2017 April - June | Free magazine
CREATIVE NORTHERN ENERGY
Portrait of Gedvilė by Laima Stasulionytė
WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO WITH ALL THIS FUTURE?* A timely question. Ouroboros, the ancient Egyptian symbol of a snake eating its own tail, is a message to us through time and space that Everything Old Becomes New Again. Our nowness becomes our past in the blink on an eye! Just how short is the moment given to us in linear time to detach our minds from the past and turn towards the future, until it’s the now again? Nowness is continuous. We are part of nature, which is continuous. Creativity is evolution and everything new is a transformation of the old. Sometimes it takes millions of years. No new beginning is entirely ‘new’. And so we are seeing furious digestion and regurgitation in what we humans create—the snake is eating its own tail. But, as in nature, [disruptive] acts break linear evolution. The human mind finds itself in that imaginary moment, detached from the past but not yet in the now, occasionally detaching itself from accumulated learning and venturing into a new trajectory. Then creativity evolves in leaps and we see art that shakes our understanding of time and continuity and technology— it looks unfamiliar, as if from another world. That is the feeling of the new! Yet it is still a manifestation of continuity.
Unrecognised feelings N WIND has collaborated with the visual artist, photographer, and art director Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė to introduce the feeling of New Beginnings in this issue, which is full of diverse stories and perspectives. Tamošiūnaitė has a background in Photography and Media arts, and participates in the contemporary Lithuanian art scene. She is one of the co-founders of the initiative ‘Young Poor Artists’—an independent artistic platform operating since 2012.
The ‘new’ will not truly manifest until we reach the singularity [the hypothesis that the evolution of artificial super-intelligence will lead to unfathomable changes to human civilisation], when AI will take over thinking for humanity in a ways that are unfamiliar to us, in speed, direction, and leaps of logic we cannot begin to comprehend. When the ‘new’ truly arrives, will it arrive as an embrace or a collision?
Tamošiūnaitė has aimed to create space for feelings in this issue of N WIND, introducing curated abstract and even unnerving imagery: ‘My vision for the New Beginnings issue was to expand the content of magazine visually and conceptually, offering the reader a wider point of view about the topics the writers touch upon. I wanted to create the fresh, slightly odd feeling that something new, as yet unrecognised, is near at hand. For me a new beginning is a sudden feeling that irretrievably changes my point of view about the past and the future.’
In one sci-fi movie a rather interesting conversation took place between a machine and a human: Robot: Now I know why the rain changed. Human: Why? Robot: I don’t think you could understand. Yours in looking ahead towards the new, N WIND
* This motif was used in the showcase of FW17 Gucci collection.
N WIND is North Wind. We encourage exchanges of creative Northern energy. MAGAZINE, EVENTS, PEOPLE. 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 2017, No. 12 Circulation: 8500
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Anna Reynolds is an academic editor and translator, who greatly enjoys working with people who have something to say. She lives in Riga and will be glad to hear from you.
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Get in touch on Skype: reynoldsae New Beginnings Photography by Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė Model: Gytis Reiteris Assistant: Greta Vileikytė
Authors Paul Emmet, Eleanor Reynolds, Gintarė Parulytė, Linas Kmieliauskas, Denis Bondar, Karolis Vyšniauskas, Vaida Stepanovaitė, Zane Onckule.
Supporting the exchange of Lithuanian creative energy. The project is partly finance by Lithuanian Council for Culture.
to make like new: restore to make new spiritually: regenerate to restore to existence: revive; to make extensive changes in: rebuild to do again: repeat to begin again: resume to replace, replenish to grant or obtain an extension to become like new
The World on a Plate
Photography by Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Beyond a certain point, the whole universe becomes a continuous process of initiation. Robert Anton Wilson
Thanks to the Stop Wasting Food initiative, started by Selina Juul, Denmark has reduced food waste by 25% over the last five years.
Paul Emmet Writer, facilitator, activist
Selina Juul moved from Moscow to Denmark when she was 13 years old. She arrived from the turbulence of the post-communist East to the most modern, safe, and affluent society in the history of the world. This new beginning for a young Russian would have a catalytic affect on Denmark and create new hope for a cleaner, fairer, more sustainable world. So far she has been featured in Denmark’s Who’s Who for 2015, awarded the Dane of the Year prise in 2014, and was the winner of Nordic Council’s Nature and Environment Prize in 2013. Among those calling her for advice are the Danish Parliament, dozens of local and international companies, the EU Commission, and the United Nations.
Selina is the founder of Stop Wasting Food, an organisation focused on eliminating the huge amount of food we waste or throw away each year—a staggering 30% of everything produced. Not only is it a waste of resources, but a waste of time and money as well. Thanks to the Stop Wasting Food initiative, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council estimate that Denmark has reduced food waste by 25% over the last five years. This is no small number for a country that produces over 700 kg of trash per person per year (2015), the highest in Europe. Stop Wasting Food is now in the process of going global. After a recent BBC video interview, Selina has become the go-to-person for everyone from governments to concerned citizens who want to take effective action to end the waste which is a modern day epidemic. Juul has made great inroads by educating consumers, companies, and the Danish government about the problems of over-consumption. On the day of our interview she was very ill, still she managed to drag herself from her bed to her computer so we could talk. Even while she was burning up with a high fever, her determination and passion were contagious. Juul is a remarkable woman with the focus and energy necessary for bringing about real change. What was it like for you when you first came to Denmark from Russia? How did your new life begin? I first experienced Denmark as a very clean country. I was born in Moscow and after communism collapsed it was not at all clean. And wow, in Denmark, there was no trash on the streets, and it was very beautiful. But what I also noticed was the abundance, there was so much food in the supermarkets. I’d come from a country where there were food shortages, and the Russian supermarket was a supermarket with almost no food, and people queuing up to get what was left, a small piece of bread, a little scrap of meat. Coming to Denmark and seeing so many different types of food in supermarkets—well I immediately put on 5 pounds because I had to taste all those wonderful wonderful foods. But then I noticed the food waste. So how was the idea for Stop Wasting Food born? I was working in a supermarket, in the bakery as a trainee, and we had to throw the unsold bread away every evening. I asked them why are we throwing it away, why don’t we give it to the homeless people or to horses or something? I got very, very angry. As a teenager I was shocked by all the waste. This feeling of anger, well more of
disappointment, was with me for many years until, in 2008, I decided I’d had enough! So I started a Facebook group called Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad). By education I’m a graphic designer, I’m not even a journalist, or a food person, but what happened, two weeks later I was all over the national media. People were very happy finally that someone was doing something to stop the waste. But the real turning point was three months later when we were contacted by REMA 1000, the biggest discount chain in Denmark. They had read about my movement and they wanted to do something tangible. So they cancelled all their bulk discount offers, like buy 3 things for the price of 2. When this happened it was all over the press; government ministers contacted us and I had to go and speak at the Danish Parliament, then the European Parliament, and then the United Nations FAO congress! We won 26 awards and nominations, it went crazy and became huge. What kind of impact have you had so far? Are you making a difference? Now it’s estimated by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, that in the last five years Danish consumer food waste has been reduced by 25%. It’s a good start but it has been a hell of a lot of work. It’s volunteer work—we have almost 63,000 followers on Facebook. We have collaborated with the government, with three successive Danish governments in a row. And now the BBC video is crazy, viewed by 20 million people in just seven days. Which is wonderful. Now we are up to 22 million views [at the time the magazine went to press] and people have gotten very inspired, so I am very happy. What about the other supermarkets in Denmark? Are they also on board? REMA 1000 were the first, five years later came Coop—the biggest Danish supermarket chain, and then also Danish Supermarket, KIWI, and LIDL. Today we have the greatest number of supermarkets with the most food reduction strategies in Europe. What do you want to achieve next? We are looking at how to make the movement international. Right now I blog on food waste for the Huffington Post in the US. We have a lot of requests from all over the world, and can we copy paste our idea to other countries, but it isn’t easy because Denmark is a small country, only 5,7 million people, and I’m not sure if we can have the same success in the United States and China, or Eastern Europe and Russia, because the mentality
Thanks to a young Russian immigrant, a new initiative born in Denmark is addressing how and what we eat. Selina Juul is a food waste activist and her recent interview with the BBC was viewed more than 22 million times, resulting in 400 emails a day from people keen to follow her example.
And avoid overconsumption, I love the quote from Fight Club: ‘We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.’
How have your activities contributed to new thinking about reducing the overall waste in society? Our government is very focused on the circular economy. The European Union has just published a circular economy package and made a resolution about reducing food waste. I am on the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste doing a four-year research project on how we can reduce waste—not only food waste, but waste in general. In Denmark the Ministry for Food and Environment have targets to decrease the amount of plastic and improve recycling. For instance, from the end of this year every household in Copenhagen must sort their organic and non-organic waste. Only some municipalities do at present, but we are working to increase the number of garbage sorting facilities. In the heart of Copenhagen, where I live, this initiative will be starting later this year and I’m really looking forward to it.
is different. But I’m sure we can learn something from each other. Each country is very different, but providing the basics is a first step, then people in those countries can create their own initiatives. It’s funny with food—food is viewed differently in different places. What to some people may be food, to others is waste. For instance in Denmark what is inside a chicken or a cow, well people don’t eat it, but in France people do.
FROM GARBAGE TO GAS A lot of garbage in Denmark is incinerated, through the controversial waste to energy programmes. Unsorted garbage for an incinerator means a lot of wet matter which is very inefficient. Do you cooperate with the waste management companies? Well Daka ReFood is a waste management company doing a lot with biogas. In a joint project between Stop Wasting Food, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, and several others we have launched the REFOOD label. Essentially it promotes the sorting, collection, and recycling of food waste, and tells consumers which companies are adopting a more responsible approach to food waste. The REFOOD label is for restaurants, canteens, and anyone in the food service industry. REFOOD is encouraging the food service industry to sort their garbage, so it can go to biogas. Using this label it shows that a company is responsible and cares about the environment. So what can readers do right now to make their own contribution to the Stop Wasting Food movement? There are lots of food waste traps, but once you realise what they are it’s easy to take action. The average American household spends 1000 dollars per year on wasted food, and Europeans are
Selina founded Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad) movement. Photography by Anette Vadla Ravnaas
not much better—900 euro per year on average. 20% of the food we waste is due to consumers not knowing the difference between best before and use by. Use By is for fresh produce, meat, fish, etc. and it’s not advisable to eat such food after the stated date. Best Before is used on chocolate, cornflakes, rice, pasta, etc., and you know I have never goten sick eating biscuits or chocolate a month after the expiry date. Best Before does not mean toxic after. Pull all the opened products, leftovers, etc., to the front of the fridge, ideally at eye level. Before you go shopping don’t write a shopping list, take a photograph of the contents of your fridge for a clear overview of what you have. When you arrive at the store, take a small shopping basket. As baskets get bigger and wheels are added people are encouraged to buy more. Shopping carts have become 15% bigger over the past 20 years. Don’t be a zombie consumer. Avoid bulk discount offers unless you are sure you really are going to be able to use them. Buy imperfect fruit and vegetables; this will encourage suppliers to sell them rather than throw them away. If suppliers know people don’t only want ‘supermodel’ food that will massively reduce the amount of food thrown away before it reaches the supermarket as well as the ‘ugly’ food that is thrown away because it spoils on the shelves.
