Nominee Threshold Award Autonomous Practices
Meet Gabija Bubnyte! Gabija was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Autonomous Practices with her graduation project ‘Conversations about Counter Narratives’. In this interview, Gabija tells us about her work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
My project came about during the minor I followed called ‘Reimagining Tomorrow through Arts and Sciences’, which is offered by the Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab (RASL). In that period, I explored how I can combine my background in Political Science & International Relations (EUC) with graphic design, as well as my personal background. That is when I became very interested in homophobic discourse, in the context of Lithuania, where I am originally from.
I began my research by analyzing comments online, on Lithuanian Facebook groups, where a lot of people actively share homophobic opinions. Based on this analysis I wrote my thesis for Erasmus University College. A big question for me was how to then mitigate this discourse, how to find solutions, and how to make it a bit quieter. That is where the idea of a workshop came into being. The workshop is a space where I invite people to engage in discussions and explore the homophobic narrative in a safe environment, to read and understand where it comes from and start thinking of counter-narratives. It invites participants to think of ways to reclaim certain words and terms used in homophobic discourse and make them empowering rather than destructive, and find ways to reimagine the public space along the lines of these counter-narratives, rather than the homophobic narratives that occupy it right now.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
The main themes I am trying to address and mitigate are homophobia and homophobic discourse in the public sphere. It started from an online context, but online discourse enters public discourse very easily. Especially in Lithuania, where politicians are reclaiming that narrative in a populist way. I am trying to address this through my workshop, by giving a space where people can reimagine and reclaim these narratives as empowering rather than destructive.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I would like to conduct the workshop in various spaces, especially in Lithuania. So far I gave the workshop during the Baltic Triennial 14 in the Contemporary Art Centre of Vilnius, which was an insightful and rewarding experience. I also got to organise it during the worldmaking days of the RASL minor with a large group of students who produced many interesting counter-narratives. They can all be accessed here.
Further on, I really want to expand the project beyond the Lithuanian context, as the themes and ideas discussed in the workshop are applicable in a lot of other countries. I look forward to collaborating with other researchers and designers and seeing how these ideas can be applied elsewhere. I would also like to publish my work and make the workshop materials accessible so people can do the workshop in their own homes.
To read more about Gabija’s work, pay a visit to her Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, her journey can be followed on Instagram and her Website. The winner of the Threshold Award Autonomous Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.