• Photo: Margarita Ogoļceva

Communicating Difficult Pasts

“Communicating Difficult Pasts” is transdisciplinary network project with the focus on uneasy relations between past and present and their entangled nature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Issues such as the legacy of right- and left-wing ideologies and their impact on rising populism, intolerance towards cultural difference and marginalisation of ethnic minorities or queer communities are entangled in the region with histories of the Holocaust, Soviet repressions and colonialisms. These experiences are often addressed, researched and discussed locally or nationally; the project aims at understanding the relationships between these difficult and traumatic pasts and articulating their influences and presence today through the perspective of shared histories.
The project seeks to strengthen the collaboration, to share knowledge and create synergies between artists, curators, researchers and interdisciplinary scholars who analyse the contemporary legacies of the Second World War and the Cold War in their work and who seek for novel ways of dealing with difficult past.

The project activities includes:
- The Summer School “Communicating Difficult Pasts” in Kuldīga Artist Residence, Latvia (2 – 7 August, 2019) whose central theme was how violent pasts remain with us and how contemporary artistic research and curatorial projects have found ways to mediate their different dimensions.

- Symposium “Prisms of Silence” at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn (21 – 22 February, 2020) that seeked to analyse and understand what are the prisms through which we could meaningfully reconsider significant silences. Our particular interest was in rethinking the silences about the WWII, its aftermath and the Soviet era in order to explore how it could offer productive ways of understanding the present social changes.

- Exhibition "Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds" at the Latvian National Museum of Art (28 November 2020 – 7 February 2021) and at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius (29 April – 28 August 2022) that brings to the fore the impact that the difficult histories have left to contemporary realities in the region. Through critical understanding of the continuities between past and present, the exhibition seeks for the perspective of a shared history – opening dialogue, forging connections and foregrounding solidarities between the different difficult histories that are often perceived as incompatible or in competition with each other. 

Initiators and curators of the project Communicating Difficult Pasts are Margaret Tali and Ieva Astahovska. It is held in collaboration with the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and Estonian Academy of Arts, Institute of Art History and Visual Culture.

The project is supported by the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture, State Culture Capital Foundation in Latvia, Kuldīga District Council, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Kuldīga Artist Residency, the Art Academy of Latvia. 

 Instagram: @Difficultpasts 
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