2016 August-September | Free magazine
CREATIVE NORTHERN ENERGY
Modern Nordic Rituals Guest editor: Inin Nini
People are the Wind It’s time for movement, a movement of visionaries. “We will need writers who can imagine freedom. poets, visionaries and realists of a larger reality” — are the words of the acclaimed American author Ursula K. Le Guin, who urges authors to spark the imagination of their readers and to help them envision alternatives to how we live.
N WIND x ININ NINI
We need a larger reality, beyond augmented or virtual, we need a vision of the world, of how it might be. For our age — the Anthropocene, a geological epoch defined by human impact, the question is not if we’ll change the planet but when, and how the changes will render it unrecognisable. So, how will our lives change? Some argue, that science fiction may be the only genre capable of large-scale shifts, from meticulous observations of everyday life, to speculations on the cosmos, all the while maintaining the human thread; so it can be read as a form of theory, a “realism of the possible”*. However, we will not look for mind blowing sci-fi, we will look for people who are the wind. N WIND starts guest-editor project, where we invite people with vision to write and imaginatively lead us through their theme. Creators, artists, thinkers, observers, leaders, innovators, philosophers, healers, curators, entrepreneurs, writers, gamers — will all work with us to create a moving energy through the art of words. We share, we exchange, we grow, for here, up north, the wind, the creative energy are both strong. We’re proud to collaborate with a person, who has both a creatively rich professional track record and a spiritual path. A talented storyteller, she’s now becoming a soul-coach to help people prepare the path for their unique life stories to be born. Meet Inese Indāne or ININ NINI from Latvia, meet her through the words that vibrate with you, her and the Universe. Together we explore the space of rituals, where the yet unformed can manifest. Modern Nordic Rituals. N WIND * Accourding to the critical theorist McKenzie Wark in his book Molecular Red.
N WIND is North Wind. We encourage exchanges of creative northern energy. A free magazine about creativity and culture as our future in the New North, distributed in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and available online. ISSN 2424–5895 2016, No. 10 Circulation: 8500
Our Very First The Very Brave One. Today Inese Indāne, who calls herself ININ NINI, could be called a soul-coach who helps people find their true calling: to get rid of the unnecessary and obstructive, to heal wounds and injuries. She does it through her work – Northern and Southern plant ceremonies, dreaming masterclasses, trance-dance rituals, individual healing work and creative projects in Latvia and abroad. ININ NINI's path is mysticism, but there is also an academic foundation to it – she has studied with one of the most distinguished Jungian psycho-therapists and storytellers Dr. Clarissa Pincola-Estes, the dream shaman Robert Moss, as well herbalists from the Northern forests and South America. The very brave one. What it takes to follow one’s path, we ask? “To die, to resurrect, to trust, to yield, to be disappointed, to rise, to radiate, to create, to die. And so on, in never-ending cycles.” Formerly ININ NINI worked creating stories and brands, breaking
Created and published by BLACK SWAN BRANDS Ltd
Text editing Brigita Stroda, lastroda.com
Curated by Giedrė Stabingytė, Andrius Skalandis
Authors ININ NINI, Tautė Bernotaitė, Gintarė Parulytė, Paul Emmet, Giedrė Stabingytė, Eglė Ma, Guoda Bardauskaitė
through, as she puts, the fortress of prejudice and iron-clad logic and being involved in the creation of important state brands and initiatives — the creation of the new identity of the National Museum of Art, working with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency creating the Magnetic Latvia brand and with the team that developed The Red Jackets movement which promotes Latvia’s brightest rising brands, to name a few. Yet ININ still felt she’d been denied her true profession in a way, not understanding the processes and events stirring within, nor why she didn’t fit here, there or anywhere. It was only after she had started to travel to tribes both near and far that she understood that what she is, that it’s something that has had its roots pulled out. You see, ancient tribes had people who served them, as healers, poets, masters of ceremonies, artists and advisors for the future of the tribe. This is also ININ NINI's calling. Why do you think you’re our first guest-editor, we asked? “A bank of information, a point of view, a
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Guest-editor ININ NINI (Inese Indāne), ininnini.com Covers Photographer Charles Fréger, Wilder Mann series
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The project is partly financed by Lithuanian Council for Culture.
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Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoļina
Who are you? The same as you. Then, what are you? I turn around certain things, mix things up here and there, open up this an’ that. Mainly in order for a new space to emerge, new information to appear, so that the Universe can be fulfilled. Your word? Inside. Your sound? It’s not one sound. It’s something that hooks in, deep inside and turns, it feels like it’s turning something very important inside out. It can be provoked by anything that is genuine true. Your space? Deep in a forest. Your image? Sparkling darkness. Your scent? The kind that makes you feel your soul is drinking, drinking and drinking without stopping. Your taste? The Marrakesh spice market, the taste of my loved one’s saliva, kissing, strong wine. Your energy? Rising.
Your weakness? Rising. Your people? I love the company of wise old people; these conversations bring tears to my eyes, when you’re talking gently, about nothing in particular, but actually, about everything. For the longest time we’ve known you as the creator of brands and stories. Looking back, what do you know and feel you’ve created? What have you brought to branding and consulting in general? I’ve never been that interested in brands or stories in themselves. I’ve always been moved by the key essential questions. What is the contribution of what the people have made? What does it give to the world? How does it enhance, change, heal, dismantle the old, vibrate the new? And more importantly — who are the people who create something? Why do they do it? Is what they have created, worth it? I believe that, at the time, my contribution was that I emboldened businesses and the products or services they created, to include a spiritual, social and personal dimension at the heart of the brand, at the inception of a new thing or the re-modelling of an old one. Even though now I have gone off in a different direction, I still get a flood of energy when I see things that are integrated, when the material is filled with the spiritual, when personal longings of the soul find fulfilment in creative expression and businesses. Then what is brand Latvia today? Tough, light, unsophisticated, like the third son in fairy tales, the one that goes his own way. I like seeing that we are becoming more selfsufficient and starting to accept
our own “weirdness”, it means that soon the true Latvian brand will emerge, when we dare to be what we really are. In what times do we live now? In very beautiful times, when barriers and prejudices are coming down, and wisdom, ancient and even forbidden knowledge is rising to the surface. But also at a very hard time when a war of opposing values is brewing, yet we are realizing more and more that everything is, in fact, in half tones, and quite ambiguous. This creates an enormous tension that we are quite unaware of and are quite unprepared for. Back to the Future, can we? In my worldview, to simply, there are three concurrent Universes. The tangible one that surrounds us right now, the unformed Universe, dark matter, from which springs that which we call the future, and the forgotten Universe that we have chosen to forget, to ignore. It’s no surprise that tribal culture speaks so much of, and feels the presence of the ancestors, the ones that have departed — to honour that which has been already created, to not forget, but also to focus on creating something new, not to simply replace the old. By not honouring what has gone and been done before us, we often place ourselves in a foolish role — not fulfilling our life goal, but trying to invent the already invented. Who are the visionaries in your view? To create, for me, means to prepare a pathway for something that wishes to be born. I see that we are channels for conducting ideas, visions. The best visionaries are those that are capable of putting
aside their egocentrism for a moment and tapping into the Universe where everything is already there. What is this theme Modern Nordic Rituals for You? Why? What do you want to say? I’m inviting everyone to start creating for real. To remember and honour that which has already been invented means you’re allowing yourself to move forward and facilitate the emergence of something completely new. Is there a space for rituals today? That which desires to emerge from the dark matter, from the unformed Universe, is getting impatient, irritated with limited egocentricity. That’s why the unformed Universe begins to burst forth wherever it can. Wouldn’t it be great if we finally gave it a proper environment in which to emerge? For me, this environment is in rituals and ceremonies — times when we remain inside, at peace. Through your teachings, you create rituals with people. What are people coming to and coming back for? I don’t teach anyone anything. I simply share the experiences that have gone through my veins and talk about what I have seen of the unformed Universe. It’s this genuine experience, that people want, because in fact they long to have their own unique experiences. People are looking for support for their own journey, they’re looking to heal their own wounds and unravel their knots. Therefore, I reveal my resources, my potential, showing that it’s always greater than what we can imagine.
Modern Nordic Rituals
feeling wants to be born. You and I simply responded to this impetus in order to set off vibrations that would move new things, dismantle prejudices.” Moving new things is also what her blog about uncovered, deep intimacy BUD BLOOM BLOSSOM is about. ININ uses words a lot. So we move words. Move people. Move with the Universe.
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoļina
What are your own, personal rituals? What is your rhythm since you’ve followed your path? My world is the world of dreams. I pay attention to the dreams and visions I have during the day as well as the night. Those who have tapped into this field and respect their internal lives, attract dream experiences during daily life, that which we call “this reality” — they tend to be called synchronicity or unusual coincidences that have a deep personal significance and they lead on, forming a chain of coincidences and events. Ultimately this chain is called destiny.
N WIND x ININ NINI
People are the wind. How do you feel about this saying? Yes, they are also fire, black soil, wet water, stars, plasma, apes and the Angela Merkels. We are everything. As Rumi, a mystic, has said — everything in this Universe is within you. Ask yourself for everything. If you need to be the wind in order to change something, ask yourself to become the wind. What future, through your own exploring, do you see (or would like to see) for your country and the Baltics? I see tribes who are self-confident, yet not ego-centric or fixated on private property, who have been awakened with a revelation that together, changing and inspiring, they can achieve a great deal. At present I feel there is no love in this space. There is defensiveness and attempts to straighten up the posture, heal the wounds; whilst on the surface, putting on a brave face and striding ahead. When we finally stand straight on our own two feet, we will be able to look each other in the eye. Then the field in which we can work together will arrive — in my world it’s called love and trust. You can reach ININ NINI at: ininnini.com facebook.com/moonlight.tribe Blog about intimacy Bud Bloom Blossom: budbloomblossom.com
Unpopular Creativity This time I want to be unpopular. I’m going to backpedal in a seemingly wrong direction to look for fertile ground for creativity. By trawling through garbage cans, digging up dead elements, putting together skeletons bone by bone, doubting the status quo, exploding rational argument and the inert pathways that we continue to follow. I want us to go back. I want to be unpopular and talk to you about the kind of creativity that ancient folk knew very well and the kind that contemporary creators and developers still know deep down inside. Nevertheless, rarely do any of them dare to talk openly. At a time when the world places its hopes of rejuvenation and future development on creativity and creative thinking, the time has come to understand what creativity really is, what it eats and under what conditions does it thrive. And, to go against the accepted wisdom of looking ahead, to instead, fall back and remember the forgotten. I know, I know, we would all like to take a gliding sweep through futuristic dreams and visions, but however paradoxical it may seem, the creation of a future often means digging in the past, at times in an extremely ancient, barely discernible past. Digging, but not in a trivial way, searching for deep sources of inspiration. Really going back to see how to create in the truest sense of the word.
True creativity lives and grows under conditions and rules quite different to those we have become used to accepting in this superficial era of progress and linear time. Creativity is a space where the intellect, spirituality, history, culture, your own individual path in life, your relationship with yourself and others all interconnect. A long time ago, people all over the world knew how to create a base crucible, an environment, conditions in which this cradle of creativity is consciously stretched in width and depth. There was a time when the individual’s development was in no way separated from the collective, and “dreaming for someone else’s benefit” was at the heart of art, music, healing, architecture. Every single dream, vision, was considered important and they were encouraged and shared in a specific context, in ceremonies and as part of certain rituals. It’s precisely for this reason that I decided to study those rituals that the northerners practised a long time ago. To dig into how we used to nurture creativity, how we used to be united and similar to other nations far and wide. At the same time to feel what is unique to us, how we differ as northerners. To try to see what is still alive from this “thinking differently” in the artefacts, events and lifestyle of our locals. To ruminate if there is room, a latent energy if you will, for those veins to emerge as innovations. I highly suspect that this going into reverse, instead of bursting forward with new and ever newer constructions of ideas, into remnants of memories and trails of traditions can help us
How do you see creativity? And how we should create? It’s time to travel inside. It’s time for the exploration of us.
sniff out something that will facilitate the creation of meaningful new things.
what hides behind seemingly small rituals? What is their meaning, purpose?
In order to understand the meaning of ritual, you must firstly understand that there are two types of time — sacred time and chronological or linear time. When we perform rituals, ones that we repeat time and time again, we, ourselves or our commune, connects to a different time — in other words, being here and now where everything is possible. These are very powerful, spiritual, times and conscious dreaming that is the source of all creativity.
In order to better understand one another, I would like to explain my feelings about three of the main code words for this publication – MODERN, NORDIC, RITUAL.
These are the times that we connect to everything that has been and will be, thereby releasing access to incredible potential. At these times, when we repeat the same actions again and again, we exercise our subconscious and get to “fish” the pearls of wisdom that reside there. That is a moment of true creativity, familiar to ancient peoples who didn’t think of creation as an expression of personal egoism. For them, true
And that is at the heart of a ritual — a specific space and time to create, to invite the creative spark to enter you, to say thank you for everything that already is, and to open up the pathway for what is to come. All over the world, there are four essential elements to a ritual. Firstly there is a rhythmical entry into a trance, beating a drum and singing songs. Secondly, moving the body — dancing, swinging, marking out specific steps and patterns. Thirdly, the use of plants, teachers (usually with a hallucinogenic effect) through drinking, smoking, sniffing. And finally, a common journey under the guidance of a leader — a shaman, a healer or some other wise person. This is exactly what our journey of discovery in this quest will be — to mirror each of these four steps — to feel the rhythm, heartbeat, the flow in the veins, the dance, to see plant infusions in a different light and in this context, to try our hand at dreaming a little, together. In our secret language of this issue we will call those ritual elements 4D – Drumming, Dancing, Drinking, Dreaming. Go deeper with us and you will find out more, what exactly 4D is. And how it feels.
Nordic here is the territory surrounding the Baltic Sea, more or less, this part of the world. Northerners are the tribes, nations, personalities that have grown from here, felt all four seasons and been in contact with the water, rocks, forests, hills and swamps of this area. Regardless of how different our blood and temperament may be, we are united by one very important element — our attitude to and feeling for nature. With no hesitation, seemingly wrong, in error, I’m throwing all of us locals into one pot — allowing the most characteristic, the most peculiar to boil to the top.