Selina has spoken at TED events a few times. Photography by Daniela De Lorenzo
The Leftover Cookbook created by Selina Juul together with famous chefs REFOOD is encouraging the food service industry to sort their garbage, so it can go to biogas. Photography by Thomas Pape
Be mindful of your plate size, a plate that is just 10% smaller can reduce food waste by 26%! Think about portion sizes—we sometimes have 8 guests for dinner and cook for 20. And serve your food gradually, be especially mindful during the food waste holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, etc. When your dinner guests have gone and you are left with leftovers, love your leftovers! The extra food saves you time and a trip to the grocery store. And if you have more food then you need, share it. I have a sweet old lady next door with whom I share pies, stews, or anything else I have too much of. And she shares her food with us. Help your neighbours. It’s so simple. Freeze leftovers and mark their contents and date. Also put them in the freezer where you won’t forget about them. Put them in one place, otherwise they become UFO’s—unidentified frozen objects to be thrown out two years later, which is not only a waste of food, it also contributes to your electricity bills. And avoid overconsumption, I love the quote from Fight Club: ‘We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.’ We are all in this together. We are not pointing fingers. We all have the power to avoid food waste traps, share our food, and love our left overs. With these simple ideas we can change the world and make it a better place. Right now the food we waste could feed 3 billion people! As a direct result of the perception, action, and determination of this remarkable young woman a new movement is spreading through the world. It is super easy to join in and become a food waste activist—just start making better informed choices! Avoid food waste traps and save money, save time, get healthier, make new friends, and make your contribution to a new way of looking at food and waste. selinajuul.com stopspildafmad.dk
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR, LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS
by Karolina Brzuzan A sculptural and performative continuation of the Polish artist Karolina Brzuzan’s research on the Starvation Cookbook, currently being prepared for publication. It will include recipes for meals cooked by people who have suffered extreme hunger. The project has a clear political and economic dimension because Brzuzan focuses on famines caused by war, genocide, corruption, collectivisation, and other actions that were ideological in character. She studies hunger as a political phenomenon, as a ‘weapon of mass destruction’: ‘Each food crises I investigated was not the result of a natural calamity, but of human actions. I document the recipes, but also use
Detail from Starvation Cookbook. Photography by Karolina Brzuzan
them as a basis to reconstruct the tastes and the smells that accompany people during politically instigated disasters. Some of the ‘famine dishes’ arise from materials such as clay, wood, glue, and even pieces of furniture, leather shoes, belts, or clothing. After the process of preparing them to be eaten, they visually bear no resemblance to foods known to us and, more often than not, resemble abstract objects.’ Links to Karolina Brzuzan’s work: goo.gl/l2JY02 goo.gl/ZFPfrh
Scorched Earth Strategy from the Starvation Cookbook. Photography by Ernest Wińczyk. The ‘scorched earth strategy’ is one of the classical practices of war—the destruction of food processing plants, warehouses, and water reserves within enemy territory. Poles who survived World War II often recall a specific taste of sweetness: bitter sugar. In the ruins of bombarded sugar plants or food warehouses it was possible to find bitter-tasting burnt sugar in many different forms: huge black lumps that had to be crushed with pickaxes, dust mixed with ashes and soil, or nuggets of scorched caramel. In many cases, bitter sugar was the only food available for the nearby population for long periods of time.
Textile waste in Bangladesh
Paul Emmet Writer, facilitator, activist
The world is drowning in waste, but waste is an under-utilised resource. Estonian fashion designer Reet Aus is an upcycling pioneer who combines an unerring fashion sense with environment ethics, successfully championing the upcycling movement. Listed by the Nordic Business Report as one of the 20 Most Influential Nordic Businesswomen, her clothes are sold from Germany to Japan, and UPMADEâ€”her companyâ€”was named most environmentally aware business by the Estonian Ministry of the Environment.
Why is there so much waste? The biggest part of the leftovers comes from the roll. When a producer orders the fabric for a big shipment, sometimes it comes as 200 separate rolls, and the number of yards on the roll is always different. If the producer’s cutting table is 25 metres wide, then everything more than 25 metres becomes waste. There are no standards, that’s why there is so much waste.
‘Consume’—an installation by Kęstutis Svirnelis. Clothes, plastic, wood, electronics. If you breathe in, you inevitably will breathe out. Demand turns into supply. Lithuanian artist Kęstutis Svirnelis is sure that consumption is an unconscious rhythmic economic act. In his visually ‘breathing’ installation ‘Consume’, the artist simplifies the intricate interconnectivity of social, psychological, and economic systems into a monotonous unconscious cycle of consumption.
Fashion brands and manufacturers can use UPMADE method, developed by Reet Aus—the first of its kind in the world—to apply upcycling on an industrial scale, reduce the amount of textile leftovers, and obtain the necessary certification.
So what does the UPMADE® software do? The software uses information from a factory’s Quality Management System. We use specific info to calculate exactly how much waste there will be, how many kilos, how many metres, also taking into account the cutting leftovers. The software has been adapted to the quality management system in order to make all the calculations and analysis automatic. Two main elements go into the calculations, the waste analysis and the algorithm we made for that and then the environmental analysis that calculates the environmental impact of the product. Then we start the upcycling production: we enter the upcycled product information and get the new waste analysis so we can understand how much waste from the original order we have reduced. We then do an environmental analysis that calculates how much energy, water, and CO2 we save thanks to avoiding waste. This info is stored in the cloud, but the most difficult part is getting correct raw information. We are currently working intensely with Beximco, our partner in upcycled t-shirts and other collections.
UPMADE has entered into a partnership with Beximo, the largest garment producer in Bangladesh, to create fashionable clothing from what previously ended up as waste. By working closely with the manufacturer the standard industry waste levels, around 18%, are being methodically lowered with the aim of Zero Waste. We chatted with Reet about the scale of the problem and her innovative new software UPMADE, which, if adopted universally, can give new life to millions of tonnes of textile waste which are a scourge on our environment. Reet is a dreamer and a doer. Having seen first hand the ravages created by fast fashion she has convinced the biggest players in the garment manufacturing world to change the way they produce. But they are only part of the story. Shoppers, brands, and stores all have a part to play if we want to reverse the toxic textile tide which is fast becoming as virulent as the plastic waste in our oceans.
For myself I always wonder, ‘to whom am I giving my money?’ I think I would like to give it to nice people, to someone who actually makes a difference, or to someone I know, or someone local, or that you can understand who is behind the product.
If we had such good information from every company, we could analyse the waste and understand everything in detail, order by order. Analysis also provides transparency, which, at the moment, there is very little of. Our software gives companies the opportunity to do something with their leftovers. The irony is there is so much good stuff left over—too much! When I first saw the huge piles of mens’ shirts which were all waste—overproduction that cost something like 200 EUR/piece in the West. The order was fulfilled and all that was extra. In the production areas I have visited you cannot see the grass because of plastic and textile waste. In Bangladesh this has all happened in the last 20 years, when production moved from China. The last time I was there, local businesses were worried that production was moving out of Bangladesh. After the Ranna Plaza accident there has been a strong movement to increase salaries. Salaries have risen twice. Conditions have improved, but the environment is deteriorating? Textile waste is toxic waste. The Buriganga River in Dhaka (the location of many garment producers) is totally dead. But they could clean it. That’s the thing with environmental issues—it is easy to be clean and clean up after ourselves. We know exactly how to solve the problem. I really think the main issue is that the brands and labels just don’t care, or they don’t know, or don’t want to know. Or perhaps they know, but ignore the issue because it’s not their land that is being polluted. So it is possible to clean up the waste and make a new beginning, but it’s a matter of transparency? First of all, yes! We can at least start thinking about what we can do, otherwise it remains a foggy area. The software has to be embraced by brand owners—it’s the gateway to the solution. Behind it are the UPMADE certification and production schemes for manufacturers, material information for brand designers, and environmental savings information for consumers. The software gives a transparent overview of the leftover flow, so when brand owners task their design teams with using this information for upcycling garments, the solution is born. The UPMADE team also offers upcycling design as a service, if the brand owner wants to outsource it. We are providing concrete solutions to solvable problems.
LARGE CHANGES START WITH SMALL STEPS What can consumers who want to be fashionable, yet also care about the environment and think about how their choices affect others, do to affect change in the fashion industry? My friends ask the same question. For myself I always wonder, ‘to whom am I giving my money?’ I would like to give it to nice people, to someone who actually makes a difference, or to someone I know, or someone local, or that you can understand who is behind the product. And stop buying this shit! It’s so easy—you can go to a second hand shop, you can buy such nice stuff now, you can buy ethically. Maybe ethical fashion was once more expensive, but today it’s almost now the same price. Follow designers’ certifications. Start making your own stuff from your old clothes. The DIY movement is really growing, which is very very nice. My daughter Nina is 17. She is extreme in her views as she is my daughter, but I see the same tendency among her friends too. They don’t have any passion to buy known brands or fast fashion. They mix many different styles, and their main source is second hand.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT This new generation is doing it. This year we are organising the Fashion Revolution in Estonia and the younger generation are doing all the social media. It started four years ago after the Rana Plaza accident, when on April 24th 2014 a factory collapsed in Dhakar, Bangladesh. 1134 people died and 2400 people were injured. The factory is just 30 kilometres from the place where we are producing our upcycled range. The Fashion Revolution started in the UK, and every 24th of April it is celebrated to raise awareness about social issues, like who makes your clothes, combining social issues with environmental issues all over the world. The organisers are Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro who are also upcycling designers. The hashtag #whomademyclothes was trending as No.1 globally on Twitter. This year we are also cooperating with Lets Do It World to get the message out.’
Who are the biggest players? Well Beximco is the largest conglomerate in Bangladesh and employs 42,000 workers. Working with a company that size providing us with good information is very helpful because they know what to do with it, and are keen to reduce waste.
