Why it is important to hear stories about Baltic Chain after 30 years?

In August 1989, approximately two million people across Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined hands across more than 400 miles, in a peaceful fight for independence that became known as the Baltic Chain. Today, hundreds of thousands of people from the three countries have made their homes in Britain. While stereotypes about “Eastern European” migrants abound in the press, stories of people from the Baltic region often go unheard.

In this special edition of Centrala ’s Wednesday Canvass series, British-based Lithuanian contemporary artists Simona Žemaityte and Marija Nemcenko will present their art dealing with the questions of identity, memory, and migration, alongside first-hand testimonies and histories of the Baltic Way.

Join us as we explore the following questions: what role does the memory of the Baltic Way play today in in a sense of shared identity between the three Baltic states? How does living in the UK affect the way that Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians relate to each other, as well as to other communities?

Simona Zemaityte is a Lithuanian artist and filmmaker living and working in London and Vilnius. She is currently a visiting lecturer in documentary at Royal Holloway University of London and a practice based PhD student at Vilnius Academy of Arts. At the moment she is editing an archive feature about the Lithuanian sound artist Saulius Cemolonskas who escaped the Soviet Union in the 90’s.

Marija Nemcenko is a Lithuanian artist and creative learning activities facilitator working in Glasgow, Scotland. Her decision to emigrate to what, for quite a long time, seemed as a plentiful promised land to an Eastern European, as well as her subsequent cultural assimilation, through mimicking British accents from TV advertisements with a few understandable words, has become an expansive source to analyse suppressed identity, displacement and broader socio-political problems associated with the question of the ALIEN.

This event is organised in collaboration with the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, The Leverhulme Trust, and the Lithuanian Embassy, London. Please note that the event will be recorded for archival and research purposes – please speak to the organisers if you have any questions or if you prefer not to be recorded