In the long list of art events lined up for the rest of the semester, Culture Y stands out as an opportunity to engage in free dialogue about ideologies, changes and global issues. Focusing on the significance of space this year, the festival continues to encourage participants to raise questions about their surroundings. What is there to know about the spaces we inhabit? How does space acquire meaning, and how do we denote it? How do spaces preserve cultural heritage? To discuss the updates Culture Y has gone through since last year, The Saint sat down with co-founders Alexandra Nicolae and Alexis Gostelow.
As an up-and-coming project first organised in 2017, Culture Y is still going through development and has plenty of potential to expand. The name is a reference to Generation Y, and addresses the ongoing global processes of the past 30 years. When asked about the source of this idea, Ms Gostelow said, “It began when Alexandra approached me in September 2016, and asked ‘Do you want to do a film festival?’ and I immediately jumped on the idea, there was so much to think of all of a sudden. We started talking about what would be relevant for the University of St Andrews. We were driven by the idea of international students, who all come from different cultures, different places and interact with each other here.” This interaction inspired the two students to lay their focus on the concept of cultural influence over identity.
“I volunteered at a short film festival in my hometown in Romania – it was partly organised by the French Ministry of Culture. It was an exciting project where I got to see how different elements of culture can be mixed together in films, such as music, social aspects and even political commentary,” Ms Nicolae told The Saint. Sharing and interest in art history with her co-founder, they believed a local film festival could provide an ideal setting to combine these elements. Motivated by the mixture of mediums and their creative results, Ms Nicolae and Ms Gostelow aimed to use themes that could be approached from different perspectives. “In both years we tried to be as broad as possible,” inviting participants of various backgrounds to share their points of view on the matter.
While Culture Y was incorporated into On The Rocks last year, they are expanding to an independent event in 2018 with their own art show. From performance to material art, a wide range of submissions are accepted, as long as their subject is this year’s theme, “spaces”. When asked about the choice of theme, Ms Gostelow explained, “We wanted something different. We thought about how we could keep last year’s cultural dialogue going – choosing spaces after culture’s influence on identity seemed like a natural progression.” In light of major news stories of the past year, especially those addressing the refugee crisis, conceptions of space cannot be thought of as a reference to stability, but rather movement. Various spaces undergo constant change – as Ms Nicolae continued, “We got attached to the ideas of what it might mean to be constantly on the move, to constantly interact with things and develop connections with the spaces we engage with.”
The co-founders look forward to this year’s entries with enthusiasm and excitement, and there’s good reason: last year’s lineup proved to be surprising and most importantly, aptly representative of culture’s influence on identity. “We were really impressed, we got a lot of different projects with various themes and styles,” Ms Gostelow said. These entries ranged from comedy to travel vlogs, and led an overall success for the new festival. “All ideas were very different from what we expected people would produce. It was all a pleasant surprise,” Ms Nicolae added.
As a final question, The Saint asked the co-founders about further ideas they would like to see realised in Culture Y’s future. Being in their final year, they mentioned two major plans they would like their successors to bring to fruition: a potential expansion beyond St Andrews, and the inclusion of digital art in the show. Time constraints stood in the way of inviting artists from all over Scotland to participate, but Ms Nicolae remains hopeful for the years to come: “We thought about trying that this year, but with the timing being as it is, we thought it best to just focus on St Andrews. There’s always next year, and we might invite artists from Scotland to contribute.”
In regards to the details participants need to know before submitting, the co-founders clarified, “The artworks will be on display for a whole day on the 4th of April in the Byre. Depending on how many films are produced by the deadline, we will reserve a time slot for them accordingly in the Byre studio. Once the audience and the judges have watched the films, they will all vote for their favourites, just like last year.” Once again, there are third, second and first prizes and an audience choice award for short films. Naturally, there will be distinctions between film and art awards to separate the two. As a final note, Ms Nicolae clarified, “Technically, our registration day was the 16th of February, but if there’s further interest in participating, they can email us and we will reconsider the application.”
Culture Y will be held on 4 April in the Byre. Submission deadline is 28 March, with an entry fee of ₤10. For further details, email email@example.com, or find the team online: https://www.facebook.com/culturey/, or https://culturey2018.wixsite.com/culture-y.