Reet Aus. Photography by Dmitri Gerasimov
Reet Aus is an upcycling fashion designer hailing from the tiny country of Estonia. Estonia was the first country to stage a national cleanup day in 2008 when 50,000 people cleaned up more than 10,000 tonnes of trash in an inspired event which has taken root around the world. Reet works closely with Let’s Do It World and their events. On World Clean Up Day, September 15th 2018, activists in over 150 countries will be wearing her upcycled t-shirts as they clean up their countries. Reet is part of a new movement in fashion, activists with sex appeal, challenging thoughtless consumption, and taking a long hard look at the problems in the world and coming up with solutions, one of many pioneers shaping a New Beginning. During its three years of activity the industrial upcycling software developed by Reet Aus and her team has helped to save 125,300 kWh of energy, 128,700,000 litres of water, 59,400 kg of CO2, and 8,250 kg of textiles. Next to Beximco, one of the biggest apparel manufacturers in South-East Asia, a few fashion and furniture brands are using UPMADE method to reduce waste. upmade.org reetaus.com
Photography by WHAT'S YOUR LEGACY
THE NEW BUSINESS CONSCIOUS – RETURNING GOLD TO THE MILLENNIALS Praba750 is reimagining one of the world’s oldest industries to set a strong example about the founders’ vision to reform the future. The brand launched their first jewellery collection at the end of 2016 with a clear mission statement. Every piece they sell is made from recycled gold to achieve their aim to be both sustainable and affordable. N WIND met up with Ruta Eva Cepulyte, co-founder of Praba750, to investigate the company’s claims. With a self-assured manner and a direct gaze, Ruta is a striking presence. She is articulate and enthusiastic about the business, and she wears pieces from the collection with pride. ‘It’s all about the details,’ she says, turning her head to show me the back of her earring, which is just as delicate as the front. It is clear that care has gone into the design, and that Praba750 expects its customers to keep their pieces a long time. Praba750’s co-founders—Ruta Eva Cepulyte, Viktorija Agne Mackeviciute, and Eric Mushel—were brought together through their shared values of purpose, sustainability and discovery. Praba750’s bywords are ‘minimal, elegant and enduring’ and they have come up with a first collection that is both edgy and chic.
It’s a subtle but definite change: the idea that jewellery is now bought by the wearer and as an investment. Partners everywhere, released from the pressure of finding the perfect gift, are breathing a sigh of relief. Praba750 has taken this concept one step further. They are a direct to consumer upcycled fine jewellery brand and create their pieces from recycled precious materials. ‘Gold has the peculiar and extraordinary quality of metal memory’, says Ruta, ‘even if gold has circulated for 5000 years it can return back to its pure, original state whenever it is melted. Praba’s sustainable approach lets customers be responsible while satisfying their desires.’ In the age of the hipster and the start-up, young people in Europe are on the lookout for local companies to patronise. Jewellery is often incredibly personal; pieces are worn on a daily basis, sometimes for years. The idea, that your favourite designer might live in the same city as you, gives the buying process an exclusive feel. And with the wide acceptance of digital media, the customer relationship is not only easier to develop, it’s crucial to sales. The clue is in the name—Praba750—a hallmark of purity. It suggests that the label wants to join the current trend of local businesses. ‘We are concerned with the environmental effect that gold mining and diamond sourcing has,
therefore we upcycle precious materials into our designs’, says Ruta. ‘We think there is so much unloved precious jewellery out there that could satisfy a big portion of fine jewellery demand in the market.’ Everything begins with their gold supply, which is completely sustainable and avoids any social or environmental impact. Praba750 recycles unloved gold pieces back to pure in their workshop—a modern day alchemy. It’s an interesting theory, the possibility that outdated and unappealing jewellery can be fashioned into something new. If the writer can be allowed a moment of cynicism, it seems to be the Millennial’s lot, generally, to improve on the work of previous generations. But can Praba750’s overheads be so low that they can afford to sell at their current prices indefinitely? I asked Ruta about Praba’s business model: ‘At Praba750 we’re controlling every part of the supply-chain. We are the designers and the manufacturers, and then we bring the products straight to the customer with the smallest markup possible. With Praba everyone wins—the environment, the company and, most of all, the customer.’
Eleanor Reynolds A fashion blogger and science communicator
Praba750 produces their designs in their own workshop. They use 3D printers to make wax moulds and cast their pieces in gold from these. It is important to the founders that the production is done in Europe. They believe it is essential to ensure transparency for their customers and match their mission of sustainability. ‘At times this creates problems and doesn’t make business sense’, says Cepulyte. ‘Our mentors from the business accelerator program keep suggesting to increase the prices, but we stubbornly disagree since we made a promise to ourselves and our future consumers to have transparent business model.’ It sounds like a lot of hard work, but more businesses with an eye on sustainability are what we need.
Eleanor Reynolds is a fashion blogger and science communicator. She is working on her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter @Eleanoreynolds and read about her passion for dress-making on her blog: dresstoexpress.wordpress.com
Ruta Eva Cepulyte
AT PRABA750 WE’RE CONTROLLING EVERY PART OF THE SUPPLYCHAIN. WE ARE THE DESIGNERS AND THE MANUFACTURERS, AND THEN WE BRING THE PRODUCTS STRAIGHT TO THE CUSTOMER WITH THE SMALLEST MARKUP POSSIBLE. WITH PRABA EVERYONE WINS—THE ENVIRONMENT, THE COMPANY AND, MOST OF ALL, THE CUSTOMER.
Photography by Oliver Helbig
Meet Malin Elmlid. This Swedish-born resident of Berlin traded her position in the fashion industry to dedicate herself to the archaic process of bread-making. What began as a desire to achieve the ideal sourdough loaf in her Berlin kitchen ended up as ‘The Bread Exchange’—a thriving bartering project that is uniting people, experiences, and stories around the globe.
Photography by Farzana Wahidy
How long did you experiment until you found what you considered the perfect recipe for sourdough bread? How has the recipe evolved? It’s hard to say as the recipe also depends on external factors, but I’d say that the measurements of the ingredients were pretty fixed after about one year of baking. I’m sure it would have gone faster had I been at my home in Berlin. Familiar surroundings and routine conditions make it easier to predict and learn the process. However, since I had to be on the road for about 170 days of the year, the conditions were always different—different flour quality and higher or lower gluten content, hard or soft water, temperature, humidity, and obviously the status of the sourdough itself. All these things forced me to be very aware during the baking process, since the recipe always had to be adapted to the current conditions. Being on the road has proven to be my best teacher!
Where have you encountered your favourite loaves of bread so far? Which ones were you most surprised by and why? It must have been my first loaf in 2007. I had stopped eating bread for a while, since at the time I thought that it was healthy for me to cut carbs.
THE BREAD WINNER
On my way to the airport, I visited a beautiful bakery in Copenhagen, Bo Bech, and bought a loaf of bread merely because the location was so stunning. I finished the bread in the cab en route to the airport. It was so, so good! White, light, sour tang, with a burned, sweet crust. I had never tasted wheat bread of such caliber before. I decided that I wanted to learn how to bake this exact bread. That was the beginning of ‘The Bread Exchange’.
Gintarė Parulytė Actress and writer
Photography by Shantanu Starick
I like that fact that the French word for friend is ‘copain’ as in ‘with bread’. Bread as a unifier, a social glue. What part has bread played in your life, personally and culturally? In which ways has your Swedish heritage influenced your approach to life, human relationships, and the project? Bread has always been a natural meal to share. In my family, with parents who prioritised spending their free time with us kids rather than cooking, we often came together over bread in the evening for ‘Brotzeit’ [bread time]. It’s still my favourite meal even though, unlike my parents, I like to cook. Although I see myself as being very Swedish, I still feel like ‘The Bread Exchange’ exists thanks to my experiences in Berlin, as well as my travels through work. It probably wouldn’t have existed if I had been rooted in Sweden. ‘The Bread Exchange’ was fuelled by the curiosity, openness, and custom of trading that exist in Berlin. If I may generalise, I think Swedes would have been less open to connecting with a stranger and eating her bread—at least that was the case when I started ten years ago. This issue of N WIND is about new beginnings. What motivated you to learn to bake bread and to swap jobs in this phase of your life? What was your new beginning?
One could say ‘The Bread Exchange’ started with the bread. But for me, the actual beginning was when I started to trade the bread. I am addicted to meeting new people outside my comfort zone.
The bread baking came of necessity. I simply couldn’t find the white sourdough bread that I loved in the city where I was living. If you can’t buy it, you’ve got to make it yourself. Baking bread became a passion, or rather I became madly focused on making the ‘perfect loaf’. I made so much bread I had to start giving it away. After about a year of giving, people started to give me gifts in return as a thank you. That was when the trading started: ‘You get the bread and I get whatever you have to share that can inspire me.’ So one could say ‘The Bread Exchange’ started with the bread. But for me, the actual beginning was when I started to trade the bread. I’m not hooked on baking anymore, but I am addicted to meeting new people outside my comfort zone. Did you have any instructions for the people who trade your bread with? Was there ever a moment when you felt like you were not given enough or given too much in return? Since I was often asked what I wanted in the beginning, I put up three suggestions for what I think is a good trade goods on my website: 1. Made with dedication. 2. Bought with good intentions. 3. Something you are sitting on that might seem worthless to you but valuable to someone else. I think only once or twice I made a trade where the other person didn’t make an effort. If a person doesn’t understand the value of someone baking bread that takes 24 hours of her free time then that person has a problem, I think, but it barely ever happened. I find it interesting that this only happened two or three times out of 1500. I find that pretty amazing. And I guess
it has shown me that if you have the intention to give, not to get, then you won’t remain empty handed in the long run.
taxes. I believe in good healthcare, elder-care, and childcare for all. Thus no, it’s not a goal of mine to live from trading.
What is your stance on the economy of trade? Since I did my degree in business, it is almost funny that I ended up with a heart project which means saying ‘no’ to money. However, I have no interest in living from trading. I actually appreciate money, even more now than I did before. But at the same time, I don’t want to only work for money, since I’ve realised that I miss something when I do that. Money gives us anonymity which I want most of the time. I do not want a personal relationship with my gas company or my landlord. However, there are things that cannot be bought for money. And there are people you would never see, and stories you would never hear if you only used money and I have enjoyed this very much. A dream scenario would be one where I would trade 10% of my work and be paid fairly for the rest. I think that it’s important to either, chose to do things for ‘free’ or be fairly paid for the work one does.
Where and how can people reach you and in what ways can they take part in your bread making world? Currently I am using Instagram @breadexchange to share. But for me, my blog thebreadexchange.com is still my favourite travel companion.
Can one make a living out of a project that at its core and by definition is about bartering and non-monetary? I am sure that would have been possible, but personally I do not want to select with whom and for what I trade as that would kill the whole purpose of the project for me. It would be like picking the raisin out of the cookie. People surprised me with inspiration over and over again and not choosing my trades kept me outside of my comfort zone most of the time. I live from the work I do around ‘The Bread Exchange’ project, which includes consultancy, book sales, talks, promotion, and writing. Work that is paid in money, which also pays my rent. In the end, I believe in a society where we pay
What are your next goals related to ‘The Bread Exchange’? For me, ‘The Bread Exchange’ is not about bread. Bread is simply a metaphor for the most basic of all necessities. ‘The Bread Exchange’ stands for a lack of interest in compromising on quality. It is also a network of people with a similar interest in quality and sharing. And it is full of shared stories. My next project will be less about the Bread and more about the Exchange. @breadexchange thebreadexchange.com A melancholic, yet life-loving resident of Berlin, Gintare finances 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 or write fluently in her mother tongue, contributing to this magazine gives her the blissful and welcome illusion of being slightly closer to her roots. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The small robotic spacecraft, to be launched for NASA on an Athena II launch vehicle by Lockheed Martin, is designed to provide the first global maps of the Moon’s surface compositional elements and its gravitational and magnetic fields. The launch of Lunar Prospector is scheduled for Jan. 5, 1998 at 8:31 p.m” nasa.gov
GRAVITY Analysis of radio tracking data have enabled maps of the gravity eld of Mercury to be derived. In this image, overlain on a mosaic obtained by MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System and illuminated with a shape model determined from stereo-photoclinometry, Mercury’s gravity anomalies are depicted in colors. Red tones indicate mass concentrations, centered on the Caloris basin (center) and the Sobkou region (right limb). Such large-scale gravitational anomalies are signatures of subsurface structure and evolution. nasa.gov
When we are drawn to a growing phenomenon or concept and speed into the future, moving and dancing together with others. We are conscious actors, fervent progressives, creating our vision of the future, the vision we are all unconsciously generating between us, to help it manifest fasterâ€Ś but are we still in charge of choosing our direction? We think of it as the result of our activity, imagination, and energy, but could it be that the future is acting on us, disciplining our imagination and energy to its design? Do we embrace or collide with the future?
