Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Oleksiy Radynsky, Maroš Krivý and Agata Marzecova, Ines Weizman; chaired by Jonas Žukauskas & Jurga Daubaraitė
The Baltic Material Assemblies: Geologies and Infrastructures
Date: Saturday 3 March 2018
Venue: AA Gallery and Barrel Vault
This talk is part of the exhibition ‘The Baltic Material Assemblies’ at the Architectural Association (AA) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
AA: 1 – 24 March 2018 (please note AA is closed on Sundays)
RIBA: 1 – 25 March 2018
‘The Baltic Material Assemblies’ presents architecture from the Baltic states, investigating the materialities and infrastructural and cultural connections that seem to have persevered the political borders and conflict lines that changing regimes have aimed to introduce in the region. The exhibition investigates the projections of futurity as they seem to be inscribed into geologies, infrastructure and architecture.
‘The Baltic Material Assemblies: Geologies and Infrastructures talk’ will expand on the themes of the exhibition by inviting contributors to walk through the gallery and talk about their work within the framework of the show before breaking off into a session with presentations by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Oleksiy Radynsky, Maroš Krivý and Agata Marzecova, Ines Weizman.
12pm AA Gallery and Bar: exhibition tour together with project contributors and curators.
1pm AA Barrel Vault: individual presentations by speakers
3pm Round table discussion
Ines Weizman (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar) is a professor of architecture theory, director of the Bauhaus-Institute of History and Theory of Architecture and Planning and director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA) at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. She trained as an architect at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Ècole d'Architecture de Belleville in Paris, the Sorbonne, the University of Cambridge, and the Architectural Association, where she completed her PhD thesis in History and Theory.
In 2014, her edited book Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence, was published by Routledge. The book Before and After: Documenting the Architecture of Disaster, written together with Eyal Weizman was published in the same year by Strelka Press. In 2015 she edited with Jorge Otero-Pailos the issue Preservation and Copyright for the journal Future Anterior (University of Minnesota Press). Her articles have appeared in books, magazines and journals internationally. The installation ‘Repeat Yourself': Loos, Law and the Culture of the Copy was shown as part of The Museum of Copying (curated by FAT Architects) at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, and in 2013 as part of solo-shows in the Architecture Centre Vienna and the Buell Architecture Gallery at Columbia University, New York. Earlier research and exhibition projects include Celltexts. Books and other works produced in prison (together with Eyal Weizman), first exhibited in Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2008, 2009, 2014, 2015). In 2016 she directed the International Bauhaus-Colloquium titled 'Dust&Data' at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. A publication of research presented in this conference is planned for 2019.
The London-based photographers David Grandorge and Jonathan Lovekin set out for Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to research a region – the Baltics – that since the political upheavals of 1989 has undergone far-reaching transformations during which the region gained renewed significance and new cultural allies. Their photographs document a critical understanding of material processes and fossils, derived from a complex dynamic infrastructure of industries, transport logics, urban waste and demand. The Baltics are historically shaped by a multiplicity of actors and a plurality of spaces that do not necessarily overlap. Researching and identifying their boundaries and meanings requires exploratory methods and alertness to almost imperceptible symptoms. Buildings decorated with propaganda paraphernalia, housing estates with prefabricated panels typical of 1970s and 1980s planning in socialist countries, factories, industrial sites and sublime scenes of enormous man-made mountains where excavated materials are piled up – for Grandorge and Lovekin these do not represent the sites of past infrastructures unplugged from power. They are not taking us back into the future of the past, into a nostalgic – that is, wrongly remembered – utopia. Rather, the cables and wires of the objects and infrastructures in their photographs are alive – still hot, still connected to the power circle, and still longing to be reinstated. Their gloomy vampirism only seems to hide the autism of animated matter.
Eglė Rindzevičiūtė (Kingston University, London) holds a PhD in Culture Studies from Linköping University, Sweden, and is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University London, UK. Dr Rindzevičiūtė joined Kingston University from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in 2015 and for 2016–2019 she is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Public Administration, Gothenburg University, Sweden. Dr Rindzevičiūtė has published widely on Soviet governance, scientific expertise and cultural policy in journals such as Slavic Review, Cahiers du monde Russe, Current Anthropology and The International Journal of Cultural Policy. She is the author of Constructing Soviet Cultural Policy: Cybernetics and Governance in Lithuania after World War II (Linköping University Press, 2008); The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World (Cornell University Press, 2016); and the editor of The Struggle for the Long Term in Transnational Science and Politics: Forging the Future (Routledge, 2015) (co-edited with Dr Jenny Andersson).
SUMMARY:The Futures of Infrastructure as a Powered Affair
The futures of infrastructure can be understood as a powered affair, where power is fundamentally dispersed, plural and where no single actor has an upper hand. This does not make infrastructure futures more or less democratic – it is a different kind of politics, one that demands for the abolishment of a human-centred view as well as the rejection of the notions of causality and linear control. This paper discerns and critically examines continuities and disruptions in what can be described as the futurity of infrastructures in the Baltic states. During the last two centuries (at least), societies of the three Baltic states experienced a series of radical political and social changes as these societies were transformed from colonial hinterlands to modern nation states to become socialist republics which then turned to liberal democracy. However, a closer look at the development of Baltic infrastructure tells no less dramatic a story, where functional systems of logistics, energy, information and biosphere itself were assembled and disassembled differently by different governmental regimes, all of these assemblages leaving a scarred social tissue behind. Infrastructures are about the future: they can be understood as a claim on what the future might hold, the claim which unfolds its meaning and materiality only incrementally, draining the presence of some options, while paving firm pathways for others.
