7-9 June 2019/ Helsinki

3-day international annual festival-laboratory, which is held for the second time on June 7-9, 2019 at the Space for Free Arts /
Vapaan Taiteen Tila. We invite artists, musicians,
performers, educators to comprehend the "shelter"
in all its hypostases, forms and manifestations.
Imagine that all of us urgently needed to hide in it.
Cosmopolitics, Comradeship, and the Commons
Ecology in Action for a Shared Planet
How may we as artists, citizens, activists, students, and community organizers re-think and develop radical, counter-hegemonic practices that help us re-imagine climate resilience and enable the creation of a new commons? It is precisely these issues that will be explored during the 2019 Shelter Festival. The festival will take place in Helsinki, a city where such inquiries are informed by the impending sea-level rises, looming gentrification driven by climate change, and increasing distrust of the Other. Drawing on Isabelle Stengers' concept of "Cosmopolitics," where diverse stories, perspectives, and practices connect to lay the foundation for new strategies and radical possibilities, the Festival will act as a temporary commons for diverse approaches to the ecological crisis and its economic, social, and cultural affects and effects.
Although Nordic Countries have been at the top of the list of countries "least vulnerable" to climate change, recent protests by young activists and students have emphasized the very real impacts of the changing environmental conditions and continued ecological devastation that profit-seeking companies have unleashed on these shores. Moreover, recent commercial campaigns have sought to capitalize on the ecological effects of climate change, encouraging citizens to consume more under the guise of being environmentally conscious, and thus bring more profit to populist elites. Similarly, in neighbouring Eastern Europe, Baltic countries, and Russia, diminishing natural resources are considered top prizes to further exploit in order to maximize private fortunes. Governments have disregarded existing environmental protections and international treaties, and now their profit-driven logic is being challenged by waves of protests by concerned citizens.

Throughout the festival, cultural practitioners from the aforementioned regions and beyond will invite participants to engage with artistic platforms for inquiry, remembrance, and re-imagined futures in order to draw attention to the ecologies and environmental conditions around us. Their interdisciplinary practices span media art, site-specific installation, performance art, and education, in order to explore the interwoven reliance of humans, more-than-human bodies, and their environments. These artistic interventions disrupt the prevailing heteronormative discourses around ecological interactions and environmental politics and question how social, political and legal frameworks have altered the relationship between nature and ecological imagination. The unique space Shelter, with its Cold War resonances and references to a distant nuclear war (which is again at the forefront of our geopolitics 30 years later), will serve as a welcoming space for comradeship and living in common, which we hope will inspire new artistic experiments, sensitivities, connections and communications on deep and radical ecologies.
Taking shelter, we will collectively consider what forms cosmopolitical action can take in the climate-changed city of today, referring to specific knowledges and practices, both locally-driven and internationally-resonant, which may constellate into possibilities of a climate-just city. During the Festival, participants are encouraged to construct their own proposals for a cosmopolitics, one that corresponds to global challenges of the twenty-first century.
In the centre of Helsinki, there is a deep cave in the rock almost 100 meters long. This is a bomb shelter built during the Cold War. Today such facilities in Finland are universally adapted for peaceful purposes, being turned into cultural centres, car parks or sports halls. Shelters are equipped with a ventilation system, massive cast-iron gates and an emergency communication system with the loudspeakers placed on the ceiling. All the equipment works fine and, if necessary, is ready to accommodate residents of a neighbourhood. If Moscow and St. Petersburg subways are designed to protect the population in the event of a nuclear strike, then the cave in Helsinki was originally built as a bomb shelter with another possible use in peacetime. In our case, it is redesigned into the Space for Free Arts / Vapaan Taiteen Tila under the auspices of the University of the Arts Helsinki and is a regular site for artistic experiments.

