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Illustration: Anastasija Keiša

What changes should be made in the art and cultural world? 1

The Year 2014 in Review

Every year comes with new opportunities. What sort of changes would people who are active in the worlds of art and culture like to see in the coming year?

Art collector Alain Servais (Belgium)

The urgent building of solid legal and best-practices foundations with which to support the art market’s infrastructure.

 Mia Sundberg, curator at Spritmuseum in Stockholm

Gender- and ethnic inequality are still present in the art world, but they are being addressed more and more ferociously – discussions on social media are having great impact, and it is becoming harder and harder to ignore them.

Dmitry Ozerkov, Head of Contemporary Art of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg

Researchers need to differentiate political activism from fine art. The Pussy Riot performance in the church was a political and anticlerical protest. The fact that it was done in the form of art only shows that the society is in a crisis. The evidence of this is the crisis in art. The consequences of this situation might be that art in its usual forms will become irrelevant for the public.

Olga Temnikova, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery (Estonia)

Concerning changes, well, I think the art market is there and it does make everything a bit complicated, but there's nothing we can do about it. We could try to get rid of things which are not fun, like, for example, in my favorite joke: 'Art has not been fun ever since curators began dressing like priests'. I am happy that the fun is back; happy that we are now fully aware of how the system works and where one or another type of behavior can take you; now the whole palette of behaviors has been mapped, kind of. And we are finally free and aware, or we sort of are. So, more fun and awareness is what I'd stand for.

Lithuanian artist Deimantas Narkevicius

In our region, time-based art, like theater or music, is overshadowing the contemporary visual arts. That is a legacy we have inherited from the past. I am sure that this currently dis-balanced perception will be corrected within the next few years.

Read in Archives: What changes should be made in the art and cultural world for 2014?

Gard Andreas Frantzsen, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Norway)

I would like to see more funding that directly stimulates artistic production and exhibitions, thereby providing substantial fees to currently underpaid artists. This would make artists less dependent on selling their artworks, but it would also provide alternative ways of adding income into the market. The market in Scandinavia and the Baltic region, as elsewhere, of course, works best in the capitals and bigger cities; the smaller cities and regions experience an exodus from time to time because of the lack of a market. Having said that, a well-functioning market in, let's say, Bergen, would be vitalizing for that scene, but for now, that seems improbable.

Dmitry Bulatov, curator (Russia)

Everything depends on how we define the meaning of “contemporary”, contemporary art, and what role we give artists in this system. We are either going to take part in the thought and the action that is tied in with the postindustrial society, or operate using exclusively industrial meanings. We won’t even consider that these meanings, like a geographical map, have been largely discovered in the world. From a systematic point of view, Russian art is completely inadequate in the world. It bases itself in the translation of industrial meanings in a place in which the main factor is the postindustrial economy. If we can convert the understanding of this situation into a practical activity, then I am sure that the situation can change. By the way, this doesn’t only concern Russia, it could be the same for any country. What does that mean for contemporary art? It means that we have to newly build connections between art colleges and science and technology colleges, we need to initialize programs for artists that want to work with new technologies, we need to facilitate the development of many research institutions. We also would need to organize exhibitions and conferences and to publish books. All of these are the elements of one economy belonging to the “society of knowledge”, which we will all come to in the end.

Estonian artist Jaanika Peerna

Changes? A big question indeed… The world would be a better place if the importance of the arts was clear to all humans who have made a life for themselves on this planet. Much time, resources, and energy would be saved and used for more constructive purposes. Until this happens, we must take it a day at a time… and keep enlarging our experience, educating where possible, and making one more drawing…

Director of the KAUNAS PHOTO festival, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas (Lithuania)

Changes should not have to come from the side of art or culture, but from the side of the audience. The Baltic people are now almost mature enough to collect art!

Estonian artist Raul Keller

I think people should focus on what they feel as passionate about as ever. I believe in small changes that lead to bigger events, such as how to make culture, especially experimental culture, sustainable – especially as it doesn't necessarily cater to the very object-oriented high-end art market. There are many changes that could potentially provide a more balanced cultural field. People need a sense of recognition; ideas and practices need time to grow and develop.

Stefan Andersson, Galleri Andersson/Sandström (Sweden)

More education. We need to get young people interested in the arts; society is becoming more and more shallow.

Tuula Alajoki, project manager and curator of the Backlight Photo Festival (Finland)

I think the fields are really different in different countries. Artists should be paid for their work everywhere. There are a lot of structural challenges that go beyond the world of art/culture, but have a big effect on it. The whole of society would need to change.
Funding should be provided for a longer period of time in order to ensure good planning – not annual grants where the decision making has to be done in the same year as the money is to be used. I think the field, in general, is fairly accessible, but recognition of the context is often shallow. The criteria for selection are fairly open, but funding is often tied up with irrelevant conditions and measures instead of the content. Art and culture should be valued more, and it should be knitted to pass all layers of society without being conditional to productivity or attempts do art on conditions on something else, i.e.g. health care. Art education and art history should be taught to everyone, beginning with primary school.

Milena Orlova, editor-in-chief of The Art Newspaper Russia

I can’t answer this question, because art is so diverse, that sometimes it is more appropriate to say “be less of a snob”, and other times “give us less pop”.

Lithuanian artist Robertas Narkus

There have never been as many artist in the history of the world as there are today, which then begs the question: What does it mean to be an artist? There could be more roles discovered for artists to fulfill; the agency of an artist could be included in a broader field of discourses that govern the ways in which we live on this planet. 

Lithuanian graphic designer Povilas Utovka

If anything could be changed, I would start with better and free education.