Upside Down Kuldīga. Community Commissioned Work Selected in Kuldīga

The second round of the open call for innovative ideas for contemporary work in Kuldīga is finished, and we are happy to announce the winner Jurģis Spulenieks with his project Upside Down Kuldīga (Ačgārnā Kuldīga) and share some insights about the selection process.

Kuldīga’s community art commissioner Elīna Beitika writes: while thinking about independently selected work of art for Kuldīga, all three of us (Vendija Bakanauskaite, Ieva Štro and Elīna Beitika) jointly agreed that the Joy of Life should be the interwoven theme of the project as it should be increased among the residents of Kuldīga. And we were truly excited to see how various artists who applied for the open call perceive and are motivated to develop the ideas around the Joy, involving different communities.

We are grateful to all 28 artists who dared, took their time and sent in their ideas. Considering the breadth of the topic, we set in-depth criteria from the beginning, which helped a lot in the difficult evaluation process. It was important for us that the artists have previous experience, that the artwork is innovative in the context of Kuldīga, with a sustainable impact on society, and that one or more local communities are involved in the process of its creation. It was important for us that the work of art, both during the process of creation and its result, would appeal to diverse groups of residents of Kuldīga.  At the same time we also introduced a very subjective criterion – the astrological and intuitive compatibility with the artist with whom we decide to cooperate, as we believe that these personal nuances always matter. The final criterion was the ability to fit into the budget set by the festival producer, the New Theatre Institute of Latvia, with whom we work together.

We enjoyed the process of evaluating the proposals, and during the first round we felt like ‘fishes in water’. We chose three artists: audio-walk and animation project Upside Down Kuldīga around the curiosities of historical sites of Kuldīga by Jurģis Spulenieks, a performative installation Mobile Glowing Forum – a light object and community meeting place by authors: Laura Feldberga, Gundega Evelone, and an interactive installation Convocation – a tool for joint music creation by authors Kristīne Botros, Aiga Vaitkus.

In the pitches of the second round, we expected to witness an in-depth presentation of the idea, compliance with the criteria, a detailed budget report and time planning, the location of installation projects, and a more detailed description of the process for experimental projects. Still a very important aspect of the evaluation of pitches was the artwork’s long-term viability and community benefits.

Keeping in mind the need for Joy in Kuldīga, after deep and meaningful discussions, we chose Juris Spulenieks’ proposal. ‘Upside Down Kuldīga’ would potentially include and be relatable to every resident of Kuldīga, from city school kids to senior farmers and international tourists. The clarity and simplicity permits, through the format of storytelling, to rediscover long-forgotten, but significant moments and elements of Kuldīga. We appreciated the fact that school-age children would be involved in the process, who would be able to learn the skills of creating animation. As a result, both an animation and an audio guide leading through hidden and openly odd places and curiosities of Kuldīga will be available to residents and visitors of Kuldīga. This design allows every resident to get involved, enjoy and value their local stories, as well as gives the opportunity to be involved in its creation.

With its simplicity in a sense, it gives an opportunity to see perhaps long-forgotten things, but important things through the format of a story. Also, more practically, by involving students, the skill of creating animation is learned. As a result, creating both an animation and an audio format guide through Kuldīga’s hidden places, which will be available to both local and foreign tourists. This is a work of art, through which every citizen is given the opportunity to get involved and enjoy their stories. As well as for students to be in the process of creation and experience the joy of the result.

We are looking forward to the beginning of September, when we will be able to go for the first walk through the upside-down places in Kuldīga and watch the animation!

We are heartbroken that we could not implement the other ideas for now. We very much hope that with the support of the Kuldīga City Council, we will also be able to implement Kristīne Botros and Aiga Vaitkus’ musical installation idea Convocation in the future, and that the experimental forum Mobile Glowing Forum by Gundega Evelone and Laura Feldberga will see its daylight one day and will gather the inhabitants of Kurzeme.

In almost every submitted project application, we saw the potential to bring the joy of life in Kuldīga in various ways, which boosts our morale and increases joy in us already. We are happy not only to be present, but also move through this process which allows contemporary art to enter the life of Kuldīga and its residents to become involved in creation and to enrich their own everyday life.

DemArt and IICCA is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Co-funded by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.