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Digital Archive Online

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The Borderland Foundation, leaders of are pleased to announce that they have a new digital archive available.

This collection contains books, journals, iconographic documents (old postcards and photos), audio and video material. For example, you can find there the digitised books in pdf format dedicated to Borderland Foundation by Tomas Venclova, the collection of Czesław Miłosz, as well as the collection of the former Commonwealth Heritage Collection.

It’s a fantastic resource. View it here…

In particular you’ll find a great deal of historical material relating to the geographic area that the Atlantis project has been focusing on, the borderlands between the Białostocko-Suwalski subregion (Sejny and Krasnogruda), the Kaunas region (Kėdainiai), and Kaliningrad Oblast (Kaliningrad, Chistye Prudy, Baltisk) in the Russian Federation.

The collection presents the records of conversations, speeches and meetings with writers, scientists, people of culture, who has visited the Borderland or participated in programs carried out in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the choice of materials from the 1990s, usually created by members of the Borderland.

The film material comes from the Laboratory of Audiovisual Borderland, documenting the cultural projects implemented since 1990 by the Borderland Foundation and the Centre Borderland – of arts, cultures, nations.

The archive has been digitised with financial support from: Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego.

July 2015

One of the publications produced by participants – Atlantyda Pogranicza, transgraniczny szlak kultorowy – has been launched with events in Sejny, Kėdainiai and Kaliningrad. We now make the publication available as a download here… featuring 38 locations on the transborder cultural trail as selected by young people, in Russian, Polish, Lithuainian language.

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And here are the last photos from our last exchange visit, our Lithuanian colleagues at the last event in Kaliningrad, along with a set of homemade postcards with images from the city. All that remains to be done now is the editing of the final publication, which shall be in all the languages of the participants.

 

June 2015

Arrivals Monday June 15th

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The finale of the Atlantis project approaches. All exchanges have been completed and now there will be final gatherings of participants in Krasnogruda, in Kėdainiai and Kaliningrad. In the last few months work has been proceeding on a publication in four languages, which summarises the research undertaken by the young people.

This publication will act as a ‘guide’ for others, who may wish to learn about the histories of this area, the places we visited. Perhaps it will encourage you to visit these places for yourselves?

On the first evening, as the group from Kėdainiai are first to arrive, we are invited to join in a workshop with the Lithuanian Choir, who meet  regularly at the manor house, in a session led by maestro Wojciech Szroeder. The choir is made up of local residents from the surrounding villages of Krasnogruda, Żegary, Dusznica as well as from Sejny.

Tuesday June 16th

The first part of the day is spent at the White Synagogue in Sejny, where the young participants from Sejny and Suwalki, along with their teachers, present to an invited audience the results of their work during the project, personal reflections through spoken word, song, music and a photographic slide show.

Here’s a couple of examples:

A special publication is also unveiled, a loose-leaf portfolio which shares their favourite locations explored during the project – all 38 of them - a mini guide in three languages. A song group performed four songs and Marta Falińska performed beautifully on marimba. (The publication will be made available online as a pdf in due course.)

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The Polish, Lithuanian and Russian groups returned to Krasnogruda in the afternoon to undertake two workshops. The first, with Mariola Mitros, was an opportunity to use local herbs with a variety of spices and natural products – to experiment making refreshing drinks and teas, different infusions and flavours. At Krasnogruda, a recent initiative is to harvest the local produce of the woods and fields and create jams, various preserves and nalewka – a drink made by maceration of various ingredients in alcohol, such as quince.

The second workshop was led by Wieslaw Szuminski in the art space – creating t-shirts using from images of Czesław Miłosz. Our favourite t-shirt was ‘Angry Miłosz’…

In the evening there was an excellent performance by the Klezmer Orchestra, the junior version, followed by a traditional campfire with sausages, down by the lake. As Rimantas said: “Sausages in the evening, sausages for breakfast…”

Wednesday June 17th

Time for everyone to travel to Kėdainiai for the presentations from the Lithuanian group at the Multicultural Centre in the heart of the old town. The youth participants shared their personal reflections with the audience alongside local teachers involved in the educational exchanges in each three locations also spoke of their experiences.

Here’s the opening presentation in full (in three video clips and in beautiful Lithunian)…

Thursday June 18th

An Alternative tour of Kedainiai…

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Rimantas and Audrone take the group to the local chemical plan and introduce us to our special guide, Indre Aksenaviciciute.  She explains that Lifosa is a phosphate industry company which began as a state-owned Soviet enterprise and was privatised in 1996. Currently it is owned by a Russian mineral company, Eurochem. There are nearly 1000 workers here (with only 5% in administration and management) so it is the main employer in the area.

