Inter-PAGAN network to research, discuss and perform indigeneity within contemporary art, music and new media in Northern Europe

September 25, 2017
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in News from Lithuania
Performance A Play for the Parallels by Lina Lapelytė during 7th Inter-format Symposium, 2017. Photo by Andrej Vasilenko

Performance A Play for the Parallels by Lina Lapelytė during 7th Inter-format Symposium, 2017. Photo by Andrej Vasilenko

On September 22nd 2018 during Autumn Equinox (when the night is equal to the day and astronomical autumn starts), Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts launches, together with 8 partners, the Inter-PAGAN network which transcribes as “Inter & Pan-disciplinary Arts & Grounded Anthropocene Network”.

The network is one year of curatorial, artistic or cultural research and exchange between art and culture organisations from Baltic-Nordic countries, Poland and Scotland. Inter-PAGAN aims to develop shared understanding, competence in practice, research & pedagogy about where localized cultural heritage traditions meets contemporary art, music, new media, heritage-craft  & politics in Northern Europe. Partners will gather in physical & online meetings sharing local contextual research, peaking at Nida Art Colony’s 8th Inter-Format Symposium in June 2018.

Recently questions of indigenous culture and beliefs are being widely interpreted and reconstructed, however there is little discussion with critical distance, to avoid slips into nationalism and “local” culture superiority against multicultural world. Our focus is the contemporary-traditional Northern European relationships between people, their cultural practices, belief-systems, and the natural environment in which they are interdependent for survival. Among them are recent phenomenons like neopaganism, technopaganism, ethnofuturism, ecopaganism, neotribalism, etc.

Network facilitators Andrew Gryf Paterson (SCO/FI/LV) and Vytautas Michelkevičius (LT) with researchers Jurij Dobriakov (LT) and Jogintė Bučinskaitė (LT) reveal questions which motivate them: “How do local cultural and traditional belief-systems – ones rooted in ‘nature’ and foraging-and/or-agricultural societies, closely connected to seasonal changes, predictable astronomical & unpredictable climatic events and so on — relate to, inspire and limit emerging socio-cultural and political imaginations? Our partner locations are embedded in various histories and personal accessibility to land, with pre-Christian periods more or less far away in historical imagination, and agricultural or foraging traditions also more or less to hand culturally. It is argued we are living in an era of socio-economic stress at various levels, climate change/breakdown, and some say an era of unknown horrors-to-come. What hopes and fears do cultural traditions evoke in times of crisis for the both leftist-liberal ecologically-minded folks, as well as the populist and right-wing political sphere of fundamentals and roots? Traditional practices, belief systems and signs are being appropriated, constructing a fictitious picture of civilizational clash and “crusades” threatening traditional values and cultural norms.

This situation calls for a rigorous examination of the possible constructive role of traditional rooted knowledge in today’s society, avoiding both ‘new age’ esotericism and regressive, reactionary xenophobia. What does it mean to be ‘grounded’ positively in the Anthropocentric (or post-Anthropocentric) era, where humans have direct affect on most of our eco-system, going beyond neo-folk re-constructions and uncritical idolisation? What can we learn from sculpture, dance or music, as well as inter- & transdisciplinary hybrid practices that reinterpret older ways of creating, making and doing into new forms? Can one’s roots become universal, timeless and de-territorialized, but at the same time resist vague mysticism and lifestyle trends? What is perceived as ‘authentic’ among cultural convergences? What will the future generations consider ‘folklore’?”

The network seeks with a help of contemporary art, music and new media to rethink these questions also in the socio-political background of centenary of Baltic States independence and its restoration (reinstating) throughout 2017 and 2018.

The first physical meeting of the network is hosted by Lauska (LV) in Riga on 22-23rd of October, where the activity and research profile of each network member will be presented (see below).

The main network event is art festival and conference 8th Inter-format Symposium (in Nida Art Colony) with a programme curated by Vytautas Michelkevičius, Andrew Gryf Paterson, Jurij Dobriakov and Jogintė Bučinskaitė. Most of the participants will be invited by symposium curators and partners, however later this year an open call for participation will be announced  as well. The symposium will bring partners’ research into a discursive and performative platform.

The partners: Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts (LT), Lauska (LV), Interdisciplinary Arts Group SERDE (LV), Pixelache (FI), Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SCO), Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus (NO), University of Arts Helsinki (FI), Maalabor (EE), Księżyc (PL)

The network is funded by Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture and Lithuanian Council for Culture with the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.