Photo: Vitalij Červiakov

Independent Initiatives Baltics will meet for the first time in Vilnius


Final days of April, between 27-29th, cultural centre SODAS 2123 (Vitebsko 23, Vilnius) will witness an international co-learning event Vilnius Meeting 2022: Schools & Gardens. The event is organised by the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association (LIAA).

Vilnius Meeting 2022: Schools & Gardens will host Independent Initiatives Baltics (IIB) – an emergent network for fostering a mutual environment and exchange between artist- and independently-run spaces in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. It will be grounded at Schools & Gardens in Vilnius, and extended through 2022 in compact visits to continue exploring Latvian and Estonian independent scenes on site, and to build a collective tool for shared future use.

The IIB is an attempt to initiate a meeting point and a dialogue about the histories, presents, and the futures emergent in the Baltic region and beyond it. The network will bring in a breadth of self-organised experiences, and through them explore needs and possibilities to cooperate based on mutual ideas, social and material infrastructures.

As one of the IIB curators Lina Rukevičiūtė says, ‘The idea of such network has been in the air for a while now. The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania share similar history and culture, geographic and geopolitical situation, and they are physically very close to each other, sharing good transport links and road routes. The art scenes of each of the countries however seem to be more connected with Western European or Nordic contexts. Now though, it is more important than ever to talk about the specificity, the strength and visibility of the Baltic independent arts sector and to look for ways of communicating its ideas louder than ever before. The years of pandemic have taught art organisations to operate under unprecedented conditions such as restricted mobility and isolation, whereas in today’s reality with the war happening nearby we have to think way beyond tomorrow, developing strong ties and making this network into a conscious, sustainable organism, contributing with educational perspectives, critical thinking and collective vision-projecting.’

The overall meeting is titled Schools and Gardens, which is lifted straight off the meeting location and its initiator – an artist-run cultural centre SODAS 2123, organised by LIAA, based at the premises of an ex-school building. While being a reference to this abundant space housing many independent initiatives, it is also a way to establish the imaginary for the meeting around the visceral, and necessarily collective places of schools and gardens. They ensure growth but not without growing pains; they supply us with tacit and social knowledges upon which we build and sharpen our tools for their cultivation – if done right, and with a tender hand.

With this in mind, Vilnius meeting: Schools and Gardens will map not only Baltic independent spaces but also independent initiatives in whole Europe, including the Nordic region, who will join the meeting, and invite for a horizontal and amicable exchange of highly distinct knowledges and skills they possess.

‘This event comes from our quite long professional route working with self-organised initiatives, and no less curiosity and passion of the artist-run and independent scene – which by nature can be called as quite ephemeral, volatile, and a bit mischievous. On the other hand, can it? Or do we want to go away from less stable depictions of the scene we are working with, and establish it as on par with other institutions, and a force to be reckoned with? What can be said for sure, there is no universal shade that can be applied, or a most correct definition issued, to what we understand an independent space to be. And this makes the locality of this scene ever more apparent and important, which will be the underlying premise of this event – and I mean locality in the best possible way, even if in this event we spend a great deal of time thinking about inter-regional and inter-national ties and meanings.’ – states one of the IIB curators Vaida Stepanovaitė.

Schools and Gardens will be a buzzing three day professional event with part of its activities open to the public, unfolding in SODAS 2123 indoor and outdoor surroundings just waking up from the long winter sleep.

Schools and Gardens aims to start a discussion not only among art professionals, but also among local art students, emerging artists and other creators of the field. In three one-hour sessions spread through each day, the visitors will get to know about such spaces and organisations as Hoib Gallery, Rundum, FOKU (Estonia), LOW gallery, 427, Totaldobre, RIXC (Latvia), as well as apiece, Verpėjos, Lokomotif, Editorial, išgir̃stì, Montos Tattoo, Swallow, Autarkia, Atletika (Lithuania) firsthand. A public performance programme will be presented at the end of the event, curated by project space Swallow, on the evening of 29th April, extending to a night of conversations at Empty Brain Resort (part of SODAS 2123). Detailed programme with times and artists of the performance programme will be announced shortly.

The internal part of the networking programme will consist of group discussions on most grounding questions and concepts between the invited participants, and a workshop to model the future of the IIB network. Their collective thoughts will be incorporated into further research carried throughout 2022 in Latvia and Estonia, and between all the participants. Visitors from abroad will also meet independent spaces of Vilnius in their own venues through a guided tour programme.


Organiser: Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association in partnership with SODAS 2123.

LIAA activities funded by Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius City Municipality. The event is organised with the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture. Main information partner – 15min.