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reflecting on the trip and the notion of baltic “remoteness”

Stepping through the door

In autumn 2002 I made a somewhat irrational and radical decision, to make a tour on a very small budget, through Poland and the Baltic states. I started from Berlin where I was living at the time and traveled by local trains and busses through Wroclaw, Krakow, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Tartu and back. The pretense was to show screen and present my latest collection of sound/video works at the time, but my other agenda was to research parts of eastern Europe I had not been before, namely the Baltics. Looking back, that was one of the most important decisions of my life because within one year I had moved to Estonia and joined MoKS. It was also a very symbolic decision, to leave the “center” and move to the “periphery”.

Making this trip from Nida to Mooste and back was also symbolic, something like a second phase of my Baltic adventures. If the Baltics are somehow in the periphery of Europe, then what is the cultural situation in the peripheries of the Baltics?

I’d like the think that the situation is changing from the migratory movements to the urban centers of 10 years ago. According to the number they’re not, but in the interests of certain individuals, it is. What we’re facing at the current moment is at least a change in attitude and practices. With a little ambition and work a center can be developed anywhere as is evidenced by who and what we encountered on this journey. Hopefully this is only the beginning and the territories we explore expand.

Time and planning, thats what it takes to get to Nida. If you miss the ferry, too bad. So for some, a sacrifice of convenience might too much. For others, its a return to a more natural rhythm of life.

arrival to Serde, one of the oldest and spirited places I have been in the Baltics. nothing better than fresh soup after a long drive

adaptive re-use, one the core philosophies of Serde. they have this down to an artform, like with these beautiful old tables and passenger train benches on the patio.

One of the common rooms on the second floor of Serde, also a well chosen and arrange collection of reclaimed furniture. this is the definition of “cozy”

nature and village… the integrated landscape of central Aizpute is one of the most balanced I’ve seen anywhere. In the summer this must be a public paradise.

The second floor common space at MoKS. As a long time member I could write a novel about my time there and it would never say enough. Rather, I prefer to hear about MoKS through others who create their own experience there. As we know with all dedicated cultural workers, never enough credit is given to them (if any). Here are some of the most dedicated people behind our centers, Signe, Siiri and Rasa. If only the world revolved more around people like these.

Evelyn, the heart and soul of MoKS. Besides taking care of the of all the administration for the last 10 years, she has also managed to  develop her amazing artistic work. Staying creativity is key.

Vytautas the strategist. I could say a lot about gender politics in the Baltics… but all I’ll say is there seems to be a healthy balance in each of our centers.

In terms of cosmic periphery, the earth is pretty far out there. This is illustrated clearly in the true to scale solar system model at Sänna Kultuurimõis in South Estonia. Pluto is actually 12km away and they do walks there as part of the concept.

Walking to the sun (on a cloudy day) with Sänna manager Hendrik Noor. I didn’t take many photos at Sänna but its important to mention how strong the D-I-Y community spirit is. Hendirk and Kadi stay very busy and are involved with all aspects of running the “culture manor”. It certainly is establishing its place as the center of many local projects in the area.

We finished up our visits with a surprise presentation at Total Dobze in Riga. Not too many people attended which shows it can be just as hard to find audiences in the “centers” as it s in the “periphery”. Remote is only a mentality.

No photo essay would be complete without a tribute to the “Baltic light”, one of the first things I clearly remember noticing on my first trip back in 2002. This was the sunset that greeted us back to Lithuania after a short but informative trip.

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