In 1952, Soviet planners approved this location for the construction of a mineral phosphate plant, 2 kilometres outside of the town. The area was chosen due to a number of factors, easy access to the ice free Baltic port at Klaipėda, away from main population areas (due to pollution factors, one of which being the prevailing wind which blew fumes away from the town). After final approvals in 1958, a concrete production plant was first constructed, and a network of roads and railways. The first sulphuric acid process line was completed in 1962. Improvements at the end of the 80’s decreased polluting emissions by a third.

Since 2000, the plant has generated its own electricity, by utilising the steam discharged from the sulphuric acid. Indeed it has the equivalent power of an electricity generating station, and feeds some of this power back to the local grid. Currently the company produce about 250 million kWh of electricity, 50 million kWh of which are provided to the electric power network of the country. The city is supplied with about 100 000 MWh of heat.

The basic product manufactured at Lifosa is the nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizer Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), the process of which requires phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid, which are also produced at the company. Fluorine, the by-product of phosphoric acid process, is further utilised and reprocessed into Aluminium Fluoride. Feed additives, such as Monocalcium Phosphate, are produced from phosphoric acid.

Most of its products are exported, with less than 4% remaining in Lithuania. Sulphur arrives from Kazakstan as a solid, to be heated, melted and turned into sulphuric acid. Phosphate rocks comes from Russia, Morocco and parts of Africa.

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We are given a coach tour of the plant and visit the control room, where they keep a close watch on the required temperatures needed for production processes. We are also told about the numerous clubs and sports groups the company hosts, encourages or sponsors, from quiz teams to footballs teams. We visit the huge warehouses for storing the final product, where large mounds of the fertiliser pellets lie, ready to be transported by wagons to their destination.

The company currently produces 1400 tons of phosphoric acid a day. However, to produce fertilizer, for each ton of phosphoric acid there are 5 tons of phophorus gypsum waste. This waste is stored in a huge mountainous dump on company territory. Between 70 and 86 metres in height, it’s known locally as The Kedainiai Alps. At 40 million tons currently – and growing. There are currently several initiatives looking at how to re-use this waste. Some local farmers use small quantities to grow mushrooms, but this would need a lot of mushroom fields, stretching all the way Belgium). Indre tells us that ‘the British rock band Bastille recently used the site to film a video’.

In 2008, a small museum was opened for visitors and curated by Rimantaus from Kedainiai Museum. Archival materials collected during the last 50 years along samples of production and awards are exhibited, along with an impressive colour coded model of the plant.

After the moonscape, we travel back to earth, at the request of some of the teachers on the trip, to visit the old Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of the town. Kedainiai had two Jewish cemeteries, just outside town. The one founded in the 18th century, was destroyed. It has no gravestones, only a monument. The remaining cemetery is on Kanapinsko Street, near the banks of the small river Smilga, on the northern side of town, which has up to one hundred headstones.

There are a steady trickle of visitors interested in Jewish heritage, researching their family history and the Holocaust. There was a Jewish presence here from the 15th century, and towards the end of the 19th century nearly two-thirds of Kedainiai was Jewish, though many were expelled to Russia during the First World War. At the outbreak of the Second World War, they represented a third of the population of the town. In June 1941, German forces occupied the town. In August the remaining Jewish inhabitants and those of surrounding villages were taken to the Smilaga Creek and murdered by local Lithuanian collaborationists and the Nazis.

Friday June 18th

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The group set off for Kaliningrad, the final stage of this trip and to the last of the presentations.

November 2014

Notes from Kaliningrad – Monday 3rd November

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The Polish group travel west through the lakes from Suwałki towards Bartoszyce and then turn north into this enclave of the Russian Federation, the Gothic brick structures we pass by are reminders of the past when this area was part of Eastern Prussia. As we cross the border, leaving behind the fields of dairy farmers, the flatland here is mostly uncultivated, a little worn at the edges. We pass houses with gardens turned over to growing vegetables; an abandoned airfield, the old silos for fighter jets overgrown and graffitied; bus stops that look the same as anywhere else in Eastern Rurope; decorative concrete fences marking the edge of newer more well to do dwelling places (many painted green and white); a group of women in headscarves standing a round an apple tree, deep in discussion, the arm of one stretches out, her hand caressing the bark. Other younger women adorn the sides of trucks, in red leather mini-skirts, advertising something to do with automobiles. Two stacks of a power station in the distance, belching white smoke. On the outskirts of the city now, a long street of garages and tyre adverts, an unfortunate reminder that the group from Kėdainiai are delayed with a burst tyre. The van has come from Kaliningrad without a spare tyre – they blame the Germans for modification of the vehicle, leaving no room for a spare. It takes several hours for a spare vehicle to arrive, and then it is a smaller van, fitting eight instead of nine person, so they have to go find a tyre in the end. As Kurt Vonnegut was fond of saying: So it goes…

On the edge of the city, graffitti on the cream wall of an apartment block. It reads: stop stop stop stop stop stop. It’s a message we ignore.

