Art Line is an international art- and culture project in collaboration between 14 partners from 5 different countries in the South Baltic region; Sweden, Poland, Germany, Russia and Lithuania. The project is part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund), South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme, and will run from 2011 until December 2013. The Lead Benificiary of the project is Blekinge County Museum, situated in Karlskrona, Sweden. All the other partners can be found in the list to the right.
The aim of project Art Line is to create a collaborative network between art institutions and academia in the region, as well as involve the public in discourse regarding contemporary art. Art Line is unique in that it is the very first art- and culture project to be granted funds from the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme.
Contemporary art in all its shifting shapes and forms is a major tool for regional growth. The aim of the project is to makes use of these shifting shapes and forms to bring both institutions and people living in the South Baltic region closer, or - to phrase it differently - create a common South Baltic identity that is communicated to the public through the project and its resulting artifacts. The Baltic is not what separates us, but what connects us. This actual geographical closeness is as of yet an untapped source of potential collaborative networks between art institutions and academia; a source that Art Line is about to tap in to and let flow.
The primary focus of the project is on digital art and art in the public space. This focus implicitly highlights the importance of internet, and how internet has impacted on and changed the view of the concept of the public space. These days the digital terrain that is the internet has increasingly come to replace the “real” physcial space as a site for interaction and exchange of ideas, allowing instant points of contact between people spread all over the world. The quite recent creation of the concept social media as a descriptive term for computer-based information and communications tools - such as twitter, facebook and youtube - goes to show that the internet is not to be seen as a passive reciever and giver of information, but as a social space through which individuals exist together; a social space in which individuals in an constant process of interaction co-exist. The internet has become a public, social space. Within this project we ask ourselves how one can employ this new public space for both the creation and the communication of and about art; as well as how one can mesh the digital space and the “real” physical space - i.e utilising a cross-medial aspect - in interesting ways that´ll involve the general public. During a series of workshops and seminars participating partners will in joint collaboration with artists from the region give rise to artifacts to be showcased on the internet and in the public space in the South Baltic region.
Components of project
The project consists of two overarching components entitled the Digital Art Platform and Cross Media. During its three-year period a myriad of interesting things are planned to happen within each of these components; seminars, workshops and exhibitions- both in public space and on this website, which - apart from being a source of information - will work as an arena for digital exhibitions, eg. as a Digital Art Platform. There´s a big storytelling-project planned, called Telling the Baltic, about which you can read more about here. Within Cross Media we will investigate how one can go about meshing the digital and the real through the process of cross-mediation, as well as arranging workshops that´ll lead to the creation of artifacts to be showcased in the public space and right here on our digital exhibition venue. For more information about project Art and Apparatus that lies under this component, click here. For more information about project Baltic Sounds Good, which as well lies under this heading, click here.
The beginnings of project Art Line
As with anything, Art Line started with a single idea; its edges rough, and not yet fully formed, but continuously growing in the mind of Project Leader Torun Ekstrand whom before Art Line worked on a cross-border project entitled - in english - Neighbours, in Polish- Sasiedzi. At the end of project Neighbours Ekstrand wanted to continue the work on tying together art institutions in the South Baltic region. She was striving towards shaping a larger collaborative network between art-institutions, as well as academic institutions, in the South Baltic area. The idea started with this single seed and grew up to become Art Line- a cross-border, jointly developed, art-project involving as many as 10 art- and academic institutions as well as 4 associated partners from 5 different countries in the South Baltic region; the outlook - this time - substantially widened, now not only including Sweden and Poland but Germany, Russia and Lithuania as well. Below you can read Torun Ekstrands own words regarding project Neighbours/Sasiedzi, words that did lay the foundation upon which project Art Line is now currently building.
Neighbours can be warm, difficult, cheerful, taciturn, provocative, or aloof. It is high time to become acquainted with our Polish neighbours and during the summer of 2008 the galleries, museums and arts centres in the province of Blekinge will be in invaded by contemporary artists from Poland who are going to invite us to take part in numerous meetings and arrangements. Their many-sided art encompasses everything from the everyday to the poetic, the imaginative, the social, the engaging, the spatial, the political context and the humorous and will turn up in the most unexpected places such as out at sea, in urban locations and in computer generated virtual worlds. It is our hope that these events will make you curious enough to want to go and see more of what is happening on the other side of the Baltic.
It is almost impossible to put a label on Polish art. Contemporary Polish art is far too extensive and complex to be represented in a limited number of exhibitions and the project does not claim to give a comprehensive overview of the present-day state of the arts in Poland. In the project, it should be emphasised that it is the art that is most important. The intention is to provide a wide spectrum of artistic communication, content and media in which any national traits are very much a secondary consideration. Some of Poland’s most innovative and exciting artists have been invited to take part in these events and it is clear that at least some of their inspiration has been taken from locations that are a vital part of the Blekinge identity.