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Photography by Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė 3D visualisation by Stanislovas Marmokas
THE ARTIFICIAL QUESTION Linas Kmieliauskas A freelance journalist, writer, editor
I am not a robot. Not yet. The article a robot would write would be at least a hundred times shorter and would give you all answers you need. In this overview of the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) you will find only questions.
“This year alone at least 1 billion people will be touched in some way by AI”, Guru Banavar, vice president and chief science officer for cognitive computing at IBM (an American multinational technology company), wrote in a blog post.
“We do not know what will happen”, admitted Mady Delvaux, a member of the European Parliament, in an interview about the future of new technologies.
Both quotes are from February—a month busy with important news about preparing ourselves to co-exist with AI.
All of the above and many more solutions, discoveries, trends, and discussions give the impression that the people of Earth are getting ready to meet a new species. The fascinating fact is that AI is being created by humanity, which has not yet figured out how its own intelligence (and other features) functions. It is likely that while designing these artificial solutions we will come to understand ourselves better.
made overnight’, Amilevičius notes. He speculates that 60% of employees in Lithuania may lose their jobs due to new technologies, whereas industry and logistics may encounter severe automation already in the next 5-10 years. However, regulation measures should not stifle innovation— innovation that can bring objective benefits to citizens’ everyday lives, the EP stresses in one of its reports.
‘We are bringing an artificial breed, capable of acting like humans, into being. If you allow robots to do silly things, they will. After all, people also tend to create problems for each other’, Dr habil. Laimutis Telksnys, professor at Vytautas Magnus University, notes. Fifty years ago he predicted the emergence of smart phones. Today the professor urges his students to design controlled systems and, first of all, to take care of people with robots acting as our aids. In either case, the professor anticipates that it will take several decades for such ‘clever solutions’ to kick in.
At the moment we encounter it on Facebook, mobile devices, and some other areas. Yet in the not too distant future AI is going to work its way into many other fields as well. Just think of any field in which intelligence can be used and you have the answer to the question: Where can artificial intelligence play a role? A more alluring question to discuss, and one of paramount importance, is not the particular technologies that may be taken over by AI, but whether we are ready to face them and how to do so? Moreover, we don’t yet know if this new market will boom or bust; AI developers have overpromised in the past. We do not know in which way such technological advancements will affect our country, region, or civilisation. And, naturally, each and every one of us. ‘In my opinion, the greatest danger this technology represents is not the technology itself, but the fact that we need to reform our economic systems to fit these new technologies if they deliver on exponential growth in productivity through automatisation (long term)’, said Bjørn Magnus Mathisen, PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), in an interview with N WIND. According to him, if these systems quickly replace jobs we will see a rapid and prodigious increase in inequality, which, as a rule, results in social unrest: ‘I don’t know the solution but I do know that Western economies are already losing jobs to this phenomenon. Therefore, we need a strategy for this, and it is not too early, it is getting too late.’
WHAT IS GOING ON? Our Nordic region has stories to tell: LIEPA, a project that allows people to speak to computers, is being further developed, and in a few years time other developers may give a Lithuanian voice to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana assistants. Meanwhile, last October Lithuanian artist Liucija Dervinytė created the textile and light installation Neurogenesis in collaboration with Mexican artist Roberto Becerra, in order to explore AI. Moreover, this coming April a microconference and hackathon for Artificial Intelligence will take place in Vilnius. In Latvia, the startup CheeksUp is developing an intelligent face motion game designed as an early intervention for speech improvement and the stimulation of emotional expression, while the Estonian startup AlphaBlues is working on AI powered customer service. Also, a year ago a team from the University of Tartu won the fourth place among 780 teams in a competition in the US by creating a programme that can pass an American 8th grade exam. The Scandinavian countries also have numerous startups in this field, such as Now Interact, Furhat Robotics, Iris AI, and many other solutions, including an ‘artificial choreographer’ by Peltarion.
In small countries such as the Baltics, the local language is an additional barrier for AI expansion. Darius Amilevičius, a scientist at Vytautas Magnus University researching natural language processing and its application in AI design, warns that if we do not create solutions for our local languages, businesses are going to offer ‘quick fixes’ in English in the coming 5-10 years.
ANY QUESTIONS? Before getting into the further development of revolutionary technologies, we have to answer a great array of critical questions concerning how they are likely to affect the social systems we currently have in place. For example, in the US at the end of 2016 the White House warned that instead of broadly shared prosperity for workers and consumers, AI might push towards reduced competition and increased wealth inequality. At the same time, not only crucial economical but also legal and ethical questions can be found among the discussions of the European Parliament (EP): Who should be responsible in case of damage? Can an AI be deemed the author of an intellectual work, entitling it to copyright protection? If a robot takes care of our suffering relatives, would we lose a certain degree of meaning in our lives? And how will we define ‘disabled’ or ‘able-bodied’ in the future? What if one day robots become emotionally—or even affectionately—involved with humans? How should this be managed? Even though AI that can think like we do may take decades to infiltrate into our lives (or it may never happen), the main challenges in the shorter-term are the changes that are bound to take place in the labour market, and their related consequences. ‘No one is talking or getting ready for a social crisis, nor is anyone researching what risks the field holds or how social and tax systems are going to be organised. Such transformations cannot be
When N WIND tried to find out how the Baltic countries are getting ready for the consequences of robotisation, we were able to find enlightened thinking in Estonia*. According to the spokesperson of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the country is preparing a new road traffic law to regulate pack-robots, while a separate working group is preparing to regulate self-driving cars. This February in Finland, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä stressed that the country needs a vision for making Finland the world leader in Artificial Intelligence. On the continent at least Germany, France, and the UK have started to reflect on the possibilities of legislation in the field of AI, according to an EP spokesperson. However, not only governments can show initiative. The Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor cooperated in opening a lab focused on Artificial Intelligence and big data at NTNU this March. Additionally, in the same month a new Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research was launched at the University of Agder, Norway, with two philosophers on board. In any case, it looks like the EU will take the lead on setting the standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries. This February the EP asked the EU Commission to propose rules on robotics and Artificial Intelligence in order to fully exploit their economic potential and guarantee a standard level of safety and security. Some of the questions discussed in a report by the EP include: Will we tax on work performed by a robot, a kind of an ‘e-personality’ for robots? Is it time to determine a general basic income for Europeans? Also, the EP is calling on the Commission and the Member States to launch initiatives in order to support women in the information and communications technology sector, and to boost their e-skills. In any case, the need to create a legal framework for technologies that are currently on the market, or will become available over the next 10 to 15 years, tops the EU’s political agenda for this field.
* – Once the article went to press, Lithuanian Parliament attained amendments to the law proposing tolegitimise autonomous cars from mid 2017 in Lithuania.
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Let’s start with two quotes from different contexts.
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING 'Born Brilliant' can be viewed as a knot, intertwining strands of biology and economy. Here, carbon fibre sheds like tree bark and embodies the earth worm Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans is the first multicellular organism that has had its genome sequenced, allowing scientists to study and interact with animal behaviour and its traits. The enlarged, transparent, loose worm- like shape is therefore instructed to repeatedly tie itself into an overhand knot as a gesture of implied human use. Whoever writes x, can mean simultaneously, 1, 2, 3, the infinite, rational and transcendent; real and complex bodies, even quaternions. One might argue that the world is comprised of knots, interlinking bodies whose functions are rarely, possibly even never, wholly independent. Artists: Viltė Bražiūnaitė, Tomas Sinkevičius
USD 3,061BN This is the estimated size of the global AI market in 2024. In 2015 it was USD 126.24bn. Source Transparency Market Research
5 MILLION The number of workplaces the fifteen largest and developing markets could lose by 2020 due to AI and other reasons Source World Economic Forum, 2016
THE NETWORKED READINESS INDEX 2016* * The index assesses countries’ preparedness to reap the benefits of emerging technologies, and to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the digital transformation and beyond.
Country Rank Singapore 1 Finland 2 Sweden 3 Norway 4 Estonia 22 Lithuania 29 Latvia 32
Source World Economic Forum
The percentage by which labour productivity is predicted to rise in Finland and Sweden by 2035 due to AI. This is the biggest expected growth in the world. Source Accenture
AI MARKET CLASSIFICATION: Deep learning, smart robots, image recognition, digital personal assistant, querying method, language processing, gesture control, video analysis, speech recognition, context-aware processing, and cyber security. Source Transparency Market Research
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
WOULD YOU LIKE TO COOPERATE?
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
To accommodate international differences, 23 AI development principles were approved and published in February at the Asilomar Conference Centre in Palm Beach, California. The principles include: The goal of research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence; Teams should actively cooperate to avoid cornercutting on safety standards; Systems should be designed and operated so as to be compatible with the ideals of human dignity, rights, freedoms, and
cultural diversity; Technologies should benefit and empower as many people as possible. You can read all the principles and, if you agree with them, you can join the executives of Google and Apple, Stephen Hawking—an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Elon Musk—an entrepreneur, and Jaan Tallinn—an Estonian programmer, investor, and physicist who participated in the development of Skype, and express your support by signing here: futureoflife.org/aiprinciples. When having a rough idea of potential problems and their solutions, what actions could we take? Should each country develop its own strategy? Should we cooperate more regionally? At the scale of continents? Or even globally? ‘In my view, it will be very hard to generally guarantee a standard level of ethics and security. There are myriad different development teams implementing AI and machine learning algorithms into their mission critical software as we speak, and, as
Meanwhile, in the United States, during the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency, the White House presented research and recommendations for AI implementation. Policy responses include the following strategies: invest in and develop technologies for their many benefits, educate and train Americans for jobs of the future, aid workers during the transition, and empower workers to ensure broadly shared growth.
