Baltic Take Over sounds like the beginning of an anecdote – Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian enter a theater. Is this an attempt to find Baltic identity or to export Baltic performing arts? A geopolitical lecture? Well, Baltic Take Over is a festival, a radical experiment, a crash course on Baltic arts, and the destination of a road trip from Lithuania to Helsinki. Curators from each country have invited artists from all three countries to take over the city of Helsinki.
When talking about the Baltics it’s hard to ignore the question “What is this Baltic identity?”. The keyword ‘Eastern European’ is not exotic anymore and Post-Soviet as a marketing article is awfully outdated. Is Baltics merely a geopolitical framing, shared culture and history, or common taste in arts? Apart from the Baltic human chain and coastlines of amber, is there anything else that could form “an identity”?
It’d be impossible to define the Baltic art scene or to put a finger on a general topic or an aesthetic. Therefore, by admitting to being completely different from each other, Baltic Take over is additionally an honest attempt to construct an updated Baltic identity and shift the way Baltics are perceived by the rest of Europe. Sometimes a foreign gaze is necessary to see clearly – that’s why the Australian-born curator and producer Bek Berger took the matter into her own hands by initiating the festival Baltic Take Over.
The festival co-curated by the New Theatre Institute of Latvia, Kanuti Gildi SAAL, and Lithuanian Dance Information Centre provides contexts in which to present Baltic work, under the lens of Baltic curators. Baltic Take Over is equally directed towards the diverse audience of Helsinki and the participating artists. For two years all nine artist collectives have come together to meet each other at assemblies, share practices and experiences.