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Still, we drive past over river, along the elevated highway and onto Moskovskiy Avenue to meet our hosts at Hotel Baltika. Workshops are reorganised over lunch, as we lack one group of participants and venues must be changed as well as the make up of the groups. So the first workshops begin..

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For the first sessions, one group went to Liceum 23, a local school for a workshop on local mythology and comics. First we met Aleksander Popadin (culturologist), by the riverside, overlooking the Cathedral (here where the Prussian kings were once crowned). He said: It is difficult to talk about this place, because there is really nothing here to see. Nothing is left of the old city. It is like trying to describe a ghost.

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Walking in the vicinity of this ghost city, he shared some local myths – such as the story of the Honey Bridge. This bridge, connecting the two islands of Kant (originally Kneiphof, on which sits the Cathedral) with Oktyabrskiy (originally Lomse) was completed in 1542. According to the legend, the town council of Kneiphof gave a large barrel of honey to the mayor of Altstadt in order to obtain permission to construct the bridge. The bridge was thus christened Honigbrücke – the Honey bridge. On this bridge the custom of leaving locks as love tokens has taken hold. The group then went to the school where Olga Dimitrieva invited them to create a comic image based on the stories they had recently heard.

The second group were based at the hotel, with a brief introduction to the history of the city. They were then invited by our guides Artiom Zajtsev and Maria Neznanova to work with photographic materials to create a collage to represent the past and future of Kaliningrad.

While there were Romans and Vikings here long ago, according to Artiom “everything interesting happened after the 13th century with the arrival of the Teutonic Knights” who founded the city in 1255. As part of the Hanseatic League, it became an important trading port. Though the inhabitants increasingly spoke German, the city was a remarkable centre for Polish language literature and of Polish Lutheranism, as well as being the publisher of the first book in the Lithuanian language. Allied bombing of the city and the siege by the Soviet army destroyed much of the city by the end of the Second World War. After the final defeat of the Nazis, Eastern Prussia was divided into three parts, which ended up as parts of Lithuania, Poland and Russia.

Artiom: “Is it a German city with Russians, or a Russian city with a German past? No one knows what the identity of the city is. Everyone is looking for a way to develop the city, wondering what to do.”

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The group looked at various photographic materials, such as a really great book by Max Popov called ‘Parallel Memory – 150 years of Konigsberg and Kaliningrad history in photographs.’

These workshops will be repeated the following day for different participants.

In the evening, we visit the Kaliningrad Art Museum for an open evening, with performances in the ‘Future Perfect’ exhibition of contemporary art from Germany. Then Aleksander Popadin gave us a super tour of the ‘Heart of the City’ exhibition, a long-term town planning project aiming to provide a solution to the problem of the historic centre of Kaliningrad.

The exhibition shows the results of an international architectural and town planning competition that considers “the historic and cultural context of the area and shape the architectural image of the place – its cultural identification, which at the same time would be a part of the global world, the Baltic Sea Region and Russia”. As one entry put it: Re-interpreting the past, to intensify the present. The competition aimed to develop a new centre for the city with an important aspect being the ‘meeting point of Russia and Europe’. It also stated that there should be no large commercial centres in the competition area.  It’s a hugely ambitious scheme. As one entry put it: Re-interpreting the past, to intensify the present.

In the short film above, Aleksander explains the winning entry (in Russian). You’ll find a comprehensive web site about this process here - www.tuwangste.ru/

You’ll also find a fascinating historical and analytical review (in English) of the architectural development of the centre of the city – Koralevskaya Gora (King’s Mountain) – over the past few hundred years, which Aleksander Popadin authored along with architect Oleg Vasyutin. This was prepared in 2008, in advance of the architectural competition and provides a context to the city.