Interdisciplinary Art Installation ‘Neurogenesis’ (Lithuania) ‘Neurogenesis‘– an interdisciplinary textiles and light installation inviting to explore exponentially developing Artificial Intelligence industry. An industry that successfully uses nature’s structures in order to become an independent organism, leading its own life, surpassing the skills and intelligence of humanity, reaching the technology singularity. This illuminated 3D textiles composition represents the current perception and understanding of the human brain structure, illustrating the flow of electrical impulses, become an independently functioning entity. Authors: Roberto Becerra (Mexico), Liucija Dervinytė (Lithuania)
of now, we have no accepted standard for mission software as such’, said Mathisen. ‘I find it unlikely that we can agree upon and disseminate any such standards quickly enough, or that every single developer will adhere to them. This is speaking of AI-systems in general, such as automated driving and drone systems.’ According to Mathisen, if we are talking about the future of ‘General AI’, meaning a prospective system with general human or super-human level intelligence, it may be subject to another pattern of deployment we cannot yet predict. ‘I think it will probably be developed at a large company or in academia, a more controlled environment where it may be subject to such standards before being published for the outside world’, he estimated. In turn, the European Parliament highlights the fact that there is fierce competition in this field,
which strongly encourages international cooperation in the scrutiny of societal, ethical, and legal challenges and, thereafter, in setting regulatory standards under the auspices of the United Nations. ‘We have to collaborate with everyone we are able to’, sums up professor Telksnys. ‘If we ban technologies in order to preserve workplaces, we will fall behind and will find it difficult to compete with other countries’, notes Amilevičius.
TO CONCLUDE: The EP launched a public consultation on robotics and Artificial Intelligence on the 7th of February, which can be found here: goo.gl/APnqpq. As of the14th of March there were no comments. Perhaps we are waiting for chatbots to join in the discussion about our joint future.
IT BEGINS WITH BELIEFS Change will never be slow again. The world has changed more in the last two years than it did in the ten years before that, and in those ten years—more than in the preceding thirty. We are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to cooperate with one another, share knowledge, and take collective action—all outside the framework of our traditional institutions. We now use our smartphones to access knowledge and make informed decisions on how to get what we need in less time, for less money, using less effort or less stress. Technology permits us to relax our earlier regimentation, encouraging renting over buying, trying over tying yourself down, coordinating things on the fly rather than planning in advance. From a business standpoint, such transformation means that no one business can have all the right answers and there is no longer an absolute truth. Interacting with users across multiple touch-points and responding to their needs in realtime, all in the context of pressing competition and radical information transparency is much different from secretly perfecting your production process, shipping your product, and building awareness through advertising campaigns. Naturally, agility and the ability to respond on the go, instead of perfecting logistics, have quickly become the dominant paradigm of modern-day businesses. Wall Street is now interested in how companies are transforming as much as how companies are performing. One might imagine that today’s world is the same world we were born into, just faster and more complex, however, it seems more and more likely that we are witnessing the birth of a new system altogether. If our world were simply speeding up, we would be concentrating on optimising existing ways of doing things to become more resilient. But if increased complexity is giving rise to a much bigger paradigm shift, we are actually going to need to rethink the status quo from the ground up. Not surprisingly,
the success of a business today is closely tied to the beliefs that guide it. More specifically whether or not business owners believe they are operating in a faster version of the old world, imagining that what made a business successful in the past will work as well in the future.
LONG LIVE THE OLD TIMES In June 2012, with the 5th most powerful brand in the world and one of the largest innovation budgets, Nokia’s credit rating was reduced to junk status as its smartphone market share collapsed from 39% to 9%. In January 2012, after 133 years in business, Kodak filed for bankruptcy when its share price went from $30 to $0.34 in 2004— the exact same week Instagram was sold for $1Bn. Ever since, we have seen thousands of large businesses disrupted by small, agile startup teams, literally emerging from their bedrooms and garages to rise all to multi-billion valuations. Reflective of that tendency, the average life expectancy of S&P 500 companies has gone from 75 years in 1937 to just 15 years in 2012. In fact, according to researchers from Yale University, by 2030 more than 75% of the
S&P 500 will be companies that we haven’t heard of yet. What is the common denomenator for all of the above-mentioned oncegreat companies? The underlying beliefs of their leaders. How did they see the industry and markets they were operating in? Who did they view as their competitors? What was their attitude toward change? What was their attitude toward the internet and new technologies? How did they view the networked world? What value did they offer their customers? Companies that were overly dependent on their past successes defined themselves by the products they produce. They saw growth as doing more of what they were already doing. They thought of the internet and technology as either a threat or a bolt-on. Change was seen as taking place slowly or considered a bad thing. Protecting existing revenues was prioritised over looking for future value drivers. Such leaders would rather manage threats than look for opportunities. And while that approach made perfect sense in the linear logic of the world of industrial mass-production, it has now become a recipe for disaster.
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Denis Bondar Researcher and design strategist
‘We make and sell the best quality cameras and film in the world’.
‘We are enabling people to capture and share moments’.
In the world of a pipe-model business value flows in a straight line. It is conceived, designed, and produced upstream; eventually it is moved down the pipe and consumed. A sale is the end transaction where value is delivered. As a result, a company operating acording to this model is defined exclusively by the products or services it offers. It is built on historical behavioural need, and is using generic, approximated data. Success is measured by instant mass-market appeal. Innovation is the incremental improvement of what already exists.
A user-centric business is defined by the user’s desired outcome. What a customer buys and considers valueable is not the product, but the result it generates. Therefore, a company operating according to this type of business model would look for the best technological solution to achieve the desired outcome at a particular point in time. This type of business is built on new and emerging behaviours, and uses live and individual data. Innovation is about doing things with and for users that change the way things currently work. Success is measured by the stickiness of early adapters.
A monomatic linear chain
Market Space Direct exploration of new user value and growth opportunities
FROM INDUSTRY TO DISRUPTIVE MARKET SPACE When you fall in love with the problem to be solved, instead of the solution; when you focus on the means instead of the ends, your company transcends the limits of conventional industry classifications and you enter into the market-space.
The Market Space often includes industry, but is larger than industry. The Market Space is the dimension where today’s most exciting battles are fought over customers’ lifetime lock-ons through predictive analytics, convergence of industries, personalised client relationships, and integrated user experiences…
Records → Running Shoes → Cars → Cleaning Products → Toothpaste → Search Engine →
Enabling Great Music Experiences Anytime, Anywhere Accelerating Running Performance Personal Mobility Management Healthy Home Environment Promoting Life-Long Oral Health & Beauty Organizing the World’s Information
Industry produces nouns
The Market Space creates verbs
INDUSTRY Current Industry
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Denis Bondar is researcher and design strategist operating at the intersection of digital and built environments. As a researcher, Denis is primarily concerned with power dynamics, trends, and systemic shifts enabled by technological progress. As a design strategist, he works with businesses to help them identify opportunities and develop strategies that better harness the potential of the networked age. denis-bondar.com
From movie 'Pretenders'
Baltic cinema would be stronger if all three countries worked together. Finally, it started to happen. Who are Mirtel Pohla and Priit Võigemast? Any Estonian can tell you—they are famous actors and TV personalities, of course. But if you asked a Lithuanian, the answer would be: ‘Who?’ The same would happen if an Estonian were asked about Dainius Gavenonis or Gabija Jaraminaitė. They are celebrities in Lithuanian cinema, but are rarely heard of in other Baltic countries. It shouldn’t be like this. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have much more in common than separates them. And we all have the same goal—to put the Baltic States on the map. But we tend to do it separately. Our cinema, just like our music, literature, and contemporary art usually stays within our own borders. This way we all lose. The Baltic countries are too small to isolate themselves from each other. So it’s beautiful to see the change that is happening now. Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian filmmakers have finally started to collaborate. Seneca’s Day, Lithuania’s pick for best foreign-language film at the last year’s Oscars was the result of the first-ever Baltic co-production. Set in Vilnius in 1989, the final year of the Soviet Era, and in contemporary Lithuania, Kristijonas Vildžiūnas’ film shows how a teenage rock star betrays his ideals and becomes a
middle-aged no-lifer, trying to get his youth back.
more to it than meets the eye. In the end you are proven right.
It’s a depressing film. But the fact that it was made by collaborating studios in all three Baltic countries (Studio Uljana Kim—Lithuania, Locomotive Productions—Latvia, Amrion—Estonia), received public funding from all three countries, and premiered in Vilnius, Tallinn, and Riga, marks the beginning of a new chapter in Baltic cinema. Let’s call it The New Baltic Film.
Estonian actors Mirtel Pohla and Priit Võigemast star in Pretenders, and the film is already a hit at home. In March it was nominated for Best Film and won Best Screenplay at the very first Estonian Film and TV Awards.
A fresh example is Pretenders, or Teesklejad as it is known in Estonia, its home country. The film is a psychological drama about a couple forced to help another couple during their holiday in a fancy summer house that doesn’t belong to them. A directorial debut by Estonian Vallo Toomla, it premiered at the prestigious San Sebastián International Film Festival. ‘A cool, cutting debut’, said Variety, one of the most influential cinema publications. Bacfilms, a major French film company, loved the script so much they bought the rights to it and will be remaking Pretenders with French actors. This was a victory for Estonian cinema, but Lithuanians and Latvians also have a reason to celebrate. Again, Pretenders was produced by the same companies from all three Baltic countries, and was funded by all three countries as well. At it’s heart, Pretenders is a very Baltic film. Set in a beautiful seaside town near Tallinn, it is slow and chilling, yet you feel that there is much
Pretenders also premiered in Latvia and in Lithuania. The film was screened at Lithuania’s biggest film festival, Kino Pavasaris, where it was selected to the ‘New Europe – New Names’ competition.
Why now? ‘In 2006 at the film festival in Cannes we talked with Karl Baumgartner, a German producer, one of the godfathers of arthouse cinema’, recalls Uljana Kim, one of the leading film producers in Lithuania. ‘He produced films by Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki, Kim Ki-duk, Emir Kusturica… We were lucky to have him as a co-producer on our Lithuanian film Aš esi tu (You Am I) by Kristijonas Vildžiūnas. He asked, “Why don’t we work together with Estonians and Latvians?”.’ The question caught Kim by surprise. ‘I explained that it was almost impossible because we have very limited budgets and speak different languages, which was news to him.’ ‘But he gave examples of Scandinavian and Balkan cinema and said how effective their cooperation was.
