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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Andris Grinbergs / Laima Žurgina. The Ugly Duckling – Child of Man. Director Laima Žurgina Documentary film, 20’48”, 1985

The film tells the story of the period after 1976 that Grinbergs spent working at the special boarding school in Mazirbe. The school was attended by young people with special educational needs who often came from disadvantaged families. Grinbergs taught drawing, taking the programme that had been developed in Moscow for the entire USSR by the pedagogue Boris Nemensky and adapting it for the needs of a special school. Developing his idea of art as therapy, Grinbergs created the cycle Apple Tree, in which young people chose a tree from the school garden that they cared for, made drawings of and conversed with in letters. The film uncovers a brief episode that shows that it was possible (albeit sometimes only briefly) for manifestations of underground culture as well as radical methods of alternative education to enter and exist in the unified Soviet cultural space.

Text by Inga Lāce