In September 2014 at the Kaliningrad Art Gallery, the competition results were announced with the first prize going to the Architectural Bureau Studio 44 and Institute of Territory Development of St Petersburg (Russia). All the competition entries are available for download here: www.tuwangste.ru/en/contest/#itogi-konkursa

Tuesday 4th November

A Long Walk around Kaliningrad.
It’s a good day for a walk, surprisingly warm. Our guide is Boris Bartfeld, the President of the Association of Kaliningrad writers. From the Brandenburg Gate to the railway station, around the 19th century Prussian defences, the Friedland Gate, along the river, over bridges with love tokens attached to the cathedral on Kant Island, to the King Gate on the north side, the old military barracks, across one of the two lakes in the city to visit the statue of Immanuel Kant, past the Botanical Gardens to the centotaphs to the dead of two world wars. You’ll find a full description of this walk, with photo galleries here: borderlandatlantis.net/borderland-atlantis/guide-profiles/

In the evening the Kaliningrad group shared some of their personal family history in a presentation called ‘The city of arrivals’. They explained the constant process of populating the city after 1945, as our participants shared their family roots, coming to this city from Almaty, Mariupol, Novosibirsk, Donetsk, Kalin, and parts of Dagestan, Ukraine, Belarus. They explained that  there was no such term as ‘roots’ in the city, as the roots of the inhabitants were always somewhere else. In the past, it was the impression of Nikolay Karamzin, writing (as a kind of tourist guide for Russians) in 1789: “Koenigsberg, the capital of Prussia, is one of the big cities in Europe with circuit of approximately 15 versts. … I saw a lot enough of good houses… generally Koenigsberg is built nearly better than Moscow…” Napoleon also felt for the city, apparently saying: “If I could I would carry away all this miracle in my hands to Paris”. That was then – this is now and the young people of the city are searching for a new identity.

The evening ended with sharing several songs in three languages.

Wednesday 5th November

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Wednesday is spent at Kaliningrad Art Museum. There are two workshop sessions here:

1. Amber crafting with Ekaterina Skripko and Tamara Chapkina who are members of ‘Prussian Honey’, an association of artists who create jewelry with amber, souvenirs, clothing and accessories in a traditional ethnic style.

They introduced the history and original of amber in this region, and showed some films about some of their activities in workshops and fairs. The group then spent a few hours making bracelets and necklaces with the materials.

2. Art intervention: Artist and curator Evgeny Umansky works made a presentation about work in public spaces – ‘public art’ – showing a wide range of examples of work. This included street art, graffiti, recreations and responses to existing sculptures, using technology with lights and projections on buildings, using street hoardings, making additions to the sides of building, reconstructing landscapes, photographic collage, temporary installations, text and sound work as well as performative work. Evgeny spoke about the different ways you could engage with an audience, or provoke a response in a public. Two examples: one Dutch artist, Onno Dirker, who used a fork lift to stand close to the faces of monumental Soviet sculpture and ‘make faces’; a Polish artist, Ryszard Górecki, who made a poster based on the Edvard Munch painting ‘The Scream’, which he placed on a lamp post on the bridge near the cathedral. The poster simply ‘invited people to scream’.

After his many examples he invited to think about how they might make public intervention in the city.

One proposal: Our idea is to paint the only foot tunnel in the city, near Lenininsky Prospect. We propose to make an underground city, after listening to all these legends, with trolls, ghosts, perhaps even our own Amber Room. As people journey through the tunnel they will learn about the underground legends of the city.

Another proposal: to create a large paper ship to sail on the river, the port being an essential ingredient of both the past, the present and the future.

Another proposal: to add mirrors or projections to the House of the Soviets. (You will find something similar proposed here: art-guide.ncca-kaliningrad.ru/?by=p&aglang=eng&au=032raketa). Or here is an example from artist Geoff Broadway in Birmingham, UK, who projected onto the surface of a cathedral at Christmas: intentional.co.uk/2014/01/29/imm/

In the evening we gather at Café Capucin Dark for an evening of poetry readings, ‘3 by 3: Miłosz Brodsky Donelaitis’,  shared by both our guides and travellers, along with a couple of originals from Sergey and Leonid.

Thursday 6th November 

One day we travelled to the border, to the village of Chistye Prudy in the Nesterovskiy Region, to the east of the Kaliningrad Oblast. Here in 1979 a Memorial Museum of Kristijonas Donelaitis was established in the church. Donelaitis is ‘the father of Lithuanian literature’, the first to write poetry that did not have a religious topic. The church was built over 200 years ago under his patronage and he served as a parson. His remains were reburied in 1979 in the crypt set inside the church. The stained glass windows of the church, made by artist Grabauskas, are based on his best known poem “Seasons” – Metai in Lithuanian – which portrays the scenes from everyday life of peasantry.

The rectory, which stands next to the church, is where he lived for 37 years in the second half of 18th century – and where “Seasons” was composed. The rectory was restored in 1998 as a museum dedicated to his memory, and contains artifacts and materials from his life and times.

