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I Remember, Therefore I Am

From 14 November 2020 to 24 January 2021, the exhibition “I Remember, Therefore I Am. Unwritten Stories: Women Artists’ Archives” organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art will be on display in the 4th floor exhibition halls of the Latvian National Museum of Art. The exhibition will bring to the fore different possibilities of interpreting art history through the experiences of women artists in the context of art, social and political events during the Soviet period. An opinion that has been already long-established is that in writing world history, within the framework of the dominant patriarchal and heteronormative social structures women's experiences have continuously been “omitted”. Despite the attempts to challenge the hierarchy in the traditional viewpoints, there is still a continuous need to produce new knowledge, which would draw attention to the ignored stories. By revisiting the events in Latvia and Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century, marked by the Soviet period and its cultivated illusion of “gender equality”, the exhibition will present opportunities for interpreting the recent past that include questions of gender equality, as well as emphasize the need to change the hierarchal view in the principles of writing art history. The exhibition will underscore various art practices, evidence and facts, memories, human and aesthetic values that will sketch in the position and influence of women artists in the social and cultural scene. The exhibition will question if the gradually lost information about their intellectual legacy can be recovered and how, by emphasizing the factors leading to that loss, we can encourage an alternative reading of history.

By combining historical material and artworks by contemporary artists, the exhibition will expand seven stories about the artists Rita Einberga (1921-1979), Laima Eglīte (b. 1945), Maija Eliass (1924-1991), Mudīte Gaiševska (b. 1935), Ruta Kreica (b. 1946), Rasa Kalniņa Grīnberga (b. 1936) and Olga Kataņeva-Neimane (1908-2001). The stories will uncover different artistic strategies from the Soviet period, both in connection with the alternative culture and attempts to introduce greater diversity in art, and with the range of creative interests within the official art scene. Whereas considering questions of feminism and gender in present-day context, original works specifically for the exhibition will be created by the artists Anni Puolakka (Finland) and Marta Trektere, Evita Goze, Rasa Jansone, Liliana Piskorska (Poland).

The exhibition project is a collective research initiative which links ten researchers, with the purpose of understanding the ways how and what we can learn if we unite our knowledge, abilities and skills, and thereby bringing to attention questions of solidarity from the historical and today’s perspective. What shared considerations or circumstances can encourage the process of working together? What are the different approaches to knowledge that we can gain about our past in this way?

The exhibition is a part of a wider project that the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art is carrying out in collaboration with Fundacija Arton (Warsaw), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Ljubljana) and Office for Photography (Zagreb), with the goal of bringing attention to the creative legacy of women artists in the second half of the 20th century.

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, curator and producer for art events of international and national scale, is the largest institution of contemporary art in Latvia. Since 1993, LCCA has researched and curated contemporary art processes both in Latvia and internationally to provoke critical reflection on issues topical for contemporary society. The Centre is widely recognized for its annual international contemporary art festival SURVIVAL KIT, regular exhibitions at the Latvian National Museum of Art, as well as Latvia's representation at the Venice Biennale, Manifesta, São Paulo Art Biennial, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Rauma Biennale of Contemporary Art, etc. LCCA maintains the only archive of contemporary art in Latvia.