• Boris Lurie. Hard Writings: LOAD. 1972. Paper tape on paper mounted on canvas. Courtesy of Buris Lurie Art Foundation

  • Boris Lurie. Hard Writings: LOAD. 1972. Paper tape on paper mounted on canvas. Courtesy of Buris Lurie Art Foundation

  • Jüri Tenson. The happening „Reading a paper“ in Nõmme, Estonia. Participants: Rein Tenson, Jüri Tenson, Priit Pärn, Krista Virkus, Mari Kuutmaa. 1963 - 1967. Photo collection of the Art Museum of Esto

  • Vija Celmins. Blackboard Tableau #15. 2017. Courtesy of the artist

YOU'VE GOT 1243 UNREAD MESSAGES. Last Generation Before the Internet. Their Lives

The exhibition "YOU'VE GOT 1243 UNREAD MESSAGES. Last Generation Before the Internet. Their Lives" deals with the recent past where the search for oneself and others took place in an analogue instead of a digital environment. The works of art and various everyday artifacts chosen for the exhibition are micro-historical evidence of some 20th century individuals, or whole currents that continue to throw into doubt any borders between art and everyday life. These are stories about the individual memory culture, mutual networking and experimental creation. The exhibits share their authors' attempts to redefine personal life space, laying a parallel world, like a cuckoo's egg, in the governing reality created by media and political ideologies.

As of the mid-20th century, an increasingly large part of the population began to use devices of mechanical reproduction and data transmission in their everyday lives. Telephones, typewriters, and portable cameras became mainstream items. A wide range of door-to-door postal services suddenly came into play. One could pick up a Polaroid and make a single unique image or reproduce large quantities of texts and images by a Xerox copier. Moreover, the pragmatism of user's manuals notwithstanding, there was now a possibility to vary even the traditional genres of self-reflection and tools for constructing a social selfhood, including diaries, "memory books", pen-pal correspondence, family albums and other methods of personal archiving. The last decades before the digital revolution have, therefore, left an individualized vernacular cultural heritage that lacks a unifying centripetal force and, in terms of variety and sheer volume, has no match in the past. Self-determination and departures from the norm, consciously nurtured peculiarities and fetishes, horizontal forms of socialization or deconstructive experiments with the everyday lead to the conclusion that the private possesses a political dimension. The intimate expressions of personal experience reveal themselves as a platform for questioning sociopolitical structures and their impact on relationships among individuals. The interaction between private and public is what makes the micro-historic testimonies relevant to the age of digital reality.

The exhibition "YOU'VE GOT 1243 UNREAD MESSAGES" has been developed as a poetic detrition in the cultural layer of the analogue era where artifacts, very different in form and purpose, are found side by side. There is a scrupulously detailed private archive of the intimate life of a particular couple and works of art that bring the almost manic quest for the serial to the surface. The imprints of mutual communication, accidental or consciously formed and collected, are also here: photo-narratives developed for family slideshow evenings; samizdat literature reproduced by way of carbon paper, samples of 1970s conceptualist mail-art, correspondence between shortwave radio enthusiasts, esoteric chain letters as well as an outstanding game of chess played intercontinentally by post. This multitude has the effect of a long unopened mailbox where the heap of messages holds the possibility of finding one addressed to oneself.

Organized by:

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in cooperation with Latvian National Museum of Art and ABLV Charitable Foundation


Kaspars Vanags, Zane Zajančkauska, Diana Franssen (Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands)

Exhibition Design:

Rihards Funts and Toms Lucāns (Design Studio RIJADA)

Project Director:

Kitija Vasiļjeva (LCCA)

Project Manager:

Māra Žeikare (LCCA)

Head of Communications:

Marta Krivade (LCCA)

Main supporters:

State Cultural Capital Fund, Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Rīgas dome, Goethe-Institut Riga, Rīgas Dome, Goethe-Institut Riga, British Council Latvia, French Institute in Latvia, Netherlands embassy in Riga, “Artileria” Ltd., “FLO”, “Mass Portal” Ltd.    

Media partners: 

Rīgas Laiks, "Punctum",, Latvijas Radio 1


Latvian National Museum of Art, Van Abbemuseum, RIJADA, Riga Technical University, Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia, Latvenergo AS, Riga Motion Pictures Studio AS, SJSC “Latvijas Pasts”, Arctic Paper   

Technical team:

Egons Baranovs, Jānis Zvirgzds-Zvirgzdiņš, Uģis Pucens and team, "VPT grupa" Ltd.    


Roberta Fišere, Elma Pētersone

The exhibition is part of project Midstream (, a co-operation by LCCA - Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (Riga), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid) and eipcp (Vienna).  

Interviews with the organizers and partners of the exhibition are available for listening here:

Participating artists:


Xavier Antin

Artpool (György Galántai), Ferenc Deák, Miklós Erdély, Károly Kelemen, Dóra Maurer    

Valdis Āboliņš


Auseklis Baušķenieks

Irma Blank

Season Butler


Vija Celmins


Radomir Damnjanović Damnjan

Guillermo Deisler

Marlene Dietrich

Braco Dimitrijević


Viktorija Eksta


György Galántai

Jean Genet

Vladimir Glushenkov

Rodney Graham


Atis Ieviņš


On Kawara

William Kentridge

Žilvinas Kempinas

Jaroslaw Kozlowski and Andrzej Kostolowski


Boris Lurie


Bogusław Madej

Dalibor Martinis

Jiří Menzel


Ry Nikonova, Serge Segay


Yoko Ono

Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell

Edgars Ozoliņš


Livija Patikne

Ingrīda Pičukāne

Dmitry Prigov


Konstantīns Raudive

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt

Aleksandr Rodchenko,Varvara Stepanova

Martha Rosler

Dieter Roth


Joachim Schmid

Dayanita Singh

Harry Everett Smith

Zdzisław Sosnowski

Mladen Stilinovič

Andrejs Strokins


Jüri Tenson, Rein Tenson, Priit Pärn, Krista Virkus, Mari Kuutmaa

Miroslav Tichý

Dragutin Trumbetaš


Jiří Valoch


Franz Erhard Walther

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