However, any art placed inside the shelter is somehow determined by its space, austere militaristic aesthetics and semantic loading. Shelter with its rock texture, technical hum and maze of passages is a compelling work of art itself – convex, tangible, inhabited, but at the same time a peculiar utopia, a non-place. As we get into it, we find ourselves in the heart of the Cold War and simultaneously withdraw ourselves from the global communicative temporality. There we escape the streams of news feeds telling us about the new nuclear threat from North Korea, the US response to it,
Russian geopolitical ambitions and new "unguided" missiles.
Shelter as a refuge from the threat and shelter as an indicator of the existence of a threat. Shelter as a place where you can hide, bury yourself or sit on suitcases waiting for the radioactive dust to settle. Shelter, where you need to settle down or celebrate a feast during the plague. Shelter as an underground for marginals or as a privilege for the elite. Shelter as a transfer point, compelled communal living, a model of society in miniature, a safe space for the gathering of like-minded people. Shelter as a burrow, shelter as a den, shelter as the last asylum, shelter as a new beginning.
Located within the global rock of the capitalist world the shelter is represented in the present while at the same time is hidden from it. Therefore, it is from within the shelter that we can overcome the rhetoric of the "Cold War" and the creative logic of cognitive capitalism by imagining a world of new affects, new tenderness, sensitivity and non-toxic communication.

Space for Free Arts is a forum for the students in art university to organize their exhibitions, concerts, performances and other events. The space is located in Katri Valan Puisto - park's shelter in the area of Sörnäinen, Helsinki. The entry is opposite of Vilhonvuorenkuja 16.
If you are interested in becoming a partner or sponsor,
please feel free to write us.
Corina Apostol
Corina L. Apostol is a curator and writer based in New York, US and Constanța, Romania. As the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at Creative Time, she edits (together with Nato Thompson) a forthcoming a book on socially engaged art of the previous decade in a global perspective. Recently, she co-curated (with Elvira Dyangani Ose) the 12th Creative Time Summit: On Archipelagoes and Other Imaginaries,
a convening for thinkers, dreamers, and doers working at the intersection of art and politics. Corina serves as a board member and news editor of SHERA, the Society of Historians of Eastern European, Eurasian and Russian Art and Architecture. Between 2010-2016 she was the Dodge Curatorial Fellow at the Zimmerli Art Museum. Corina obtained her PhD at Rutgers University, where she wrote her dissertation on the work of contemporary artists from Eastern Europe and Russia who created long-term, pedagogical, community-based projects to empower their audiences. She is the co-founder of the seminal activist art and publishing collective ArtLeaks, and editor-in-chief of the ArtLeaks Gazette. She has been longlisted for the Kandinsky Prize (2016) and The Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Prize (2015).
Anastasia Vepreva
organizer, co-curator
Anastasia Vepreva (1989, Arkhangelsk, Russia) is an artist and artistic curator at Rosa House of Culture in St. Petersburg. Along with personal exhibitions, participated in Steirischer Herbst, Stuttgarter Filmwinter, PLURIVERSALE III, IV The Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, The 6th Moscow Biennale, Manifesta 10, 35th Moscow International film festival. Published in Moscow Art Magazine, Art Leaks Gazette, Colta.ru, Aroundart.org. Co-organizer of KRAPIVA journal. Graduated from The school of Engaged Art by the group "Chto Delat". Holds a double MA degree from Smolny College, SPBU, St. Petersburg and Bard College, NY, USA. Holds a Specialist's degree in history.
Ksenia Yurkova
organizer, co-curator
Ksenia Yurkova is a multidisciplinary artist living between Russia, Finland and Austria. She is interested in problems of language and communication functioning through processes of stereotyping; their enclosure into aspects of politics and economy; their operation in memory registers; and how these interconnect with problems of veracity and reliance. Yurkova researches the phenomenon's existence and habitude, relating to both verbal and visual languages, specifically seeking non-verbal manifestations through a body and its affects. Ksenia participated in numerous festivals, among them: Grand Prix Photofestival (2015), Athens Photofestival (2015, 2017), Presence Festival (2017), Riga Photomonth (2019), Krakow Photomonth (2019); shortlisted for Kuryokhin Prize (2013, 2018) and Kassel Dummy Awards (2016); won Gomma Grant (2014); published artist books and research monographs. She holds MA in political journalism and MFA in visual art.

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