Signals From Another World, with Darren Ray

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Photography © Māris Grosbahs

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It is rumoured that throughout the early 1970s a group of anarchist proto punks formed a transitory community that lived in woodlands across the Courland region of Western Latvia. The group intentionally shied away from public scrutiny and little is known about them apart from anecdotal stories and a few unverified fogged images of partially constructed pod-like dwellings, fabricated out of salvaged timber and metal sheeting. The pods were scattered throughout Courland, intentionally hidden from view, in ravines, crevices and wooded areas and if discovered by locals would be disassembled and moved to a new location ensuring privacy and solitude. The dispersed collective met infrequently and instead used CB radio to broadcast music, stories and poetry and to educate each other in methods of resilience, foraging, fire building, water purifying and preparations for other daily and future scenarios. These broadcasts would occasionally be picked up by truck drivers travelling between Riga and Roja, and it seems the group were obsessed with reimagining the future through Sci-fi, afro futurism, and electronica. These weird and futuristic stories became a talking point amongst Trucker communities, and the group were given their own handler ‘Signals from Another World’. The last reported broadcast was heard in 1978 and no sound nor sighting of the group has occurred since.

40 years later this story is little known and exists only as anecdote and rumour. Whether the group actually existed is even open to question as Courland was a heavily militarized zone in the 1970’s. There is doubt as to whether any group at the time in Soviet-occupied Latvia could have broadcast potentially subversive materials without being jammed or worse, tracked down and incarcerated. Factually correct or not, Ray & Webster were inspired by the story and used it as a catalyst to explore the potentials of underground, nonconformist living, music, specific recordings and related built structures to ask how these might act as blueprints to inspire radical alternative futures then and now. They began by re-fabricating a pod structure, experimentally replicating structures from the photos and documents they had found. Working with architect Oskars Redbergs and curator Maris Grosbahs, a remote location was found as a place to site the pod and this was used for daily broadcasts of stories, songs, lectures, and live readings. Ray & Webster were particularly interested in using the broadcasts to share content which dealt with unofficial stories of and for the marginalised. Writers, musicians, and artists from Germany, Latvia, UK and USA were invited to contribute materials of the overlooked; relics that have been forgotten and ignored, and these were broadcast daily as web streams; as “Signals from Another World”. The daily broadcasts included readings by Elita Kļaviņa (The Riga New Theater) of texts by Tim Okser.

The sculptural construction remains sited on the edge of a wooded area in Roja. The daily broadcast can be heard here: https://bit.ly/39rYYb6

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