A few kilometres away, near to the Polish border is Krasnolesie, the ‘village of stones and gnomes’. Краснолесье in Russian and formerly Hardteck, ex. Gross-Rominten.

We’ll present a little more detail shortly, but our guide Aleksey Sokolov from the Ecological Historical Museum of Viestieniec (the lake shares the border with Lithuania).  Starting at the German First World War Memorial at the centre of the village, he leads the group on an exploration of the village itself, the woods and fields and former quarries around, using the legends of gnomes to explain the geology of the area and how it has shaped life locally. On the outskirts of the village, restoration is being undertaken of the Lutheran Church of 1895. The walk ends in the basement of the museum house with a detailed examination and identification of stones we have all collected during the walk.

In the museum rooms there are a variety of items relating to the natural history of the area. Once it was a huge hunting forest for the Prussian aristocracy, and we spot a photograph of Hermann Goering admiring his kill.

You’ll find a description of the exploration with additional images here: borderlandatlantis.net/events/

Friday 7th November

Friday is devoted to ‘Life of the Modern City’. We convene at Liceum 23 and meet Aleksej Milovanov and Aleksandra Artamonova, two journalists who work for an online news service, New Kaliningrad, who invite the group to consider what ‘reportage’ is.

They speak about their work as journalists and share their experiences and thoughts on what it is to be a reporter in the modern multi-layered media environment. In Kaliningrad there are two daily newspapers, ten weeklies, three TV channels, and audio stations which have some news but mostly just play recorded music. New Kaliningrad was set up some years ago with a stuff of three, now they operate with a staff of fifteen, generating income from mostly advertising.

Their web site is: http://www.newkaliningrad.ru

Aleksej, the editor of the portal,  felt that the job of a journalist is to report the facts and nothing else. This stimulated a heated discussion about what truth is and how easy it was to manipulate the truth because of the political situation, how media and government were intertwined and how difficult it was to be an independent reporter.

After the presentation the participants worked in three groups. They were invited to spent a few hours exploring the area and to report back 15 details of the city. What did they notice about life in the city, what data or responses could they collect, what little symbols of modern life were there, how might they represent this as a story or an idea for a story?

After lunch they spent the afternoon presenting these back and discussing their findings.

For example:

“…old car wheels (tyres) filled with flowers… a kind of public style, beauty as seen by the people… they want to feel beauty in even the trash…”

“… a city of dark colours, mostly grey, the colours only in advertisements but then we find bursts of blue… blue coloured fences, blue post boxes, blue cars, blue walls…”

“…a city of contrasts… the church and the city offices placed opposite each other made me think of how in Soviet times the state was anti-religious, but the buildings are directly opposite each other…”

Saturday 8th November

Saturday morning was an opportunity for an exploration of the streets around the new commercial centre at the central square, Ploshchad Pobedy -Victory Square. Behind the Orthodox Cathedral, the largest church in the city, we find the markets, fruit and vegetable, fish, meat, cheeses, clothes – where most of the fruit and vegetables seem to come from Uzbekistan, the fish from the Baltic and Norway. We spot some very large carp and flounder and we are reminded of the Baltic writing of Gunther Grasse.

In the afternoon, we visited one of campuses of the University of Kant for an entertaining lecture by Ilya Dementev, who led us through the centuries to share the story of the university and those associated with the university over the centuries. (You’ll find one of those stories here…) We started with Prince Albertina Albrecht (1490-1568), last Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights, who – after converting to Lutheranism  – created the world’s first Protestant state in 1525, the Duchy of Prussia, with Königsberg as its capital.  The Albertina Unversity was founded in 1544 as a purely Lutheran place of learning, drawing to it men of science and culture, poets and philosophers from all over Poland, Germany and Lithuania. (It was in this city that the first-ever books were printed in the Lithuanian language.)

Along the way we met with Johann Poharder (1487-1541), Stanislaus Rapagelanus (1485 – 1545), Simon  Dach (1615-1652), Kant (1724-1804), Christian Jakob Kraus (1753-87)Hoffman (1776-1822), Theodor Goltieb Von Hippel (1741-1796),  Johanna Ambrosius (1854-1939), Otto Rossbach (1858-1931).

After the lecture, we attended an organ concert in the Cathedral on Kant Island and then had a discussion about the next stages of the project, which will gather the data from the three locations to create a cultural guide. Next year there will then be training workshops with teachers and tourist guides to consider how best to utilise the materials created during the project.