Modern definition from Oxford dictionary This time, modern is not a synonym for a shortlived trend. It’s an understanding for themes and things that are current, useful and functional. Modern is something for which the right time has come, its contemporary, it’s the new wave. And isn’t it marvellous that there are some things in culture and society that are eternally useful. It’s equally marvellous how from time to time, such “useful” things emerge from historical memory — at times surprisingly, unexpectedly. These are the surprises that I want to talk about here. So. Are you ready to be unpopular… and dive into different, crazy, deep creativity?
Modern Nordic Rituals
Whatever the dictionaries may say, they are far too lazy in explaining the point and essence of a ritual — that which is hidden behind a series of actions that are performed in a certain sequence and place. It’s clear there are certain milestone ceremonies that mark the fundamental transitions in the life of a person and the community — like weddings and funerals. One of the functions of ritual during those big events is to give support to those undergoing change. And yet,
creativity was, through a ritual, plugging into the Universe, posing a question — what’s out there that wants to be born, come into being? What is it that wants to materialise? In this way, meaningful things, things full of soul were created.
We will also challenge and explore the concept of time, offering different views and also telling stories about brands and ideas that are “working with time” — as moving from linear time to spiritual time was the main instrument our ancestors used to get connected with the Spirit or the Source of all Creativity.
Shall we dance some life ourselves? In that case we could do it with music. N WIND has invited a distinctive rhythm creator to set the tone. Shipsea is the name that embodies his spiritual creative being. Jānis Šipkēvics is his given name. “I think half of the population here in Latvia is named Jānis. As a kid I had to come up with a nickname. Mine was built on my last name — Šipkēvics”, the musician remembers. “There were lots of variations — Šipis, Šipīts — but when I had to write it down I saw those two words. ‘Sea’ — which is one of the most amazing and powerful things in nature. And ‘Ship’ — which is the sound I have been associating myself with for such a long time. The idea of a ship in the sea made perfect sense to me as well. It’s how I have been feeling living this life.” 6
While exploring the DRUMMING part, N WIND will talk to natural “drummers” — those bringing a different vibe into everyday life.
Photography Mārtiņš Cīrulis
DRUMMING N WIND x ININ NINI
When doing a ritual, the creation of a different vibration is very important. Our ancestors knew about the idea of a trance state that you can achieve with rhythm, music, storytelling. Drumming is about setting the tone, about leadership and the will to come together. It is also about someone who takes the courage and leads other people into the ceremony. Someone who dares to take responsibility for the creative process.
There is time and there is the experience of time. Sometimes time disappears. Whatever stays, is important. It’s what you needed. It’s sacred. ‘By putting themselves in sacred time, people subconsciously reaffirm and acknowledge their own divinity, but by raising consciousness they are acknowledging the divine in life,’ writes Edward T. Hall in his book about time, The Dance of Life.
Walking He has taken a walk. Before the interview. “Taking long walks is one of my favourite ways of getting things together”, he says. “Our studio is located in-between a kindergarten and a cemetery so it’s a good balance.” It’s a very busy time for Shipsea right now. Luckily, music-wise. “This summer is the most hectic period I’ve had in a long time”, he explains. “My time is mostly dedicated to writing two big pieces of music. One is going to be premiered at a theatre festival beginning of August. It’s like a soundscape for an opera with no singers. It’s hard to describe it now because the piece is in the making and is really unusual for me and the others involved.” The term ‘soundscape’ was coined by Canadian composer and environmentalist, R. Muray Schafer. He raised the problem of noise pollution. “Noise pollution results when man doesn’t listen carefully. Noises are the sounds we have learned to ignore”, he wrote in his book The soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world. Schafer was seeking a positive — instead of a negative — study: “Which sounds do we want to preserve, encourage, multiply? When we know this, the boring or destructive sounds will be conspicuous enough and we will know why we must eliminate them”, he claimed. “Only a total appreciation of the acoustic environment can give us the resources for improving the orchestration of the world soundscape.” We could say the music of Shipsea is an attempt to make the world’s soundscape much more fundamental, clean, earworm free. It feels as if Shipsea’s
sounds don’t force you, they don’t direct the audience physically or emotionally. They open your dusty chest full of all things possible but you choose the items to take out. The editor-inchief of the Best of Baltic Entertainment, Kristīne Sproģe, having witnessed many of Shipsea’s performances, seems to share the impression: “When you enter the room, that is about to be filled with Shipsea’s aura, at first you are eased by the smoky light and a sense, that something magical is about to happen. Even if you haven’t heard anything about Shipsea, which if you are Latvian is quite hard to believe, you just click in with other peoples’ sense of anticipation. After the first notes you might fall into some kind of
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DRUMMING
deep meditation, where the sound that’s coming from an amusing guy playing piano in the kaleidoscopic smoky haze is taking you to the place that you always wanted to find. Your safe place, your calm place, your heart.” Tālava was a Latgalian county in northern Vidzeme and northern Latgale of today’s Latvia. “Tālavas taurētājs” (The Bugler of Talava) is a ballad by a prominent Latvian writer Rūdolfs Blaumanis. It’s the text for which Shipsea is creating the opera piece he mentioned before. It’s a collaboration between him and the fashion design duet Mareunrol’s from Latvia. “Their fantasies are miraculous. We’re trying to build a magical world where we tell one of the most pow-
erful poems”, Shipsea says. “The poem is about human qualities but it’s also very patriotic." Do you feel patriotic? The fact that I’m Latvian matters very much to me. I think the feeling grows bigger and bigger with age. I realise how close I am to this land, to the people who have created this identity which I really feel inside. When is this feeling most present? I feel very Latvian when I think of the way of life our ancestors had, how the old Latvians saw the world. We have a very powerful folk tradition. We have these dainas (old Latvian folk songs) which are the alpha and omega of our culture. Now
I get the idea of what the ancestors meant by explaining life in those songs, by explaining the circles of being alive. Especially now, when I’ve been living in the forest, in a country house for the past two years, I get it. I come to Riga only twice a week. I see nature much more than ever before because I grew up in very concrete and urban surroundings. When I work in the forest or in the garden myself, when I’m planting my own cucumbers and tomatoes, when I see the wild nature, I see how the leaves appear in springtime and how they transform during summer; I see there are millions of shades of green – I get a feeling like I’m reading a book where I meet my ancestors. That’s how I feel connected to Latvia.
N WIND x ININ NINI
Photography Matīss Spaile
In Reykjavik with Tonik Ensemble
Sounds hypnotic, very primal. We are actually exploring the idea of rituals in this issue. How does the word itself make you feel? Our daily life consists of rituals and I think it’s the main structure of living life. Even the small daily rituals are like a fishbone that later helps me build the flesh of the day and the flesh of life. These things help you keep focus in this world where everything is changing all the time. Imagine if you have a camera and you need to take a picture but everything is moving — it is very hard to know what your main task is or the main object you want to focus on. It’s rituals that give you some kind of a framing for the picture of your lifetime; because you will never see and experience everything that there is, since it’s useless as well as impossible. Rituals are also kinds of guidelines and frames you can use for capturing your own life, they are the things your mothers and fathers have given you for your life to have a shape. It’s certainly possible to find a grid somewhere else, other than your own land, as you never know where you’re going to wake up, but for me, I think I woke up in the right spot — in Latvia, in the Baltics. I love this place.
Working Not only did you wake up in Latvia, you also woke up as a musician. I assume it was a straight path? It’s the right track for the moment. Everything is always moving. However, my musical nature was
formed by the boys’ choir I attended for many years. So, my understanding was built on the classical approach to music. I live with it every day. I graduated from Riga Dome Choir School as a conductor and then I went to the Latvian Academy of Music where I got my BA in Choir Conducting. I was really into classical music and I was dedicated to early music — baroque, Renaissance. Bach, Handel, Monteverdi and similar music was my main focus. I was sure I was going to be singing as a countertenor in oratorios or vocal ensembles, but then, with some friends from the choir we formed an acapella group Cosmos. We started with singing classical music but later on it got so exciting, we wanted to try some original music and some artists we adored at the time. We tried some stuff by other vocal groups, like Take6, the Real Group, The King’s Singers, The Swingle Singers, the Hilliard Ensemble. Of course, Bobby McFerrin was one of the idols back then and we ended up with singing with him during his concert in Riga at the National Opera. It was a super-moment. So we did that for 7-8 years. Did this lead to Instrumenti? To express ourselves we started using some instruments with one of the guys from Cosmos. We felt that the frame of acapella became too narrow for us. Reinis, or Reynsi, was a drummer, I played keyboards. We started improvising with these instruments. It was really easy and exciting to make new music. The band Instrumenti was born. Things went quite fast and furious — we played festivals and were touring quite a lot.
And now? Now we are trying to figure out what is the colour of the new music we want to construct. So it’s a bit of time out from Instrumenti, however there are lots of other exciting things happening. I am realising my own ideas and have some past dreams that I want to accomplish, especially to visualise and audiolise. I call these ideas “Shipsea ideas”. And Reynsi has his ways of expressing his talents. He’s going to premiere a dance play in collaboration with a very talented ballet dancer Elza Leimane, I’m truly looking forward to it — to watch my musical soulmate from a distance, to hear what he sounds like by himself. What was the day Shipsea, the Solo artist, was born? My cousin is one of the founders of Piens festival here in Latvia. Piens started as a café but has grown into a really big cultural community, so they started a festival and asked me if I wanted to get involved. He asked — why not try something that’s not been heard or seen before. I invited my friends from the jazz scene and we improvised a lot and something new was born. The 8th of June, 2014, was the premiere of Shipsea. It continues to be my own lab of experiments. How do you explain why music is such a powerful art? I think music is the thinnest of the needles, it goes straight into the subconscious. Firstly, it strikes you physically, as a vibration. Since there is a significant amount of water in our bodies,
Photography Artūrs Kondrāts
When creating your music, do you think of the impact on your listeners? Sometimes I realise how raw and intimate my creation is. There are some texts I feel are for my personal use, like a diary. Sometimes I try to have a distance, to see how it sounds from a different point of view. But all this reflection happens afterwards, when the music is already done. I listen to it to see if it moves me, if it sounds truthful. I’m always trying to get rid of compositions where you can hear it was artificially created. The most powerful pieces are the ones you aren’t able to leave out. Sometimes I’m moved by the sounds I’ve written but I know it’s not me who did it. I see that I’m just writing it down. Probably it’s life itself who is the creator and I’m just trying to capture it.
Feeling How do you experience time? I think the more I live, the more I find myself living in circles. Sometimes, even physically I see myself deciding to go and see my childhood neighbourhood, or I happen to be in the same venue by a coincidence, or I come back to
the same place somewhere far away and I just jump back into this feeling of how I’ve changed. Sometimes too, it’s interesting to find out that some things that you thought were different are actually the same. In some layers of your personality that you thought you are the same, you are actually pretty different. I see these experiences as benchmarks, as small milestones which are like markers that let me know there’s a circle of time. It does move upwards too, but the more I live the more I see the circulation type of reality. I think the same is described in our folk legacy. The perpetual rituals you have, even the seasons are changing in the same way as a mill — that is how I feel time which was quite linear some time ago but is becoming more and more circular. Ah, you took me somewhere, let me think for a moment. Yes, tell me something what you wish to say, what are your thoughts? Yes, it’s much nicer to have conversations rather than interviews. Do you experience lifesaving conversations? The most interesting conversations happen when the situation is really bad and complicated. It’s interesting who the first friend is that you think of when you need some support. Sometimes the first one that pops into my head is not the one I would have imagined. Probably there are different people for different moments in your life. You never know which one can be your life saviour. During the conversation you soon find out why it was that person you went to because they some-
how reveal something they were looking to express themselves. Those difficult times help you find out more than you would’ve imagined and you find more in yourself than you’d expected. I kind of had such a moment recently. I went to a friend and we were both very relieved after talking. We both had two negative energies that became positive. After this talk I felt, like, you know you have this amazingly fresh air, rich with ozone after a really heavy thunderstorm and everything is wet and fresh outside. It’s a similar feeling after crying when you feel better. Do you cry often? Unfortunately, yes. It’s one of my mediums. I think I’m way too emotional about everything, it’s really hard. I’m doing my best to transform it into something else, at least into money, ha! I actually wanted to ask you how the current situation in the world makes you feel, since as an artist you must be very receptive to all the processes. The good thing about things happening right now is the result of it all. It awakens a lot of people who thought they were living in some kind of hotel, some prepaid vacation where there are others serving them. The most interesting revelation is that there is no bigger enemy for us than human beings. It’s useful to admit and see there are no mythological forces ruling our world. Except for natural disasters, it’s us who are changing our lives. It’s a really big responsibility, lots of people are shocked by it and they’re trying to escape it in many ways.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DRUMMING
the sound moves and changes the frequencies of the water that’s vibrating inside. Secondly, I think good music is usually connected with good intellectual input as well. Therefore it’s the combination: the physical reaction opens you up and the idea strikes you in the very centre of your being.
N WIND x ININ NINI
Photography Artūrs Kondrāts
I must say I’m still intrigued by your tomatoes. I believe only extremely sensitive people can grow plants since these don’t cry and don’t bark. I have a greenhouse, and it’s just the beginning for me. Not sure if it’s the actual beginning of me becoming a gardener, but I can imagine that if for example I was to change my life and go to New York for a year, I would like to have this kind of connection — with the greenhouse — when I got back home. I have had this opportunity to try it out and I really enjoy it now. It’s something I will come back to in a more serious way. I focus on the music right now but it gives me a really good balance — sweating in the sun with soil in my hands and feeling that I have this physical connection with nature. I really need it. Were there any melodies born with your hands in the soil? More like ideas of the whole thing. Somehow these activities are not about the small seeds, rather about the whole garden. The big picture visits me sometimes, either during these long walks, trimming the grass or working in the garden. Acknowledging the divine in life, remember? Walking, trimming, gardening. Easy.
