International symposium From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures will be held in Riga

  • 2023-05-11

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) announces the final event of the collaborative project From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures (2020–2023), which has been focusing on the relationship between the complex and difficult past of the twentieth century and today in our region, considering how to think and talk about these issues in a wider society, with a particular focus on the role of art mediation. The international symposium will take place on May 18 and May 19 in Riga, Latvia.

The international symposium brings together artists, curators, researchers and educators from the Baltic States and other European countries, and it aims to focus on perspectives on and approaches to the ways that art can raise public awareness of the tangled relations between the past and the present, and it takes an active stance regarding the current realities that have particularly been shaken by the war in Ukraine. The participants include cultural historian and curator David Crowley, researchers Katarzyna Bojarska and Margaret Tali, as well as philosopher and organizer of the Kyiv Biennial, Vasyl Cherepanyn, among others.

The program of the symposium consists of six thematic sessions on issues related to the transformations and current realities of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet region. On the first day participants will focus on themes such as art mediation, inclusive cultural environments and new approaches to audience engagement; the legacy of 20th century avant-garde art in Eastern Europe during the socialist period and today; and the “unprocessed” past and its impact in the present. On the second day thematic sessions will focus on narratives of nationalism and internationalism in the former Eastern Bloc countries and how to engage with them through museum collections and archives; an analysis of Russian colonialism and the importance of decolonisation in our region; and issues of ecology and environmental solidarity in our everyday life, culture and art. The detailed program of the symposium is available on the website of LCCA.

Discussing the Russian colonial war in Ukraine and how its catastrophic reality affects our region, the symposium will focus on the role of memory politics and culture of commemoration, avant-garde art through the lenses of the current wartime, and ecosystems destroyed by war and efforts to restore them. Symposium participants will also analyse the legacies of Russian imperialism and colonialism from the perspective of decolonisation, the context of identity politics and communication and infrastructures both on the Russian side as it continues its colonial violence, and how these affect strategies of solidarity on the Ukrainian side.

The event will be conducted entirely in English.

Please note that the symposium will be held at the Art Academy of Latvia, with sessions taking place at two different venues! On Thursday, May 18 – at Kronvalda Boulevard 4 (423 auditorium). On Friday, May 19 – at Kalpaka Boulevard 13 (building K2).

The symposium is organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Art Academy of Latvia and its international partners – the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, OFF - Biennale Budapest, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and the Malmö Art Museum.

The event is supported by the Creative Europe programme Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the State Culture Capital Foundation (Latvia), Riga City Council, the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Program “Culture”.