Sunday November 9th

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On the final day of the residency, we visited a world heritage site, the Curonian Spit. This is a long narrow sand dune which stretches from Klaipeda in Lithuania in the north. It has the highest moving (drifting) sand dunes in Europe, some as high at 60 metres. It is particularly important to bird migration as a resting place, as it falls in the path of the East Atlantic Flyway, Between 10 million and 20 million birds pass over the Spit every year during the spring season migration and the autumn season migration, many stopping to rest or produce offspring. The Spit is nearly 100 kilometres long, the sea on one side, a lagoon on the other, forests of trees twisted and contorted by the sea winds.

You can find out about the rationale for World Heritage status here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/994

Thomas Mann had a summer house here (in what is now the Lithuanian part), later seized by the Nazis and used as a recreational holiday home for Luftwaffe officers. In the 1920’s there was a flying school here at the village of Rybachy (formerly Rossitten).

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The Treaty of Versailles banned Germany from having an airforce, so young men interested in aviation gathered here to fly gliders. Consequently, Germany founded sport flying clubs and gliding clubs wherever it could.  The Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps – the National Socialist Flying Corps – had a program for training teenagers to fly, involving basic primary gliders, which were manually launched down slopes using teams of young men and a ‘bungee’ tow rope.

The Curonian Spit is a popular tourist site, but today the sea mists rule and visibility is poor.

Sunday photographs by Valeria Bartfeld.

October 2014

After something of a hiatus, with all partners working on their projects, we are pleased to announce that the third and final stage of the project has been scheduled for November in Kaliningrad .

On Friday and  Saturday (3rd and  4th of October) Małgorzata Czyżewska and Ksenija Konopek from Borderland Foundation visited the partner organisation in Kaliningrad, and met with local organisers, Boris Bartfield and Sergej Mikhailov. They discussed the programme of the third plenary meeting of Atlantis group, which will take place form 3rd-9th of November in Kaliningrad, and have worked on the texts for the publication which will be published by the end of the year.
You’ll find a great article about the city here – both a great introduction not the city as well as a personal story (in Russian) about everything that is locally important.

December 2013

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The National Culture Award for an outstanding contribution to the region’s culture has been awarded to Kėdainiai regional museum director Rimantas Žirgulis, one of the cultural expert guides on the Borderland Atlantis project. Congratulations! Rimantas will receive the award at a ceremony on December 13th.

This cultural laureate is offered for making a great contribution to a district’s culture, in the search for and implementation of new, original and creative forms of cultural activities, cultural and educational work for the benefit of the whole population, especially with young people. The award also recognises an individual’s contribution to promoting an area both within Lithuania and abroad.

http://www.kedainiai.lt/go.php/lit/Placiau/1603

November 2013

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 6th

One of the presentations at the Multicultural Centre was featured on the local news programme on Balticum TV on Monday night. You can view the news feature from 4:30 till 8:49 in the clip.

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 6th

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The final day of the workshop was an opportunity to both exhibit the work from all the activities in the Multicultural Centre and to recap on what the participants had learnt during their explorations of the town and its surroundings and their meetings with various experts.

The morning was spent in three mixed teams with an ‘Orientation Game’, working out specific locations and places from a series of questions, prompts and images. Then followed a ‘Brain Challenge’, with a series of quizzes about the history of the town and the wider links between the regions.

In the afternoon, all the work was brought together from the different and exhibited for all participants to see, enjoy and reflect upon.

Thanks to Rimantas Žirgulis and Audronė Pečiulytė at the Kėdainiai Regional Museum for all the local organising of this event, in liaison with Ksenija Konopek at Borderland. 

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 4th

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Artistic workshops continue all day, print-making, papercutting and wood carving.

Here’s a gallery from the activities.

At 17.00 in the Multicultural Centre there was a lecture on literature by Vytautas Toleikis. He spoke about the connections between Miłosz, Venclova, and Donelaitis. While giving some historical context to their work in terms of the times and places in which they lived, he also spoke of their connectivity in terms of attitude, their tolerance and interest in the intertwining of many cultures.

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You can find an article by Vytautas Toleikis here about Jewish heritage in Lithuania.

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2008-11-27-toleikis-en.html

Participants were then given 20 historical characters from the region and asked to make of selection of these, looking for connections and overlaps. For example, the Kaliningrad group suggested:

P.A. Stolypin, the gifter of Pushkin’s busts; Tėvas Stanislovas, sufferer from communism and proper antiquarian; Arvo Pärt, bells-lover; Eduard Ivanovich Totleben, General, latent diplomat and returner of F.M Dostoyevsky.

(Note: there is an interesting story about Arvo Pärt visiting the unusual house of Stanislovas at Paberžė, and playing with the priest’s collection of bells, inspiring him to compose with Tintinnabuli.)