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Karolis Vyšniauskas A journalist writing about music, film, and youth culture
GRAVITATING TOWARDS NEW BEGINNING
Baumi passed away three years ago. But he would be happy to see that the Baltic filmmakers followed his advice. ‘It all started in 2013 when we did The Gambler with co-producers from Latvian. Now we are presenting a new Latvian-Lithuanian co-production—a film called Exiled (Pelnu Sanatorija). But a new level of co-operation was reached with Seneca’s Day. All three Baltic countries worked together for the first time’, continues Kim. ‘We still need more work on this. We have to create a single distribution platform. We need to get our films into other Baltic cinemas’, she adds. But things are moving in the right direction. Later this year, Pretenders will be screened in Lithuanian cinemas as a regular film, alongside indies from Western Europe and Hol-
lywood blockbusters; something that was unimaginable, even five years ago. It’s not like Baltic producers didn’t want to work together earlier. Riina Sildos, head of the Amrion production company and the producer of Pretenders has known Uljana Kim for 20 years. But Lithuania needed to establish it’s own film center for cooperation to kick off. ‘When I was working as a head of the Estonian Film Foundation, over 10 years ago, the idea was to promote Baltic films together. In 2002 I established Baltic Event, a co-production market which is now the biggest in Northern and Central Europe’, says Sildos. ‘But at some point it got difficult. In Lithuania at that time there was no film fund, only a committee in the Ministry of Culture. The financial situation was insecure, so it was very difficult to work together.’ Fortunately, the situation has changed. In 2012 Lithuania established its national Film Center. ‘The job that has been done by Lithuanian cinema is just enormous’, argues Sildos. ‘In quite a short time Lithuania has become a very serious partner, and not only financially. We are
always looking for talent. This is the essence of co-producing: you bring the best people together from different countries so they are able to create something absolutely special.’ Uljana Kim agrees: ‘The editor and sound engineer that worked on Pretenders are the best in Lithuania. It really isn’t only about the financial cooperation. It’s about sharing the brightest talents in Baltic film.’ Of course, in the end the viewer is the one who decides what she or he wants to watch. Baltic producers are not begging viewers to support Baltic films. ‘I think that we just have to make better films that people want to see’, says Sildos. With that attitude, we can be sure they will. Pretenders was screened at the Vilnius Film Festival "Kino Pavasaris". More information at: kinopavasaris.lt Karolis Vyšniauskas is a journalist covering music, film, and youth culture. He is based in Vilnius. Reach out to him at: email@example.com
Baumi, as everyone in cinema knew him, told me that first we have to become known as the Baltic countries, and only then can we have our own independent film stars from Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia. “When you are in a festival as big as Cannes, it’s much easier to stand out as the Baltic region, rather than work separately.”’
‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.’ Edgar Degas
As contemporary cultural institutions find themselves leaning on horizontal structures and experiencing growing decentralization, two new modern and contemporary museums are taking a different course in the Baltics. Fresh, bold establishments—the Modern Art Center in Vilnius, Lithuania and the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art in Riga, Latvia—will open their doors in just a few years time. Two private organizations—the Modern Art Center in Lithuania and the ABLV Charitable Foundation in Latvia—are already on their way to reshaping the local and regional cultural landscape by creating a new dialog with their existing and potential audiences, as well as with modern and contemporary societal processes. The role of museums worldwide is changing as they become more open and engaging cultural structures. MAC and LMCA will have to rise to the challenge to inspire and reflect the shifts taking place in existing institutions. The privately funded public institution, the Modern Art Center (MAC) in Vilnius, has been operating as a museum without walls since 2009. The MAC owns a vast collection of approximately 4500 artworks by 200 Lithuanian artists, dating from the 1960s. The collection is accompanied by extensive contextual material, such as art books for children and adults and a very thorough presentation of the collection on the museum website, all in line with the strong educational aims of the MAC. This initiative has already received recognition from the wider community and is the starting point for the soonto-open museum with walls, also bearing the name of Modern Art Center. The new brick and mortar museum will house the MAC collection starting from the end of 2018. Venturing farther north, a new museum is also preparing to open in Latvia in 2021—the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art (LMCA) funded by the ABLV Charitable Foundation. They share the goal of representing modern and contemporary artworks dating from the 1960s, although the interest of the LMCA encompasses art from the entire Baltic region, and local narratives are just some of many. This ambitious museum project falls under of one of ABLV’s funding priorities—the field of Contemporary Art—under which the Latvian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale also received support. The LMCA is being constructed to house the LMCA collection. A new perspective to arrive at the doorstep of existing Lithuanian and Latvian cultural and political domains is that of privately funded cultural initiatives, with interests spanning a much wider range than has been typical until now. Initiatives such as MAC and LMCA signal that a new political generation is coming to power and shifts in the common practices of these newly independent countries are taking place. Private collectors are acquiring local cultural material values for the sake of preserving material from a specific cultural timeframe; building physical museums seems a natural continuation of this. The MAC collection has already eclipsed the number of contemporary artworks acquired by the National Art Museum and its subsidiary, the National Gallery of Art, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Lithuanian cultural activity is largely dependent on governmental resources, MAC is setting an example of a private concern carrying out the duties of the government. Audiences will get their fair share of attention at MAC and LMCA. What are the core functions of cultural institutions in times when their social and other responsibilities grow? For a while have been a key term in cultural politics and cultural management, audiences, together with non-audiences are promised to receive more tools for engagement in cultural processes, being able to participate in the smallest of shifts, into a global perspective. In MAC’s strategy, ‘You can’t start a community from nothing—first you have to reach a lot of people for them to discover you, and then a smaller community forms from this majority.’ This approach to audience engagement is understandable
Modern Art Center, by Studio Daniel Libeskind and DO ARCHITECTS
‘There is a need to revisit national identities in their local contexts, to work with local communities and consider the “local modernities” instead of just repeating the global names in the program.’ (MAC)
ART OPENS NEW
Vaida Stepanovaitė A curator, art manager, and writer
Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, by Adjaye Associates
Local, regional, and national identities are also shown from a different viewpoint in the upcoming projects of MAC and LMCA. Milda Ivanauskienė from MAC stresses that building new museums is challenging. She says there is a need to revisit national identities in their local contexts, to work with local communities and consider the “local modernities” instead of just repeating the global names in the program. This approach differs significantly from previous, albeit unsuccessful, attempts to establish a prominent museum to attract a greater number of tourists, such as the Guggenheim Hermitage in Vilnius. MAC will continue to collect and represent Lithuanian art from the second half of the last century, but the museum will ‘place [these works] in different contexts, to present a variety of foreign artistic scenes’, with international exhibitions. Focusing on the local context, a natural question arises for MAC: ‘Who are we next to the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) or National Gallery of Art (NGA)? Also, we have to answer ourselves not only for how we differ from the CAC or NGA, but also from cinemas, concert halls, and libraries—places of leisure as we want to introduce ourselves—and what is our identity in this context?’ This question also expresses the problematics of changing existing local and regional structures. With the establishment of the Modern Art Center and the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, symbolic roles in the cultural, social, economical, political fields may experience a shift. Art historian, curator, and PhD Aušra Trakšelytė compares the prominent institutions in Vilnius: ‘The permanent exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, which presents contemporary art manifestations after 1990, does not offer a full view of postmodern art, although organizing temporary exhibitions is usually connected to Lithuanian contemporary art. […] The MAC project can be regarded positively in both short- and long-term perspectives. […] The appearance of a new player will not necessarily be in competition with other institutions.’ If not rivals, the established institutionals will have to act as collaborators, in order to keep with the growing demands of the local and regional cultural communities. The shifts—or new beginnings—discussed in this text are already happening, despite the few years we still must wait for the openings of the Modern Art Center and the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art. Milda Ivanauskienė (MAC) describes the current situation in Lithuania as a ‘snowball effect’—galleries are growing stronger and more international, and local artists, especially the young, are more in the public eye. And MAC may be both a reason for, as well as a result of this. Is building a new museum enough to create a shift in the structure? No. Shifts come from below and must be encouraged by developments among the new players. With the upcoming Modern Art Center and Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, new cycles with new beginnings are approaching. mmcentras.lt ablv.org Vaida Stepanovaitė is a curator, art manager, and writer, present in the independent and institutional fields of art. This article is prepared in collaboration with artnews.lt
Prominent Swedish champion of contemporary art Pontus Hulten (1924-2006) was a master of new beginnings. He was the spirit and Founding Director behind many cultural institutions such as Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1958-73), Centre Pompidou in Paris (1973-1981), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1981-1983), Institut des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques in Paris (1985-1995), and the Jean Tinguely Museum in Basel, Switzerland (1996). He also figured as Artistic Coordinator for the World Exhibition in Paris celebrating the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution (1984-1989), Artistic Director of Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1985-1990) and of Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn (1990-1994). He was guest curator of numerous exhibitions worldwide, and an officer in the French ‘l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur’ (1979). In 1997, before the opening of the new Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Hulten wrote a comprehensive evaluation of the context he actively participated in and shaped. Exactly 20 years later, those institutions are searching for new ways to break ground in society and to contribute to the changes around us. In the next page there are several precious extracts from his interview with Stockholm Now.
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knowing that MAC started as the private initiative of two people unrelated to the art world, yet even so ‘Viktoras and Danguolė Butkai don’t consider themselves art collectors. They are people who collect cultural heritage that needs to be preserved, and make it accessible to the widest possible audiences—this is what actually constitutes a typical museum’, says MAC’s Acting Head Milda Ivanauskienė, describing how the project got off the ground.
SPECIAL FEATURE: THE MASTER OF NEW BEGINNINGS PONTUS HULTEN
…Of course, there are many great museums in the world, but most of them are so damned boring. They’re filled with big names rather than great works.
ART OPENS NEW
Then came the backlash with the movement of ’68. […] There were groups, among the conservatives of course, but also among more traditional Social Democrats, who regarded us as positioning ourselves on the extreme left, and our purchasing policy as one-sided. And they were right. We did take a stand on the left, and we were a little extreme. Our use of public funds could indeed be questioned. But those inquiries ended up consuming all our time and energy. It got to the point where I had to go up to Olof Palme and tell him that this good cause had come to an end, which it then did…
Our concept was to open the museum to film, music, theatre, dance, children, youth—everything. But art was always the nucleus around which everything else revolved. It was actually an old idea, which we were able to realize. […]
…Duchamp did a lot for the museum. Among other things, he connected us with his friend André Breton, who had De Chirico’s ‘The Child’s Heart’—a piece we were eager to obtain. […]I had prepared a ceremonious presentation for my visit to Breton, but as soon as he walked in the door, Breton bluntly asked how much I was willing to offer. I was a little stunned, but got myself together and said: ‘We’ll pay you as if you were receiving the Nobel Prize!’, which was 550,000 Swedish crowns at the time. Breton knew by then that he wasn’t going to get the Nobel Prize, and I think he found the remark amusing. At least, the deal was later consummated. While waiting in Breton’s studio, I saw that he had fabulous pieces by his surrealist friends. There were key works by Dali, but I knew that their relationship was strained and that he would never dare sell these pieces. Also, there was a Miró hanging above a book shelf. I commented, tactfully, that this painting really was hanging very high indeed…and, well, Breton asked what I was willing to offer. I tossed out my usual 200,000 and ended up with yet another deal… Dali was another priority that caused us some problems. Again, we turned to Duchamp, who knew about this piece, ‘The Enigma of William Tell’, that Dali had kept rolled up in his studio for ages. […] Duchamp knew, however, that it currently happened to be in Japan, were it was hanging without a frame. I made the trip to Japan and got the painting for the standard 200,000… […]
In those days, the spirit in Stockholm was very special. Sweden was way ahead, and had started to form a whole new definition of freedom for the citizens—economically, sexually, in terms of women’s rights, for children, and so on. […] This was during the Cold War, and there were some very powerful political and intellectual undercurrents here in Stockholm at the time, which are hard to explain and describe. The museum became a part of this trend, although we really didn’t have much to do with it. We definitely broke new ground in the art world, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. […]
What makes Moderna Museet’s collection special is that it’s so healthy. Almost all of our important pieces are key works, not from the production phase of the artist’s careers.