Perhaps their work also gives us a hint of how they may have been influence by Poland’s chequered past, a glimpse of this nation that in the course of history has suffered several partitions and during the Communist period marked divisions between the private and public spheres. The arts have always been a strong and cohesive force in Polish society and often had to work in the face of restraint and repression. Happily, they are now free from all such restraints or nationalistic obligations.
Some of the projects in Karlskrona will open by taking up issues that are directly concerned with locations in the town for architecture and spatiality has served as a strong source of inspiration for several of the artists involved. Architecture, in the broadest sense of the word, also embodies interiors and thus the people who live and work behind the outer appearance of the building.
Architecture is not just the spatial but must take aesthetic and not least, political aspects into consideration. In the post-war period, massive blocks of flats dominated town and city landscapes throughout Poland. Erected with mass-production methods, the Authorities were indifferent to traditional building skills. At present, many new building projects are being undertaken in Poland, whilst for their part artists are using their art to address the question of the soulless post-war housing complexes. Karlskrona was established to serve as Sweden’s principle naval base and to a large extent the layout of the town still follows the original plan drawn up at the end of the seventeenth century. Karlskrona is also listed as a World Heritage Site. As such it is an irreplaceable part of the national heritage and it is always a matter for heated debate in the town when this considerable responsibility must be balanced with the legitimate demand for new construction. It is hoped therefore that the question of the collision of the old with the new, of art and of architecture in the two countries will provide fruitful subjects for discussion.
As an introduction to the project, a number of Polish and Swedish artists have shown some of their work on the ferry that sails daily between Karlskrona and the Polish port of Gdynia. Similarly Art Societies throughout Blekinge have arranged lectures on contemporary Polish art.
There will also be another artistic exchange when two Polish and Swedish artists’ collectives or groups of artists meet and arrange collaborative exhibitions in media that will include everything from films to performance art. The Swedish group will select samples of the Polish group’s films to generate a completely new interpretation.
A permanent work of art has been placed at the Johanneberg Nursery School in Karlskrona.
Two hundred hand-made birds have flown into the main room and alighted on one of the walls. Some of them will later fly out again with the children when they reach six years of age and leave for Primary School. In addition, one of the artists has built a bird table, for “real birds” outdoor.
One side of Karlshamn is that of the idyllic small town. The other is the relatively new Blekinge Institute of Technology, an institute that specialises in digital media, sound, film and games studies. These two worlds live happily side by side and now the artists from the project hope to create bridges between the two realities. At the end of the nineteenth century the town was mostly known as the port from which emigrants left for a new life in the United States, but today young people come both from home and abroad to Karlshamn to study at the College.
The question is to how these new forms of communication affect our perception of other people and our social relationships. Is it so that we now live our lives in cyberspace instead of having our social contacts on the street or in the park? A part of the Karlshamn project will examine the connections between physical and virtual space. In computer gaming, we exist in a temporary world, constructed of forms that disappear the moment we continue our game. Does this influence the way we think about room and space?
During the 1950’s there was a boundless optimism regarding the limitless prospects that were to be opened by the wonders of science and technology, and magazines and films were full of proposals for futuristic utopian societies. Today when many of us in the industrialised West spend hours in front of a computer, our attitude to technology is more ambivalent. This is today’s reality, even if we often protest that it is “unreal”.
In Karlshamn you will be able to visit a virtual museum, which was inaugurated this spring as a section of the new Art Museum in Torún. The Manual CC project is a module in the Curator Studies programme and is lead by Curator Sebastian Cichocki from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. The Manual CC provides virtual instructions created by contributing artists and under the guidance of these artists, visitors can devise their own games, both at beginners and advanced levels. The project has been shown in various forms at a number of Art Museums and it will now take a step out into the virtual world and be presented to the public in Karlshamn.
The Community Arts Centre in Ronneby, roughly halfway between Karlshamn and Karlskrona, is a spacious art gallery where the exhibition will be felt as hovering somewhere in the borderland between reality and the metaphysical. Architecture and space can be employed as spatial metaphors for human experience and relationships, for our social, psychological and private inner rooms. How then, does the relationship between memory and reality, between the staged and the real, between outer and inner room, work? How does a certain place affect you? Is it you who projects your own thoughts and impressions on that place?
The perception that when people leave a room or the sense that people somewhere in your periphery leave the hint of a ghost image in the space around you: do these persons really exist or have they once existed? Do you dare to stay for a few extra minutes at the exhibition to listen to the whispers? Are the works of these artists minimalist or overpopulated? Is it possible for a metaphysical or a poetic room to be visible in daylight ? It is our hope that the Neighbour project will continue in Poland. We have already started to work with colleagues in Poland and a number of co-operative ventures are beginning to take shape.
(Torun Ekstrand, project leader Art Line)