Shipping the Music The second piece that Shipsea is working on intensely this July is a piece for a choir. It’s a com-
position for the Sacred Music Festival that has been commissioned by the Latvian State Choir. He is also getting ready for a performance in Žeimiai, Lithuania. “Together with my colleague Gatis Zaķis we have a band called Dora and we usually work with visual artists. Žeimiai is going to witness an art exhibition opening where we will perform a piece with a visual artist from Iceland, Berglind Jóna Hlynsdóttir.” Here is Berglind sharing her experience about meeting and working with Jānis: “I met Jānis at the Venice Biennale 2015 where he had been working with the artist from the Latvian Pavilion and he was giving radio interviews about his music. I was looking for the right voice for my project The Changing Room. I asked him if I could use his voice. At this point I had no idea that he had one of the better singing voices in the Baltics. Our collaboration grew to include his partner Gatis Zaķis. They offered to make music for the piece and our ideas really came together well, they embraced the content of the text and its emotion and made an amazing sound work which we have now also developed into a concert performance. I believe our three mentalities and artistic inputs complement each other in these collaborations in an exciting way for all of us. We are now working on our newest piece Stitching and Mending which will be shown at the Žeimiai Manor House in Lithuania on the 30th of July as a part of Climbing Invisible Structures produced by the Nida Art Colony.” “Jānis is extremely talented, hard-working and passionate in everything he does both in life and work”, Berglind continues. “He is one of those truly charismatic people who brings people
together around the projects that he makes. He is creatively curious, eager, open-minded and collaborates with lots of talented people in different cultural sectors. His Shipsea concert performances are both powerful and extremely personal. I was fortunate enough to be with them in Durbe for the last concert he had and I urge people to see one of his live performances. There is so much emotional power to them and some sort of pure joy to watch one person perform so many things alone.” shipsea.net
Tautė Bernotaitė is a freelance writer, copywriter and editor mostly obsessed with words as entities and passionate about creating names or titles.
HOW CRAZY IS THAT? I met Naysha Silva, a medicine woman and a shaman, far away in the Peruvian jungle at a plant ceremony. We met only to find out that we both live and work in an entirely different part of the world – Northern Europe. I’m inspired by the power and courage with which Naysha brings her knowledge and experience to those thirsty for authenticity and healing. She says that it is time for knowledge from all over the world to unite. It is time for more responsible ways for us to live and create things. It is time.
Photography Inga Plūme for MOONLIGHT tribe
knowledge back to the Sami people, who used to call their shamans the noaidi. Sadly, most of the noaidi knowledge is gone. However, a new wave of shamanism is rising — it’s different to what it used to be, but still — it’s rising. Later, I got divorced from my husband and started a journey in Europe, sharing and bringing what was shared with me, the knowledge of the plants from the Amazon, the knowledge from the spirits and of course, my own life experience itself.
For plants used in rituals, are there differences between Amazon and Nordic nature and plants? How do you feel it? Nordic plants carry a different kind of knowledge and consciousness that is important for humankind. Every single place on earth has different knowledge and in these times we are collecting knowledge just like the pieces of a puzzle and we are getting closer to putting all the pieces together.
Can you describe your experience with people in Europe, especially North Europe? People in Europe are very intellectual, every piece of information that is transmitted must first pass through the filter of the intellect to be validated. People have forgotten to listen with
Have you participated in any Nordic rituals? How do you see our traditions — are they still alive? What is it that we have lost? I feel the spirit in Nordic rituals is present, but it’s only channelled well by those who have understood the energies in a proper way. We can’t
just sit and play a drum or sing whatever song we’ve heard somewhere, the music has a power, the sound has a power. The vibration is power. The spirit of nature is still pretty much alive and stronger than ever, just waiting to be recognised. I have met some very good shamans in Europe and Scandinavia, but they are only a few. My experience in the northern part of Norway and Sweden was not very pleasant. I found a lot of closed minded people among the shamanic practitioners, a lot of ego and resistance. There’s still a lot of confusion about what is, and what isn’t considered shamanic. Shamanism doesn’t have a manual. To become a shaman, I believe, it takes several lifetimes. In the Amazon we use different tools and we have something that is missing in Nordic rituals — for example, deep shamanic training, where we die and are reborn again, where the spirit chooses to share its knowledge. Our trainings in the Amazon are not easy at all. This is not about someone being better or more worthy — it’s about trying to put back the missing parts. What is the ceremony for you? For me, the ceremony is a meeting — an important one: a meeting with the spirits, a meeting with ourselves, a meeting with our ancestors, a meeting with nature, a meeting with the creator and a meeting with the truth. What is time for you? For me, time does not exist. What we can perceive as time is just a state of mind. In the spiritual realms there isn’t time but there are cycles, cycles of learning and growing. These cycles are not linear; they don’t have a beginning or end. Nothing really has a beginning or an ending — it’s all just a transformation. The cycles are like waves, some cycles can be felt longer than others, some cycles are easy to catch, and some are not. In this life I’ve experienced that one hour can feel like years, even like eternity. Time is just a reference we need to create some order in our minds so we won’t go crazy. We needed to create time to be able to function in this reality. Time creates a certain order, it helps us to remember certain important events, but it also causes us suffering. When we get stuck in our past or worry about our future, we stop living. The most important thing about time is — it is now, now when things are happening, when life is happening. What is creativity? Where does it come from? For me creativity is God in action, and it comes in at the moment when we are in tune with ourselves and with the Universe. When I talk about God, I don’t mean a particular being, a female or male, but that spark of magic that each of us has inside. So this God in action is yourself in action. I look at this world with fascination — we have created so many things, we have channelled poems and music as well as buildings and war
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Naysha, you’re a shaman from the Amazon. How did it happen that you started to work in Northern Europe? I came to Europe because of love. I moved to Sweden after getting married to an indigenous Sami shaman. We lived up north, in the Kiruna region in Sweden. We decided to move because we shared a common goal — to revive some of the shamanic knowledge in Europe. At that time, our focus was to bring the forgotten shamanic
the heart and to listen with their intuition. In Nordic countries, where people have reached a standard of living so good that one assumes they should not have any problems; they are among countries with the highest percentage of suicides (Ed. OECD, 2012). To me it shows that after filling up all the “empty spaces” there still is another emptiness that looks almost impossible to fill, and that is the spiritual one. People feel meaningless, having everything, yet still not being happy. I think that is a harder life than the one people from less developed countries can experience, for in my opinion, no emptiness can be compared to the spiritual one. When we’re disconnected from nature, from our true selves we feel lonely, sad, depressed, without a purpose, we had let ourselves down, forgetting to ask ourselves, what is my purpose? People that are lacking a spiritual connection are like cell phones before Wi-Fi came. They are looking to find that connection first with themselves, then with the rest.
N WIND x ININ NINI
You act as the healer. How do you see — where the deepest problems in our society are? Our society has many problems, but the first one I see is that we are ruled by laws that don’t have any consideration for the laws of nature, the laws of love, the laws of the Universe. We are not aware that every single sorrow in our creation creates pain and suffering to everyone because we are all connected. When we understand how important the connection we all have between humans, animals, plants, and all that is created, is, then we will treat all the rest as we want the rest to treat us. People have forgotten to love themselves, they are waiting for external heroes, for somebody to relieve them of their misery and that will never happen. We are in charge of our own lives; we are the ones we are waiting for. All enlightened people that came here did not come to save anybody; they came here to show us that it is possible to be balanced, to find harmony, to find the truth. What are your feelings hearing the word “modern”? Can “modern” be combined with ancient? What are your feelings and thoughts about that? In the old days, people had more consideration for, for example, the moon cycles, i.e. when was the right time to plant this or that and when to harvest, to respect that certain things grow at certain times and that that’s what we need to eat, then. Nowadays, you can eat coconuts in
the North Pole, how crazy is that? For me, our future is in the past, in that past where we understood and were more connected than today. Nowadays, great new wave of healing methods have appeared in all areas, some of them are working, but most of them have lost their essence, they are empty, without spirit, like the medicinal plants and pills from the drugstore. There are certain things that we cannot simply change, there are laws that do not change, they can evolve, yes, but they do not lose their essence. We need to be careful with these new ways of shamanism. We risk creating more confusion. It’s not enough to have good intentions, because in some cases we’re talking about a person’s life journey and we need to feel responsible for that. We need to be aware that we attract what we need, that is also part of the game, and we experience many tests to see if we are really awake and aware. How one can make a difference is simple — by first finding your own truth, by knowing who you are, by becoming transparent, then you can start looking into other people’s hearts and purity.
Naysha Silva is a medicine woman, a shaman from the Peruvian jungle, working with sacred Amazon plants (Ayahuasca, San Pedro and others) already for seven years. Her first Ayahuasca experience started before she was born — the ceremony helped her mother to conceive. Naysha somehow knew that her path was already chosen. She spent one year and a half with her indigenous shaman teachers in Iquitos doing her training, shamanic diets, spiritual retreats in isolation with very strict rules, and 3 years working with assistance in the ceremonies of other shamans.
machines. It’s important to remember that if we ourselves are God in creation, we must be more conscious and aware of each thing we are creating. Not just things that can be materialised as such, but also feelings and thoughts can materialise and are part of creativity. There is no outside thing to blame when we talk about creation — it is just ourselves, our own responsibility.
IF YOU DON'T JUMP OVER THAT FIRE
What is the significance of the ritual for a modern person? A ritual is a divine instrument in the hands of a human. Man helps God to improve the world. You never know. If you don’t light the bonfire, perhaps the light won’t return, if you don’t jump over that fire, perhaps the children won’t be born, if you don’t drag the yuletide log and then burn it, perhaps all the nasty calamities will remain and return. The simple act of being conscious of nature, of our interconnectivity, is of itself, very, very important. It’s important to participate in the process of encouraging the sun to come back, to BE part of it, then, ultimately, you are less likely to destroy it because you have a sense of responsibility. Rituals have something to do with changing the sense of time. Can you tell us more about the idea of time?
When we talk about time, I would prefer to stick to the Latvian view of time, although I suspect that before Christianity, we northerners would have had a fairly similar picture. So, when we talk about time, in fact, we are talking about the seasons. We know what they’re called, but we still haven’t agreed on when they start and end. We as modern people are used to the calendar and find it difficult to imagine anything else. Agrarian folk used the sun to measure the “big” segments, but the moon was more important for dividing time for daily work. All planting and harvesting was done to the phases of the moon. For example, Easter is marked by the lunar calendar, not the sun, but it’s clear that spring is coming, and the most important thing is to promote fertility. That’s why there are so many activities, swinging, eggs, rabbits (Ed. In Latvian, Easter is called “lieldienas”, “lielā diena” like the great day, but its plural, the great days). Each new conqueror brought in his own, new calendar and system of counting, but thinking in calendar terms was alien to the folk that lived here, for them, the most important thing was to do what nature was showing them, as well as allowing them, to do. There is no calendar date for spring, spring is here when it looks and feels like spring, it’s a different way of thinking about time. What happens during sacred time? All the activities, rituals you do at this “sacred time” represent the essence. Herding the birds or games with darts at Easter are all indicative of frightening away the darkness and welcoming the light. I think that the further back you
go, these welcoming the light rituals for people in similar geographic regions were relatively similar. The first characteristic thing is that an event, a “time” is usually never just a day, a date. A “time” is usually a few days, say, three, or even a week. There are records of celebrating Midsummer in the range of a week. There’s certain resemblance to modern urban lifestyles here. If we take the expression “Work hard, play hard” it’s the same concept, there’s a right time for everything. It’s the opposite of multi-tasking. Take one thing, concentrate and do it well, give it everything. Right now, I’m reading a book where the Baltic-German baron says: “look at the Latvians, they have a life of hard work, but when they play, they play to the full with such joy. We, the nobility, don’t understand that because every day for us is easy.” The concept of “lost time” or a “time warp” is rather widespread. It’s the one where you go to the edge of the earth or into a cave or wood and when you come out, everyone has aged or died, as if you have been away for many years, not just minutes. The origin of these folk tales is very ancient but their resemblance to the recounting of shamanistic journeys is very clear. It’s evident in the episodic nature of the tales, going from one task to another, as well as in the “different” time there, or time standing still. Shamanism practice is an opportunity to step into a different “time” or change it, it is very clearly entirely alien to our modern sense of time. When people lived in smaller communities, it was easy to celebrate when work was done, or the
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DRUMMING
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoļina for MOONLIGHT tribe
On meeting Austris Grasis, a linguist and folklorist, on the one hand, there’s a desire to leave him in peace and not press him for information, to simply enjoy the flow of conversation and absorb the tit-bits of inspiration and knowledge that bubble forth. On the other hand, there’s a temptation to throw yourself at him and eat, eat, and swallow every last crumb of his unbelievably deep knowledge of ritual, tradition, ancient folk tales and the dainas. I see that he too enjoys sharing in a slightly different view of the world, to impart what is his life, his true resonance. We explore ritual, a different kind of time and local heritage.
So, why shouldn’t we try to resurrect all this ancient knowledge? I asked Austris feeling brave and provocative. We both smiled, who can tell what we were both up to. The question remains unanswered, our sacred time is over — and ding! We have popped back into linear time.
N WIND x ININ NINI
Austris Grasis is a linguist and folklorist. Born in Latvia in 1942, he escaped to Germany with his parents during WWII. Austris studied Art History and Archaeology at Munster University, adding Ethnology and Folklore Studies at Munich University. Moving to Uppsala University in Sweden to study African Ethnology, Germanic Studies and History Austris graduated with a Master’s degree in 1972. During this time, in parallel, he took on doctoral studies at the Stockholm University in Baltic Philology. For 35 years, he was the Lecturer in Baltic Languages at the Institute of Comparative Linguistics at Bonn University in Germany. Alongside his career in academia, throughout his life, Austris has played a significant role in the cultural and educational life of the Latvian community in exile. Having retired and moved to Latvia, be lives near Mazsalaca in a country property which functions as a cultural centre for the research, investigation and celebration of Latvian seasonal rituals and festivities. An eloquent pundit, he is a regular commentator on TV and radio programs and a speaker at conferences. An officer of the Order of the Three Stars.
Watch In an oversaturated world of screens and tablets, Latvian Agni Tilla likes to go the offhand route. Watch designer and creator of May 28th — the date she met her husband is the inspiration for the brand name — Agni creates watches that are both amusing and affordable and without any trace of numbers in order to keep things concrete enough to be useful yet still abstract. Here she shares her musings and explorations as a self-taught soul who attempts to enchant watch lovers with designs that exude fun and playfulness. What made you enter the watchmaking business? It all started out as a hobby seven years ago while I was still living in Toronto. I used to wear watches and then one day I wondered “why not try and make one on my own, the way I like it”. First I was playing around with the watches I already had to see how they were made until I finally created my own with colourful patterns, with no numbers and an elastic band. A few months later, my first creations were published in the New York magazine, later in ELLE and when I got our first big order from Urban Outfitters in 2010, I felt we had to continue this journey that began as a hobby in my basement apartment in Toronto.
