because I want to exist.