Artefactourists* are a collective of four choreographers Valeria Januškevitš, Keity Pook, Sigrid Savi and Kadri Sirel and the dramaturge Kerli Ever. The dancers share a history of studying at Viljandi Culture Academy and the group recently worked together on a performance at Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava (2022). Their autobiographical investigation includes memory, labour, and the inherited working body in the Eastern European context. The group is developing a co-creative nomadic performance practice that, emerging from the body, remains truthful to individual needs within a group while concentrating on the experience of rooting amongst scattered identities.
* the act of remembering through movement; memories triggered by travelling through places and artefacts.
Valeria Januškevitš acquired the profession of choreographer and dance teacher in 2017 at the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, Estonia and currently works in Estonia as a freelance dance artist and dance teacher. During her university studies she had exchange studies in Austria and Portugal. In the past her movement research focus has been on identity, authenticity and memory- creative and research residencies at Viljandi Koidu Seltsimaja, Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava. For the past year she has been in a collaborative research process that evolved into performance Artefakturism: farces and ruins. Also in the past year she’s been in TantsuRUUM residency (Estonia) focusing on creating parallels between eco- anxiety and movement research, finding tools to connect body and physicality with her performance idea. In recent years, Valeria has collaborated with performance artists as choreographer, dancer, director, artist and dramaturg.
Keity Pook is an Estonian, UK-based performance artist, choreographer, dance teacher, and movement director. She holds an MA from the London Contemporary Dance School and a BA in Choreography and Dance Pedagogy from the University of Tartu. In 2020, she co-founded ‘inklingroom’, an art collective hosting sound and dance events in London, Berlin, Tallinn, and Bristol. In addition, she curated “Movement Class with inklingroom”, an interactive radio show at Netil Radio in 2021 featuring emerging choreographers. Art Council England awarded her a Creative Development fund for her project ‘Choreography to Cinematography’. In 2022, she received support from Arts Council England, PRS Foundation, and Help Musicians to create multidisciplinary live performances with electronic composer Yraki. Her work explores the individual’s experience in a contemporary world context juxtaposed with natural and sociopolitical environments, often representing it through post-internet aesthetical presence.
Sigrid Savi is a choreographer and performance artist based in Berlin and Tallinn. Her work has been characterized as socio-critical, melancholic, absurd and entertaining. She has done her performances from theaters and clubs to galleries and even on a rooftop and in the limestone quarry. Besides doing solo works she recently started to create together with other choreographers, visual artists and composers.
Kadri Sirel is an Estonian choreographer, performer, and artist researcher whose often site-specific projects address the topic of production. Be it self-production, production of meanings, values or products, she works with the dancing body to investigate the tension between individual and societal desires. Her methods include improvisation and somatic practices, documentation, and co-creation to reimagine the value of dancers’ labour within capitalism. She graduated from the Viljandi Culture Academy Dance Art department (EST) and holds a Master’s degree from the Home of Performance Practices at the ArtEZ University of Arts (NL).
Kerli Ever (she/her) engages with performing arts (mostly dance) in various ways: at times as a dramaturg, at times as a critic, at times simply as a part of the audience. She has an academic background in Theatre Research (MA, 2022, Tartu University), in Culture Theory (BA, 2015, Tallinn University), and in Reviewing-Editing (BA, 2011, Tallinn University). Her work so far can be characterized by her focus on bodily sensations seen as inherently political. Currently she is interested in ruins (both literally and figuratively) as not only the traces of something now absent, but also as fertile grounds for new directions. Alongside theatre projects she is working as an editor of study materials for civic and health education in schools. Kerli lives in Tallinn.
Vaba Lava is a unique theatre/production house and performing arts centre. A theatre created as a meeting place for freelance creatives to meet and bring their ideas to life. The daily work is to create international theatre projects involving freelancers from Estonia and abroad. The foundation Vaba Lava provides opportunities for independent performing arts companies in Estonia, and to promote international cooperation through joint projects, co-productions, workshops, and seminars. From 2018 Vaba Lava has a Performing Arts Center in Narva, the city on the eastern border. The center provides 3 stages, hostel, stage/light/video/sound equipment, administrative and technical team.
Kunstenwerkplaats VONK is a studio and residency space for visual and performance arts in Hasselt and Genk, Belgium. At their 3 buildings they support artists with artistic feedback, an international network, presentation opportunities, studio-space and a financial contribution (for the residencies).
HELLERAU is one of the most important international centres of contemporary arts in Germany and Europe. The interdisciplinary co-production and guest performance house offers genres such as dance, music, theatre, performance, media art and visual arts spaces for production and presentation.
What is artefactourism and who are the Artefactourists?
First off – it’s a lifestyle, baby! Artefactourism relates to the journeys triggered within us by objects and places. These can be personal, but they also connect to collective memory. Artefactourism triggers the recognition of identities shaped by memories and the stories told to us.
Artefactourists are alternative archivists who map the historical and emotional narratives of a place. All of this through personal sensation, intuition, and synthesis, while being active collectors. Artefactourists engage with European museum and archiving traditions, reading objects and mediating history, but also consider the body as a legitimate source of knowledge.
What is your goal with the “Moving Identities” project?
The broader objective is to uncover blind spots of self-exploitation, exploitation of others, and the environment and to influence or change, trickster-like, how we view something and later think about it. We achieve this by extending and deepening collaborative practices, finding overlaps in our research trajectories and creating networks from them, perhaps in the form of an online environment where we map our research journey and results. We aim to achieve a synthesis where each artist’s unique practice can shine, allowing space for experimentation and sharing.
What methods do you use to achieve this goal?
We perceive the surrounding environment as reflective. Our practice involves triggering memories and stories through places and objects, translating them, reinterpreting, or doubting them. We scrutinize personal memory and collective memory, allowing new narratives to form, constructing and reconstructing identity. We learn to notice the emotional layers of a place – by reading, moving, mapping objects and trajectories with psycho-geographical methods, creating routines, mediating fictional and non-fictional environments, embodying stories, and narrating them through the social dreaming method.
How does your current project relate to your previous works, and what motivates you in this process?
In November 2022, we premiered the production “Artefactourism: Rumours and Ruins” at the Independent Dance Stage, for which we had previously been in residence in two distinct places: the Estonian Open Air Museum and the Kreenholm Manufactory. We asked what kind of effort is required to remember and engaged in highlighting symbols that consolidate community memory, looking at lifestyles, dreams, and ways of working characteristic of different eras. The international residencies of Moving Identities, however, give us the opportunity to raise our research questions in different cultural spaces in Belgium and Germany. A completely new dynamic is given by the fact that the focus of the current project is not on producing a performance, but on the process, which provides room for experimentation, going deeper, and also wandering. Additionally, our collaborative method last year was based on finding consensus, whereas in the current process, our interest leans towards broadening our collective creation method.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.