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  • Dizains: Aleksejs Muraško

Exhibition "Decolonial Ecologies" at Riga Art Space

Participating artists: Linda Boļšakova, Maija Demitere, Vika Eksta, Anna Griķe, Inga Erdmane, Diana Lelonek, Family Connection, Maria Kapajeva, Haralds Matulis, Francisco Martinez, Anna Shkodenko, Darja Popolitova, Viktor Gurov, Līga Spunde, Rasa Šmite & Raitis Šmits, Aurelija Maknytė, Olia Mykhailiuk.

Curator: Ieva Astahovska


On 1 November the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) will open the exhibition “Decolonial Ecologies. Understanding Postcolonial after Socialism” at the exhibition hall Riga Art Space. The exhibition aims to explore the complex entanglements of postcolonial and postsocialist imprints in contemporary society and culture in Latvia, in the Baltics and its neighbouring regions through the prism of environmental history and environmental changes, and the current ecological crisis.

The exhibition will be on view from 2 November 2022 to 15 January 2023 and will also include an extensive public programme with artists' workshops, discussions and talks.

Postcolonialism and decolonialism are more often associated with geographies and places far away from us. They are often mentioned in relation to the gap between the Global North – the rich and powerful countries of the planet – and the Global South – politically and economically marginalised regions where exploitation and colonialism continue. However, these terms are also relevant in contexts much closer to us, as they offer new and critical perspectives on how to rethink the complex relations between past and present and how to think about the impact of colonial, imperial or occupying power even after its apparent end. De-colonialism is also a promise of the future – not just a life after (post-) subjugation to a foreign power, but an active agency to truly get free from the colonial burden of the past. In Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet region, decolonial approaches have gained new urgency with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, whose real aim is to restore the (imperial) power of the past. In the Baltics and Latvia, these perspectives are also important for understanding the complexities and difficulties of the region's historical transformations, where the past continues to influence the present.

Decolonialism also offers new perspectives on the relationship between humans and the environment and calls for a change in our dominating and consuming influence on nature. It makes us aware of both the colonial offence to local ecologies and the correlation between capitalism and climate change, and creates an understanding of the need for ecological solidarity.

How can revisiting the past help to understand and work with contemporary political and environmental crises? How can ideas and practices for alternative ecologies create new approaches to environmental solutions, renewable energy development, biodiversity, the shared ecosystem between humans and nature today and in the future?

The exhibition focuses on issues of ecological and socio-political change in our region, relating them to both global and local processes of decolonisation: human-environment relations, (post)Soviet legacies, the meaning and experience of place, memory, landscapes affected by technology and industry, cultural meanings and social practices of ecological issues, and alternative strategies to overcome the challenges of environmental crisis and climate change. The exhibition also addresses themes such as environment and consumption, the life and afterlife of things, the impact of the waste industry on the living nature around us, gardening practices and alternative methods of growing food, and a return to nature as an opportunity to renew mental and emotional resources.

The artists in the exhibition “Decolonial Ecologies” address the relationship between our recent past and the present, between humans and the environment around them, highlighting themes such as (post)socialist legacies, the meaning and experience of place, memory, landscapes influenced by technology and industry, the cultural meanings and social practices of ecological issues, and alternative strategies for coping with the environmental crisis and the challenges posed by climate change.

Through the prism of ecology, the artists highlight regional contexts by focusing on the pollution of the Baltic Sea, on the ways of bringing the artificially transformed landscapes back to its natural state, on the everyday life of people in post-industrial and ecologically devastated border regions, the legacy of the Cold War that continues in the landscapes of technopolitical infrastructures and still recalls the complex colonial relations that existed between the Soviet centre and the peripheries.

A number of the works in the exhibition are driven by posthumanist ideas that comment on the relationship not only between people, but also between living and non-living nature, between nature and culture, society and the environment. Themes such as the memory held or lost with the plants around us, or their role in reconciling or healing the past. Raising socio-political issues through the prism of ecology and environmentalism, ecopolitics, practices of activism and collectivism, and ecological solidarity, and imprints of Soviet and post-Soviet times. The artworks in the exhibition will also address themes that are relevant to everyday life, such as the environment and consumption, the life and afterlife of things, the waste industry that also affects the living nature around us, gardening practices and alternative methods of growing food, the return to nature as a digital detox or an opportunity to restore emotional resources.

The exhibition "Decolonial Ecologies" is part of the series of activities titled "Reflecting Postsocialism through Postcolonialism in the Baltics", which address entangled relations of the past and present in Latvia and the Baltics through the prism of the current ecological crisis, environmental issues and nationalism. These activities include online discussions with Baltic artists and scholars on topics such as the legacy of the colonial past, ecocritical environmental perspectives, gender and queer contexts, Cold War legacies, environmental issues in Baltic art history, feminist and women's movements in the Baltics, gardening and and self-provisioning as an art practice, and narratives of decolonisation in Ukrainian art. The collaboration with the participating artists in the exhibition began with public programme of artistic research "Ecosystems of Change", which took place in in the urban environment in Riga at the end of 2021, as well as with the LCCA Summer School "Postsocialist Ecologies".

The exhibition is part of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art's project Rethinking Postsocialism through Postcolonialism in the Baltics, which addresses entangled relations between the past and present in Latvia and the Baltics through the prism of the current ecological crisis and environmental issues. The project has included an online discussion series with Baltic artists and researchers, a public programme of artistic research Ecosystems of Change, as well as the LCCA Summer School Postsocialist Ecologies.

