Homes on the Move for Artists from the Baltic States: Artistic Practices, Mobilities, and Homes

Duester, Emma. 2017. Homes on the Move for Artists from the Baltic States: Artistic Practices, Mobilities, and Homes. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The British news media often describes Eastern European nationals coming to work in the
UK as unskilled economic migrants, framed as ‘unwanted’ and as jeopardising British
culture and economy. Often overlooked in news media and scholarship are alternative
examples of human geographic mobilities out of and into Eastern Europe, such as
individuals who are working in the cultural sector, namely, visual artists. Many artists from
the Baltic States must go abroad in order to get onto the global art market; although, they
stay connected or return to their homelands, shaping these art scenes through their cultural
remittances and transnational networks. It is important to investigate the Baltic States, as it
has been 26 years since their independence from the Soviet Union and 12 years since their
accession into the EU. The Baltic States are now established members of the EU, after
becoming members of the Eurozone and part of the Schengen Area.

Visual artists from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are crisscrossing the EU, taking part in
multi-directional routes and multi-cross-cultural connections for work. Often having
multiple bases either at once or throughout their career, a lot of respondents’ feeling of
home is spatial and mobile. The feelings of home are a mosaic, constutited by these factors
of cross-border communications, regular travel, and having several bases for work. The
meaning of home, then, is associated with their artistic practice and about relations to
people rather than associated with a fixed, physical place. They are not an ethnic diaspora,
as what holds them together is their art - it is about what they all ‘do’ in common. This
provides a different understanding of the meaning of diaspora, as not defined only by

Together, this study explores individuals who move regularly, working and communicating
across territorial borders and across ethnic ‘borders’. In a multi-sited study across Tallinn,
Riga and Vilnius and other EU cities, this research uses an ethnographic methodology in
order to devise a multi-sited and multi-temporal approach for studying travelling
individuals. This research uses in-depth interviews with artists and semi-structured
interviews with arts professionals; participant observation with an artist in Vienna, at an art
institution in Vilnius, and through communication with three artists online over three
months; and a visual analysis of artworks.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Visual artists, mobility, home, diaspora, migration, Baltic States

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


30 September 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2017 14:00

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:08


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