Inter-format Symposium 2013

A Book "Tourists Like Us: Critical Tourism and Contemporary Art" (ed. Federica Martini, Vytautas Michelkevičius, 2013) published as an outcome of the symposium.


Critical tourism, site-specificity and post-romantic condition

 NIDA ART COLONY, May 16-19, 2013

Curators Federica Martini (CH) & Vytautas Michelkevičius (LT)

Programme (PDF) & Extended Programme with Bios (PDF)

In a time where heritage, sustainability and ecology increasingly cross the path of tourism, artists working in remote contexts and tourists often share the observation of similar cultural objects: iconic landscape sites, vernacular culture and authentic artefacts, invented traditions and nostalgia.

One effect of this condition, as Miwon Kwon highlights in the essay “The Wrong Place”, is that the increasing mobility of the art system, involving both centres and remote situations, has led to romanticising the image of the cultural worker. The symposium aims at bringing into question correspondences between artistic practices and critical tourism in a trans-disciplinary context. In contemporary artistic practices, do displacements take the form of a romantic expedition or are they based on hospitality and exchange? And what happens in the stay? What kind of connection/network of competence can be developed in a situation of post-romantic retreat? How to avoid and/or critically read the exoticism potential arisen by these sites? How to deal with these two new genres of colonies – artistic and touristic ones – that are both conceptually and physically re-shaping the landscape?


Key-words and key-questions:

· The artist as tourist

· Artistic and curatorial practices in remote contexts as hospitality

· Critical tourism and re-mapping culturescapes

· Museification of landscape and local histories

· Touristic gaze and the construction of places

· Sightseeing as artistic research

· Nostalgia tourism in post-colonial contexts

· Landscape and contemporary forms of exoticism

· Identity landscape and site-specific artistic interventions

· Localism vs. standardized identities

· Critical artistic actions in alpine and seaside contexts

· Site-specific materials in Nida and Sierre (snow, dam, amber, sand, vernacular culture)

· Staged authenticity and interpreting tradition

· Post-romantic experiences of the picturesque

· Dis-placing artistic practices in rural / alpine artistic colonies and residencies

· Networked retreat for cultural production

The symposium is a 4-day-long event (May 16-19 2013) and is a part of the project On Hosting and Displacing co-organised by Nida Art Colony (LT) and Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais/Sierre (CH). Over 30 art professionals (artists, curators, researchers, producers, etc.) will share their experiences and make artistic interventions.

The format: The format is open; proposals can vary from lectures and workshops to performances and site-specific artworks.




A Book "Tourists Like Us: Critical Tourism and Contemporary Art" (fragments in PDF) (ed. Federica Martini, Vytautas Michelkevičius, 2013) published as an outcome of the symposium. This book  opens up a new field of discussion at the crossroads between contemporary art and critical tourism. As common ground for theoretical inquiry and artistic research, the notion of critical tourism asks us to question again our understanding of authenticity, the tourist gaze, the museification of landscape, the visual construction of place, post-romanticism, contemporary exoticism, site-specificity and global connectedness. The book specifically explores the role of the artist, and of the art institution, in the age of destination culture. How are individual and institutional practices changing in an era of hosting, hospitality, displacing and cultural nomadism?

Birds-eye-down web

Based on the comparison between two very different but nonetheless similar landscapes—the Swiss Alps and the Baltic Dunes and Beaches—art historians, environmental historians, geographers, explorers, curators and artists address the relatively new field of critical tourism in a transdisciplinary context. Together they consider how to critically approach and understand seductive and remote landscapes, against the backdrop of global cultural tourism. The book is not only a critical account of discussions around the topics but it is also rich in visual materials, documents and descriptions of artistic interventions in these two touristic settings.

This publication is the result of over a year of exchanges between ECAV—Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais in Sierre (Switzerland) and Nida Art Colony (NAC), which belongs to the Vilnius Academy of Arts (Lithuania). The book reviews the concepts, residencies, exhibitions, workshops and the symposium that formed this exchange between 2012 to 2013, in the context of the research and residency programme “On Hosting and Displacing: Artistic Residencies and Cultural Production in Remote Contexts”.

Edited by: Federica Martini & Vytautas Michelkevičius
Design Joseph Miceli (alfa60)
Publishers: Ecole Cantonale d'Art du Valais, Sierre, VAA Press and Nida Art Colony
Print run: 1200
Cover: paperback
Year of publishing: 2013
Number of pages: 264 
Langage: English



We are thankful for our partners who provided grants for the most of curators and artists. Project is supported by Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Lithuanian Culture Support Foundation, Nordic-Baltic mobility programme for culture.

«A cooperation project in the framework of the exchange programme with Central and Eastern Europe, initiated by the liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in