The evening concluded with a presentation of photographic work from Kėdainiai and the local environment made by Vydas Bečelis. Of particular interest was a stunning series of images of the many ruined manor houses. This was followed by the showing of a series of documentary films made in the town in 1971, 1977 and 1988.

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 3rd

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Song and dance workshops took place in the Multicultural Centre and art workshops were held in the adjacent building which houses Kėdainiai art school. Below is a short extract from the traditional Lithuanian folk song workshop…

Formerly the Great Synagogue, the art school building dates from 1784. During the war the Germans used the building as stables and later the Soviets used it as a storehouse, its formery rich interiors completely lost. In 1993 the building was returned to the Jewish community who presented it to the Minucipality in 1998. The building was restored and in 2004 the art school moved into the building, holding classes for all members of the community. Wood carving workshops were also held in the Scots Arnets House.

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Participants are working in three groups, circulating between the three different workshops in the different locations from 10.00 – 14.00, then 15.00 – 19.00, with an evening presentations from 20.00- 22.00.

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Song and dance workshops: Regina Lukminienė, with the help of Algimantas Kiseliūnas and Leonas  Mikolaitis. Regina is the leader of the folklore group ‘Jorija’.

Art workshops: Jovita Buinevičienė

Papercutting craft workshops: Albina Mackevičienė

Sculpture / wood carving: Audrius Vasiliauskas

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In the evening ‘Jorija’ presented an evening of song and dance with participants and guests. Here’s a gallery of images from one of our participants Krzysiek Kozłowski.

And here’s a short video clip…

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 2nd

Today a touring workshop takes us further afield, along the Issa Valley to Šeteniai to participate in a literature workshop in The White Granary – this is a former barn of the manor where Czesław Miłosz was born, and was the only surviving structure from the estate. It was renovated and converted into a residential conference centre in 1999.

In this short extract, Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska reads a passage from ‘The Issa Valley’, Miłosz’s novel from 1955, in which he memorialised the place of his childhood. This passage – here read in the original Polish and then translated to Russian by Aleksandra Sikorkaya – relates to the story of Magdalena, whose love affair with the local priest ends in her suicide. Her spirit return to haunt the parish. When Catholic exorcisms fail to release her spirit, the village resorts to a violent pagan rite, with the new priest’s tacit approval…

We also visit Paberžė - where the January uprising of 1863 began in Lithuania. This was a rebellion in the territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, parts of Ukraine, western Russia) against the Russian Empire. One of the rebellion leaders, a Lithuanian priest, Antanas Mackevičius, worked here at this church. In the graveyard of Paberžė are many members of this rebellion.

From 1966 to 2005 the monk and priest Algirdas M. Dobrovolskis (known as Father Stanislovas) lived and worked in Paberžė. He was a collector of many things, including liturgical clothes and accessories which are on view in one of the church’s buildings. Crosses of famous cross-maker Vincas Svirskis are also in the church, as is an amazing folk art collection from Father Stanislovas, and artworks made from his art therapy sessions with alcoholics and drug addicts.

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Photo: Krzysiek Kozłowski

There is the museum near the church, which is devoted to the story of the 1863 rebellion. The museum was established in 1993 in the former manor house (itself built in 1793) of Stanislovas Šilingas – landowner and supporter of the Uprising. We then visited Šventybrastis church to find the graves of ancestors of Czeslaw Miłosz. Immediately outside the churchyard are several huge ancient oaks believed to have been the site of pagan rituals. Finally we visited  the ruined manor of Sirutiškis.

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Photo: Artem Drobyszewski

In the evening, we saw a film about the Issa Valley and Brendan Jackson presented the structure of the project website, inviting participants – both our guides and travellers to submit material – their photos, drawings, short texts, reflections of their journeys, the things that they were learning, or simply to share something about the place they lived with the wider world.

Here’s a small gallery of the day…

Workshops in Kėdainiai – November 1st

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Our first full day, All Saints Day, was taken up with guided walks of the town by Rimantas Žirgulis and Audronė Pečiulytė, a tour which revealed the many nationalities and religions that have lived together in this town for centuries. We started at Didžioji (Great) Street  and the Museum (a former Carmelite monastery), and went onto the Great Market Square (Didžiosios Rinkos aikštė) facing the river, a visit to the Evangelical Reformed Church on Senoji Street which has the Radziwill Mausoleum in the basement. Next to this is the Scots Arnet House, which was once the home of a Scottish merchant who became Mayor – it is now under the adminstration of the Museum. Then we went to the large wooden structure St Joseph’s Catholic Church, and onto the Orthodox Holy Transfiguration Church.

