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The Arctic Gateway

Takes place: October 10 - December 30, 2020

Arctic Art Forum is an annual multidisciplinary event organized by the Arctic Art Institute in the city of Arkhangelsk, Russia, since 2016. Focusing on the complex historical and contemporary contexts of the Global North and the Arctic, the Forum is a territory for horizontal, people-to-people collaborations between art and culture workers in Euro-Arctic Russia and beyond, based on principle of mutual interest to each other’s vision and position. IV Arctic Art Forum organized by Arctic Art Institute in partnership with the Creative Association of Curators TOK will take place online during October 10 - December 30, 2020.

In 2020, the theme of Arctic Art Forum is Ecosystems of the Invisible. The decolonial discourse projected on the forgotten stories and integrated into the process of building new narratives of the North and other underrepresented territories is the point of departure for the Forum’s discussions. Such themes as existing hierarchies in knowledge production, cultural sustainability, public memory, and amnesia will be discussed. The events of the Forum bring together individual and collective unlearning processes and attempts to establish a dialogue at the “contact zones” (Mary Louise Pratt), as well as possible and/or imagined communities, offline and online. The Forum will comprise contemporary art exhibitions, including an online exposition of rare works by artists working in the Euro-Arctic region from the collection of the Arkhangelsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts, screenings, workshops and a series of discussions and presentations.

The key event of the Forum this year will be the symposium "Interdependency as a Condition" that will take place on October 16-18, 2020. The Symposium will expand the discursive framework of the Forum through joint attempts to decolonize knowledge about the North and discuss regional problems of the Arctic as an ecologically and economically vulnerable region. The symposium speakers will include Russian and international curators, artists, philosophers and researchers, who in their practices study and investigate the interdependency between government policy, economic processes, technological development, cultural production, and environmental change, as well as address the problem of unequal access to participation in decisions that determine our common future. The symposium panels will unfold around different forms of (inter)dependency as a necessity for further coexistence in the new conditions of global crisis provoked by the consequences of the pandemic, and as an integral part of curatorial optics. The symposium is conceptualized and curated by the Creative Association of Curators TOK (Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits).

Special attention will be given to young, but already world-known Arctic artists, whose practice will be presented to the Russian audience for the first time in cooperation with the Anchorage Museum (Alaska). In addition, three new films on sustainable architecture in the Arctic will premiere in November, produced in collaboration with the North Norwegian Design and Architecture Center. The Forum will also host a seminar Cultural Paths, a part of the multidisciplinary project focusing on the recognition and valorisation of local practices, embedded knowledge and skills across Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia and Iceland. There will also be a presentation of a new book on contemporary art and culture of the North, "North 2.0" (in Russian), which sums up artistic processes in Euro-Arctic Russia during 2015-2019.

Simultaneously with the start of the IV Forum, the Arctic Art Institute will launch an online platform enabling access to the archive of the three previous Forums. The platform will also serve as an interactive map of contemporary art and the artistic community of Euro-Arctic Russia, created by the Forum curators Kristina Dryagina and Ekaterina Sharova. Documentation of exhibitions and performances, scientific articles and art criticism, video works, series of photographs and drawings, a chronicle of art residences and information about contemporary culture and crafts of Euro-Arctic Russia will be available to a wide audience in Russian and English for the first time. The materials of the Forum's Symposium, including abstracts and videos of participants' presentations, will also be available on the online platform.

The full program and the list of Forum participants will be announced later in September.