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CUC LITHUANIA - De Gruyter and Thys films
Film still from Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys videofilm Das Loch, 2010Courtesy the artists and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin

10 creative cities to leave the country for

Post-election blues hitting? Tired of spiralling rents? We seek out the alternative cities for young artists to flee to

This article is part of a series on art today to support the Converse x Dazed Emerging Artists Award  Check out the rest of content here and make sure to visit the Royal Academy in London before 17th May to see all the work IRL.

Paris is tired. New York is obsessed with success and London is just extortionate. Berlin is reaching saturation point. Artists need cheap space and in each contemporary art hub, they’re being driven to the fringes of the city. Living at the edge of the action, on the edge of poverty does not offer the freedom to be creative. It’s impossible to sustain a practice in these big cities that don’t support their local talent. Lets make the most of this rootless insecure age and turn our backs on the traditional art meccas. From Athens to Warsaw, we explore ten alternative art cities that are on the rise offering a cutting edge scene and the space to experiment. In conjunction with the Converse x Dazed Emerging Artists Award, we discover where young artists can go if they have the sudden unrelenting urge to leave the country.


With this gritty concrete city in crisis, political fragility has shaken up the art scene with undeniable force. Athens is buzzing with more than 50 art collectives making use of empty shops for pop-up shows and international artists are arriving to get in on the action. In 2017 the world’s eyes will be on the city as it plays host to the mega German exhibition Documenta in spaces all over town.


Before the institution SALT opened in Istanbul in 2011 the Turks weren’t that big on contemporary art but its core scene had been quietly building international attention. Artists live in Beyoglu, the old European quarter and have developed a scene with an underground edge and political undercurrent. Today interest has exploded and the city is already booked up for the Istanbul Biennial this Autumn.


Latin America’s best kept secret and unexpected new art world star is Lima. The city has been drawing visitors to its doorstep with its two hot new fairs ArtLima and PArC. The art scene in the Peruvian capital is split between manicured Miraflores and bohemian Barranco and in this city gallery openings are cocktail parties not mere beer fuelled nod fests.


Warsaw looks like Berlin 10 years ago and the hype about this city is all to do with its unstoppable energy. The art scene is hidden away in creative venues from castles to tower blocks and this September the fifth Warsaw Gallery Weekend will open with a huge programme of events. With Krakow another amazing centre and cities like Lodz and Gdańsk offering more artist-led activity, Poland is one place to watch.


Colombia is already home to some big name artists but right now the new generation is on its way up. The city is super affordable and the scene is artist driven – not fueled by money, collectors or galleries. In Bogatá the city is relaxed about it street artists and every surface is covered with fresh creative talent.


The Baltic states are poised to make their mark in a big way and Vilnius in Lithuania is home to CAC, the area’s largest contemporary art space. Pick Vilnius for Rupert a free artist residency and platform for emerging artists that focuses on helping it’s artists develop valuable networks.


São Paulo is the capital of Latin America’s art scene, beating Rio to the crown. Art used to be elitist here but new galleries are getting edgier and more ambitious fuelled by a global appetite for Brazilian art. Young artists are leading the way and there are more contemporary artists here than in most European capitals.


Now New York has lost its innocence there are plenty of alternative US destinations but LA’s gravitational pull is irresistible. A save haven for artists it offers cheap(er) rent, space to experiment and a laid back vibe. With galleries popping up all over the city it’s attracting a new wave of rebellious creatives: Amalia Ulman, Sam Falls and Jordan Wolfson have all recently arrived in search of sunshine.


Hailed as the new Berlin, Leipzig offers cheap rents in prefab concrete 60s and 70s apartments and studio space in repurposed factories. Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts churns out hot young painters and even international students can study here for free. Germany values its contemporary artists


Drastic times call for drastic measures. This month-long adventure residency mixes artists with architects, scientists and educators. Together they cruise the icy seas of the artic on a sailing boat and getting as close to the north pole as possible. It’s close confinement breeding collaborative creativity. 

Check out the rest of content related to our Converse x Dazed Emerging Artists Award here and make sure to visit the Royal Academy in London before 17th May to see all the work IRL.