Jana Budkovskaja, founder of the platform OBJEKT, presents the Micro-Folies project in the framework of the FPEU
Jana Budkovskaja runs OBJEKT, a multi-media business development platform in Estonia. The organisation is aiding the development and European deployment of the Micro-Folies digital museum project supervised by the Ministry of Culture and accompanied by La Villette. In the framework of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU), 27 Micro-Folies are presented across Europe by the Alliances Françaises, Instituts français and its partners, in partnership with the Institut français. While Objekt is hosting a Micro-Folie in Estonia, we discussed the project with Jana Budkovskaja.
Updated on 03/06/2022
How did you become involved in the Micro-Folies project in the framework of the FPEU?
The co-operation with the French Embassy started about four years ago when we decided to bring to the Black Knights film festival, which happens every November, to North East Estonia. We were looking at how it could be a bit different to just screening the films. The French Embassy said that the Cannes Film Festival had become the first festival at which virtual reality films had been shown as part of the programme. I thought we should try that. OBJEKT is a multimedia hub and that’s why we have VR equipment and big screens and so on. For us it was very convenient to bring together films, virtual reality and new film formats. As Micro Folies became a European project the French Embassy contacted us and said they already had a similar kind of thing. It fits our idea of what we would like to show in Narva. For the Narva Museum, which is situated in the castle, it is important to find new digital tools, not just to show the history of the area but also to make the castle visible to the whole world. The Micro Folies are now the prefect showcase, not just for students but for our museum to see how it can happen. Recently we had a design meet and merged it with the Hackathon, which is about how to digitise culture, so again Micro Folies will be the perfect example of how it can be done.
How do you think the pandemic has affected attitudes to digital collections such as the Micro Folies?
The pandemic showed us that culture can be digitised and exhibited but also that culture can be created digitally right from the beginning. At first, we just sat and looked at works of art from the Louvre or other museums, but then I understood that although I really like to look at art on Instagram or TikTok I also really like to go to museums. Now we have the Micro-Folies and it seems like I am going somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the screen or if it’s real, although I do understand the restrictions of the digital. For me if I go somewhere to enjoy the art it is part of the experience. The Micro Folies have created the whole set up.
The project is made possible by the mobilization of the French cultural network abroad. Can you explain to us how you work with the Institut français in Estonia?
OBJEKT considers the Institut français in Estonia to be an organization that allows us to gain a greater understanding of French Culture. We had the virtual reality film project, now we have the Micro Folies, and we have just had a big delegation from the Institut français and the Embassy to get to know each other better. So, I’m looking forward to new ideas and opportunities. We have already talked about French language courses that can be online in OBEJKT.
How will the project be able to expand under the French presidency of the European Union?
There are almost 30 Micro Folies set up all over Europe. I think the best way to expand is to work with youth and schools and to make it more open as a platform for kids to maybe add something. It was what we were talking about with a representative from the French Embassy – how you can open up culture for youth, make it more attractive for them, and connect them with it. What I think Micro Folies could promote is not just French culture and classic culture but how we can engage youth. From one side, the Micro Folies enables the older generation to use digital tools and understand it is also for them, from the other side it is a way for youth, for whom digital culture is like air, to connect with art. It has the potential to work for very different target groups and bring them together.
The digital museum is flexible in its set-up and can include a stage, a toy library and even a space of friendliness. Can you explain how these spaces work?
Every host who takes Micro Folies into their space can use it in different ways. It’s very transformable. In front of the Micro Folies is a big, almost 200 square meters, hall and it’s full of cyber sports, projectors, virtual reality and all different kinds of equipment. For me it’s a way to make technology attractive again to the youth who were over exposed to it during the pandemic.
In what ways do you think the museum could develop in the future?
I hope the next stage of the Micro Folies could be about creating a space where everyone is welcome. I was recently in Tel Aviv with my 14-year-old son and we went to a Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Museum of Art. The exhibition used a lot of digital tools and had created a super welcoming place for the older and also younger generation who found it super tik-tokable and Instagramable. The youth were so engaged, they were there for hours, they felt that the art was really for them. It’s about how they can place themselves in the art. We need to create digital spaces where people can dissolve themselves in the art.
The Micro-Folies project in the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union is implemented in partnership with the Institut français, and the international deployment of the Micro-folies is established in the Alliances Françaises, Instituts français and partner organizations.
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