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Within 100 metres of this building is the local government building which houses the Vytautas Ulevičius museum, which has a fantastic collection of wooden sculptures. Then we visited the 17th century Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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Photo: Krzysiek Kozłowski

Finally we came back to the Old Market Square and the former synagogue which now houses the Multicultural Centre, where our working sessions are being held.

Translations for all the sessions are provided by Aleksandra Sikorkaya and Anastazja Sidor.

The afternoon session looked at the Archaeology of Kėdainiai, with a presentation by archeologist, Algirdas Juknevičius, who was born in the town. He explained how he began to first dig the Old Town in 1991, systematically excavating several sites. Since 1995, he has been working with the regional museum.

Following the session, we took a trip to the outskirts of the town where many hundreds of residents were gathering at Kėdainiai cemetery for the close of All Saints Day, a national holiday in Catholic countries, as people came together to remember their dead family and friends.

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October 2013

Workshops in Kėdainiai begin - October 31st

Vandžiogala

En route to Kėdainiai the Polish group stop at Vandžiogala, once Polish Wędziagoła, where the graves of Czesław Miłosz’s grandparents are to be found at Holy Trinity Church - including that of Artura Miłosza, who took part in the January Uprising of 1863 against the Russian Empire. We are told that this was the first church Miłosz remembered attending as a child.

At the Multicultural centre (Daugiakultūris Centras) in Kėdainiai, Rimantas Žirgulis and Audronė Pečiulytė give all workshop participants a brief audio-visual guide to the town, the history of the museums here and their work. We are welcomed by the Manager of the Department of Cultural and Sports, Kęstutis Stadalnykas.

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The Lithuanian group present short features about themselves and their interests and selected objects/places around the town they have ben studying – as well as some fine instrumental musical and vocal expositions, performed by Akvilė Zigmantavičiūtė (performing on kanklės, a Lithuanian string musical instrument of the zither family), Arnis Aleinikovas and Agota Ščiukaitė.

In Sejny

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On Sunday, October 13th, at the House of the Borderland in Sejny, there was a meeting of the Polish group of participants of Borderland Atlantis. Their talks with Krzysztof Czyżewski revolved around concepts of small homelands, roots, exile, uprooting, travel. As a basis for the discussions we used two texts of Miłosz: LA COMBE and NOTES ON EXILE

We have tried to answer some of the questions that arise form the discussion. Such as: whether we have a place we can identify ourselves with, place where we feel ‘at home’? But what is it that makes us feel this way? Do we want to stay here, or rather return here? Are we the new generation of ‘exiles’? What is our condition as a modern person? What does it mean to be a ‘cosmpolitan’? Is rooting ‘at home’ in the mind, or does it rather help us to be rooted by being in another, less familiar place?

Update on Residency in Lithuania

The second full gathering of Borderland Atlantis will take place in Kėdainiai, Lithuania, at the end of October.

The programme of activity includes:

Workshops on the multicultural heritage and the archaeology of Kėdainiai with Audronė Pečiulytė and Algirdas Juknevičius

Workshops in song and dance, art, wood carving, paper cut out craft – with Jovita Buinevičienė, Audrius Vasiliauskas, Albina Mackevičienė.

Presentation by photographer Vydas Bečelis.

An overview of the web site by Brendan Jackson, explaining how you can contribute your photos, texts, comments about the place you live to share with a wider audience.

Lectures on literature: Miłosz, Venclova, Donelaitis.

Reflections on the work of Lithuanian group and a retrospective review of movies by amateur study “Megėjas”.

An exploration tour of the area, including Šetenia, where (former barn of the manor where Czesław Miłosz was born) and Paberžė, (where a January uprising of 1863 began in Lithuania.  Route: Apytalaukis manor, Šeteniai barn, Šventybrastis church and graves of ancestors of  Miłosz, Krekenava regional park with educational program, Museum of Uprising of 1863 and church complex in Paberžė, manor of Kalnaberžė (which belonged to the Prime Minister of Russian Empire Piotr Stolypin), the manor of Sirutiškis (which belonged to ancestors of  Miłosz and Bronislaw Komorowski – President of Poland).

A visit to Kėdainiai cemetery on All Saints’ Day

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Our Lithuanian friends providing songs by the fireside in Krasnogruda.

September 2013

Suwałki Group

Our group of participants from Suwałki have been keeping a diary of the project.

Here’s a few pages from their documentation. As we are making a publication at the conclusion of the explorations, keeping a diary like this is all useful material! Keep sending and sharing it, folks!

July 2013

Krasnogruda

The first residency will take place in July, with all participants gathering for an intense 10 day period of workshops, bringing together over 50 people, young students, artists and local cultural experts. Details here…

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