Monika Kalinauskaitė Writer and curator
Kęstutis Montvidas has a contemplative practice that seems to dissolve into meanings and associations, even when grounded in material objects. An MA student in Sculpture at the Vilnius Art Academy, Montvidas bases his work on a deep investigation of objects and their surroundings, as well as reading extensively on and into them. After conducting his thorough and intuitive research, Montvidas produces refined, minimalistic objects and sculptures, juxtaposing the core qualities of his subjects with the material in which he works, revealing their essence. For the show, Montvidas exhibited a sculpture ‘Within an Approximate Distance’—a carving of the surface of Mars taken from NASA’s archival footage on the trunk of a fallen oak tree. The work questions both the optical and ideological nature of seeing and experiencing. The work of Viltė Bražiūnaitė and Tomas Sinkevičius could be summed up in the sense of uncanniness accompanying their works—precise 3D rendering, video, and spatial installations. Faithful to the nature of digital media, they emphasise the open-source nature of their work, encouraging other practitioners to reuse and interpret it in their own creative process. This is also somewhat reflective of the nature of their collaboration; although the artists began working together in Vilnius, today Bražiūnaitė, who is based in Vienna, and Sinkevičius, who resides in Stockholm, mostly communicate virtually. By observing, looping, or
The contemporary art scene in Lithuania is exceptionally dynamic, but quite small. Artists, curators, institutions, and processes are all interlinked. Any new activity is immediately visible within the group, but does it resonate with the wider audience? The Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius (CAC) has been dedicated to showcasing the most relevant contemporary art practices for audiences in the Baltic region for more than 25 years now. With its newest initiative, promoting young artists whose work is impactful and promising, has become a catalyst in the Lithuanian art scene. Naturally, we expect new artists to play the important role of questioning old practises and introducing new ones, and presenting a wide variety of unique work—from purely conceptual and even anarchic creations, to more traditionally motivated and object-focused pieces. But how do we ever get to see their work and experience the newness? Although the CAC no longer acts as the sole or main gate-keeper to international culture, it maintains its dedication to experimentation and openness to change; even the weirdest concepts can be implemented if the curatorial team agrees that the work has a strong, specific meaning. In December the CAC launched a prize exhibition for new artists, but rethought the concept. The group exhibition Shallow, Quick, and Not Yet Titled: The JCDecaux Award, which, while remaining a prize showing with an international jury and a substantial monetary award, was structured as a conceptual exhibition emphasising collaboration over competition. Selected artists were encouraged and supported to develop new, ambitious ideas founded on their existing practices. The curators of the exhibition, Edgaras Gerasimovičius and Audrius Pocius, describe this decision as ‘an attempt to subvert the conventional award show format where artists’ works are placed in opposition to each other, creating competition. [We] are
simply stripping down situations and characters, the duo creates openended narratives that circle around a core idea—vision, brilliance, longing or confusion. Beatričė Mockevičiūtė works with objects, installations, and visual effects. Her pieces possess a sharp aesthetic edge and teeter between the associative and the abstract. Her work is often described as ‘the poetics of everyday’, but that is just one layer of a constructive, finely-tuned practice. The artist likes to focus on a single visual element or situation, and seeks to articulate it in a new context, material, or—quite liter-
also using this show to reflect on the attitudes and connections between artists, curators, and the institution itself, with the actual prize serving as a catalyst for future production.’ The show marks the beginning of the CAC’s collaboration with JCDecaux. The show will take place annually, with the curators changing every two years. Audrius and Edgaras hope this system will yield vastly differing and dynamic results. Together, they selected four participants for the show: Kęstutis Montvidas, Viltė Bražiūnaitė & Tomas Sinkevičius, Beatričė Mockevičiūtė, and Ona Juciūtė. The curators describe their chosen artists as having different and independent creative histories, yet employing certain overlapping elements: the tactics of displacement, barely recognisable objects, and a sense of paradox in meaning and material. ‘The artists we selected are only a small percentage of those we are interested in working with, but active participation in exhibitions and critical dialogues of these artists allowed for an interesting and conceptually sound exhibition to form. We expect the next show to be completely different, and for new manifestations of collaboration to emerge.’ Audrius and Edgaras claim that if the ambition of the artists from the first show doesn’t fade, they will likely become visible and important, both internationally and locally.
Monika Kalinauskaitė is a writer and curator based in Vilnius. She currently works in the CAC Reading Room and regularly publishes essays and exhibition reviews in various cultural outlets. This article is prepared in collaboration with Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius (CAC). cac.lt
ally—light. Although Mockevičiūtė’s work is more medium-focused than that of the others participating in the exhibition, it retains a conceptual flexibility and openness to interpretation, enabling the viewer to construct dozens of meanings for each of its twists and turns. Ona Juciūtė likes to work with juxtapositions and is also active as a curator of other young artists’ exhibitions. In the latest of her projects, she admitted to selecting works which all had a thread of mania or obsession, an impulse to create and investigate. Knee-jerk inquisitiveness drives her own practice as well,
either by pushing herself to explore what the inside of a stomach may be like, or by investigating the very nature of ordinary everyday phenomena. Juciūtė was awarded the 2016 JCDecaux prize for her installation ‘Feast’ which functions as a visual and conceptual dissection of an ordinary table, urging viewers to contemplate and redefine their attitudes towards a suddenly unfamiliar object.
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Artists to follow
NEW ENERGY THROUGH COLLABORATION
ART OPENS NEW
Kęstutis Montvydas Within an Approximate Distance
Beatričė Mockevičiūtė, Horizon I‘ve Ever Seen Before
Photography by Julijus Balčikonis, CAC
Viltė Bražiūnaitė and Tomas Sinkevičius, After Work
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Ona Juciūtė, Feast
kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga. Photography by Ansis Starks, 2017
kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, founded in 2009, aims at increasing the vital representation and visibility of Latvian artists, both locally and internationally. This goal is paired with extensive collaboration with non-Latvian artists, curators, and institutions, all aimed at new production in the shape of exhibitions, events, publications, and various other projects.
PREPARING FOR TH The appeal of the new is being undermined. Since everything is new at all times, the appeal of the new has become the reign of the now. Since the new is also responsible for ‘news (that) is bad for you’, it’s hard to maintain a (good) reputation for it. Newness is all around us with a disinterested attitude. But we should not make harsh judgements since the new can be ‘a revelation to itself and the universe’ and should be treated lightly. You never know what might grow out of it later today or tomorrow.
Gallery 427, Riga. Display view of Agata Melnikova & Daria Melnikova exhibition Celestial Stems, 2016
Gallery 427 is one of a kind. Two artists, Ieva Kraule and Kaspars Groševs, run this venture which opened in Riga in April, 2014. 427 contributes to the art scene with experiment-driven cycles of smallscale, yet refreshing content-filled exhibitions of local artists’ work and, increasingly, international names.
Latvian visual art has its own short history, somehow remaining relatively new [read: obscure] over the past several decades. Latvian visual art received moments of attention in the early 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet system, but momentary attention should not be mistaken for recognition or fame. As Boris Groys observed, the majority of Western spectators expected artists emancipated from state control to ‘quickly learn the laws of the art market and make a critique of it’. It is safe to say it didn’t happen that way—neither comprehending the market nor critiquing it. The all-doors-now-open momentum was not as liberating as expected, instead it felt intimidating, or perhaps was far too unexpected, causing awkward reactions and the averted gaze. When the art world’s colloquial ‘globish’ was finally picked up, circa the 00’s, when we could finally join-in with our version of the story, there was no longer any interest on the part of international art consumers. We are still very specific, but no longer ‘exotic’ or having ‘market potential’ [think: Asia, Brazil, the Middle East...]. We are still fascinating when considered part of the Post-Soviet space, but we disappear from the art map when observed separately. Moreover, we are still working on marrying our artistic endeavours with the Nordic cultural and business spheres—the region we long to feel closer to, due to its proximity and our historical ties.
ART OPENS NEW
Manhours in Headquarters, installation view, 2017. Photography by Charlott Markus, image copyright and courtesy of the artist and P/////AKT, Amsterdam
Zane Onckule Curator and Programme Director at kim?
Today we see artists ‘playing at contemporary art’ [A. Tīfentāle]. Their activities take place within the narrow circle of museums, galleries, commercial and non-commercial centers in the name of the spectacle (the art scene), which, from a theoretical, political-economic (collectors, galleries, dealers) and art-historical (discursive, dialectic, or critical art) point of view, shouldn’t even exist here. What is worth observing are the individual artists (new, emerging, upcoming) and initiatives that help define and shape this historically peculiar region, ensuring that a certain ‘mood’ helps us move beyond the battered metaphors of ‘fog, sieve, and honeycomb’ (A. Sverdiolas) These individuals are increasingly flaneur who, knowingly or unknowingly, participate in challenging the prevalent beliefs about what national art is, what a Latvian artist is, where one should live or speak to produce it, how an artist should create, and what an artist should think while creating. As populism grows among the nationalist right and our countries prepare for their Centennials, we can not avoid being political. Our experience of somehow remaining true to ourselves despite oppression suddenly seems to matter a great deal, and not just here in the Baltic States. We shall therefore expect attention that we, hopefully, are prepared to welcome with things to say and show. Following this brief introduction you will find a visual essay of images with descriptive notes about the artists and the Latvian venues where their work is shown. They all share the burden of expectations projected on them for still being new. There are many other contemporary artists of equal caliber but, due to limitations of space, we will introduce them to you on another occasion. Words by Zane Onckule, Curator and Programme Director at kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga
Same Face of I. (highlight and contour), 2016, Glazed ceramic and synthetic hair, courtesy of the artist.
Ieva Kraule makes objects, organizing them further into groups of works and expositions, which she occasionally supplements with short-stories—absurd fictitious or semi-autobiographical adventures delimited by freely-interpreted (historical) facts. With the knowledge she aquired from the Department of Ceramics at the Riga Design and Art School, her expeerience in painting and visual communications from the Art Academy, and the inherited ease and delicacy of handwriting from her current studies at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam, Kraule’s visual references are indicative of the aesthetic codes of the vast former Soviet Union, the canon of Latvian national craft schools, popular culture, and a fascination of contemporary fetishes and the current facial cult.
