• The Political Ecology of the Spit 

21 November 2023, from 2pm
and 22 November 2023, all day
at the Children’s Forest Pavilion

2125 Campo Tana, Castello, Venice
(opposite the entrance to the Arsenale)

During the closing week of the Biennale Architettura, the Children’s Forest Pavilion hosts a screening of short film essays produced as part of the semester project “The Political Ecology of the Spit” lead by Prof. Dr. Ines Weizman and Christina Condak at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

High sand dunes, pine forests and ‘climate holiday’ resort towns characterise the Curonian Spit on the Baltic Sea coast shared by what is now Russia and Lithuania. However, the pristine appearance of this narrow landscape hides a deep history of human intervention that politicised nature by adding monuments and milestones, gardens, roads and border crossings, and even altering almost completely the geological and biological makeup of its terrain. In the late 19th century, when the area became part of Prussia / the German Empire, an enormous forest cultivation project was undertaken to colonise the land, but also to tame the dynamics of moving dunes and sand-storms. During the First World War, the famous High Dunes of the Spit were even used as military training targets for bombardment from the sea. Tragically, Second World War histories and present-day border hostilities relating to the war on Ukraine, including the intimidation of migrants across the Baltic region, connect. 

The semester project “The Political Ecology of the Spit” investigated the impact that the contestation of national borders through military occupations and changing political regimes has had on a vital, yet vulnerable, ecosystem that uniquely interconnects the cultural history and forms of habitation in the Baltic region. It aimed to explore and narrate unique histories entangled in a dynamic landscape of forests, dunes, agriculture, architecture and artistic colonies. At the core of the studio was an excursion to the Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts in the Curonian Spit National Park in Lithuania (March 2023). The studio involved archival and media research, documentation, film making and mapping that were presented in a project exhibition that included research scripts, and short documentary film essays.

Christian Reinecke + Sebastian Seib, Drawing the Curonian Spit, 17:38 min
Dana Radzhibaeva, A Time to Keep in Schwarzort, 09:20 min
Axel Strotmeier, Deruny in Nida, 16:01 min
Alexander Groiss, An Assessment of the Policy of Conservation on the Curonian Spit, 09:13 min
Roxane Seckauer, Haute Volée, 08:30 min
Martin Sturz, Passport Control, 06:43 and 08:33 min
Helen Andres + Clara Rummer, Potemkin Coastline, 09:24 min
Martin Eichler, Talent Keyhole, 12:30 min

Thanks to the guest critics of the studio review: Egija Inzule, Director, Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts, Mag. Dr. Andreas Spiegl, Curator and Critic, Institut für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften, Fred Heinemann, Writer, Founding member of Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA), Jurgis Gecys, Architect, Vienna, Dr. Gili Merin, Photographer/ Architect, Vienna

Thanks also to Jurga DaubaraitėEgija InzuleJonas Žukauskas, curators of the Children’s Forest Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2023

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