Audio walk Andrejsala with Linards Kulless from Singalong
Friday 10 August.
Linards Kulles from Singalong, an artist collective in the harbour area Andrejsala of Riga
Linards is one of the people living in Singalong, an art hotel with a residency in Andrejsala, Riga’s harbour area. Rem Koolhaas’ office OMA was commissioned by the Latvian Government to masterplan Riga’s port area one of the last remaining undeveloped dockland areas in Europe. This means that Singalong and the other small cultural enterprises on Andrejsala will have to go, not now, but in one or two years. A year ago the developing company Jaurigas attistibas Uznemums founded by the Freeport of Riga Authority and the Norwegian enterprise Port Pro AS, gave young artists and entrepreneurs the opportunity to start ‘something’. Six of the buildings on the site house Singalong, Centre for Contemporary Art of Latvia (LCCA), Space Garage a party club, Dirty Deal a café/cinema and the record label, Crazy Bikes a workshop, and Orbita a group of Russian poets, a studio building and more. Every day young people from Riga come to Andrejsala to drink and party or just hang around. There is a party every Friday and Saturday until early morning. Most of the artist-run spaces came out of the ’90s club culture and their activities drift freely between music (the most present and dominant), literature and visual culture. We walk across the area and pass other venues.
Part 2: What happened to contemporary art after 1989? The Slominsky Sculpture
Than we go by car to see the ‘Slominsky’ sculpture as Linards calls it a 10-year-old tree growing through the window of a car door. He found it next to the power plant and wants it to be part of the collection of the museum of contemporary art.
We drive to the end of Andrejsala. Here the audio walk ends. Standing on the pier we ask Linards what he thinks of OMA’s plans of and the consequences of the redevelopment. He replies very optimistically: “I really don’t want to live here for ever! Of course it’s beautiful and these rich people will buy everything. This is the problem of our civilisation and not of Riga or Rem Koolhaas.” ^
Audio walk Power Plant Riga with Maksims Sentejevs
Friday 17 August
Martins Strautnieks a.k.a Martinez Gonzalez arranged an audio walk through the abandoned power plant with a friend Maksims Sentejevs, architect and sound artist from Riga. Since 1998 Maksims has participated in town-planning and media-art workshops throughout the Baltic States. Since 2003 he has published sound works. The power plant will be transformed into a museum for contemporary art designed by Rem Koolhaas (OMA). Our guide was Valery, who worked in the building for thirty years. He takes us up onto the roof for a spectacular view of the harbour.
Soundpiece John Grzinich
Then down to the turbine hall. Here we meet up with John Grzinich and a group of friends of Maksims. They are recording a sound piece for ‘Riga Sound Locations’ by playing the turbine with mallets, sticks, metal, a violin bow etc. At the end of the audio walk we recorded a rehearsal. ^
Kristine Briede explaining K@2
Saturday August 11 and 18.
K@2 is a NGO artist collective in Karosta with a gallery for temporary art, a hostel, a residency program, film program, media lab, a school, cafe and much more.
Karosta is a military harbour that was closed off during the Soviet period and finally abandoned by the Russian army in 1994. Some Russians stayed and some Latvians who couldn't afford housing in the centre of Liepaja moved in. There is a huge cathedral and there are grand houses and utility buildings from the time of the tsars and cheaply built twentieth-century housing blocks, all on a generous grid of streets with broad pavements between large trees and lawns. Diagonal elephant paths show the more practical routes through the area. Groups of children playing and the cats mostly ginger that lay around in the grass complete the impression of a lazy everlasting summer by the sea. Almost all the buildings except the Russian Orthodox cathedral are in a state of decay and the streets are clean and empty. No rubbish here, no traffic signs on the street, no poles and no lights. Most of wich caused by extreme poverty and desertion.
The apartments in the housing blocks have been redistributed so that now whole buildings are empty and others are fully inhabited. The empty ones are stripped bare of any wood and glass. They are in a way abstracted. Some of the grander buildings are also empty. It seems people with money have no interest in the old buildings, since new houses are being built in the narrow zone between the Karosta area and the sea. Or is the ownership of the empty buildings so unclear that it is easier to build anew? They have been empty for sixteen years now. Immediately next to the old military harbour that is now a well-used beach, a new industrial zone is being built and there are plans to extend it with a large oil terminal all the way up to the beach and the residential area, which is on the list for demolition.