What is the journey your watches take from the first sketch to their arrival at the shop? The process is quite fast these days as we assemble the watches from imported parts in our studio in Riga, Latvia. We try to do as much as we can locally and to only import the parts that are necessary and that we can’t get in Europe. For our customised orders, that are made with our customisation platform custom.may28th.me, the lead time is just a few days. For our wholesale customers or shops, the lead time is a bit longer as they order larger quantities. We are often inspired by emotions stemming from memories. What was the first watch you were ever given and what memories do you have of watches from your childhood? Yes, thanks for asking this. My first watch was given to me by my grandpa when I was just seven. It was a beautiful leather band watch and I felt very special wearing it. When you created the brand and when you design watches today, do you research what other watchmakers have designed, or do you work intuitively, based on your own ideas? Not really. They are always my ideas. We sometimes follow the trends and create cacti or flamingo watches for example, but overall, the designs are created from my mood and feeling at the time.
weather was right. Now we live in huge communities and we need to organise a “date” that we agree on to “take time out”. We organise our time in very small units. See, we are talking, but we need to finish up not because we have said everything, but because there is a time limit on the parking meter. It’s very hard to be a modern person and observe sacred time.
Where are your pieces sold and do you think one can make a living making watches? Most of our watches travel to North America. We sell them in museum shops such as the Tate in London, small boutiques and online shops in Europe. We also get larger custom and wholesale orders from time to time. We have made watches for ASOS, Anthropologie, Free People, Kate Spade Saturday, the band “30 Seconds to Mars” and many others. I think that when you do something that comes from your heart, if you’re patient and you work hard, you can make a living of anything you create.
In which ways do you think that rituals are relevant in the modern world? As in the case with time, rituals are a good guide for people to collaborate with each other. I live in Spain now and learning their rituals, for example, allows me to integrate and connect to others. I think that rituals give purpose and make every culture richer. What is time for you? How would you define it and what does it symbolise for you? My watches don’t have numbers so you can’t really count every minute even if you’d like to. Time for me is nothing that I rely on or count. It’s just a guide so I can plan things with other people or avoid missing a plane.
created for me seven years ago. I remember listening to it when I created the first pieces and I love to go back to that list whenever I create something new for May28th. Would you say that watches symbolise something different for each gender? It depends on the watch. There are expensive watches that symbolise wealth and status, especially for men. Overall, I think that these days, a watch is a great accessory for both genders and another way to express your personal style. There was a moment where no-one was wearing watches because everyone checked the time on their phones but watch-wearing culture is back and I think is here to stay, at least as an accessory, if not a timepiece.
Since ideas and creativity are infinite sources, when and how do you know that a design is finished and ready? Deadlines usually push me to finalise designs, otherwise it could take forever. I actually like and need to set deadlines to get things done, so I apply for trade shows and craft markets. This helps me to stay focused and plan time better. This issue is about rituals and time has a special role to play. When do you feel that time passes slowly or quickly for you? In which ways do you feel like you can control the pace of time? As I mentioned, I travel a lot and it’s funny how time passes at a different pace in every place. I loved living in Malaysia. I had my son there and although we spent more than three years in Kuala Lumpur, it felt like time passed by so fast, as if it were only a few months. Time moves slowly in places where I don’t feel like home so I think it’s related to my level of happiness. I think that living close to nature gives you some control over the pace of time because you don’t
be tons of new tools and devices that will replace a lot of things that we use and the way we use them now, but true creativity can’t be automated. Creativity for me is a form of freedom and people are and always will be looking for that.
really check the time there. After spending a while in nature you end up following nature’s way of living and you know what time it is.
In which ways has your cultural heritage influenced your work? I spent the first 24 years of my life in Latvia, so, deep down I think that my entire work is influenced by it. Latvians are hard-working and creative overall, l so I think that these features helped me a lot when I was building up May28th.
What part does superstition play in your creative life? When I was living in Toronto, a homeless lady ran up to me in the street and gave me a really ugly hair pin and told me that it would bring me luck. She was very pushy so I accepted the gift. The next day, May28th was featured in New York magazine and I sold all the watches I had in just a few hours’ time. I travel with the hair pin in my bag ever since.
The act of creating is a spiritual, sacred and intuitive one. What music helps you access it quicker? I have a playlist that my husband
In your opinion, what is the future of creativity? I think that creativity will become more and more valuable. There will
A melancholic and life-loving resident of Berlin, Gintare attempts to finance her record collection and expensive organic food by writing about topics and people that intrigue her as well as acting in movies and plays that confront her with her ridiculous fears. Lithuanianborn, but unable to speak nor write fluently in her mother tongue, being a contributor to this magazines gives her the blissful and welcome illusion of being slightly closer to her roots.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DRUMMING
Do you set yourself deadlines for your designs or collections? How many pieces have you produced so far? We produce two to four collections per year as well as holiday specials and fun collaborations in between. We started out six years ago with a watch called 12.00AM and right now, our latest model is 5:17PM, which means that we’ve made 1037 unique designs so far.
DANCING Our ancestors did not divide body from soul, mind and spirit. To do the spiritual and creative work it was important for them to involve their bodies, moving the energy inside of themselves and between participants of the ceremony. Preparation work for the dance was important — the creation of costumes and organising ritualised dance. By repeating the same dance steps again and again, members of the tribe fell into a deep trance where linear time doesn’t exist and the subconscious mind takes on the leading role giving a chance for visions to rise from deep inside. Ancient people also believed that we are not creating something, rather, we are just opening the gates to the things that want to come alive. Dancing was one of the ways in which to start this process of creation. While exploring the DANCING part N WIND will explore the preparation work that we do to get ready for special events. How do we prepare ourselves psychologically and physically — what kind of masks, shoes, do we wear, what kinds of “rituals before the rituals” do we do?
N WIND x ININ NINI
‘The modern world is becoming a kind of poison. A data-stream, a global network. I feel all networked and isolated, at the same time disconnected and too connected’ so begins the introduction by Robert McLiam Wilson to the photobook Wilder Mann by French photographer Charles Fréger. In Wilder Mann, Charles uses his considerable photographic skills to transpose ancient and pagan characters onto the landscape from whence they come. Ancient ceremonies are rejuvenated, and we are introduced to a vast array of traditional rituals across 19 countries in Europe, which somehow intertwine and inspire one another, whether by accident or design, no-one knows. Their purpose is bind communities together; demonstrate respect for the land and the call for fertility. We are reminded of a connection to the seasons, humility before the elements, and the fundamental basics of nature and our connection to it and one another. Is Paganism central to your photobook Wilder Mann, and how has the modern world affected these beliefs and traditions? Paganism yes, paganism in Europe with a certain type of re-interpretation which is perhaps from the 19th century. Not a continuous tradition which has existed since Neolithic times, has kept going for 3000 years and still exists, I don’t think so. For sure, some of these festivals come from a very long time ago, and they really change, they have evolved a lot. Like the Krampus in Austria, if you look at photos from the 50’s and photos from 2015, there is really nothing to compare and it’s only been 50 years.
In a modern culture where people are running around with their mobile phones catching Pokemon, then my subject is why people get together and stay together around a tradition. The word tradition itself already creates a lot of questions. It can be something created quite recently, and the reasons some traditions exist can come from cinema, from science fiction, from fairy tales, from old stories, but not systematically from shamans, or the middle ages. For instance, some people take part in a tradition in Austria, which has existed for a very long time, but the people taking part are more influenced by Lord of the Rings. How does a country influence you in your work, what is it about the North that you like? I had a fantasy about Finland, I went there a lot and I was fascinated that the photography was freezing. I was capturing someone as they were freezing. The first winter I spent in Finland was so cold that you could almost walk from Finland to Sweden on the sea. I did a sequence about synchronised ice skaters, and then I took some photos of Finnish sailors, cadets from the Naval Academy of Helsinki. Finland is the country where I can play with the white and the cold and the black and the strange light. I did the Nuuttipukki almost at the end of the Wilder Mann project, because of my fascination with Finland and I really wanted to make it happen there. So, it was really important for me to have the Nuuttipukki in the book. First I contacted a museum who told me that no-one was observing the tradition except for some
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Nuuttipukki, Sastamala, Finland January 13 (day of Knut) The tradition of Nuuttipukki (meaning ‘Knut goat’) goes back to at least the 19th century. A word ‘Nuuttipukki’ refers to a full band, formed around the gure of the Goat. Previously, this character was accompanied by other young men, dressed in straw and fur coats, and wearing masks made of birch bark. They went from house to house begging for leftovers from Christmas dinner. Over time, horned masks were abandoned.
certain families, so I got in touch with those families. Now I’m trying to find out if there are any families doing it in Sweden, but I haven’t found anyone so far. How do these traditions connect to modern life, what is the connection between today and the old pagan festivals, and why is the Nuuttipukki in Finland still important to some people? Pukki means a ram (the French say bouc) and Nutt is a Scandinavian god, so Nuuttipukki is the Ram of God. He comes as a goat, a wild animal, into the house to steal some food or money. Then there is the Joulupukki, which means the Christmas ram, also Santa Claus. In Sweden they also have a tradition of guys dressed as rams going into houses called the Julbock. In Sweden they still make a ram of straw, 20cm high and put it on the table, but sometimes in a village you may find one which is five metres high. I discovered that the view we have about Christmas has been pretty perverted. The original idea of Christmas in pagan times was, the goat going into houses to steal something, to refresh the house, and the community get to check up on the others, by seeing the inside of the others’ houses. So you share what you have with your community, the goat comes and takes something. The visitation is still a tradition now all over Europe, but the other way around, it’s Santa Claus, who brings presents. There is still the idea that the community is opening its door and you see the inside, your neighbour’s intimate things.
Death (Tod), the Goat (Habergeiss), Tauplitz, Austria
Everybody has to be humble in front of the others, as if in a welcoming ceremony. For the Finnish families who do the original Nuuttipukki, it’s a manifestation of nature, it’s really serious for them, they cherish the idea of going back to nature, and doing this was part of the pagan idea of living with nature. The people were younger than 50 and re-started the tradition only 10 years ago. All these traditions are constantly dying then re-appearing. You photo-document ritual and traditions, what kind of rituals do you have? When I work on this I keep a certain distance, I don’t take part in the festival or rituals, I really stay behind my camera. I go there because I have to make an image, to do a photo, and I have my own protocol and my own ritual, so I do my tour and I collect my images, that’s the way I work. I really collect these portraits. Technically and financially it’s impossible to stay in a region for a long time. We sometimes spend less than half a day with one group, then we go to another town. It’s the only way to do such a project, otherwise it would take 10 years. Usually I don’t come during the festivity because it’s just too busy. I photograph people by appointment, except with such traditions where it’s really impossible, because they make the costume or the masquerade for the day and often they destroy the outfit immediately afterwards. So then I have to come
the day before, so my experience is a bit limited, it’s just more a physical experience I have when I photograph them, an instinctive relationship. Do you have an especially memorable or close connection with any of the regions you have travelled to? I have related to some more than others. I originally started because I felt interested by the Namahage in Japan (a scary looking ogre in a straw cape who visits lazy children around the New Year) as there was a visual connection with some European traditions. I wanted to know if this was universal, or more like a transfer of some tradition from one area to another area, like if a tradition is travels with the sailors or is it just a co-incidence or is it a universal ritual. After I started with the Namahage I went further and further. The Namahage for example is one that really captured my interest because of the similarities, not only the visual similarities but also the ritual. It’s still not very clear why something like this exists in Japan and at the same time in Europe. If you believe in universality then it comes just like that, we are so many, six billion, so it’s pretty normal that some people do the same thing as some other people in the world. Then there’s a connection which is more about travelling sailors and the ways some cultures inspire other cultures.
N WIND x ININ NINI
Babugeri, Bansko, Bulgaria The Babugeri hold their masquerade on January 1, in line with the Gregorian calendar. They wear goat skin costumes with a tapered hood (‘surati’) also made of skin. In the old days, in their ritual dance, they brushed against married women to make them fertile, and give them strength and bring them good luck.
How do you locate the people who participate in these rituals and traditions? The Namahage was a starting point, and with one assistant we started to look for similar traditions connected with certain museums, prefectures. Some prefectures are richer in tradition than others. Kagoshima in the south is one such living area for such a tradition. When we locate the spot where we think we could find these traditions, we contact certain people and gather information. The internet yes, websites, Facebook, sometimes the city council of these small villages provide information, sometimes it’s more complicated. In the first years some groups refused but agreed the second year after they saw the work we had done. Are you from an agricultural background? The land, agriculture, is this the common thread, a unifying factor? It is much more than that, it’s about celebrating fertility and farming. This is the common point of paganism, yes, all these traditions are about people dancing to bring fertility, this is something really European. So what’s next for you? Working in the Basque area, where I’ve already been for Wilder Mann. I work on silhouettes, and there’s a certain tradition in the Basque region called the Pastorale – an open air theatre where the people of the village are acting all together, dressed as historical characters.
Sauvages, Le Noirmont, Switzerland To mark the full moon which precedes Shrovetide, the Sauvages (Savages) come out of the forest and cross the pastures before reaching the village. On their journey, they blacken the faces of everyone they meet, their favourite victims being girls who try to guess who is hiding under the costumes.
I work on the representation of certain historic facts from Basque history, like Guernica, certain stories from the Basque area. I collected a series of silhouettes which are related to mythological images of the Basque area. Once you see these people working in the fields as farmers, or fishermen, and then there’s a day every year they dress up, and believe it’s part of their culture. It’s a masquerade, it looks basic, nothing magical, but the fact is they just keep doing it and it makes sense to them. That’s something I respect.
