Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Exhibition “Portable Landscapes: Unveawing the Iron Curtain”
District Berlin, Bessemerstraße 2-14, Berlin
20.06.19 - 25.07.19

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with District Berlin on 20 June 2019 opens an exhibition “Portable Landscapes: Unveawing the Iron Curtain”. 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 program developed in collaboration with District Berlin examines artistic and political expressions of diaspora and dissidence that cross, unsettled, unweave the binary geopolitical divisions referred to as Iron Curtain, both during the Cold War and its aftermath.

Central to this exhibition is curator and mail artist Valdis Āboliņš (1939-1984), whose family took a decision to emigrate form Latvia to Germany in 1944. His creative praxis threw the second half of the 20th century puts into the spotlight the period of the Cold War and its complexity in relation to cultural production as Europe was divided in two by the Iron Curtain and the Wall divided Berlin. This leads us not only to rethink political and social tensions of the time, but also to analyse processes through the lens of Āboliņš as an insider and outsider in Berlin and Soviet Latvia.

By rethinking Āboliņš as a curator, artist, and networker, as well as the working methods of the Realismus Studio at the nGbK (neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst) where he worked as general secretary from 1974-1984, these exhibition is built up as a dialog between Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and District Berlin or a Diskussionsausstellung* - a place for a dialogue in which participants sit around a table, whether it is round or square or positioned against a wall. We want to discuss: what does it mean to canonise Āboliņš in Latvian art history in a moment of nationalist memorialisation (100 years of the Latvian nation)? What does the swallowing of diasporic cultures into the national body do? how well accounts of exile art can be integrated into local history, whether it is possible to look at histories that exist beyond the borders of national states, and how such histories are influencing global art processes now; how should we talk about forced or freely chosen migration in relation to history and the current day?

Exhibition artist and contributors: Valdis Āboliņš, Decolonizing 1968, D’EST: A Multi-Curatorial Online Platform for Video Art from the Former ‘East’ and ‘West’, Inga Erdmane, Leonards Laganovskis, Elske Rosenfeld, Margo Zālīte, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Tuan Mami, Revolt She Said. Curators: Andrea Caroline Keppler, Suza Husse, Antra Priede, Elske Rosenfeld and Andra Silapētere

Opening programm:

6.30 pm walk through the exhibition with artists and curators: Inga Erdmane, Leonards Laganovskis, Ulrike Gerhardt, Andrea Caroline Keppler, Suza Husse, Antra Priede, Elske Rosenfeld and Andra Silapētere

7.30 pm “At Home/Not at Home” artist talk by Margo Zālīte

Exhibition and research projects PORTABLE LANDSCAPES will continue with the exhibition in New York at the James Gallery and will depart from the stories round Latvian exile artist and writers group Hell’s Kitchen. But in 2020 Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art together with Berlin based publisher K.Verlag will open a book Portable Landscapes: Art Histories of Latvian Exile.

Portable Landscapes is one of the events of the Latvia’s Centenary Celebrations. It is supported by Latvian Republic Culture Ministry and State Culture Capital Foundation and Foundation for Arts Initiatives.