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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

 Övül Ö. Durmușoğlu & Joanna Warsza


Life has never been totally integrated into the techniques that govern and administer it. It constantly escapes them. Now, more than ever, we are confronted with the overarching topic of survival and the conditions of old age. Many questions arise from the metaphor of a ‘survival kit’: How to live in a maturing society, which is at the same time shaped by discrimination based on age, the structural changes in labour and care conditions, and now the virus? 


How to deal with intergenerational dependence and debt on a planetary scale? How to come to terms with our own extinction as the human species? How to face digital ageism and fenced off elderly houses? How to cope with the fear of death and dependence? How to age as a woman, as a child, as a partner, or as an artist? The pyramid is reversing; a much older European population is coming, composed of, well – actually also ‘us’ – the current middle-age art makers and viewers. 


Therefore, it is a critical time to develop a strong collective logic and vocabulary of care from our everyday life in order to transgress capitalism’s ill logic that defines who can stay alive. The exhibition spreads through a net of apartment museums in Riga, where collective and personal memory prevails. These flats are particular sites of remembrance, characteristic of Eastern Europe, where the domestic and the private merges with the public memory. These places which can tell us a lot about how to narrate both micro and macro histories; where personal memory can rewrite the collective one. One wonders what is life and what is not life in those places? 


As Covid-19 made everyone part of the same interconnected texture, Roberto Esposito’s analysis of the links between the political notion of ‘community’ and the epidemiological notion of ‘immunity’ has gained another current vitality. In such a moment, can art become an act of survival? And what would be another kind of societal immune system, which starts at the tip of a collective skin woven by artists? As poet Mary Oliver asks: and have you changed your life?  

Joanna Warsza and Övül Ö. Durmușoğlu. Photo: Mateusz Nowak & Jagna Nawrocka
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