VAA Nida Art Colony starts implementing a four year-long project on conflict, migration and conviviality in Europe

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German refugees in East Prussia in April 1945. Photo from uncensoredhistory.blogspot.in
Since July 2017 Nida Art Colony of the Vilnius Academy of Arts has been involved as a partner in the project “4Cs: From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture”, which is a cooperation project in the framework of the European Union's programme “Creative Europe 2014-2020”. The aim of the four-year project is to explore how art, culture and creativity can become powerful resources for critical reflection on new forms of conflict and dealing creatively with the conflicts affecting today’s Europe through activities that promote audience development and capacity building within training and education.

Culture, art and education institutions from eight European countries join forces  to implement the project, which will last until July 2021 with a budget reaching 2.5 million euros. The lead partner of the project is the Catholic University of Portugal, while other partners are Tensta Konsthall–a centre for contemporary art in Stockholm, the Berlin-based independent non-commercial project space SAVVY Contemporary – The Laboratory of Form-Ideas, the Royal College of Art in London, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies–a cultural centre and museum in Barcelona, the Roskilde Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark, and École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD) in Paris. Klaipėda University will act as an associate partner and will collaborate with Nida Art Colony of VAA, which will host the Research Residency.

The activities of the 4Cs project will include residencies, workshops, mediation labs, conferences, a summer school, a multi-chapter exhibition, and a travelling film programme. The project aims to promote intercultural dialogue, to bring communities together through art and culture, and to facilitate conflict prevention and reconciliation. The activities and outputs of 4Cs will offer the participants an opportunity to acquire new academic and professional skills in a context marked by cultural and linguistic diversity. 4Cs will shape the reflection on the topics at hand contributing both to audience development and to capacity training and education while stimulating European cultural production and conviviality in a moment of conflict.

The first project activity at Nida Art Colony begins on the 1st of September this year. It is the research residency of Dr. Vasilijus Safronovas, researcher at the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology at Klaipėda University. The research aim is to study the patterns of emigration and immigration from and to the Curonian Spit after WWII. Nida Art Colony, located on a 100 km long and 2 km wide peninsula linking Kaliningrad (RU, formerly Königsberg) and Klaipėda (LT, formerly Memel), is the perfect place to do this research. Before WWI the peninsula and the Western coast of Lithuania belonged to the German Empire until being annexed by Lithuania in 1923, while in 1939-1945 these territories were part of Germany again. At the end of WWII, in 1944-1945, the local German population was expelled by the occupying Soviet forces.

More than 40 thousand refugees from Memel and its surroundings passed the Spit on their way to the West. In 1956 84% of the residents of the Curonian Spit were new settlers from all corners of the Soviet Union. Almost all of the remaining 16% of old residents left after an agreement between GDR and USSR regarding repatriation of German nationals was signed in 1958. Thus the peninsula became an area inhabited by a rootless community, a place without history, a no man’s land. This dramatic passage of local history is hardly researched or reflected on.

The research will encompass a one-month-long research residency at NAC and eleven-months-long research at Klaipėda University. It will culminate in an illustrated publication in Lithuanian and English due to be released in late 2018. The researcher will also consult artists working on the topic of migration during their stay at NAC in June-July 2019. The findings of the research will be further used in the project by the participating artists and the participants of the workshop themed “Taming a Territory: how does a strange land becomes your own?”, which will coincide with the curated residencies in October-November 2019. In 2020, NAC will hold a multi-chapter exhibition, and a travelling film programme “From Conflict to Conviviality”, curated by Tehran based Azar Mahmoudian.

 

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