Public programme of the Summer School "Care of Earth, Care of People"

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) annual Summer School, this year entitled "Care of Earth, Care of People. System Change for an Inclusive and Sustainable Environments", will take place in Smiltene from 4 to 11 August. This year's Summer School programme will thematically focus on inclusion and sustainability in the broadest context, with six lectures and workshops open to everyone.

The Summer School programme will consist of eight thematically diverse days. On the first day, participants will be welcomed in Smiltene and, under the guidance of Mārtiņš Ulāns, introduced to the city, its environment, and development perspectives. The next day, lectures and seminars will cover topics such as the representation of disability in the social, academic, and cultural environment, the production of art exhibitions in environmentally friendly ways, and the development of creative projects, the results of which will be on display for all to see on the penultimate day of the Summer School - 10 August. The next two days will explore topics such as the social and ecological responsibility of art, audience engagement and educational programming in museums and the consequences of climate change. The fifth day will be off-site, with participants visiting the open homestead "Zadiņi" and a workshop on biodiversity in the "Savvaļa". The final days of the Summer School will explore ways of discussing social inclusion, the role of the artist in urban planning, populism and climate scepticism. The Summer School will conclude with a period of silent meditation and reflection on new gained knowledge and experiences.

The Summer School programme will be held in English and there is no charge for public events. All events will take place at Smiltene Secondary School (Dakteru iela 27).

The public programme of the Summer School:

Saturday, 5 August

10:00–11:30 Talk and workshop by Agita Lūse "From Acknowledgement to Social Justice: Representations of Disability in Social Movements, Academia, and Museums"

About 15 percent of the global population live with some form of disability and this number is increasing annually (WHO 2021). At the same time, disability issues often remain on the periphery of political and media agendas; the people whose lives are shaped by one or another kind of impairment largely appear to be absent from the public sphere. Over the period of the previous half-century, disability rights movements have steadily grown and given rise to various forms of social activism. Nevertheless, these developments have been far more characteristic of western democracies than the Third World and the former socialist countries. It is only since the adoption and ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability in the early 2000s that governments have begun to pass regulations aimed at greater social protection and inclusion of the concerned population.

Three prominent cultural fields allow the wider public to be invited to acknowledge the life stories, interests, talents, and creative endeavors of people with disabilities; namely, the academic field of disability studies, non-profit disability rights organizations, and artistic and community engagement projects carried out by museums and other cultural institutions. In her lecture Agita Lūse will give a short overview of the variety of forms in which these three fields have engendered dialogical relationships between their audiences and people with disabilities, thus promoting a more inclusive and socially just society.

12:00–13:30 Talk by Karin Vicente "High Impressions, Low Impact: Reducing the Emissions of an Art Exhibition"

There is a growing demand to measure carbon footprints in the industrial, transport, and energy sectors—but how eco-efficient is the cultural sector? How can the artworld contribute to sustainable development and climate policy? The presentation will focus on the ecological impact of an art exhibition, asking how we can make an impressive show with low emissions? Based on examples from the Art Museum of Estonia, Karin Vicente will discuss the steps the museum has taken to integrate green policies into their daily work, including the exhibition program and the way they design and build exhibition spaces. The talk will conclude with a small debate on the topic “Should carbon emissions determine the value of an artwork?”

Monday, 7 August

11:30–13:00 Talk and workshop by Jānis Brizga "Climate and Climate Change"

In the lecture-workshop, Jānis Brizga will talk about the essentials - climate and climate change. This seemingly well-known topic is given a clear narrative structure in his presentation, as well as a broader perspective on the solutions to the problems. Part of the session will be devoted to working with a specially designed climate puzzle, which will allow each participant to assess their own lifestyle, its impact on the climate and get ideas for possible changes. Jānis also looks forward to a wide range of questions and lively discussion.

Wednesday, 9 August

15:30–17:00 Talk and discussion by Līva Kreislere "Cultural Planning: Artist-Led Urban Transformation"

Cultural planning is an approach to city development that looks at the city as a cultural phenomenon and strongly focuses on the local population, local cultural stakeholders, and municipality involvement. It is a method where artists and cultural institutions are increasingly placed in a more central position, with a demonstrated contribution to social well-being as well as to the improvement of citizens’ civic engagement. One of the approach’s most important and often the most fruitful stage is cultural mapping, where the relations, wishes, and memories of inhabitants are mapped, as well as private and public sector institutions and their relationships. It thus mirrors the neighborhood or the city as a unique portrait, doing so without focusing on visioning or on the question “what should be here,” but rather asking “what do we have here?”

Further will be discussed the possibilities of this approach in small - to mid-size towns in urban and rural areas of Europe and tried to link the needs and risks of all three parties involved—artists, cultural institutions, and municipalities.

Thursday, 10 August

10:00–11:30 Talk by Baiba Witajewska-Baltvilka "Do Populism and Climate Scepticism Go Hand in Hand? Challenges for a Green Deal in Europe"

Do populism and climate scepticism go hand in hand? Why do populists often oppose or even deny climate change? Is the European Green Deal endangered by the rise of populism in many European countries?

By first clarifying the key concepts of populism and climate scepticism, the talk aims to address these questions through two perspectives. First, it elaborates populists’ arguments for distrust of state institutions and scientists. As state institutions and scientists are the key actors behind climate change policies, populists oppose their narratives because they are anti-state/elite and anti-science. Second, it highlights the notion of justice in populists’ discourse, which points at social inequalities caused by climate mitigation policies. The lecture will conclude on the implications of the rise of populism on the European Green Deal.

16:30–18:30 Presentations of Creative Projects

Creative projects are group work, undertaken over five sessions throughout the summer school, in which the lecturers and participants share experiences and ideas about the role of contemporary art in understanding and problematizing social inclusion and sustainability issues. They involve reflection, imagination, and experimental approaches.

The aim of this collective and participatory practice is to carry out artistic research and to present a free-format artwork or event at the summer school’s end in form, for instance, of an experimental video work, a performance, or a pop-up exhibition. Participants are invited to use the knowledge acquired in the summer school to share understandings and to develop these through ideas, themes, and issues related to their chosen projects.

Each group is asked to choose and develop one of the following topics in their creative project:

● Sufficiency;

● Social Inclusion;

● Mental Health Sustainability;

● Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.

Lectures, workshops, excursions, discussions and creative practices will be led by environmental scientist Jānis Brizga, curator and researcher Krzysztof Candrowicz, curator and education programme manager Eglė Nedzinskaitė, sustainability researcher Elgars Felcis, artist Hanuka Lohrengel, biologist Zane Līkā, and others.

Curators of the Summer School programme: Ieva Astahovska and Elza Medne.

Consultants in the field of social inclusion and employability: Liene Brizga-Kalniņa.

Visual identity and design: Elza Bērziņa.

The LCCA Summer School is organised in collaboration with the Smiltene Municipality, the Art Academy of Latvia and ISSP. The Summer School is part of the international project Islands of Kinship: A Collective Manual for Sustainable and Inclusive Art Institutions, co-funded by the European Union and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.

Read more