The Wild Man, or Wilder Mann in German, remains integral to rural European life, and based on Charles’ extensive research and experience, is enjoying somewhat of resurgence. When someone puts on a mask they transform into the immortal. In the North, the last places where Christianity penetrated, with its harsh, dark winters, the rural population connected with the ancient, to give thanks, show humility and invoke the spirits for a bountiful crop in the year ahead. As Charles writes in Wilder Mann: ‘Winter is the period during which the population has most need for the power of the mask. In effect, nature dies, the sun shines more rarely, life is harder. It is essential to act so that winter leaves us and spring, with her vegetation, returns. From a practical point of view, winter is also the period during which the peasants, the principal actors of the masquerades, had more spare time. Dur-
ing the spring, on the other hand, they had to be involved in the replanting of crops.’ Modern life is all about changing demographics, technological overload, uncertainty in what the future will bring, yet still our appetite for the fantastical, the super-natural and the strange remains inexhaustible. By digging into the traditions of rural communities we can re-establish ancient connections which bring meaning and allow us to re-connect to the land and everything that it brings forth. And if there’s one thing that is constant, it is that while traditions die out, they will constantly be reborn, transformed, for we all need that which transcends the everyday and binds community, land and nature from where we all receive our sustenance. With his work, Charles Fréger takes care to present his subjects in harmony with a place, a time and a community as if to better convince us of our implacable ties to the excesses of appearance and the social aspect of position or status. He explores the genre of the portrait as an artist, constantly looking back at history and the methods as if an official painter in the service of himself, of all and of the entire world. charlesfreger.com Paul Emmet is a freelance writer, environmentalist, avid reader, and part-time DJ. Lives in Tallinn and his imagination. Likes the sea and also old forests.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DANCING
Lucifer with his two devils whose horns are supposed to ward off the evil eye and also symbolize strength and power. Tauplitz, Austria.
‘What is time for you and does it exist?’, I ask. “I do explore the concept of time, as a photographer. Part of the research is to comprehend how time unfolds in photography, as it might seem to some that time doesn’t exist in a halted frame or it’s not purposefully represented. Unlike in cinema, in photography we understand and measure time differently” – Dovilė approaches the concept of time first from a stopped image perspective. When in life, she says, ‘we experience time differently in various stages of life’ and asks me when was the last time I experienced such an extended time like in childhood. It’s true, for a lot of us, this memory can be ‘felt’ deep down in our bodies. Don’t we long for it? It’s obvious that time plays the main role in her new project Human Life: “I document the expressions of time, it takes a lot of time and effort, time will suggest the outcome of the project and time will define my audience.” At the moment Dovilė is in the middle of the project, having documented many portraits — as people come and sit for her willingly. Seeing the span of the
human lifetime, the dance of life, in this series of pictures, certainly gives an inescapable awareness of one’s own dance. It is also important to question the times in which the project evolves, times of selfies and visual overload. Can a pure portrait continue to resonate with us as art? “We live in this context of information overload, tormented by the anxiety of our minds and everyone deals with it in the best way he or she can. Thinking of this context I want to quote one of my favourite writers and philosophers Henri Laborit, who said this: ‘In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming.’ As each of us chooses a different way of ‘escape’, it is difficult to paint our relationship with art in one abstract stroke. I think people who are interested in art are curious about its various forms, and those who are apathetic to it, aren’t singling out any particular one.” The ultimate result of this project should be an exhibition – Dovilė is printing each portrait on self-made paper, creating a unique “piece print” of time — and a book. Although now she captures portraits of Lithuanians, her wish is to document the faces of the world: “The face shows the essence of life and that we have so much in common, no matter where we live”. Yet, when we converse about our Northern neighbours, Dovilė shares a feeling that both the commonness and the gap are equally and paradoxically significant. As close as the untouched nature of, for example, Estonian seashores and the ascetic way of life there is to her, she doesn’t know much about the dance of life and the art of people there. Until, that is, the new pages of the book Human Life calls for the faces of the Northerners. doda.lt
N WIND x ININ NINI
“Google ‘Life is like…’ and you won’t be able to disagree with the results” — writes Dovilė Dagienė as she cuts my attempts to reflect on life-dance parallels in one of her e-mails. We share a few of them, with long pauses in between. Dovilė is an acclaimed Lithuanian photographer, who caught the eye, and the imagination of the jury as well as a Sony World Photography Award for her series “Boy with a stick”. Seeing what manifests only to an observant eye, currently Dovilė is curiously fixating on the intricate human life in its purest form — in portraits, and that’s what she’s called her new ongoing project – Human Life. She definitely feels time in a different way, when human life, framed in so many time-body manifestations from childhood until old age, sits down in front of her camera.
They call it “a project” not a brand, merging, curating design and craft practice: “Šiaurė usually starts from two personalities, a designer in a dialogue with an artisan, in an observation, in the working hands. It’s a place where one meets rationality and contemporary functionality is combined with a mastery of craftsmanship and old traditions.” Our meeting is a quiet one, yet the pervasive conscious-subconscious duality is apparent within the first minutes. Mantas names ‘consciousness’ as very important for his integrity and that of the project — “I aim for deep answers, why and how I do things” — so he brings in logic, order and the power of questions. Then Marija, who curates the design process, is looking for fortuity, a certain flow: “I observe and look for the design to manifest at the very origins, where design doesn’t exist yet, be it weird tools of the craftsman or the nature of the materials.” Openness to fortuity when creating leaves a respectful space for the craftsman: “A craftsman is like a shaman in process. Watching his or her concentration on repetitive moves can put you into a trance.” The essence of a Baltic identity is approached giving it a lot of time and space to reveal itself, so the objects kind-of create themselves, transmitting archaic aesthetics and showing up connections between times (hence, nanotechnology and 3D printing a brass belt buckle), a designer and an artisan, even between design processes — where the object was cut and put together. What are your ambitions, I ask, as business-wise the investment of time into design shaman-
ism hints at the luxury market, yet the objects from Šiaurė are priced with respect to both the process and modern buyer? I feel we will have to explore this ambition in the conversation. What is Šiaurė (north) for you? It’s a direction. Firstly, the Nordics value community, it’s at the core of our project — we curate artisan and designer collaborations. Secondly, as we’re from this region, we connect to our own context. Šiaurė is a platform to express individually our approach to design, production, and business as well as to generally share something about our context and heritage. We dream that a traditional Moroccan carpet could be woven into a Nordic context. Why not? Why do you do this? It’s interesting, challenging. It unites our interests. Sometimes you feel the sense of it and have a necessity to create. How do you feel, do you create or do you transmit? Tell us about your creative process? Quality-wise every time it’s new, reinterpreted, twisted. However, we like archaic simplicity, as if it was more an artefact rather than a designed object. Ancient creative aesthetics are our endless inspiration. It’s all about sublime primordial material, technique and touch. It’s our own context which we know as well as feel. Do you have any ritual you perform while creating? It is important to let things and materials seduce you. Observe them well, listen to them and fantasise about their stories. Our ancestors used to perform rituals and ceremonies to get in touch with the spiritual side of their nature. Have you been inspired by any ancient ritual? What is the ritual for you? MP: Researching our sensual connection with objects, I was inspired by Joseph Beuys’ performances, Berlinde De Bruyckere works and especially Leonard Koren’s ideas where I see a lot of ancient ritual elements. Apart from that, every ancient craft has a layer of mythological meaning, so the process of making itself becomes a ritual. ML: It’s important to allow time for different
processes and to do one at a time with respect. It gives a feeling of presence. You’ve taken the longer path of research and artisanal collaborations. What draws you to the past and craftsmanship? We believe this is a way to create something meaningful and valuable in itself and at the same time, to preserve some elements of the heritage. Working this way we discover a lot of new things. We also have an ambition to rethink and rehabilitate the essence of Baltic identity. How do you see the values and messages brought to people by heritage inspired design? How do you see its’ market position? Where do you see the potential for Šiaurė? What is your model for development? The object transmits knowledge; it broadens your mind and gives you a certain experience. We don’t need things anymore that are simply appealing and serve a function. We need stories. Briefly, our model for development is continuing collaborations, research and the educational aspect of these practices. In the near future, we will expand our collection introducing more ceramics, leather and other accessories, tableware and interior objects. What messages and feelings about us, Lithuanians, do you code into your designs? Honesty, calmness, monumentality, belief in nature and its processes, made using sublime, raw, primordial materials. Do you think the past narrative impedes our future creativity? Not at all if you think critically, question, compare the experience of the past to the present and make some new conclusions. It’s wrong if you repeat, follow an image or believe the signs or truths of the past have the same meanings today.
Šiaurė is a platform curating design and craft practice, created by Mantas Lozuraitis, Marija Puipaitė and Vytautas Narkevičius. siaure.com
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DANCING
Photography Vytautas Narkevičius
“This vase is made from a type of clay, that is not that typical for modern ceramics, it’s too rough. Our potter complains his hands hurt” – I’m introduced to a sublime modernist beauty that echoes the 17th century artefact yet wears a nanotechnology veil that preserves it from dust. Momentarily it is around the vase, and not a blank cafe table, that I’m having a meeting with Mantas Lozuraitis and Marija Puipaitė – the conscious and subconscious from the new design project Šiaurė ([‘shəu-rē],’north’ in Lithuanian).
Don’t go Dancing Without a Talisman
N WIND x ININ NINI
Nested 18K yellow gold CHOPPED WILLOW and rose WILLOW rings with white diamonds. COMB collection.
So, when you go out into the world today, you rely heavily on man-made systems of orientation and security. They are layers of contracts that we’ve signed with ourselves; layers, that separate us from the intricate ways of the universe. They are like simultaneous translators that await us in the future, so we don’t bother to learn to feel the words and the variety of meanings. When was the last time when the stars in the night sky gave you knowledge? Yes, there is an app that reads the sky for you. See?
What would happen to you, as a person, wandering in the uncharted realms of the forest, disconnected from a GSM signal? A connection. There is nothing strange that we talk about security systems with Jurga Juozapavičiūtė, the creator behind the June Nineteen jewellery brand. Pure, elegant and slightly weird creations are dedicated to all nomads, to the big city people longing for their forests. Forests, where they connect again. I guess Jurga, who lives and
works in Los Angeles, longs for our forests. One of her collections is called Comb that reaches way back to ancient Baltic legends about magic combs, tokens of protection against vicious threats. Combs, that grow into forests. From myths to reality, combs from amber or brass were real amulets worn by folks from Baltic tribes. It was their security pact with the universe, written in the language of imagination.
23 Photography Inga Plūme for MOONLIGHT tribe
Tell us, what was it that attracted you personally to the story behind the Comb collection? How does it speak to you? In old Baltic legends, if the protagonist is chased by a evil spirit, he drops a tiny comb pendant over his shoulder and a forest rises up where the comb lands. The vicious thing becomes trapped forever amid the trees. I first heard the story when I was a kid, it’s an authentic story, as I saw actual brass and amber combs at the Baltic Art Expo that I visited a long time ago. We could say it’s a true Baltic evil eye. To me it speaks of the co-existence of good and bad, protection, traveling, forest and city spaces, being able to hold on to your own roots — this is the story I try to channel into my collection. I was looking for a new design for comb amulets and I embellished them with diamonds. I love the forest, so for me to wear the forest as a ring on my finger feels massive. What is the forest for you, what do you find there? Having lived in various places in the world, do you feel our connection to the forest is in any way special? The forest is a meditation room. Memories from my childhood. Inspiration. A creative playground. Just a cosy space to be. Of course it can be dramatic and unfriendly but that’s because it’s alive and has its own rules. If you believe that our world is a duality of nature and culture, then the forest has its own very powerful place in it. Also, I think that the forest is a very Baltic thing. No-one has more beautiful forests and noone enjoys them more.
Do you see that there’s something more that inspires you from deep in your heritage? Everything, as everything leaves a trace in me. Not all the inspiration comes out in a tangible literal way. It’s very diverse and diffuse, just like the deep past was, with different rules of time and creativity, but it’s palpable. Can we really ever know the what, how and when of inspiration? This issue of N WIND magazine focuses on rituals. Do you have a ritual you perform while creating? Our ancestors used to perform rituals and ceremonies to get in contact with the spiritual side of their nature; this is how they created their art. I don’t have rituals, but I have rules and regulations. I would say I have a routine to stay creative. Everything needs to be organised, white, all the burning issues need to be resolved before I start to create. Now I’m trying to go against myself and do things the other way — in chaos, without white, and it’s hard! In a broader sense, I believe that one should be liberated to be able to create. Liberated from everything that was previously learned, far away from what’s happening outside and one’s own experience. I believe in instinct and the impulses that I get when I listen, when I’m relaxed. I think every generation has its own trances in its own ways of dreaming. Our ancestors lived very different lives. In our contemporary lives we have a lot of ceremonies and rituals that help us to establish meaning in the space around us. What is your source of creativity? If creativity were a kind of dance, what would it be like? I combine urgency and calmness. Movements and impatience with sitting on the floor and having it all laid out in front of me. Dance? It would probably be the chaotic levitation of an astronaut in outer space. Juggling total calmness with the incredible speed of thoughts. Is there a more intrinsic connection between jewellery and rituals? Jewellery has always been an important part of commitment, birth and death (memento mori rings). I’m more fascinated by contemporary rituals in our everyday lives, like, feeling a ring on your finger and reminding yourself of its meaning, be it feeling safe or visioning again who you are, creating a certain energy. How do you see the values and messages brought to people by heritage inspired design? How do you see its market potential? What is your way of developing your brand June Nineteen and the Comb collection? The market is so oversaturated, therefore, something that has a deeper meaning executed beau-
tifully will prevail against something that only has function. With June Nineteen, my intention wasn’t to make it folksy and based on Baltic art. I was moved by the story and connected with it, so, a lot of my customers also are. With brand development, I seek authenticity and mainly follow my own instincts. I just don’t know how to do it any differently. Now I’m working on grass snake inspired pieces and can’t wait to be able to wear them as a symbol of family and wisdom. Again it’s a challenge, as the jewellery market is full of snakes! What messages and feelings do you code into the designs of June Nineteen? How would you describe June Nineteen? June Nineteen is one summer day, a day unique within the year, yet at the same time, so ordinary. I think it’s pretty authentic and not very calculated; it’s my world and I hide behind JN. I try to transmit what moves me into my collections, messages and feelings, and what moves me are the things that more or less move us all. The journey with this project has definitely made me happier. junenineteen.com
The creations of June Nineteen are sold at Just One Eye, Farfetch and Spring platforms and at V2 Concept Store in Vilnius.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DANCING
Have you dropped the comb in LA, I ask Jurga. A shadowy Baltic forest in the city of lost angels? “Not that I could afford dropping combs of gold and diamonds” — she laughs. We talk about what it takes to create a successful design product, which emerges from a deep affinity with one’s roots and heritage. Jurga creates fine jewellery from gold and conflict free precious stones, so there is a certain challenge to create pieces that are both precious and elegant, but partly raw and primitive, that feel authentic, to “make us feel electric”. It’s been almost a decade since she’s been walking her path of deep research and daydreaming, persistently carving her own way, to her own rhythm. Quiet and withdrawn, but don’t be mistaken, strong business acumen’s as important to Jurga as expressing her creative voice. Having worked for the French fashion designer Isabel Marant, a future concept store Just One Eye in Los Angeles, Jurga has a broader understanding of what it takes to build a business in fashion, so she wants to take her time.
