LCCA's Summer School “Negotiating Gender in the Baltics and Eastern Europe”

Where: Kuldīga

When: 31 July–5 August 2020

Patriarchal, heteronormative and gender-based patterns, cultivated for centuries, have not faded today. The feminist movement and gender studies have played a crucial role in confronting these, raising long-ignored gender issues and pushing for changes in various aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life in order to build a heterogeneous society. The 2020 Summer School program focuses on the gender narratives marginalised in art history, as well as on issues of everyday solidarity and emancipation today. What social and historical reasons have shaped domination over women in our region? How can art become a political practice and change entrenched political and social structures in the context of gender? How can we build an alternative future by revisiting the past and reinterpreting archives?

The Summer School of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art was held in cooperation with Kuldīga Artists’ Residence and the Art Academy of Latvia. It draws on developments in critical thinking, artistic research and creative practices related to recent debates in contemporary culture. In year 2020, it  focused on issues of feminism and gender studies from both historical and contemporary perspectives in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

Speakers organising workshops and lectures were artists, political activists, researchers and experts in the fields of visual art, feminist cultural studies and cultural anthropology. Speakers include researchers Redi Koobak (University of Bergen) and Bart Pushaw (University of Copenhagen), critic and curator Jana Kukaine (Art Academy of Latvia), curator, artist and poet Laima Kreivytė (Vilnius) and artists Jaana Kokko (Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki) and Vala Tomasz Foltyn | Valentine Tanz (Cracow / Copenhagen). The curators of the Summer School program are Ieva Astahovska and Andra Silapētere.

The issues raised by feminism and gender studies are crucial both in the context of contemporary society and the past, where the experience and position of women in the general narratives of history have long been underrated. To revisit history and include “unwritten stories” not only opens up a more complete view of the past, but also revises the methods used in forming these narratives and offers alternative views.

Feminism and its understanding are changing today, becoming more visible and popular, bringing to the fore solidarity and concern for the common, collective and everyday. However, changes are taking place differently and at different speeds, and gender politics are more crucial in Eastern Europe than in many Western countries,, holding tensions between promises of the emancipation of women in socialism and unfulfilled equality, as well as today’s crisis of capitalism and neoliberalism. By focusing on different knowledge and practices, Summer School speakers discussed feminist and gender issues of both today and the recent past in the context of the former socialist countries. Lectures, discussions and workshops analyseed the legacies of post-socialism and postcolonialism through a gender studies perspective, intersectionality, social conditions of gender inequality and the aesthetics of feminism.

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