Oleksiy Radynsky (filmmaker and participant of Visual Culture Research Center, Ukraine) is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at Oberhausen IFF, DOK Leipzig IFF, e-flux (New York), SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin), and other venues. He has given talks and presentations at Berlinale Forum Expanded, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Shtab (Bishkek), Institute for Contemporary Arts (London), and Center for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University. His texts have recently been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age, as well as in e-flux journal, Political Critique, Regarding Spectatorship, and other publications. He is a participant of Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics founded in Kyiv, 2008.
SUMMARY: Data is the New Natural Gas
This talk is concerned with the infrastructural legacy of Viktor Glushkov, a pioneering computer scientist from the USSR who tried to create what’s now called ‘the Soviet internet’. Back in the early 1960s, Glushkov conceived a vast computer network that was supposed to transform the USSR into an information society, putting cybernetics in service of socialism. But just as Glushkov’s vision was one step from being implemented, he was told his project had to wait; instead of creating a network for the circulation of data, he was commissioned to computerise a different kind of network – that for the circulation of fossil fuels. The pipeline network that Glushkov designed, named Friendship (Druzhba), operates to this day, transporting oil from Siberia to Europe. It became a blueprint for numerous extractivist infrastructure projects that nowadays fuel the Putinist autocracy and contribute a great deal to catastrophic climate change. The latest one is Nord Stream II, a pipeline for natural gas that is supposed to start operating in late 2019, linking Russia and Germany directly through the Baltic Sea.
Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas (MIT, Cambridge Massachusetts) are artists, educators, and co-founders of Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. Urbonas’ work has been exhibited at the São Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon, and Gwangju Biennales; at Manifesta and Documenta; and in solo presentations at the Venice Biennale and the MACBA in Barcelona.
SUMMARY: Project Druzhba – a reading of the world's longest pipeline
The Druzba Project explores the cultural, political, and geographical territories that unfold in a fictional journey along the Druzba, the world’s longest pipeline. Launched in 2003, the project performs a psycho-geographic reading of an infrastructure revealing mechanisms of power and submission that rightfully belong to the past but which still persist today.
Maroš Krivý is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography and chairs the Master programme in Urban Studies at the Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts. Maroš researches the late- and post-modern genealogy of the concept of environment in architecture and urbanism, asking questions about its broader political ramifications in late socialist and post-socialist contexts; the geopolitics of urban nature in Tallinn is one of the research strands. He is the author of Towards a Critique of Cybernetic Urbanism (Planning Theory, 2016), Postmodernism or Socialist Realism? (JSAH, 2016) and Greyness and Colour Desires (JoA, 2015), and has published papers in journals such as Footprint, City, Scapegoat and IJURR.
Agata Marzecova is an ecologist and researcher interested in the institutional aspects of nature production and the intersection of science and art. She is completing a PhD at the Institute of Ecology at Tallinn University; a historical study of ecologies and landscapes employing the geochemical analysis of lake sediments. She has studied and worked with photography, exploring mutually constitutive histories of the photographic medium and disparate concepts of nature. She authored and co-authored several essays, including ‘The orbital technosphere’ (Anthropocene Review, 2016) and ‘Vernacular geology’ (Baltic Atlas, Sternberg Press, 2016). She contributed to the Baltic Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2016). Together with artist Hanna Husberg, Agata is currently the Ars Bioarctica resident at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Finland.
SUMMARY: Vernacular Geology: From Mining and Data Mining
This talk will introduce Vernacular Geology, an art research project about the triple geology of the Baltic Sea’s eastern shores: stratigraphic layers of Cambrian-Ordovician limestones and sandstones; a glacial drift of granite boulders, a vestige of the last glacial period; and unstable grids of ‘brick pebbles’ and anthropogenic conglomerates. The second part will elaborate on a ‘geological’ reading of geopolitics, interpreting the recent urban history of the Baltics as a question of resources, natures and infrastructures: the geopolitics of mining and data mining traversing Cold War and post-Westphalian paradigms.
Project Contributors:David Grandorge and Jonathan Lovekin, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Jonas Žukauskas, Litgrid, Elering AS, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Klaipėdos Nafta, Geology Service under the Ministry Environment of Republic of Lithuania, Agata Marzecova, Maroš Krivý, Emilija Škarnulytė, PMscreen, Kārlis Bērziņš, Niklāvs Paegle, Dagnija Smilga, Laila Zariņa, Selim Halulu and Stavros Papavasiliou, Jüri Okas, Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid, Raine Karp and Riina Altmäe, Johan Tali and Karli Luik (molumba), Oleksiy Radynsky, Ines Weizman
Project curators: Jurga Daubaraitė and Jonas Žukauskas
Coordinator: Vaida Stepanovaitė
Architectural Association (AA), Gallery and Bar
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Practice Space
66 Portland Place
London, W1B 1AD
Architecture Fund, 2018
Kindly supported by:
The Lithuanian Council for Culture and Lithuanian Ministry of Culture
Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia
The Cultural Endowment of Estonia
Event Partner: Lithuanian Culture Institute
Image credit: Ignalina XI, Control Room, 2015, Jonathan Lovekin
All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.