International exhibition series Portable Landscapes with exhibitions in Riga, Paris, New York, Sweden and Berlin as a new research project on art processes within Latvian exile and emigrant communities from the beginning of the 20th century until the present day.
The comprehensive contemporary art project Portable Landscapes will examine the stories of exiled and emigré Latvian artists, locating them within the broader context of 20th-century art history, and wider processes of migration and globalization. Focusing its attention on the major centres of the Latvian diaspora – Paris, New York, (former) West Berlin and Stockholm – Portable Landscapes is an attempt to relate individual stories of migration to a common network, as well as to create an understanding of our current situation that’s informed by these historical occurrences.
From 2017 to 2019, the LCCA will work with a wide range of international institutions, researchers, curators and artists to create four satellite exhibitions in Paris, New York, Stockholm and Berlin. The central part of the project, an exhibition that combines all the individual stories, will take place at the Latvian National Art Museum in Riga in 2018. Each of the exhibitions in the series will be introduced by a public discussion. The first of these, “Island of Freedom: Berlin”, will take place on the 18th of April, at the Goethe-Institut in Riga, and will be moderated by the Latvian historian and radio journalist Eduards Linins.
Each of the satellite exhibitions will also centre on a personality or a group of people whose life and work reveal a specific period in the history of Latvia, as well as say something about that period’s relationship to the current situation, and to the international context. The Berlin exhibition will focus on Valdis Āboliņš – one of the most important promoters of Latvian art in the West, a leftist intellectual and a mail artist whose efforts to create and strengthen the cultural ties between West Berlin and Riga open up a lot of complex questions about issues that were silenced at the time, and about the relationship between art and politics. A highlight of the story of Latvian artists in New York is “Hell’s Kitchen” – an informal group of poets and artists that served as a signi-ficant driving force of the international intellectual exile milieu, as well as a catalyst for the survival of the creative potential of Latvian culture. In Paris, special attention will be paid to the personality of the dancer and writer Aia Bertrand, who, together with her husband, the American dancer and artist Raymond Duncan, ran the alternative education institution Akademia in Paris from the 1920s until the 1970s. The Stockholm story will centre on the painter Laris Strunke and his practice.
Alongside archival materials and works by the historic personalities of the Latvian exile, the exhibitions will also include work by artists from Latvia and abroad who are dealing with the topics of migration and exile from different angles. Portable Landscapes will be a unique opportunity to introduce Latvian artists who have been living abroad to Latvian society, as well as to broaden our knowledge of recent history as it relates to one of the world’s most urgent concerns – migration.
Migration is often discussed in terms of the changes in identity caused by the overlapping of cultures, by new combinations of cultural characteristics. Portable Landscapes serves as a reference to both idealized images of the homeland, as well as those distinguishing marks of the urban environment and those strong political beliefs that often accompany migrants to their new homes, and which characterize the changes that can occur during the migration process.