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Evita Vasiļjeva’s practice has developed from the general question: What is sculpture? How is a sculpture brought to the point where the physical work and time spent on it becomes present. As a proper navvy, Vasiļjeva welds, shapes, and mixes the concrete to arrive at choices ‘through her fingertips’ rather than deliberately, with purposeful thinking. Knowing the artist’s biographical details about being raised in a Latvian-Russian family, one is drawn to think in parables—the main accent is not on nuances or multiplemeanings, but direct and tangible perceptions and understanding. Vasiļjeva says that she likes making nouns from verbs; that which has been an action becomes a thing while the viewer enters into the presence of an unidentifiable work. At times she works with furniture, mock-ups, everyday objects, or architecture. On other occasions it is empty showcases, refrigerators, or things reminiscent of printers. Viewers show a tendency to worry and linger for a while—maybe something will inflate, maybe change color. Mostly nothing happens, just some humming generated by some technical equipment, adds ambience to this sometimes futuristic, sometimes archaeological, building site. Vasiļjeva works and lives in Amsterdam.
ART OPENS NEW
Indriķis Ģelzis, ‘New horizon’. 2016 (rounded metal tubes, buttons, textile)
Indriķis Ģelzis, ‘Deeply personal’. 2016 (rounded metal tubes, buttons, textile)
HISK graduate and Antwerp-based artist Indriķis Ģelzis finds himself in constant flirtation with graphic representations of statistics concerning the general public that allow us to compare and contrast social observations, making it possible to draw conclusions and make predictions. By designing models that mark the cartographic contours, his latest series of objects/wall sculptures serve as representations of local phenomenology derived from global social structures. Ģelzis dresses his linear metal sculptures with fabric fragments so that they seem to communicate with gestures, depicting emotions and functions, physical activities or postures. Gelzis is interested in finding a new way of representing the human figure in contemporary art and in the context of modern technology. He effectively builds an idiosyncratic universe populated with expressive characters that seem open to specific events or actions (that prevail in our troublesome times) and are increasingly able to question them, far beyond the seeming limits of their empty, armature-like forms.
Agata Melnikova & Daria Melnikova. Hands Free Kit / from a series of handmade accessories, 2016
Russian-born Daria Melnikova’s works result from the observation daily routines, clichés, and contingencies. She attempts to reconstruct the inner logic of mundane episodes to reveal the private experiences that made them both possible and necessary. The artist is interested in public places such as offices, rest
rooms, and coffee houses and their influence on the behavior of people united by common intentions and desires. Her sister, and frequent collaboration partner, Agata Melnikova is a composer who creates and performs under the name Sign Libra. She is inspired by the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it.
New energy, creation, and the inner-workings of an artist were some of the themes we bandied about with three young Estonian artists on an upward trajectory. As the world shifts around us, artists reflect on what they perceive and comment through their work—on the personal and the public, their inner thoughts, instincts, and feelings, and how they process and recreate the outerworld. After consulting with various curators, and relying somewhat on our personal preferences, we selected Flo, Helmi, and Liisa to share some their insights, habits, and processes, allowing us a small glimpse into the worlds they inhabit and the sensibility that bursts out in their works. These are three young women who embody growth, movement, and inspiration, but here we can only give you a glimpse of what they do. If you want strawberry jam, describing strawberries, sugar, and water doesn’t come close—you have to taste it.
RAYS OF DIVINITY Paul Emmet Writer, facilitator, activist
Helmi’s highly personalised paintings and drawings capture a vulnerability and sensitivity in her subjects that trigger a warm feeling in the viewer. Her colours and lines inspire and invite us to tumble into her worldview with its underlying sensuality, mystery, and abandon. She graduated in Painting from the Department of Arts at Tartu University and received a scholarship from the Kau Academy, established by filmmaker Mary Jordan, which supports emerging artists working in a variety of media.
ART OPENS NEW
Where and how? I work from my bedroom studio and whenever I find an inspirational character or person— through life, movies, music, books, or magazines—I channel my fondness for them into my work. Are you growing? I feel as an artist it is important to grow over time, to reinvent yourself in your work through different mediums or themes. I feel like a new artist whenever I create a new piece of work.
Portraits From The Bedroom exhibition, Helmi Arrak
Making a leap, new beginnings? A change of environment is definitely a challenge and brings about new possibilities. At the moment I am experiencing a new beginning as I have recently moved from a small city to Tallinn. I’m still processing the people, landscapes, and mindset of the place. The pace of Tallinn is much faster, so I have to speed up to keep up with my surroundings. What resonates with you? I admire the work of Aurel Schmidt who does intricately detailed drawings depicting everyday objects and garbage, mixing the ugly and the beautiful into new subjects. I saw a video interview with her, she was working in her bedroom— her own personal environment —I resonate with that —creating out of an intimate space. New Experiences? I went to see a poetry reading session at Kopli 73 and got inspired by the raw talent of Triin Tasuja and Siim Sinamäe. As I work from my bedroom I’m surrounded by nostalgic memorabilia, not white walls. So even when I try to create something fresh I feel the environment overpowering me, but in a good way. @helmiarrak
Drawing on plywood, Helmi Arrak
International Fun by Flo Kasearu. Photography by Stanislav Stepashko
ART OPENS NEW
Do you have to constantly reinvent yourself? I think I am doing it here, in this Mustarinda residency. I took only a few light and transportable materials to work with, like coloured paper and pencils. Otherwise I have been working at the scale of roofs and houses, making use of my partner’s skills in metalwork. Here I have scaled down my ideas to fit on paper and on a studio wall. I am enjoying myself as I draw and cut paper, but I am not yet convinced. My other projects have usualy had some social context behind them, but this is pure abstract fun. On the one hand it would be easier for me if I were always using one style, then I wouldn’t need to overthink and invent so much. But at the moment I feel I want to play with these coloured papers; later we’ll see if I also present them somewhere, or if maybe I don’t have the guts.
The group of works entitled “Uprising” are build around a video filmed during roof maintenance works performed on a building in Tallinn’s Pelgulinn district, where the artist lives and where she has been hosting her “Flo Kasearu House Museum” project since 2013. The metal taken off the roof was folded into plane figures, much like the models folded by children from paper. The DIY and reuse technology metal planes as the main motif of the exhibition appear to be symbolic of military action, yet simultaneously representative of an exit strategy, the crossing of the country’s borders by air, immigration and emigration issues.
FLO KASEARU Witty, reflective, conceptual pieces that invite you to consider anew the contemporary issues she addresses. Flo has transformed her house in Tallinn into a museum—the Flo Kaseauru House Museum. From cartoons to photographs to public performances she masterfully combines humour with art, continuously asking the question is art too serious to be taken seriously? Flo’s work is simultaneously fearless and fragile, political and personal. The darling of curators and critics, Flo takes on the issues of our time. She is relatable, intelligent and thoughtful, and her works re-affirm the transformative and reflective power of art. New pieces, how do you get yourself going? I’m currently doing a one month residency and am working with five different exhibition projects, all on different topics. Most of them I create because I have been invited to a curated show with a certain theme or a centrepiece or a sight-specific space to relate to. I really like being invited to curated exhibitions, to be able to have a dialogue with the curator and with the other artists as well. I don’t do a lot of solo shows because I have my own museum and spaces other than the white cube activate me much more. I get myself going by sitting and brainstorming, focusing and complaining, whining to my partner, trying to explain an idea to others, listening myself saying it out loud and trying to understand if it makes sense.
Whose work do you currently enjoy? I have been surfing through the websites of Nestori Syrjälä and Antti Majava. They run parts of the Mustarinda residency. In this house with five different energy producing systems in the middle of a forest I understand their art much better, why they do what they do. So this post-fossil fuel theme is slowly resonating with me. Forward or rewind? I think I live more in the present and am directed more toward the future. I would like to wander even further into the future, but it’s difficult since during 12 years of school we thought mostly about the past and I just don’t have the habit and skills to tell fortunes. I found my school history lessons very serious and not an easy subject, since the teacher was earnest and demanding. I have a respect for history and feel that I can’t just fool around with it. flokasearu.eu
Of course my curiosity keeps me going. I like it when I have many different ideas to develop at the same time, then I don’t get stuck on any one thing.
experience the things that come, decide what to do, and then move on. Always moving towards the unknown. I believe that if you depict situations you have experienced they are more understandable to the others, and more natural. For me it’s boring to do the same thing all the time, and I think it’s the same for the audience.
39 Paintings by Liisa Kruusmägi
LIISA KRUUSMÄGI The everyday scenes of this young illustrator and artist leap off the page, asking you to consider how her world, her people, her moods, her sense of movement and the moment combine and integrate. Her works depict optimism, humour, and wonder as you briefly journey along her path. Liisa graduated from the Estonian Academy of Art and has enjoyed several successful residencies in Canada and the USA, as well as dozens of solo and group exhibitions around the world. Changes, leaps, and faith? I think my life is changing all the time; totally opposite to the way it was only half a year ago. Living in a new place, travelling, new people all around me—only doing art stays the same. Also, with all of the big life changes that come, at one point you have everything and then nothing and you have to deal with it. It is interesting to create something from nothing. Then you just have to look around and use what you find. How do you create? Most of my most recent works continue what I have done previously. In 2015, two of my friends and I had a show themed ‘The Journey’. I showed a pink painting about San Francisco where the road went forward to an unknown place. I think that was the starting point for the topics I am working on now. For me the road symbolises life—it simply continues on and on; you see and
Favourites, inspiration, recommendations? If we are talking about painting then my alltime favourites are Winston Chmielinski and Anthony Cudahy. Both are young painters. I really love Chmielinski colours and brushwork and really enjoy how smooth and mysterious Anthony’s pieces are. Also I love Karin Mamma Andersson because of her mystic paintings, and Peter Doig. I recently visited the Kuzama exhibition in Kiasma and found Eeva Peura. I totally fell in love with her paintings—they are creepy, but really funny. It was something new that I hadn’t seen before and I felt I could relate to it so well. I felt that somebody is thinking like me. liisakruusmagi.com
ART OPENS NEW
Hello, I must be going… It was 2015 when I left all my things in Tallinn and moved first to a residency in Canada and then to one in Japan, and between them I was living in Chicago. I think that my very spontaneous decision to go to Chicago, hang around with some friends of friends whom I had met only once, was a positive challenge. For me it was a big jump to be brave and be myself; it was an awesome time! I met so many creative people who connected me with still more creative people, offered me possibilities to make art shows and much more. At that time I was very happy that I choose to go there and just see what would happen.
You don’t hire us to design a brand, you hire us to help build structure in chaos. It starts from an idea.
You & Oil creates certified organic skincare products based on natural and essential oils, and essential oil blends for aromatherapy.
Get in touch to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with the client, the Black Swan Brands branding bureau has envisioned a brand concept that is more than just skin deep – the ‘Nourishing Relationship’. You & Oil speaks to the modern creators of nurturing universes and the whole brand identity has been developed from that concept – the brand’s unique structure in chaos.
Since 2016 You & Oil is available in the Baltics, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Designed for the modern consumer, the You & Oil brand was chosen by thedieline.com — the world’s most visited packaging design website — to illustrate 2017 trends in packaging design.
Packaging design developed together with Etiquette.
Theme: New Beginnings (April–June 2017) | N WIND is a platform for exchanges of creative Northern energy and envisioning New North. Magazine...