Care as attention is a privilege, care as nurture should be a right

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This yearbook brings together twenty creatives and community organisers from all walks of life: musicians, visual artists, dancers, art collectives, and everything in between. From personal to political, their contributions reflect diverse forms of community-building through care. How do they inspire each other? Who do they care for? How do they care? 💘

  • Name: EMILIJA
  • DJ / Art Director / All-round creative
  • Pronouns: she/her
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Brussels
  • Instagram: @vaemilija

What do you care most about, and how is it relevant to your art/practice? It could be a social issue, your community, yourself, or anything!

Beauty, and I don’t mean it as a superficial term- for me beauty is a way of life, it’s seeking out mundane joys and paying specific attention to them, mindfully appreciating and taking them in. I have a rather multi-disciplinary approach, and whether I’m DJing or designing, the question I ask myself is 'What positive emotion can I convey to anyone crossing paths with my work?' If I can positively influence someone’s mood that day, trigger their curiosity or simply create a moment where they stop to think about how beautiful our human experience can be, I’m more than content.

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Three words that come to mind when you hear the term ‘care’?

Loving & living intentionally.

What inspires you to care more for others, or to use your art/practice as a platform to do so?

Care is a connection, and we live in an age of emotional disconnect from one another. Through DJing, I create & curate moments for people to bond over in the depths of the night, hopefully walking away with a new friend, lover, idea or at least a fond memory of being one with the crowd.

Through DJing, I create & curate moments for people to bond over in the depths of the night

How do you hope to inspire others?

I hope to inspire curiosity, and creativity to build yourself anew each day and move forward with grace.

What type of change do you want to inspire in your community/environment?

Equality on lineups isn’t where we should draw the line of satisfaction, I’d like to see more diversity in the behind-the-scenes of nightlife. This entails representation in party organising positions – more women as promoters, agents, club managers etc. to shape a more inclusive scene that better mirrors its community.

How much influence do you think (y)our backgrounds have on (y)our art and practices?

Our backgrounds shape our worldviews, so their influence is inherent. Art is synonymous with our circumstances, and each creative project is a fragment- or a reflection- of our experience. My multicultural background (Lithuanian by way of London and Brussels) has been of the utmost importance in crafting my identity as a designer and a DJ by widening my cultural horizons which in turn uniquely enriched my creative perspective. For that, I’m super grateful.

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What are some challenges that you face while doing what you are passionate about?

Scrutiny! A big part of what I do is putting myself out there publicly (quite literally, in front of crowds of people), so I’d say a challenge is giving up control of imposed narratives. Being a woman and coming from a background in fashion, I am well aware of any preconceptions and criticism that certain purists in the music scene may have towards me- that I’m shallow, an attention seeker focused on looks more than craft. It’s ironic because music and fashion are two mediums that have been intrinsically linked in inspiring one another since the dawn of time. I fail to see how having a developed aesthetic sensibility would affect my ability to dig for music, but hey- to each their own. Letting go of caring for such things as early as my teenage years has been incredibly rewarding.

How do you define ‘community’?

A welcoming group of individuals with a shared mindset. A home for new ideas.

What is a ‘safe space’ for you?

An accepting environment of support, a judgment-free zone that allows for your authentic self to thrive while being mindful of others.

Is receiving care a privilege, a right? 

Care as attention is a privilege, care as nurture should be a right.

Do you think this generation is redefining care and community building? And how? 

Of course, each generation redefines community with the tools that are present to them in their time. The new gen is equipped with an unforeseen amount of these social tools which allow them to create connections with like-minded individuals across the globe, and this means anyone in the world can feel cared for, should they find a way to link up with the right people. We are no longer dependent on our geographical location to belong to a group, our predisposed backgrounds influence but don’t entirely makeup who we are at our core. We get a blank slate to create ourselves by curating who and what we choose to care for.

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What small acts of care do you hope to see more of?

Checking each other’s stories less and checking in more. Actively seeking out and fostering connections, as opposed to being passive with the people who we’re lucky to surround ourselves with daily.

How do you balance taking care of others and taking care of yourself? Do you make that distinction in the first place?

I’m very epicurean. For me, any form of self-care is not indulgent, it’s imperial- I believe you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being solely trying to tend to others’ needs, this leads to burnout and dissatisfaction, as well as unrealistic expectations of the care you wish to receive in return. Radiating nurture comes from a place of self-love first and foremost, we owe it to ourselves.

I believe you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being solely trying to tend to others’ needs

Do you care about being cared about?

I’m more preoccupied with being cared for, but it would be a lie if I said that I don’t appreciate some form of attention every once in a while (it’s the Leo moon & rising talking). After all, they say you only really die the last time someone mentions your name.

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What do you want to be remembered for?

Hopefully, for igniting the senses- it’s what makes us feel alive. From what you see, hear, touch, and feel, I want my hedonistic universe to contribute to the ultimate experience of embodying our humanity, one sensation at a time.

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> Photos shot by B. Tutt, @niles_vdv@n.samwa@denkraam@robinjorisdullers </div></div>

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