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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Exhibition “Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism.”
James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor, New York
19.11.19 - 15.02.20

The James Gallery in collaboration with the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art on 19 November, 2019 opens an exhibition “Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism”. The exhibition is part of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art research and exhibition project “Portable Landscapes” examining stories of exiled and emigree Latvian artists and locating them within the broader context of 20th century art history, and wider processes of migration and globalization. The exhibition and its programs developed in collaboration with the James Gallery examines artistic and political expressions of refugees that crossing the borders and traversing territories unweave diverse narratives of both the recent past and present processes.

Through the story of the Latvian exile literates and artist collective Hell’s Kitchen the exhibition reveals a parallel chapter in the history of Latvian art and culture as a result of the Soviet occupation (1944) that drove many artists into exile. The resulting exile situation has been little discussed and researched, currently demanding for a broader contextualization within larger processes of migration and diasporic communities. Thus departing from the Hell's Kitchen collective the exhibition looks at and highlights personalities and artistic phenomena that have resulted from migration – whether freely chosen or forced. It concerns the movements, individual artists and groups of artists that played supporting roles in, but also worked to diversify and challenge, the overarching art historical narrative. In addition to pursuing these stories with the help of archival material, historical works of art and artefacts, the exhibition also gathers works by contemporary artists working on the theme of migration and its attendant questions.

Exhibition artist: Daina Dagnija, Yonia Fain, Yevgeniy Fiks, Hell’s Kitchen collective, Rolands Kaņeps, Boris Lurie, Karol Radziszewski, Judy Blum Reddy, Vladimir Svetlov & Aleksandr Zapoļ (Orbita Group), Viktor Timofeev, Sigurds Vīdzirkste, Artūrs Virtmanis. Curators: Katherine Carl, Solvita Krse, Inga Lāce and Andra Silapētere.

Opening program:
19 November, 2019
5.30 pm walk through the exhibition with artists and curators
21 November, 2019
4.00 pm performative walk “H)ell(e)s Kitchen”, by Vladimir Svetlov & Aleksandr Zapoļ (textgroup Orbita)

Related programs:
5 Febryuary. 2020, 6.30 pm.

Workshop, reading, and film screening “Yonia Fain: With Pen and Paintbrush” by filmmaker Josh Waletzky, with participation of Yiddish literary scholar Sheva Zucker and Yiddish poets and writers Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath and Boris Sandler.

11 February, 2020, 4 pm to 8 pm.
Judy Blum Reddy in conversation with curators Inga Lāce, Solvita Krese, Katherine Carl.
Artist talk and a discussion with Karol Radziszewski about his film “America is Not Ready for This” (2012).
Presentation of Boris Lurie book “In Riga” (2019) with participation of poet Igor Satanovsky
Discussion about younger Latvian art scene in New York with exhibition artists Arturs Virtmanis, Viktor Timofeev and curator and art historian Ksenia Nouril.

Exhibition "Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism" at the James Gallery is the last exhibition of the exhibition and research projects PORTABLE LANDSCAPES that took place starting 2017 with exhibitions at: Villa Vassilieff, Paris, France (2018), Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia (2018), Körsbärsgården Konsthall, Gotland, Sweden (2018) and District, Berlin, Germany (2019). The project’s culmination is planned in spring 2020 when Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art together with Berlin based publisher K.Verlag will launch a book "Portable Landscapes: Art Histories of Latvian Exile", that views together all the project’s stories.


"Portable Landscapes" is one of the events of the Latvia’s Centenary Celebrations. It is supported by Latvian Republic Culture Ministry, State Culture Capital Foundation, Polish Cultural Institute New York.