[spectre] CONF: From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures (Riga, 18-19 May 23)

Andreas Broeckmann andreas.broeckmann at leuphana.de
Mon May 15 09:50:30 CEST 2023

From: Krista Priedīte
Date: May 13, 2023
Subject: CONF: From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures (Riga, 18-19 
May 23)

Riga, Latvia, May 18–19, 2023
Registration deadline: May 18, 2023

Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) announces the final event of 
the collaborative project From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures 
(2020–2023), which has been focusing on the relationship between the 
complex and difficult past of the twentieth century and today in our 
region, considering how to think and talk about these issues in a wider 
society, with a particular focus on the role of art mediation. The 
international symposium will take place on May 18 and May 19 in Riga, 

The international symposium brings together artists, curators, 
researchers and educators from the Baltic States and other European 
countries, and it aims to focus on perspectives on and approaches to the 
ways that art can raise public awareness of the tangled relations 
between the past and the present, and it takes an active stance 
regarding the current realities that have particularly been shaken by 
the war in Ukraine. The participants include cultural historian and 
curator David Crowley, researchers Katarzyna Bojarska and Margaret Tali, 
as well as philosopher and organizer of the Kyiv Biennial, Vasyl 
Cherepanyn, among others.

The program of the symposium consists of six thematic sessions on issues 
related to the transformations and current realities of Eastern Europe 
and the post-Soviet region. On the first day participants will focus on 
themes such as art mediation, inclusive cultural environments and new 
approaches to audience engagement; the legacy of 20th century 
avant-garde art in Eastern Europe during the socialist period and today; 
and the “unprocessed” past and its impact in the present. On the second 
day thematic sessions will focus on narratives of nationalism and 
internationalism in the former Eastern Bloc countries and how to engage 
with them through museum collections and archives; an analysis of 
Russian colonialism and the importance of decolonisation in our region; 
and issues of ecology and environmental solidarity in our everyday life, 
culture and art.

Discussing the Russian colonial war in Ukraine and how its catastrophic 
reality affects our region, the symposium will focus on the role of 
memory politics and culture of commemoration, avant-garde art through 
the lenses of the current wartime, and ecosystems destroyed by war and 
efforts to restore them. Symposium participants will also analyse the 
legacies of Russian imperialism and colonialism from the perspective of 
decolonisation, the context of identity politics and communication and 
infrastructures both on the Russian side as it continues its colonial 
violence, and how these affect strategies of solidarity on the Ukrainian 

The event will be conducted entirely in English.

Please note that the symposium will be held at the Art Academy of 
Latvia, with sessions taking place at two different venues! On Thursday, 
May 18 – at Kronvalda Boulevard 4 (423 auditorium). On Friday, May 19 – 
at Kalpaka Boulevard 13 (building K2).

The symposium is organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in 
collaboration with the Art Academy of Latvia and its international 
partners – the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, OFF - Biennale 
Budapest, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and the Malmö Art Museum.

The event is supported by the Creative Europe programme Culture, the 
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the State Culture Capital 
Foundation (Latvia), Riga City Council, the Nordic-Baltic Mobility 
Program “Culture”.

Detailed programme of the symposium
DAY 1: THURSDAY, 18 MAY 2023
Venue: Art Academy of Latvia, Auditorium No 423
Kronvalda bulvāris 4

Welcome and introduction to the Symposium by Solvita Krese and Ieva 
Astahovska, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art
  10.15–11.45    Session 1

How Can Art Mediation Engage Vulnerable Audiences and Help to 
Communicate Difficult Pasts?

Participants: Eglė Nedzinskaitė, Santa Remere, Hanna-Liis Kont
Moderated by Māra Žeikare, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

In this panel, the participants will share their experiences on how art 
mediation and new ways of engaging with audiences can not only 
strengthen inclusive environments, but also engage in reflection on 
relevant and pressing societal issues. How can contemporary art and 
culture engage in building a more inclusive society by listening to the 
needs and interests of diverse audiences? How can we share, learn, or 
acquire new practices from and with them? How can we engage in dialogue 
through the arts with people from vulnerable or marginalized 
communities? How can alternative approaches to art mediation help in 
exploring the difficult past and in critical memory work?

Eglė Nedzinskaitė
When Art Helps to Communicate: Seniors and Contemporary Artists

In 2022 to 2023, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Vilnius hosted the 
project When Art Helps to Communicate: Creative Meetings by Elderly and 
Contemporary Artists. The project’s aim was to create a safe and 
welcoming space for seniors and young contemporary artists to meet one 
another, talk, and exchange knowledge and experiences, as well as to 
build bridges between generations and approaches to contemporary art 
practices. During twenty-six events (studio visits, workshops, guided 
tours, visits to contemporary art spaces and exhibitions, video 
screenings), both sides were encouraged to raise questions, voice their 
opinions, and exchange more traditional culture practices and 
contemporary art practices. The project was curated by Tomas Daukša, 
Marta Frėjutė, Eglė Nedzinskaitė, and Irena Ūsaitė.