JN girl wearing 14K yellow gold WILLOW pendant with black diamonds. COMB collection.
It’s imagination, that reconnects us to the universe.
The Shoes Are Greener on This Side
N WIND x ININ NINI
Reykjavik plus shoes equals KRON, period. And KRON equals eye candy, to such an extent that you might catch yourself thinking of framing them or secretly kissing them, just a little bit. This is what the shoes crafted by the heroes of this article do to me. Hugrún Árnadóttir and Magni Þorsteinsson, the duet and couple behind the whimsical and detailed designs that adorn feet at their most colourful, do their own thing, at their own pace. No forced collection deadlines, no seasons, their own rhythm of dancing and solely unique creations resulting from a genuine belief in the natural flow of inspiration. Luckily, they managed to spare some quality time amidst Iceland’s football glory to ponder about all things shoe-beedo-bee. What was the birth of your brand and how would you define it? Kron by Kronkron shoes was launched in autumn 2008. I would say that our creations are very honest. We are clear and open hearted, which leads to our shoes having no attitude, no smell of following the trends. They rather live on their own, independently. I guess that’s the way we feel too, the sensation
of climbing our own mountains full of fresh air whilst feeling free. How many people work for you and where do your designs get produced? It’s just the two of us, husband and wife, that stand behind all the work of Kron by Kronkron. It’s a crazy life. Our shoes get produced in Spain and instead of getting everything done in one big place, we handpick each artisan with his or her specific skills. We gather everything together from several people to then complete the shoe. On that journey we can bring life into many small studios which is so pleasant for all sides. Many of us have had a life-changing epiphany, what was the moment you decided to start designing shoes and why? The idea that shoes would become the red thread through our lives became clear 16 years ago on a blind date in the Blue Lagoon, which is extreme as Icelanders don´t date and never do blind dates. It´s just not part of our culture. Things began to roll quickly after that. Our blind date took place on Saturday, we moved in together on Monday and we opened our shoe store
“Kron” three months later, which was our first step in the shoe business. Hugrún had just graduated from Studio Bercot in Paris and our plan was to launch our own collection but we were in no hurry as we enjoyed presenting other designers and educating our clients that behind every pair of shoe is an idea and lots of work. Everything needs its time, especially in our case as we started with empty hands with no funds backing us up. We set a goal in 2007 that our first collection would be born in 2008 and times have been pretty wild ever since. This issue is about rituals. Do you have any rituals that are part of your creative process? I guess small things such as a clean table, similar pencils and no colouring can be perceived as our rituals. What does a shoe symbolise for you? Shoes are our language. We read people by looking at their shoes. What a person decides to walk in through life says so much about them.
Could you say that your cultural heritage has had an effect on your designs or working process? I guess that being an Icelander, you normally are a big fighter and don´t question the idea of working on several jobs at the same time. These fighting skills make us top multi-taskers. We call it “the Icelandic way”.
Since your designs are so playful and theatrical, they must attract open and whimsical people and artists. Which artists have worn your shoes that you are particularly proud of? We’ve had the pleasure to welcome many strong creative people into our Kron by Kronkron universe. We are very proud of all our clients, but in order to name drop a few from a long list then I guess we need to mention Livia Firth, Mary J. Blige, Gina Rodriguez, the gang of “Orange is the new black”, Stephanie J.Block-Arcelus, and many more. Have you worked with dancers? Yes, a few times, on short films and at the Icelandic National Theatre. Pierre Coulibeuf is making a short film with Erna Ómarsdóttir these days and the dancers are dressed in Kron by Kronkron from head to toe. What do you do outside of designing wonderful shoes? We run our store Kron and Kronkron where we present some top of the crop designers, some timeless powerful beauties. Then of course family time leads our lives, but we try to spend all our extra time off in the nature of Iceland. It’s impossible to keep on going without reloading as often as possible. I’ve had a special relationship with Iceland since I was born and I was delighted to hear a witch say that I was Icelandic in my previous life. I decided to visit my pre-life motherland a couple of years ago and whilst asking for a map in the tourist office I was given one that divided the island in different zones including haunted areas, areas inhabited by elves and the likes. What stories did you grow up with and how have they shaped
What materials do you like to use and why? Where do you find your fabrics? We are driven by mixing materials, textures and colours and we pick them carefully all around us or create them before use.
your beliefs and your being? Oh, I feel you. I´m one of those people who pray to be re-born here in Iceland in the next life. I know it might sound crazy, but that’s the truth. We are very connected to our nature, with great respect for those who live here with us. It´s just part of our lives, part of our power of peace and nature. We all feel it and most of us respect this feeling. One of our biggest issues today is to make sure that our political leaders and big companies stay humble towards nature as well.
Since you don’t design according to the seasons, do you feel that makes you slower or the opposite — more productive? We do in fact create and make 2 collections per year, but they get mixed in with the previous family members. However, we think it’s important that small creative companies like ours stay flexible when it comes to timing and how productive they are each year. It´s very important that creative companies remain healthy and happy when it comes to production.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve seen any black shoes in your collections. Is that a conscious decision? It´s not necessarily a conscious decision to turn black down but rather an opinion that black can be somewhat of an un-courageous colour. Why live life in black when you can colour it up? Most women wear black shoes, with no attention to detail or design. We choose to live life differently by tasting the world and I guess that affects our creations too. Since we started out, we have created and produced over 1200 designs that have included 4 black options in total. But during the process of creating each style, we always mark one out of three as the “black version”. So the thought is there to make one option for clients who prefer black, but I guess only the two of us realise which of the three is black.
I’m pretty tall. Do you think tall women should wear heels or stick to flat shoes? You should definitely wear heels when you feel like it. The same goes for women who are taller than their men. I find it’s crazy when women let the people who surround them control what they should wear or not. It happens way too often.
Your designs are adorned with so many wonderful details. When do you feel that a design is finished? It’s always pretty palpable when a drawing is ready, this frame of mind is just so clear when creating a shoe. It does become harder to limit yourself to three options per pattern when it comes to working with leather and textile though. What are your shoes meant to withstand? Nights of wild dancing? Cuddles in the park after a wild night of dancing? To be your own leader in life.
What’s your source of inspiration? The power of nature, respect, kindness, colours, details, fresh mountain air, texture, forms. Where did you work from initially, when you started out, and where do you work from nowadays? Our work base is in Iceland but then we do travel to Spain a lot to work with our small artisans who
Can you relax and distance yourself from the world of shoes outside of your work or do you catch yourself staring at horrible footwear worn by random people and imagining a better alternative? I guess the shoe-eye is always on, but it’s more a thing that takes place in our minds in order to create a new idea rather than thinking of someone else’s shoes. Sometimes there are eye-opening moments about people’s feet but the same question pops up all the time - why is everyone wearing the same boring shoe. What would have to happen for you to give up your job and why? I guess sickness or death. kronkron.com
A melancholic and life-loving resident of Berlin, Gintare attempts to finance her record collection and expensive organic food by writing about topics and people that intrigue her as well as acting in movies and plays that confront her with her ridiculous fears. Lithuanian-born, but unable to speak nor write fluently in her mother tongue, being a contributor to his magazines gives her the blissful and welcomed illusion of being slightly closer to her roots.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DANCING
Creativity and a trance state, go hand in hand. What helps you enter that state? The head is always creating shoes, seeing the picture. The trickiest part is finding a pocket of time to concentrate on a creation. Once that happens, the pencil draws quite easily.
are spread all over the country… Downtown 101 Reykjavik is the daily work location.
At the same time, there are creative people that believe in the power of plants and are reinstating them to their true status in various fields, including lesser known disciplines. Whilst side-lining their hallucinogenic effects, the healing potency of the plants is no less effective.
Each time you come to Riga, you leave a little bit of your heart there, until the capital of Latvia has it all. A renaissance in artisan food and drink, innovative chefs and produce that defines this Northern region all shaping Latvia’s new personality, is one of the main reasons why. It’s pretty obvious that a beer revolution is underway all over the world and Latvia is not immune to this craft beer craze. Craft breweries are popping up across the country. Today’s new brewer generation is revitalising old traditions as part of a broader trend of local production. Labietis however, is not your typical new brewery, brewing beer in the American manner, — extra hoppy. Flavoured with local ingredients such as heather, yarrow, caraway and juniper, Labietis offers a beer packed with flavour, history and some pagan magic. The brewers here experiment with beer styles that have emerged from the 12,000 year old history of brewing. And introduce new flavours that change the perception of what is beer. If one day you find yourself siting in Labietis, please try Radziņš, made from a typical Latvian wheat bread with caraway; Ausma (Dawn) with a touch of ginger & peppermint or Pļava (Meadow) made with local herbs. This rustic but inventive style of making beer is also an increasing source of inspiration to the country’s leading chefs. Martins Ritiņš of Riga’s famed restaurant Vincents is the number one advocate of Labietis beer, proudly offering it side by side with exclusive French wine. It’s a sunny midsummer morning when I find myself entering Labietis brewery, located a little out of central Riga, in a small creative district under the city’s hippest nightclub Piens. As I say ‘Hi!’ to the man sitting at the far end of a long wooden table in front of his laptop, I can’t help but notice the modern-looking interior heavily decorated with folk symbols and everything constructed from heavy wood. Tall and well built, wearing a dark relaxed linen shirt, shorts and flip flops, the, the sun-kissed and slightly Vikinglooking, Reinis Pļaviņš is the master and the brain behind the brand. Being an amateur home brewer for several years, Reinis says he founded Labietis out of a need and an interest to experiment with something more than traditional beer. The brewers here
Although the use of the majority of plants that have hallucinogenic effects able to induce altered states of consciousness is banned by the so-called “civilized“ world, people still use other aspects of these plants that have strengthening qualities. Currently there‘s a re-learning of the significance of the trance state throughout the world and a return to an investigation of the list of prohibited plants, concluding that many of the listed plants are in fact medically very effective and useful for health and well-being. For example, in South America, infusions from Ayahuasca and the San Pedro cactus have started to the regain their rightful place as holy healers. Elsewhere, the healing properties of cannabis are gaining recognition in the health sector.
When it comes to combining creativity, modern technologies, and tradition while brewing to perfection, Reinis Pļaviņš, the creative brain behind the Labietis brewery in Riga, is doing things just right.
Photography Eglė Ma
DRINKING N WIND x ININ NINI
We live in a world where it’s believed that man is the crown of all creation. This means separation from and disrespect for nature, plants, and this Earth. Ancient people looked at things differently, they saw nature as their biggest teacher. Plants were teachers and the hallucinogenic effects they brought were considered to be the way, of gaining deeper spiritual wisdom. Honouring plants and collectively drinking or smoking them while having ceremonies was one way how tribes all around the world connected to what they considered the amazing, true source of creativity.
do typical pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs of course, but offering different kinds of beers is the key to drawing people in. The name Labietis comes from an old word for a Latvian warrior before Christianity, the Latvian version of a Samurai so they say, and the names of the beers also draw strongly on Latvian folk culture. It’s clear that tradition and history here are important ingredients, but taste and creativity are even more important than ever before. Can heritage products be appealing in the modern world and can they offer more than origin and taste? Reinis, here we are, sitting in this Nordic modern-looking brewery, talking about beer inspired by ancient beer making traditions and local flavours, I think it is fair to ask what are your sources of creativity and inspiration? Well, I feel it would be honest to say that however much Rigans love their city — and nearly a third of Latvia’s population lives here — our affection also extends to the countryside of forests, lakes and sandy beaches edging the Baltic Sea. We’re a nation, which has kept in touch with the myths and magic of its pagan past. These two things are my inspiration. Latvians know how to make the most of the brief summer months, when up to 20 hours of daylight create a sudden rush in the dazzling growth of trees, flowers, fruit and grain. The long days and bright nights bring out the intensity of taste in the berries, herbs, and mushrooms. There is synergy between the city and the country-
Photography Inga Plūme for MOONLIGHT tribe
side that reflects the Latvian love of nature: even within the city, woods and parks create an archipelago of greenery where carpets of tiny, twinkling wild strawberries and blossoming linden trees are there for the picking. I want to resemble that in my beer. The taste of nature, the emotion of a specific place. I want people to taste a Latvian forest or meadow, experiment more, discover local flavours, ancient beer tastes and be proud of our heritage. But it’s not as easy as you might think. It’s nothing like just going to the countryside and picking all the stuff you find, popping it into the beer mixture and voila! The beer has to be good. It’s not difficult to make beer from certain ingredients. It’s difficult to make a good beer from certain ingredients. So, I guess nature and history are probably the two main things that inspire you to create Labietis? What is Labietis for you? With Labietis it’s very easy. We have one basic idea to which I’ll get later but if you look at the historical map of beer we have so-called preChristian and post-Christian beer. Beer was part of the culture for the ancient Northerners, and they liked the taste of hops. Hops are not essential for the beer-making process, they are there just for the taste, but in traditional medicine, hops were used as a sleeping pill. The Church in Western and Central Europe embraced the tradition of flavouring beer with hops for one main reason — so you wouldn’t wander around so much, go to bed early, and not go to a nearby village to sleep with someone else’s wife.