In 1997 artists and filmmakers including Kristine Briede and Carl Biorsmark came here for a project (borderlines) and decided to stay. Despite their expectations they were not followed by more artists wishing to build a community here. For the last seven years they have used some of the older buildings for art projects, a day-care programme for local children, a hostel, open-source computer projects, a mediatheque, cafe, gallery, weekly cinema, bike-rental all in cooperation with the local community. One of the porter’s houses is now being renovated and turned into a dual residency for a writer and a critic. The other one has been turned in to a huge camera obscura by an artist
The complex is known as K@2. Karosta is geographically very remote it was built here on the coast behind a forest for that very reason and although this physical isolation has increased since the bridge to Liepaja was recently demolished by the drunken crew of a Georgian ship, on a human level K@2 is extremely well connected both to the local community and to a global art, new media and open-source activist network.
Audio walk part 2
Kristine Briede shows us the other buildings, the mediatheque and the gallery and we sleep in the hostel, which is now being renovated for the second time. Although the summers are warm and long, the extremely cold and damp winters aggressively eat away at the unheated building.
On Saturday 11 August the gallerist Ludmilla gave us a tour through this year’s big project the ‘mushroom house’ built by the French architectural practice EXYZT on the ruins of one of the big U-shaped tsarist buildings.
On the roof kristine Briede explains why they came to Karosta, about their plans for collaborations with art schools and universities, and the residency program. But she also explains the problems concerning rules and regulations. ^
Conversation with Carl Biorsmark about "The presumption of Innocence", a documentary in the making on Herberts Cukurs, the Lindbergh from the Baltics
Sunday August 12
Recorded at K@2, an artist colony and residency in Karosta on site of an old Russian navy base near Liepaja. The Swedish documentary filmer and artist Carl Biorsmark researched the story of Herberts Cukurs for years and made the exhibition “The Presumption of Innocence” in june 2005 in the gallery space of K@2. In 2000 Carl noticed a book in the window of a bookshop in Liepaja called “The Execution of the Hangman of Riga”, written by the former Mossad agent Anton Kunzle who killed Cukurs. This is the start of his search for the truth behind the Latvian national hero and acclaimed aviation pionier Herberts Cukurs. In 1941 Cukurs joined the German Arajs Commando, a sqaud with the explicit intention to murder all latvian Jews. They are responsible for the killing of 30.000 innocent Jews. After the war Herberts Cukurs escaped to São Paulo, where he was later killed on 23 of February 1965 in Uruguay by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service. In their attempt to uncover the facts of Cukurs’ life and the reasons for the secrecy around his death they ended up being the next chapter in this tale that has touched on so many sensitive issues. ^
Conversation with Rasa Smite from RIXC
Wednesday August 15
RIXC center for media art is housed in the building of the Artist Union Riga (artist organization from Soviet times with thousand members). RIXC started as e-lab in 1996 with web based projects simply because in the middle of the 90s there was no alternative. And even today there are not so many alternative art spaces. Their trusty local network includes K@2 and Serde. The first project was the Art+Communication festival. This festival is held every year. The 2nd project was internet radio. The reason for this project was the discomfort with the art scene established by the Soros Foundation. An alternative beyond was needed. RIXC was founded in 2000. In 2004 they organized Acoustic Space Lab, a multi-media research of the Virac radio telescope a 32 meter dish antenna in Irbine, Latvia. The Irbine antenna is a top secret Soviet-era military object.
[In the beginning of the 90s culture was implemented in former east-countries by George Soros, a born Hungarian invester who moved to the USA in the 50s. In 1979 Soros establishes the first Open Society Foundation, in the USA. The first Foundation in Eastern Europe is established in 1984 in Hungary. Presently similar Foundations are active in more than 30 countries.] ^
From our series of 17 FGA-posters for the exhibition Matilde, organized by the curators of Basel-based project space Showroom, Egija Inzule and Tobias Kaspar.
On-Air Fucking Good Art Radio from Riga
On-Air is a portal for podcasting conversations on art, interviews, radio walks, kitchen talks, audio works and conceptual radio projects. On-Air web radio is produced by Fucking Good Art (Rob Hamelijnck + Nienke Terpsma).
From August 17 25 a daily show will be streamed via the internet from Singalong on site in the harbour area of Andrejsala in Riga in the context of the exhibition ‘Matilde’ by Showroom, curated by Egija Inzule.
In collaboration with Singalong an art hotel and residency in Andrejsala Showroom invites different art projects and organisations from Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to participate in a group exhibition. Site-specific installations, video and performance will fill a one-week programme.
Fucking Good Art HQ Rotterdam / Berlin
Artists and editors Rob Hamelijnck and Nienke Terpsma
Webmaster Guy Lux
First issue December 2003
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