Merje Laiapea_by_Kairi_Laiapea

Merje Laiapea


Exploring alternative cultural infrastructure and creative education models to unleash the liberating potential of art and culture

Merje Laiapea is an artistic programmer, curator and researcher. She is from Estonia and currently resides in London where she coordinates cultural event programmes. She is completing her MA in Global Creative and Cultural Industries at SOAS University of London. In 2022, Merje published the video essay Feeling in Truth, exploring non-verbal forms of meaning and the affective power of the sound-image relationship. Her mapping project of Music in Ukraine’s Resistance showed music as an archive of socio-historical context and as a tool for listening to individual stories in the loudness of conflict – a way of looking at maps ‘from below’. Advocating for culture as creation, liberation and joy, Merje is interested in creativities that circulate below dominant power structures.


The project will document the work of arts practices that run ahead of state-level programmes, recognising the need for life-affirming cultural infrastructure and alternative creative education models. As exclusive arts institutions and commercially motivated regeneration plans continue to underserve communities, practitioners are developing new typologies to fill the gaps. Educators are designing projects to suit diverse communities emerging from migratory movements and trialling transdisciplinary methodologies that engage oral histories and intergenerational knowledge. Through a decentralised framework, they aim to unleash the liberatory potential of art and culture and provide young people with the resources to (re)imagine their futures. As cities and citizenships are constantly being crafted and voiced at street level, contested identities and narratives of displacement unsettle and generate new creativities. The research will explore such projects in the UK and across Europe.