Final description of the residency:
Nida Art Colony (NAC) is located on a 100 km long and 2 km wide Curonian Spit linking Kaliningrad (RU, formerly Königsberg) and Klaipėda (LT, formerly Memel). Before WW I the peninsular and the Western coast of Lithuania belonged to German Empire, in 1923 it was annexed by Lithuania, in 1939-1945 it was part of Germany again. At the end of WW II, in 1944-1945 the local German population was expelled by force by the occupying Soviet forces. A mass of more than 40 thousand refugees from Memel and its surroundings passed the Spit on their way to the West. In 1956 84% of the residents of Curonian Spit were new settlers from all corners of the Soviet Union. Almost everybody of the remaining 16% of old residents left after an agreement between GDR and USSR regarding repatriation of German nationals was signed in 1958. Thus the peninsular became an area inhabited by rootless community, a place without history, a no man’s land. This dramatic passage of local history is hardly known to Lithuanian residents. In the mood of hostility towards the new refugees from Syria and other countries prevailing in nowadays Lithuania this historical passage seems to be an important and relevant reference to displacement catastrophes that happened at our own door.
NAC is collaborating with Dr. Vasilijus Safronovas – a researcher from the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology of Klaipėda University – to do a survey (historical data, visual material) on emigration and immigration to the peninsula after WW II. The survey will be further used in the project by artists-in-residence and workshop participants in 2019. Artists-in-residence will ground their artistic projects on the material presented in the survey. Their works will be presented at the exhibition on displacement and settlement at Nida Art Colony in 2020.
The research will encompass a one-month-long residency at NAC and eleven-months-long research at Klaipėda University. The research residency starts in September 2017. The survey in two languages – Lithuanian and English – will be ready in the fall of 2018. It will be available both on-line and as a publication, distributed for free.
The researcher from the associated partner institution – Klaipeda University – Dr Prof Vasilijus Safronovas did a research and wrote a historical study on immigration to and emigration from the Curonian Spit during and after the Second World War. This is an original research, never conducted before. The researcher used historical documents from archives, libraries and private collections. The study is illustrated with unique and authentic visual material – photographs and copies of documents. It was written in Lithuanian and edited. At the moment it is being translated into English. VAA Nida Art Colony is going to publish two books – one in Lithuanian and one in English. The Lithuanian edition is being designed, it will be published before Christmas 2018. The English edition will be published in February 2019.
Dr Vasilijus Safronovas