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Unexpected Encounters

From 13 December 2019 to 23 February 2020, the ARSENĀLS Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Torņa iela 1) will host an international exhibition "Unexpected Encounters" organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. Project, which is part of Latvia’s centenary programme, explores the relationships between science fiction, art and processes in society, combining historical research and future scenarios.

Unexpected Encounters addresses the impact of science fiction on the Latvian cultural space in the second half of the 20th century, and includes works by contemporary artists highlighting current issues such as feminism, ecology and politics, all imagining alternative futures. Project’s title is derived from a collection of short stories of the same name (“Неназначенные встречи”, 1980) by the Soviet science fiction writers the Strugatsky brothers, collated and published in Riga in 1987.

In the Soviet period, science fiction was an ideology-backed genre that manifested utopias driven by progress and scientific development, in keeping with the paradigm and ideas of communism. However, here too, strict censorship was observed, preventing ideas that questioned the system of power and its mechanisms from coming forward. Some intriguing examples of this, which the exhibition explores, are the four graphic art exhibitions – titled Science and Science Fiction – organized at the House of Science in Riga from 1975 to 1982, with works by Maija Dragūne, Aleksandrs Dembo, Māris Ārgalis, Malda Muižule, Māra Rikmane, Dzidra Ezergaile, Juris Poikāns, Kirill Shmelkov, Inārs Helmūts, Arthur Nikitin, Gennadiy Sukhanov, and other artists, offering interpretations of space exploration, science and technology revolution, ecological threats and other visions of the future.

In the present day, we are experiencing an unprecedented growth in technology, the progress of which contrasts with an equally rapid shift in socio-political processes towards right-wing conservatism. As with various other points of intense development in history, there is a growing interest in science fiction, which both offers advanced utopias and provokes frightening dystopias. Alongside the connection with science and technology, these utopias offered by science fiction also reflect issues such as colonialism, class, racial and gender inequalities, and imminent ecological disasters.

The Unexpected Encounters exhibition forms part of the celebratory events marking Latvia’s centenary. Latvia’s centenary celebrations are taking place from 2017 to 2021. The central message of the centenary is “I am Latvia”, emphasizing that the Latvia’s main asset is its people, who make the country what it is today through their daily work and lay the foundations for the future with the new generation.

Māris Ārgalis, Ieva Balode, Auseklis Baušķenieks, Zheng Bo, Aleksandrs Dembo, Maija Dragūne, Pēteris Džigurs, Kristaps Epners, Dzidra Ezergaile, Nash Glynn, Albert Goltiakov (Альберт Голтяков / Alberts Goltjakovs), Inārs Helmūts, Ann Lislegaard, Zenta Logina, Malda Muižule, Deimantas Narkevičius, Arthur Nikitin (Артур Никитин), Bahar Noorizadeh, Pakui Hardware, Juris Poikāns, Māra Rikmane, Arturs Riņķis, Gennadiy Sukhanov (Геннадий Суханов), Vladislav Shapovalov (Владислав Шаповалов), Kirils Šmeļkovs, Viktor Timofeev (Виктор Тимофеев), Anton Vidokle (Антон Видокле), Artūrs Virtmanis, Sif Itona Westerberg, Ylva Westerlund, Driant Zeneli

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) is the largest institution of contemporary art in Latvia, curating and producing contemporary art events on a national and international scale. Since 1993, it has researched and curated contemporary art processes both in Latvia and abroad, aiming to provoke critical reflection on issues relevant to contemporary society. The LCCA is widely recognized for its annual international contemporary art festival Survival Kit and its regular exhibitions at the Latvian National Museum of Art, as well as for representing Latvia at the Venice Art Biennale, Manifesta, São Paulo Art Biennial, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Rauma Biennale of Contemporary Art, and others. The LCCA maintains the only Latvian contemporary art archive.

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Riga City Council, State Culture Capital Foundation, Embassy of Canada in Latvia, Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Latvia, Goethe-Institut Riga, Danish Cultural Institute, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, Latvian Artists’ Union, the Riga Tourism Development Bureau Foundation LIVE RĪGA, Konstnärsnämnden, ĒTER, Latvian National Botanical Garden, DAW Baltica Ltd. (CAPAROL), Priekuļu bloks, Copy Pro, Neiburgs Hotel, 4 metri, Kates Plates Ltd., Tenapors Ltd., Malduguns, Contra, Walters & Grapa, ŌBDO, Tālavas sidrs, Valmiermuiža Brewery, Kokmuiža Brewery, and Gardu muti taste movement

Delfi, Arterritory.com, Pastaiga, Latvijas Radio 1 Kultūras Rondo, Punctum

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen (Denmark),
Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw (Poland)

Solvita Krese, Inga Lāce, Andra Silapētere / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Māra Žeikare, Curator of Education / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Katrīna Vastlāve, Curator of Education / Latvian National Museum of Art

Architectural bureau ĒTER

Aleksey Murashko, author of the visual identity of the exhibition

Agnese Pundiņa / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Margarita Ogoļceva / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Māra Lāss, Curator of the Latvian Sculpture and Object Collection / Latvian National Museum of Art

Laura Brokāne, Head of Communications / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art
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