"Critical Mass" - launch of the new season

Creative Association of Curators TOK presents fourth season of 'Critical Mass', i​nternational ​p​roject of ​c​ontemporary ​a​rt r​esearching ​p​ublic ​p​laces. The new season will be held during 2016 and 2017 in the y​outh organizations of the Petrogradskiy district of St Petersburg.

Participating artists: Anne Siirtola (FInland), Avenir Institute/Denis Maksimov and Timo Tuominen (Russia/Finland), Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj (Denmark), Stefan Constantinescu (Sweden/Romania), Livsmedlet/Ishmael Falke and Sandrina Lindgren (Finland/Sweden), Olga Jitlina (Russia), Colectivo Warehouse (Portugal), Alevtina Kakhidze (Ukraine), ​Jeanne van Heeswijk (Netherlands) and Ilya Budraitskis​ ​(Russia), Samuel Boche (France).

Creative Association of Curators TOK is pleased to announce the opening of the new season of the project ‘Critical Mass​’ held in St Petersburg for the fourth time. The new season will last for two years and will focus on ​an analysis of the history of youth movements in the 20th century and the contemporary context of youth initiatives and organizations. It will showcase ​collaborative initiatives with teenagers and young people and​ facilitate​ their active engagement into contemporary creative processes, especially those taking place in the urban environment and public space. The main objective of​ the fourth season of​ ‘Critical Mass’ is ​the ​integration of new artistic, educational and social practices in​to​ government organizations working with young people and involved in youth​ oriented​ policy making.

This season of ‘Critical Mass’ will be held in a new format and will be based on a series of residencies hosting international and Russian artists at the youth clubs in the Petrogradskiy district of St Petersburg​,​ and one former pionee​r​ camp ​on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. During the residencies​,​ artists, architects, designers and performers will work closely with young people and create new projects reflecting upon​ the​ history of you​th​ movements in USSR, Russia and other countries​. They will consider the ​everyday ​lives of teenagers and the role ​that young people ​play in current sociopolitical processes. Ten commissioned projects will be presented to audiences in 2016 and 2017, with the first results of the residencies and collaborations between artists and youth organizations ​presented in the ​F​all 2016.

​Beginning ​in 2010​,​ ‘Critical Mass’ has ​provided a discursive platform for​​ study and ​dialogue on emerging and important ​issues for the people of St Petersburg. The project has brought together curators, artists, designers, social scientists​ and ​members of various local communities and governments. Over the past six years, we ​have ​touched upon a wide range of themes related to research, revitalization and recoding of public spaces in St Petersburg. We ​have ​explored the identity and potential of ​semi-derelict suburban districts​​ and studied the influence of boom construction on city life in the late Soviet era. Together with artists and locals we ​have ​discussed environmental issues, migration processes and freedom of speech in contemporary Russia. Learning about the history of Gromov’s Dacha, an architectural monument of the 19th century, we conducted multilayered analysis of the governmental policy aimed at ​the ​preservation of historical heritage and cultural memory​,​ as well as ​re​search​ing​ new cultural ​hubs on the map of St Petersburg. ​Every two years​,​ TOK ​arrives ​at​ a different venue or context, which we find ​curious and in need of public attention. Deploying research​ strategies​​ and ​creative social practices, we ​visualize potential scenarios for resolving local ​conflicts and create possibilities for a conversation between citizens, ​the local and international ​art community and local governments. Since the ​beginning​ of ‘Critical Mass’ we ​have ​collaborated with engaged young people interested in arts and activism​ ​who ​joined out project as volunteers, interns or event participants. This season, we expand our collaborations with young people to including youth organizations​ ​and​ will​ focus on ​the ​analysis of contemporary tendencies in ​youth policy in Russia​ at a state level​.

​The St Petersburg ​youth clubs​ we will be working with​ ​are​ a remnant of the Soviet era​.​ ​T​hey used to ​exist in every neighborhood and offer​ed​ teenagers and young people a wide range of extracurricular activities​, while​ broadcasting​ the state ideology. Today​,​ they mostly ​take the form of theme-based community centers for young people ​operating under a few different formats - from amateur theater studios to centers of social integration for students​ ​at​ ​risk of early dropout​,​ or so-called ‘troubled youth​.​’ Many of these clubs are eager to ​attract teenagers but they lack resources​ and expertise​. Therefore, during the fourth season of ‘Critical Mass​,​’ TOK challenges the clubs to update and broaden their vision of work​ing​ with young people and ​become more relevant by integrating contemporary artistic and social practices and inviting art professionals for collaboration. Invited artists, designers and architects will propose new forms of inclusion of young people in youth club activities that can vary from creating collective performances and visual narratives to building new architectural projects in public space. For young people this will be a new creative experience that will ​allow them​ to​ gain new skills and test their talents and abilities​,​ while for the club​s, these experiences​ could lead to shaping new strategies of their educational polic​ies,​ and ​a transformation of their approach to education and arts.

The fourth season of the​ ‘Critical Mass’ project will include a broad public program, which will take place at Taiga​ Space​ and will consist of lectures and talks, discussions and thematic dialogues with artists, researchers, historians, and designers. ​The first public events of the new season will be held in October 2016​,​ and​ events​ will continue until the end of 2017. The season will be concluded with an international conference about the history of youth movements and today’s youth policies in Russia and ​abroad. The discussion will extend to the consideration of various formats and methodologies of art education aimed at young people. ​The season’s results will be presented in a bilingual publication.

The project is supported by:
Sector for
​Y​outh ​P​olicy and ​C​ollaboration with ​P​ublic ​O​rganizations of the Administration of the Petrogradskiy ​D​istrict
Nordic Culture Fund
FRAME Finnish Visual Art Foundation
Taiga Space






Photo from the archive of the former pioneer camp 'Petrogradets' (today recreattional camp for children 'Petrogradets') in the Gromovo village near St Petersburg. During the fourth season of 'Critical Mass' project, which focuses on collaborations of curators, artists and designers with youth organizations in St Petersburg, architects 'Colectivo Warehouse' from Portugal together with the children will create a multifunctional public space in the camp in the summer 2017.