The exhibition also features an extensive programme of public events addressing issues of ecological sustainability, accessibility and social inclusion. It is part of the project Islands of Kinship: A Collective Manual for Sustainable and Inclusive Art Institutions.

The exhibition will be held at the Riga Art Space until 15 January 2023.

Audio guides


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Programm
PUBLIC PROGRAMME

16 November, 18:00
Online discussion Regeneration and Decolonial Transformation: Ukraine's Nature, Built Environment, and Art during Wartime

 
27 November, 12:00
Creative workshop for kids with artist Inga Erdmane

 
5 December, 17:30
Talk by Maja & Reuben Fowkes Climate Change and Contemporary Art *

 
8 December, 17:30
Performance by the artist group Family Connection (Glenda Martinus, Jorgen Gario, Quincy Gario)

 
11 December, 12:00
Creative workshop for kids with artist Sabīne Šnē

 
14 December, 18:00
Online discussion How Do Art Institutions in Eastern Europe Deal with Issues of Postcolonialism and Decolonialism?

 
7 January, 12:00
Creative workshop for kids with artist Linda Boļšakova
 

 
* The talk will take place at the Art Academy of Latvia, 4 Kronvalda Boulevard.

 
Find detailed information about the events on the website of the Latvian Contemporary Art Center www.lcca.lv
Accessibility

USEFUL INFORMATION BEFORE VISITING

ACCESSIBILITY


We invite visitors to learn more about environmental accessibility across the Decolonial Ecologies exhibition, on show at the premises of Rīga Art Space on Kungu iela 3, Old Rīga.


There are thirteen artworks on display, and they’re all visual – photos, paintings, drawings, graphic artworks, videos, objects and installations. Some of them feature an audio component as well. You are advised to set aside at least an hour to see the entire exhibition.


We find it important that the exhibition be accessible to everyone. That’s why we have prepared the following:
- An accessibility description
- Guided tours with the participation of art mediators
- Artwork descriptions in simple language, along with an audio guide
- Free entry for people with disabilities and their support persons



Accessibility description for people with reduced mobility

There are two disabled parking spaces opposite the exhibition hall. There’s an accessible toilet in the building. We are sorry to say that the elevator in the Rīga Art Space is out of order. We therefore offer alternative ways of accessing the exhibition.

For entry in a wheelchair, or if mobility issues prevent one from using the stairs, please consider the following options:
 
1. Access through the main entrance of Rīga Art Space (Kungu iela 3), using a portable wheelchair lift suitable for manual wheelchairs. To get inside, please use the side door of the main entrance. Then call the provided number to receive assistance in getting down the stairs.

2. Through the Rīga City Hall building (the main entrance of the Rīga City Hall, Rātslaukums 1). Our staff will accompany you through the main entrance of the Rīga City Hall. Using a lift, you will arrive at an elevator. Use it to get to the basement floor. Down there, you will have to ascend rather steep ramps. Our trained staff will gladly provide help should you need any.
 
For entry with a stroller, please use the side doors of the Rīga City Hall and call the provided number. Staff will accompany you to the elevator.



Accessibility description for people with visual impairments


Artwork descriptions can be emailed upon request. Please contact mara@lcca.lv for this. We suggest using the audio guide, which is available on your smartphone, or a tablet you can borrow at the ticket office.


We invite you to experience the exhibition in the company of an art mediator, available upon prior appointment. Artwork descriptions are available digitally as well. You’re very much welcome to visit with your seeing-eye companion.



Accessibility description for people with hearing impairments


The video artworks are subtitled in Latvian and English. It is not possible to adjust the volume. Artwork descriptions are available. There is no sign language interpretation available.



Accessibility description for people with intellectual disabilities

Art mediators are available to guide you upon prior appointment. Our mediators will introduce you to the exhibition and its artworks in simple language. Artwork descriptions in simple language are available upon request at mara@lcca.lv.


If particular accessibility needs should be met, or if you have questions about the accessibility of the exhibition, please write to mara@lcca.lv or call +371 29586893 (Māra) or +371 28649014 (Lība).



Exhibition visit with an art mediator

Please make a prior appointment for a visit in the company of an art mediator, as well as for guided tours for people with different disabilities. The tour lasts an hour.


GROUP VISITS

Please make a prior appointment for a guided visit/tour for groups by email or phone:
+371 29586893 // mara@lcca.lv

The guided visits are led by art mediators. These are people of all ages and walks of life, and they have both theoretical and practical experience. In talking with the visitors, they help people notice connections between different works of art, promote independent reflection and discovery, as well as expand one’s views about contemporary art. Mediators are on-site at the exhibition workdays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tours led by art mediators are free, after purchasing a regular entry ticket.


Ticket prices:
Entrance ticket 5.00 EUR
School and university students (student card required) 2.50 EUR
Seniors (seniors card required) 3 EUR
 
Free entry after providing appropriate documentation
People with disabilities and their support person;
Children up to seven years of age, orphans, children in non-family care, as well as their supporting person (foster family, legal guardian and/or the head of the child care institution);
Politically repressed persons;
Employees of Latvian museums;
Members of the International Council of Museums (ICOM);
Members of the Latvian Artists' Union, students of the Art Academy of Latvia and the  Latvian Academy of Culture, as well as students at art, design and technical schools;
The press.