THE KUT COLLECTIVE (DON’T PANIC 27.09.12)
Ever wanted to make it snow in summer? The Kut collective made it happen in the Latvian capital – and this is only the beginning.
Latvian guerrilla collective Kut made headlines this summer when they made it ‘snow’ in Riga. Unleashing sacks of fluffy cattail seeds from a roof, the city was soon covered, with the film documenting the event, Oh Joy, simultaneously transforming Kut into a worldwide online sensation. We tracked down the mysterious group for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the stunt, and to gain a better perspective on their underground world.
Tell us a bit about the collective. How many of you are there? How, when and why did you all first get together?
Kut Films was created two years ago. After studying film in Bristol, one guy returned home to Latvia and, after an unsuccessful job search, decided to concentrate less on the commercial and more on personal interests. It seemed like a good idea, not only to pull in some attention, but also to make something fun and meaningful for people in Latvia – and beyond. Luckily, there are plenty of potatoes in Latvian gardens in summertime, so there were no worries about survival for a bit. This guy is the nucleus of the collective, which involves a group of enthusiastic people – it changes according to projects and circumstances.
Kut consists of “filmmakers, musicians, artists, politicians and cats” – with such a broad range of members, what exactly is it that the collective is setting out to do?
Our aim is to make projects and films come to life. Oh Joy was perfect to launch the collective with, but is by no means a full showcase of what we can and want to do. We want to give viewers some sort of thought or emotion, addressing not only locals but also people around the world. Mentioning politicians, seeing all the shit they’ve stirred here in Latvia, we’ve decided to sack them all from the team. Instead, we are going to recruit cosmonauts – and new cat members will always be welcome.
You recently made it snow in Riga! What were your motives behind the stunt?
We wanted to break the dull routine for those who were there on the streets that day and watching the news that night, and to show that Kut Films can make interesting things happen. We’d like to work on similar stuff every day in the future, and earn a living with it. Who wouldn’t, though? How much more fun is it to drive a 1982 VW Transporter Camper and drop things off roofs, as opposed to sitting in a bank and counting dollar bills?
What did you want people to ultimately take away from Oh Joy?
To revive the grey concrete, to break the routine and give you a moment to reflect on what we are, and where we are going. How ready are you to accept whatever life throws at you with a smile?We also wanted to direct people to nature and remind them to leave the cities as much as possible, especially for the sake of their kids, who clearly loved this stunt the most.
The video gained over 100,000 views in the space of a month, and has been seen by people all over the world. What is it about Oh Joy that you think people are responding to?
It’s probably the unexpected that captures people, and maybe the feeling that the time has stopped. We tried to make the video a good and a joyful one to watch, and invested in a 120fps slow-motion camera to film the street for ten minutes.
There was some negative backlash to Oh Joy, and even a criminal investigation that was later dropped. As a guerrilla group, do you intentionally set out to cause trouble and havoc?
We definitely didn’t want to upset anyone, but expected it to happen. On the day [of the stunt], the only negative response came from the cops and a couple of Internet trolls; everyone else enjoyed it, and when the video was published, turns out that the police secretly liked it too…
And why did you decide to take the form of a guerrilla group? Why use illegal methods as a means of expression?
Sometimes, things aren’t that easy to co-ordinate; you have to go through a lot of bureaucracy, deep down into the system. Instead, we do it on our own accord, hoping that people will like what they see and support us. On this occasion, even though the criminal investigation was launched, there was not a single official complaint from the public. It did feel a bit like a bank robbery on that roof, it was kinda cool – we had to come up with a plan for getting up there, for a possible retreat, for fleeing across the rooftops at the end. Some of us went on the street straight after, to get a feel for the atmosphere.
What is the creative scene like in Latvia? Is it established and thriving, or is this something that you think could be improved on?
The scene gets better every year, but there’s always room for more. It’s great that so many talented illustrators and designers have emerged, and filmmakers of the new generation are starting to wake up too. This may well be linked with opportunities to study abroad that are now much more accessible; Kut Film’s generation was raised in a spirit of communism where the creative and extraordinary was being suppressed, and a great deal of expression was actively curbed.
Do you have anything planned for your next project that you can tell us about?
Yes, we have one exciting thing in mind. It looks like it will happen in Riga, in summertime; we’re trying to come up with the means to make it come true – around £2,500. With such a big number, we’ll have to think of some brilliantly smart idea to come up with the cash, or even commercialising the project to some extent, so we don’t have to spend any more summers eating Grandma’s potatoes.
If time, location and organisation were no object, what would be your dream stunt for Kut to pull? Would you ever do something here in London?
Every next project is the dream stunt – maybe because they begin as actual dreams. Depending on finances again, we are talking about this stunt of stunts in London (a couple of members of the team are based there) – it’s quite raunchy, some will love it and some will hate it. It may not be all that impressive in physical space, but online it will blow people’s eyes into space!
Words: Charlotte McManus
Posted on 23/05/2013, in Art, Film and tagged art, cattail, charlotte mcmanus, don't panic, guerilla art, kut, kut interview, latvia, riga, the kut collective, underground art. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.