KUNO Express Course: Rites of a Secular Age

KUNO express course hosted by Vilnius Academy of Arts in NAC

Teaching period: February 27 – March 4, 2023
Location: Nida Art Colony (VAA), Lithuania
Teacher(s): Anastasia Sosunova
Number of available places for KUNO students: 10
Level: BA and MA

Course description

A seminar and multiple activities like reading group sessions, workshops, excursions and site visits led by artist Anastasia Sosunova, curator and NAC director Egija Inzule and invited lecturers are aimed at exploring the meshings of the sacred and the secular in contemporary politics and culture. From occult economies in the late Soviet period to corporate spiritualism in the neoliberal capitalism, from national cults to everyday magical thinking, students are introduced to these topics through the lenses of anthropology, sociology, feminism and critical as well as postcolonial theory. 

The participants are encouraged not only to explore sacralization patterns in their immediate environments (e.g. social taboos, public spaces and authority structures) and critically address them, but also to employ this knowledge in creating counter-relics of their own and reclaiming ritualistic and myth-making practices while resisting dominant narratives. 

The seminar is based on Anastasia Sosunova’s research methods and topics that emerge in her artist book Express Method and various art projects implemented since 2018. By inviting guest researchers and writers, the seminar is aimed at acquainting participants with the tools that help to work across disciplines and fields, paying homage to academic research and modern critical thought while applying first-hand experience and autoethnography exploring rites of a secular age.

The Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts and the Curonian Spit are partly acting as a case study of the seminar’s investigations through various activities. However, the themes will extend far outside Nida and Lithuania, touching upon the riddles of the Baltic region and contemporary society. 

Anastasia Sosunova is a visual artist based in Vilnius. Her multidisciplinary practice, combining video, installation, graphics and sculpture, grows from personal histories and their entanglements within broader cultural, economic and spiritual structures. Through a process of distortion and the interweaving of elements belonging to old mythologies, hybrid entities and the surveillance society, Sosunova creates alternative forms of ‘contemporary folklore’. Spanning lifestyle concepts to pillars of belief, these new folklores are at once a play with notions of home and belonging, a questioning of existence and coexistence, and a critical view on structures of power and the psychology of collectivity. Sosunova’s work serves as a proposition for new ways of living by rules, ethics, codes and agreements between beings.