Do you have any ritual that you perform while creating? To be truly honest, we don’t have much in the way of rituals. We’re simply trying to make good beer which means you try to do everything more rationally, you know, more or less scientifically. Everything is so boring nowadays. You know that there’s yeast that eats sugar (yeast eats sugar and shits ethanol and CO2 — both of those make beer what it is loved for: fizzy and inebriating), if the temperature is a bit higher, the yeast would be more aggressive, if the temperature is a bit lower it will be less aggressive, so there will be less alcohol and the beer will be sweeter. Beer making nowadays is a very measurable thing, and if you want to put ritual into it, it simply means that you’re a madman and you shouldn’t be brewing if you’re a madman (laughs). In the times before people understood how beer is made and how alcohol works, however, people used to rely on rituals in beer brewing traditions. There’s a Viking tradition that pretty much explains a Baltic-German way of how to do things. The Viking way is to yell at the beer while it is fermenting. Let’s say the beer is fermenting in some kind of room where people gather, each time they’d pass the beer they’d yell at it. The idea behind this whole thing is to try to awaken the spirit of the grain so the beer would come out stronger or better. Stronger or better at that time were the same thing when talking about beer. On the other hand, he Baltic tradition is that if you make love in the vicinity of brewing beer, you’ll get a better result. I suppose fucking someone near the fermenter to get a better beer is not a bad idea (laughs). Is there is something that inspires you from way back in your national traditions, heritage? Definitely. I was a home brewer before starting Labietis. My family (actually, many families in Latvia) use herbal teas at home. So, when I started thinking about my personal style of beer, the first thing that came to mind was Latvians’ affinity to herbal teas. Centuries old knowledge, appreciation and use of the healing properties,
not to mention the tastes and aromas, of local herbs and plants has never really died out, it’s a living practise. You drink linden tea to help treat the flu or a cough, or to relieve nervous tension and digestive problems. Peppermint tea has sedative and antiseptic effects and while heather tea is used for colds and coughs, it is also a sedative and improves the sleep. All in all, hops don’t grow too well here, or, when they grow in the wild they don’t have enough of the bitterness that is necessary for beer making. In the beginning, before I started Labietis, I wanted a kind of beer pharmacy or a beer apothecary. The idea was that anybody could go into a bar and ask for a beer for stomach ache or some other condition, a beer that had some healing properties derived from herbs. If you’ve ever been to a homeopathic apothecary, it was supposed to be the same thing, except that everything is on tap (laughs). Of course we try to use local herbs and local ingredients as much as we can but I don’t see any problem in bringing ideas in from elsewhere. How do you see the future of creativity? We have to understand that there is only one thing that actually changes when talking about creativity — technologies that change the process of creativity. For example, when people discovered how to get brighter colours and the technology of textile dying, they started to use them in making national costumes which previously were blank and pale. That goes for everything, and today is no an exemption. Technologies enable us to think differently, they inspire, and I think that inspiration is the source of creativity. So the future of it, I guess, is really bright. labietis.lv
Eglė Ma is a freelance writer, focusing mainly on food and gastronomy. With a keen eye for good taste and beautiful things, she has been developing her career in food writing for over eight years.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DRINKING
You would be a better Christian if you went to bed early, a little drunk. It started in Belgium around the 8th or 9th century and spread throughout the whole of Europe. Before this time, there was a wide variety of beers: aphrodisiac beers, hallucinogenic beers and other. And what we’re trying to do here, we’re trying to reproduce that funny time in beer making when there were less frames in which you have to operate as brewer. And Labietis is all about recreating those funny in beer making. We use a lot of herbal stuff and don’t tie our hands with using only hops.
DREAMING While exploring the DREAMING part, N WIND will try to perform an experiment, inviting creative people to do the creation process like it was done hundreds of years ago. "Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them", book by Stanley Krippner, Fariba Bogzaran and Andre Percia de Caravalho
N WIND x ININ NINI
Photography Aiga Ozo OzoliĹ†a
For thousands of years, dreams and the ability to dream was considered to be the most powerful tool of every shaman, medicine man and artist. From visions of past life to glimpses of the future, history is full of accounts of unusual dreams, visions, daydreams. There are scientifically recognised creative, lucid, out-ofbody, pregnancy, healing collective, telepathic, clairvoyant, precognitive, past-life, initiation and spiritual visitation dreams, as well as dreams within dreams. The creation of ceremony and ritual was always about creating the space for these dreams and visions.
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
And so, we decided to undertake an experiment. How would it be if we looked for creative solutions in completely different ways? How would it be, if people, who create on a day to day basis, were to “brainstorm” in a way that was done by ancient folk? It took four creative people, one ceremony night and one task to create the following story. The northern plant power ceremony was my own creation. The main “conductor” was the power plant VĪBOTNE (mugwort, ancient dream herb), accompanied by ancient singing from Leila who has both Latvian and Azeri blood; and the trance dance in the shining dark with blindfolded eyes.
The experience took place in an urban environment, but one steeped in creativity, an alternative theatre, hidden deep in the city jungle, carrying the name of its street in its title. The Ģertrudes ielas teātris was the place. The task for the dancers was the same for all — to go on an internal journey (a visualisation, a shamanic journey, a dreaming) and find answers to the following question:
How can I use my creativity for the benefit of my country, my nation? How can I give more?
How can I use my creativity for the benefit of my country, my nation? How can I give more? This time, a storyteller was present — one who saw what happened and tried to capture it in pictures. In normal ceremonies we don’t allow any documentation or recording of the either the process or the people, however in this case, we had a different agreement with our participants — they would be part of a photo-story taken by photographer Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa. Here are their stories – about who they are, what they do, why did they agree to this experiment and what is the aftertaste.
N WIND x ININ NINI
I am. My name is Hanuka Lohrengel, and I come from a small German village at the edge of the Harz Mountains. From a very early age, I have felt an inexplicable restlessness. When I was living in my fifth country, I stood still and slowly realised that the things that were chasing me were not outside, but inside. And so, I started drawing and writing to document my journey. Through my drawings I am both discovering what is within me, but also what gives me strength to move forward. My main themes are tales from folklore, symbols, the stories of people that inspire me, my own diary, and an attempt to grasp the feminine. To this end, I’m currently working on a graphic novel about some women who are involved in prostitution in Riga. Through their stories, I want to show that forced sexuality can never be justified. Their stories have taught me a lot about strength and hope.
My experience on this journey was very strong. The task to travel back to meet my ancestors, to climb down to the muddy, long forgotten roots was a big challenge for me. I don’t have an easy relationship with my roots, but from the very beginning, having received an invitation to the ceremony, I knew that finally the time had come to go on this journey, and to stand proudly in front of my ancestors. I encountered many other people that wanted to block my way. Most of them were women who had had endured lots of pain in their lives. However, at every stage, there were also protective hands that helped me get deeper and further.
Suddenly an idea popped up - about creating a children’s storybook about the witches of Walpurgis Night. Walpurgis Night is the last night of April and is said to be the time when the devil holds a black Sabbath on the Blocksberg, the highest mountain in the region I come from. There used to be wise herbal men and women traveling up the mountain to celebrate spring, fertility and light. Through the shadows of time, it came to be celebrated as an event for burning witches and protecting yourself against evil. Through a picture book, I could show children and adults alike what this night was really about. That witches were not to be burnt but to be celebrated, and that they still are. My ancestors agreed with this and gave me their blessings.
I clearly felt that although I often had issues with identifying myself as part of my family’s roots, it was still the right place for me. My longforgotten ancestors told me that my task was to turn the line of women that came from my roots around from a tragic one to a fulfilled one. There were too many women that had suffered in the family, and now the time had come to step over these shadows and to continue on further. They said that they would help me, and reach out to me if ever I was in need. I also asked them if they would like me to make a book about feeling secure in a female body; about feeling proud and grounded, so that women could read it and feel the support of a buddy or confidante. They liked the idea, but thought that I wasn’t ready for it yet. They said: “Sei bei den Kindern!” - “Be with the children!”
After the dance I felt a deep exhaustion, but I also knew that this had to be done and that this was just the start. Two days afterwards, I still had a strong feeling about that night, that the scent of protective voices is still there. It feels connected.
A Different Way to Create. When I feel the urge of going to the unknown, so far, the only way that has worked for me has been the one that has been known for centuries among our elders. Dances, herbs, singing, fire, and stories. The most powerful way however, is to simply meditate and try to let myself fall, just as I did, during the ceremony.
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
I am My name is Jānis Milzarājs. A World Wanderer. At present I am the Art Director for the MILK advertising agency in Vilnius. I am the co-founder of the co-working space “DarbaVieta” in Riga.
ritual, although their significance isn’t clear to me. Perhaps it will come to me after some time. The biggest conclusion I gained was that I would like to move more. This reminded me of a goal I had had earlier but had forgotten — to direct my development in a way that involves less sitting.
I was delighted because recently, opportunities to take a journey for oneself are rare. The tea (mugwort) was tasty, I wanted more and my mouth was very dry. When the music started, it seemed very pleasant. It didn’t pull you away, it was just a gentle swaying that soon took you into a half-sleeping phase. A little later I concluded that I had fallen asleep standing up. I can’t get my mind around where those seven hours have gone.
As we were warned, the days immediately following the event truly turned out to be rather tempestuous. I was easily annoyed and reacted sharply to certain things that usually I would handle very coolly.
The Task I must admit that this is not the first time this question has been on my mind and it was hard to get to some original conclusion. Rather than some new idea or direction, it seems that some kind of action is missing. My mind didn’t give me complete freedom. There were a few symbols that came to me for the first time and I investigated them further after the
A Different Way to Create I like that this new way involves movement. So often in our day to day lives we try to come up with solutions in the same sitting pose by the computer. Ideas come easier when you are doing something not usual.
Oļegs Ņikitins, co-working space co-creator, gatherer of new experiences. Have participated in all kinds of experiences, from directing film and theatre to authoring strategies for the ministry of culture, from researching creative industries to bouncing in a nightclub.
N WIND x ININ NINI
I had participated in different sorts of rituals before, however none of those were set up around a specific topic. Often my attention flowed away from the topic. For me, a major part of the ritual had taken place already before the trance dance even began: in my mind I met with my father and we had quite a pleasant encounter — something I hadn’t experienced in real life. This experience had a great impact on me, so later, during the dance, I felt that I was dancing along with him. Actually, I enjoy shamanic dance ceremonies a great deal exactly because while it is taking place, there is no time to question the emotions and feelings that come around.
prior to the ceremony is that I know how to use my creativity for these purposes, what I needed more on that evening was something else — resilience, willingness to embrace the loneliness on the way towards achieving a personal goal. I saw a big field, extending all the way to the horizon, and red skies above it. The field was turned up, and the ground was black. I planted a tree, and I had to work hard to nurture it and give it the attention, water and fertiliser it needed. I had a feeling that that place is where I needed to be, surrounded by wind, cold and acres of black ground, with only the goal of growing the tree to keep me company… and it was good company.
The Aftertaste Ever since the ritual, it feels like I have renewed my commitment to what I do. I don’t question whether working long hours is the best way to manage my time, which had been quite a common line of thought for me for some time. Instead, I have the vision of what I want to achieve, and I enjoy having this responsibility that is entrusted to me.
A Different Way to Create
In truth, I missed the moment when the shaman told me what the assignment is, at least partially. But when the ceremony was over, after three or four days, when I found out what the assignment was, some of the visions I saw in the ceremony finally started making sense. I think that part of the reason why I didn’t know the assignment
This is a very cool way to create. The advantage of such an approach is that one doesn’t have to comprehend everything that is taking place. In fact, the best way to engage in such rituals is to turn the mind off. The “click” takes place on a spiritual level, in one’s heart, and doesn’t require the mind’s approval.
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa
Photography Aiga Ozo Ozoliņa
My name is Brigita Stroda. After having spent a lifetime in arts management, I am a crown maker and also the inventor of The Singing Bicycle.
The Ceremony A few days before the session, my father appeared in a dream. He looked like Harrison Ford with a hat, moustache and cowboy-ish clothes. Perhaps he was getting ready for the “expedition”. The ceremony consisted of two parts, a visualisation — a journey and a trance-dance. The most visceral, emotional reactions I had, were during the journey, to be brought to a song in my parents’ Latgalian dialect — flowering rye, my brothers build a house with 3 doors, using 9 skills. The sun rises in one, it sets in the other, and the third is for me to walk through wearing a beaded crown. As soon as it came up, I cried. It wasn’t sadness, just a deep resonance. During the dance, with the music like that of Jan Garbarek, I had an image of myself in a diaphanous silk skirt and bare feet exuberantly whirling and dancing with complete abandon in a rich Versailles-type grand hall with chandeliers. After a while, the room grew less grand, and became a huge old crumbling Tuscan villa (closer to my taste), but still with chandeliers.
The Task Aware of my mission in this session to specifically find inspiration for things, processes, closely connected to this geographical area, that is what I concentrated on, being aware of not forcing the issue with my mind. The visit down my father’s line brought up blue linen. Linen is always indelibly linked to my father. One special place that a deep resonance for me is Palazzo Fortuny in Venice. Now, type of fabrics and patterns from that place started to appear. One type of image stopped and remained
relatively still. It was many shades of deep, rich, luscious, green, velvety moss and a myriad of shapes of lichen. Then the house with 3 doors came back and I cried again. Near the end, my body simply said — stop now. I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t found a specific answer, but I stopped and rested.
The Aftertaste As I walked home, the physicality of the experience occupied my body, and my mind (usually in complete control) was confused from the experience of being actively side-lined, so there was space for me to distil the experience as follows: prosperity in my family is not about money, but about “knowing things”. I will take the useful energy of my father’s 3 brothers who “have 9 skills” and invest it in crowns and art works with blue linen, green moss and lichen shapes to create a different kind of wealth. In the week that followed, synchronistically, I found myself in places and with people that lead in unusual directions to new future projects.
A Different Way to Create I wrote the above summary of “finding the answer” for the purposes of this article, but it’s somewhat trite. It uses the same technique of making a summary after a brainstorming session. The problem is, that words in grammatically coherent sentences are wildly inadequate in translating the rich and powerful experiences we had “down there”. They are not linear and they do contain emotions and feelings that we don’t have terminology for, but that will emerge sooner or later in some material manifestation. If Inese (Inin Nini) permits, I would say it’s a way of accessing the vibrations of the “genius loci”, like for example, the song lines of the Australian aborigines and the working with ley lines that people in this region still do before building their houses.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
Your story? I was born during a solstice, and I continue to circle around the sun. The camera captivated me, for in that captured, frozen, moment, you can see something very special and wallow in it like in a bath, mediate and find extract some pearl. For some 10 years now, I let the pictures images bathe me, in various places around the world. I’m still young. My story, just like me, continues to evolve moment by moment.
Peter SimoniSchek Sandra hüller
Toni erDmAnn comeDy of our TimeS In cInemas
artwork: propaganda B
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Why were you interested in this project? I’m fascinated by both the form and the content of this project. The form — the dance — filled me with wonder and I feel I am in my element. The content — the intimate internal process for each person, the knowledge that something very special is happening to each one of us. I’m fascinated by that which can’t be seen with the eyes, but can be felt inside — that which is deeply human and authentic. Its truthfulness, in a myriad of forms, that reveals itself to anyone who gives into it and reveals him/herself. I’m fascinated by the ability to abstract, to catch and transform that bouquet of all of those complex feelings into pictures.
