BAC, 2016

Photo. The boat "Centiba" arriving at Herrvik 1944 with hundreds of Latvian refugees. Courtesy the Holmert Archive

In The Trails Of The Boat Refugees

In The Trails Of The Boat Refugees is part of the exhibition “Stories of Migration – then and now” at the National Library of Latvia, April 25 – May 21 2018. The exhibition was produced by the Swedish Embassy in Tallinn and in Riga, the Swedish Institute and the Museum of Occupations in Estonia.

In 2016 BAC organized a youth project, which followed in the trails of the many boat journeys that took place at the end of the Second World War, when people from the Baltic States fled the German and Soviet occupations. The dangerous crossings over the Baltic Sea took place in small and overloaded boats, and more than 10,000 people managed to reach Gotland.

12 youth: 6 from Gotland, and 2 from the each of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania participated in the project, which included a boat journey from Ventspils to Slite on a former fishing boat. Each participant where given an account of a person who had fled, and asked to reflect on, and identify themselves with, their story.

On Gotland, the group met some current asylum seekers and heard their story. A film crew followed the participants’ thoughts and experience and the result of the project is a film documentation. The project has also had several public presentations, including art exhibitions and film screenings in all the participating countries.

The aim of the project was not intended to only commemorate the past, but also to promote a deeper understanding of the current refugee situation. Not long ago was the Baltic Sea divided by the EU border, and the project also aimed at creating more co-operation within the Baltic Sea Region.

View the trailer from the film that documented the project:


Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė, LT. Andrei Ossipov, EE. Anete Skuja, LV. Astrid Åkerblom, SE. Edward Lundberg, SE. Johan Holmert, SE. Jonas Haraldsson, SE. Kipras Černiauskas, LT. Kätlin Kulbin, EE. Manfred Engström, SE. Patrīcija Keiša, LV. Zaimon Sharr, SE.


David Holmert m.fl, SE. Pilan Ibrahim, SY


by BAC- Baltic Art Center. Conceptualized by Anna Viktoria Norberg. Project leader and research: Liene Vecvagare and Anete Jansone. Film-maker: Sandra Fröberg. Workshop by BAC Production-in-Residence artist: Åsa Sonjasdotter.

Thanks to

Angelica Blomhage, Anna Olofsdotter-Engström, Anne Duse, Armin Scholler, August Hermansson, Aydin Akyne, Ayman Siddiqui, Clary Winberg, Daniel Teklay, Emma Gustavsson, Finn Engström, Galina Aizvakara, Gunnar Sillén, Lena och Ellen Holmert, Liina Kümnik, Liene Jurgelane, Liz Cox, Katja Wiklund, Kerstin Blomberg, Kerstin Nyberg, Mait Juhlin, Margit Söderberg, Marie Jansons, Mickael Lundgren, Paola Ciliberto, Peteris och Inga Jansons, Petra Inna Ininberga, Petra Gråberg, Riina Noodapera, Torbjörn Limé, Ville Jegerhjelm, Vladas Suncovas, Ylva Liljeholm, Åsa Ardin-Kedja

International Partnership

National Library of Latvia, Swedish Embassy in Riga, Kaņepes Culture Centre (Kaņepes Kultūras centrs), Riga, Latvia, Kirtimai Culture Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania, The Museum of Occupations in Estonia, The Swedish Embassy in Tallinn, Vilnius Academy of Arts - Monumental Arts program, Lithuania.

Local Partnership

Cementa Slite Fabriken, Film Gotland, Fenix ungkulturhus, Fårö Församlingshem, Gotland Art Week, Gotlands Folkhögskola, Gutegymnasiet, Holmerts bildarkiv, iVisby, Joda Stora Salen, Lärbro Krigssjukhus, Pedersén & Co, Slite Sjöfartsmuseum, Slite utveckling.


The project was financed by the Swedish Institute.