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Survival Kit 12

The International Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit 12 Announces Its Curators, Theme and Venues

For the twelfth year in a row, the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art presents the international art festival Survival Kit. This year instead of visiting empty and abandoned buildings, visitors will be invited to Riga’s apartment memorial museums. The selection of the festival venues is drawing attention to individual stories in the context of collective memory and questions about the aging of society and the planetary meaning of survival. The festival is curated by Övül Ö. Durmușoğlu and Joanna Warsza from Berlin and will take place from 3 September to 3 October 2021.

Life has never fully submitted to the structures that seek to manage and administer it. Even today, when more than ever, a comprehensive issue of survival and aging has become increasingly important. The metaphor of the “survival kit” suggests a series of questions: How to live in an aging society where discrimination based on one’s age, structural changes in terms of work and care, and – on top of everything, – the virus, co-exist? How can problems, which have been caused by the actions of the previous generation, be solved? What can be done with a political, economic and ecological debt on a planetary scale? How can the idea that the human species is disappearing be addressed? How should we look at digital ageism and old people’s homes being segregated from the rest of the society? What does it mean to age as a woman, a child, a partner, an artist?

“The memorial, apartment museums, common to Eastern Europe, seemed to us like appropriate places to ask questions both about memory and memorials, but also life, ageing, ageism, survival, community and immunity. We invite artists to respond with both context-specific and existing works hosted in the rooms of late poets, painters, writers, activists” – say the curators.

The programme of Survival Kit 12 will consist of the contemporary art exhibition, discussions and conversations with artists, as well as guided tours as part of the of the public programme. The public programme of the Festival this year will be organised in close collaboration with the international poetry festival Poetry Days.

The festival’s exhibition will be opened to visitors at the Jānis Akuraters Museum, Krišjānis Barons Museum, Rainis and Aspazija House, Janis Rozentāls and Rūdolfs Blaumanis Museum, Andrejs Upītis Memorial Museum, Ojārs Vācietis Memorial Museum, Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum, Eduards Smiļģis Theatre Museum and Hotel Neiburgs.

The Festival’s curators Övül Ö. Durmușoğlu and Joanna Warsza are based in Berlin. They are curators, educators and writers. They co-curated Die Balkone 1 and 2. a public art exhibition in the windows and balconies of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin in 2020 and 2021. Next to Survival Kit they also they curate the Autostrada Biennale in Kosovo in the summer of 2021.

Övül Ö. Durmușoğlu is currently a visiting professor at the Graduate School of the University of the Arts in Berlin and at the University of the Arts Braunschweig. She researches intersectional forms and narratives of contemporary political subjectivities. Övül was one of the curators for the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz; Curator/Director for the YAMA public screen in Istanbul and Artistic Director of the Sofia Contemporary Near, Closer, Together: Exercises for a Common Ground Festival in 2013. She also curated different programmes for the 10th, 13th and 14th Istanbul Biennials; coordinated and organized different programs and events at Maybe Education and the public program for dOCUMENTA (13). Originally, from Ankara, she now lives in Berlin. 

Joanna Warsza is the Programme Director of CuratorLab at the Konstfack University of the Arts in Stockholm, and an independent curator interested in how art functions politically and socially outside the white cubes. She was the Artistic Director of Public Art Munich 2018, curator of the Georgian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, head of public programs for Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg and an associate curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale among others. She is an editor of more than ten publications in the areas of public art, politics, performativity and feminist theory. Lately she co-edited, Red Love. A Reader on Alexandra Kollontai (Konstfack Collection and Sternberg Press, 2020) with Michele Masucci and Maria Lind, as well as And Warren Niesłuchowski Was There. Guest, host, ghost (with Sina Najafi, Cabinet Books and Museum of Modern Art Warsaw 2020)Originally from Warsaw, she now lives in Berlin. 

Established in 2009, the International Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit is one of the most visible contemporary art events in the Baltics, attracting more than 10 000 visitors every year. It arose in reaction to the effects of the global economic crisis in Latvia with the aim of calling on society to respond to changes in the contemporary world and consider various survival strategies. Each year, a socially relevant and important theme is selected for the festival.

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art has been committed to the research, creation and development of contemporary art processes in Latvia and internationally since 1993, with a view to critically investigate and reflect on the evolution of contemporary society. The annual contemporary art festival Survival Kit, research-based contemporary art exhibitions at the Latvian National Museum of Art and the curation of the Latvian representation at the Venice Biennale are its most prominent activities. The LCCA archive is an important contemporary art history research resource. The LCCA offers education and art mediators’ programmes that expand its visitors’ experience of the arts and enrich their perception of the world.