So what did you, as a photographer, see? I saw light in the darkness, and darkness in the light. With eyes shut to the outer world, I saw with eyes open to the inner world. What do you yourself think and feel about such rituals? In my opinion, these kinds of rituals are the ones that give those special moments of insight when you suddenly see and understand something deeply hidden and longed for. It’s in that moment that you truly feel free and alive. I think that the strength of rituals is to return people to the cornerstones of values and growth. What was the result like? Actually, for me it was unexpectedly intriguing. The feeling that what I reveal in the photographs truly came to me by participating in the trance dance myself. It was only later that I saw it around me. What I saw around me was a confirmation of what happened to me personally, behind my blindfold. 34
Who are you? Currently my definitions are somewhat abstract. In all honesty I can say I am the cosmos. Energy. A being. A person. A woman. A feeling. A click. A projection. Recently I tend to say: I don’t take pictures but pictures take me.
What did you expect? I didn’t really expect anything. I was ready for anything. It was even slightly scary — what on earth will it be like? I suppose I imagined that there would be more action going on, but in fact the great experience was happening inside with the eyes looking at the inside of the eyelids.
MUGWORT (artemisia vulgaris) Mugwort is a very powerful sacred and healing plant, which had an important place in Northern rituals and ceremonies and was held in high esteem for its healing properties since ancient times. In addition to its energising effects, it’s a powerful healer of digestive disorders and a very specific women’s remedy for painful menstrual ailments. It’s also very useful for healing various nervous disorders like hysteria, depression, sleeplessness and other neurosis. In the context of ceremonies, it’s known as a plant that cleanses a space of unwelcome energies (in the human body, it’s also very good for eradicating parasites), but its greatest renown is as an ancient dream herb. Mugwort promotes the ability to experience more powerful and significant dreams, better remember them and to heighten the effects of experiences during various meditations or shamanic trance journeys. Mugwort has been present at tribal festivities, rituals, fertility rites and meetings of elders where the tribe’s and nation’s future has been dreamt and predicted and common visions conjured up.
Mugwort is a legal plant, however, as with any plant, carefully check its effects on your health and be aware of any possible side-effects, before use.
This August, three shaman architects from the North, together with me, the local mediator, will lead an alternative architecture workshop in the Lithuanian woods. Dreamers are invited to join us to construct human birdhouses — three unique solitary shelters in the wilderness, sanctuaries and places of meditation — and to experience a creative process of so-called constructive shamanism. The idea to organise an alternative architecture workshop came to me a few years ago, when I got to know architects Marco Casagrande (Finland), Hans-Petter Bjørnådal (Norway) and Vilen Künnapu (Estonia). I discovered they viewed themselves rather as ‘design shamans’, interpreting what the bigger nature of the shared mind was transmitting, instead of assuming the honour of being ‘the creator’. Marco Casagrande, known worldwide for his ecologically conscious architectural installations and sustainable urban theories, won a UNESCO & Locus Foundation’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2015. Hans-Petter Bjørnådal’s organic outdoor scenography project Klemet received a great deal of publicity and was shortlisted for the WAN awards for performing spaces in 2016. Meanwhile, Estonian architecture classic Vilen Künnapu just held his personal retrospective, an exhibition of his lifetime’s work in the Museum of Estonian Architecture, which focused on his passion — temples, towers and other sacred architecture. I feel a strong bond with these architects and see them as very rare birds. Being very different and unique, they share a connecting point: each of them has a deep respect for nature and follows its rules. The term ‘constructive shamanism’ was coined by Marco. It’s about breaking yourself into parts and reconnecting back to nature through a flow of creative energy, it’s about ancient wisdom and rituals, it’s about not knowing how it
will end: “It’s kind-of tricky. Maybe we even have to stop constructing and let everything become more or less ruined to connect us back to nature.” Constructing human birdhouses is not an attempt to run away from reality. Rather, it’s a way to experiment with the construction process, a way to release creative energy, reconnect to ourselves and strengthen the bonds to each other. Before the workshop, we reconnect again with the shaman architects to talk about dreams and rituals for N WIND magazine. What is dreaming for you? Hans-Petter Bjørnådal (HPB): Dreaming is a state of receiving instead of pushing. It’s when you feel that everything is one — as a vibrant cloud of life. When you are dreaming, everything is present and you are a part of existence. Once you get in this flow, you are able to materialise everything. Vilen Künnapu (VK): I live inside of a dream all the time. That’s my state of mind. Even Carlos Castaneda has written that everything around us is not real — it’s a dream. Marco Casagrande (MC): To me, for some reason, a dream is more like an alarm. Actually I like to be in a state where I don’t have to dream at all. If during the day I’m working and thinking in such a way that when I go to sleep there is nothing, good for me. It’s a sign that I am on the right path. Do you have any ritual that you perform while creating? VK: The creation process itself is my ritual. It’s something like a meditation. When I start to draw, I cut all ties to so-called reality, the visions come and I feel power. MC: Every design work and every construction site is a ritual to me. In my way of working, which is so rooted to nature and to the site, the ritual is to get myself into a state from which I can start meditating about the work
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
Our ancestors used to perform rituals and ceremonies to get in contact with the spiritual side of their nature. Do you have any experience when some ancient ritual inspired you to create something new? VK: Every summer since 1999 I participated in so-called Indian camps. Native Americans came from Arizona and organised ceremonies in Estonia, so I am familiar with the attributes of their rituals. But I am not a shaman myself. To me the creative process itself is a favourite ceremony. I have a drum, but I prefer using a pencil. MC: I start all my works from a ritual which is very ancient in a way. When I go to the site, I set up a fire. Then I analyse — what made me set up a fire here? That’s one of the most fundamental studies of the site. Then I examine everything else: what is the ground I sit on like, what are the directions of the winds, other experiences. You can’t just walk into a site and start
doing, because you are not ready. You have to break yourself into pieces. HPB: I think, all the ancient rituals belong to the ancestors, to another place and time. We are evolving, so not everything would work now. But some rituals have a deeper meaning, they can put you into a trance, especially the rituals connected to thermal feelings, like, sitting by the bonfire. Our “Nomad City” workshop project came to me in autumn, when I was sitting by a bonfire close to Røssvatnet Lake, eating fish. Traditional parts of every ceremony is that people come together, they do the drumming — get into the trance state, then they sing and dance together, then they drink or smoke and then they dream, all to create. Do you use some of those elements in your creation process? Do you miss some of those elements? Do you feel that something from this is coming back or vice versa — we are losing it? HPB: I see it more like a play. As Osho has once said, the one who engages in a play has the potential to become a Buddha. In the end, we all create our own rituals, our own plays. Of course, some of those rituals remain through generations and there are some we are getting away from by enclosing ourselves in sterile office environments. MC: I believe in a physical meditation as a way to connect to the collective mind. Farmers could be an example. When you see real farmers, they are totally meditating all the time. They are connected to the local knowledge, the site specific information and to nature through their meditation, which has been done for years and years, generations and generations. VK: I don’t use the traditional parts of the rituals you have mentioned, but I have some of my own. Every day I draw a little bit. I like to draw a croquis, a model, changing a pose every ten minutes. Making ten drawings per day is my perfect ritual, my own ceremony, as is writing, painting, making architectural sketches. Recently I become more and more an artist. Before I was more like a monk, but now I enjoy being an artist and an architect again more and more...
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on a specific site. For me, the process until the work starts revealing itself is a long one and personally quite demanding. I have to find the crack. I have to find the way to get in touch with the work. So it’s not a design question at all. When I get connected to the work and when the work sort-of gets comfortable that I’ve been chosen for it, then it starts coming. It’s always a surprise and it’s changing all the time. Sometimes I almost wonder — when does this end? I have to go deeper and deeper to see all the possible layers, and it takes time. After a while — bang — it comes. And then I know, this is it. The main thing to understand is that the work must be bigger than you. If you call yourself the designer, the architect of the work, for me, it sounds wrong. You are only supposed to be some sort of a good slave. HPB: For me, the most important thing is to get rid of any stress before starting the creative process. I’m not sure if it can be called a ritual, because there are many ways of achieving a relaxed state of mind: it can be a boat, a sauna or a walk.
How do you see the future of creativity? VK: I believe revolution is the future. Man is changing. Man is getting greener and more powerful. All work will change. I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I’m sure that big changes are coming. Everyone and everything is becoming very creative nowadays and there’s huge potential in that. HPB: Creativity needs to become a part of everything we do in life; it is to become one with everything. When we come to this state, we become like gods. It’s a sacred act, but I don’t think there’s anything magical in it. It seems very natural to me. Unfortunately, in many cases we are ruining it with stress, which shuts creativity down, in my opinion, nowadays workplaces are over-controlled. MC: People are living in many different layers. Some are living in cities and some are living on farms, or closer to nature. A big part of the development, industrialisation, civilisation is a juxtaposition of these two. The civilised man is the source of pollution, the source of prostitution, but none of the ways to connect to nature is civilised. The more civilised we get, the more we forget. So we have to forget the forgetting. Nature is about energy exchange, so the development can’t walk just one way... or only for a while.
Drawing by Vilen Künnapu
The workshop to construct human birdhouses takes place in the old woods near Anykščiai, Lithuania, from the 8th to the 15th of August. constructiveshamanism.com
Sandworm by Marco Casagrande
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
Guoda Bardauskaitė is an architect and the mediator of the constructive shamanism tribe.
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Photography Alexandra Kononchenko
Creating the Image of Eternity
What is dreaming for you? It’s my life. I’ve done some amazing things just because I’m not afraid of dreaming. Being a part of this job market and maintaining the ability to dream is challenging, but that’s what keeps me running. I am a doer. I do things that I dream about, I would be nothing without being able to dream and share my dreams with others. Do you have any rituals that you perform while creating? Our ancestors used to perform rituals and ceremonies to get in touch with the spiritual, creative side of their nature. I’m a big fan of the Fluxus movement. I believe in “here” and “now”. Take this interview. It’s not that I don’t care, but the pace of my recent weeks is such that I can only answer questions sitting on a random table somewhere at the IT Lab wearing some sponsor t-shirts and seeing people through the window. It’s so random, so not yet decided, but that’s what inspires me, the “here” and “now”. Can I call that a ritual? Well, kind of. What inspires you back from your heritage, if anything? Determination. We, Lithuanians, are the nation of dreamers, the determined ones. What comes to my mind is that determination helped our nation to maintain its identity through hard times. What makes young architects burn with enthusiasm nowadays? How do they realise their youthful aspirations in the job market? I would say, as long as one has an aim to make the world a better place for everyone, and then time is not an important element at all. To begin with, EASA is a non-profit event. It always has been, it is and hopefully it will remain this way. The job market is not a big influencer for our community. Well, at least it does not influence us while we are all gathered together to make some amazing things happen!
What is the creative process for an architect, and how much influence do roots, tradition and history have in these modern times? I may not answer this complicated question in just a few sentences, but I believe that the creative process is something not yet decided. It can happen anywhere, anytime, anyhow, to anyone. Of course it’s influenced by your individual background, or, it would be better to say — your background is a part of you, and the creativity that comes from within is also you. How do you measure the outcome of the conference, are the aims already determined or are they shaped by the delegates? Well, there are more than 30 workshops happening at the same time. Some of them will end up with something tangible — an installation, a pavilion, structure, photographs and so on. I would call these workshops result-orientated. For the other workshops, the process is the essence and core of the programme. The expectations sometimes ruin the process. I remember someone telling me that if you want to reach a goal you’d better not look at it all the time, you need to look down to your feet as well so as not to lose the right path. What kinds of questions and activities will you be asking and conducting, over the course of the conference? Decision. The importance of decision. The power of decision. The necessity of decision. What, why, when, how to decide or not to decide. These are the main questions returning to our heads again and again. The environmental impact of modern buildings seems to be an over-riding factor, however here in the North it usually leads to sterile, Scandinavian-style modernity, which, while energy efficient, often seems out of place and conflicts with the classical elegance of say Tallinn Old Town or even early Estonian republic buildings. How can architects achieve the transition between the old and the new and create buildings which still look good in 50 or 100 years? I believe the problem is that architecture these days is influenced by trends. Well, almost everything is influenced by trends and that is not a bad thing in many cases. But if we keep in mind buildings that are supposed to create living space for people for at least 50 or 100 years, then trends need to be reconsidered. What I was taught at my university is that architecture seeks to create an image of eternity, and if I look at some Soviet modernism buildings in Vilnius, I somehow get the feeling of everlasting architecture. On the other hand, why do we people seek to build something long lasting for many years, why do we seek eternity so badly? Just think about it. Harmony is the answer, isn’t it?
Can architects have any real influence on decisions, when the main drive for new building projects appears to be dictated by investors destroying historic buildings for their schemes to build cheap accommodation to maximise their return on investment? I believe one always has this right to choose. To choose a client and a source of influence. Here, individual decisions plays an important role. How can architecture improve our world? Architects as a community believe in a better, well-designed world. Architecture is not just about the design of interior and exterior spaces. It also involves such elements as the social environment, the economic situation, nature and many more. Do architects dream of electric lifts? But seriously, what do architects dream of? Ha ha. Well, me personally, no. My last dream was about the European architecture students’ assembly and how this whole event is taking place in my village where I spent 14 summers in a row.
All outcomes are uncertain. But daring to dream, being open to events, happenstance and the chemistry of over 400 people in a strange northern country are ideal conditions for something new to emerge. So emboldened by enthusiasm, a fresh outlook, and the courage to create a new vision, EASA 2016 can create the space for architecture to be rosier, relevant and more connected to the needs of people and their dreams. easa.lt
Paul Emmet is a freelance writer, environmentalist, avid reader, and part-time DJ. Lives in Tallinn and his imagination. Likes the sea and old forests.
MODERN NORDIC RITUALS: DREAMING
‘As one realises that one is a dream-figure in another person’s dream — that is self-awareness!’ says Timothy ‘Speed’ Levitch referencing a poem from Lorca in Waking Life. On the subject of dreaming, we spoke with one of the organisers of the 2016 EASA event, Justinas Jakštonis. The European Architects’ Student Assembly gathers the most progressive young architects and architecture students to brainstorm, attend lectures and develop new projects. Every year there’s a different location where over 400 people gather for 10 or more days. As this magazine goes to print, the EASA event themed “Not Yet Decided” is held in Lithuania, in Nida – a resort town on the Curonian Spit. We sketched out a few questions for Justinas, who took time out to draw from his experience and outline his grand designs (ouch).
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