Since 2009, Eglė Nedzinskaitė has been the curator of educational 
programs at the NGA in Vilnius. From 2020 to 2023, she was the curator 
and mentor of the educational project That Strange Art that aimed to 
give young people a full, hands-on experience of what it is like to be 
an exhibition curator, architect, designer, and manager, with the 
resultant exhibition, That Strange Art, wholly prepared by teenagers. 
 From 2019, she has been a creative agent in work with schools, children 
from difficult social backgrounds, and communities around Lithuania in 
projects by Asociacija “Kūrybinės jungtys”. She has been also the 
coordinator of the Erasmus+ project AMUSING (Adapting Museums for 
educational Inclusive Goals), which aims to share experiences on how to 
make schools and museums more accessible for visually impaired children 
and adults. At the NGA, she has co-curated exhibitions for the blind and 
visually impaired titled BLIND DATE, worked as the co-author of the 
educational workshops Pictures of Senses, and curates the educational 
program Let’s Meet at The Museum for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Santa Remere
Understanding a Place through Listening: Co-creating with the City in 
Contemporary Theatre

I will share some insights from my experience as producer and city 
dramaturg while working for the international theatre festival Homo 
Novus in Riga. I will specifically talk about adaptations of 
international works that have previously taken place in the context of 
other cities. How does the method and unbiased eye of foreign artists 
bring out unprecedented testimonies and offer new local voices to 
commonly known narratives? How does discovering “other” memories of Riga 
help us gain a critical perspective on our society and history? I will 
present practical examples of several festival works, such as the 
sound-site project Witness Stands by conceptual artists Madeleine Flynn 
and Tim Humphrey, who invite local composers to make sound works for 
specific, historically contested sites, creating unexpected 
opportunities for listening and intervening with specific places. I will 
also talk about the Heterotopias project by Japanese company Port B, and 
current cooperation with UK artists Andy Field and Beckie Darlington on 
the Book of Riga, a city guide made by its youngest inhabitants.

Santa Remere has a background in visual communication and art 
anthropology. She works as a publicist and art critic for Latvian and 
Baltic magazines, mostly with a focus on cultures of young audiences, 
contemporary theatre, and feminist topics. She has authored a book of 
feminist tales for children entitled Our Sisters (2020). Since 2015, 
Santa has regularly worked as a dramaturg, researcher, and producer for 
the International Festival of Contemporary Theatre Homo Novus, which 
often focuses on the inclusion of different communities. She has 
collaborated with international theatre companies and artists, such as 
Mette Edvardsen, Andy Field, Japanese theatre unit Port B, and the 
Canadian art-atelier Mammalian diving reflex, including assisting with 
the translations of language and local context and realizations of 
international performances in remote conditions. In 2021, she worked on 
the expansive sound project Witness Stands by Australian artists 
Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey in Riga dedicated to deep listening to 
the contested places and their histories.

Hanna-Liis Kont
How Can Art Mediation Foster Social Wellbeing? Contemporary Art for and 
with Children

This presentation introduces an art project titled Creative Connections, 
which is part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 program. The 
project aims to create new research-based educational activities and 
contemporary artworks that help develop children’s and families’ social 
skills, and to raise awareness of art’s potential to contribute to a 
healthier social environment. The project focuses on children between 
the ages of six and ten and their families. The research conducted 
during the project so far shows that children in this age group have 
numerous barriers to experiencing professional art – the lack of 
teachers’ and parents’ awareness of art and its benefits as well as 
limited access to art venues. Nevertheless, teachers state that 
developing children’s social skills is one of their most important tasks 
during the first school years and that going to museums can help with 
that. When the art museum offered them opportunities to participate in 
museum programs, their motivation to engage students with an art project 
increased. I am therefore arguing for creating resources that connect 
art mediation with the development of social skills as well as for the 
need to raise awareness of relevant art-based materials and activities 
that already exist.
  Hanna-Liis Kont is a freelance curator and researcher based in South 
Estonia. She is a PhD student and guest lecturer at the Estonian Academy 
of Arts, Institute of Art History and Visual Culture. As a researcher, 
her main interest lies in current and recent curatorial practices’ 
contribution to communities and their members’ social wellbeing in art 
museums in the Baltics. Kont has curated exhibitions of Estonian and 
international twentieth- and twenty-first-century art, often employing 
collaborative approaches and polyvocality to bring together different 
viewpoints and voices.
  Māra Žeikare is a curator of education and art mediation programs at 
the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. Since 2020, she has also been 
the accessibility manager for people with disabilities in LCCA 
exhibitions. Her most current projects include: Artist is Present: 
Contemporary Art Residencies in Schools (2022–24), Agents of Change: Art 
Mediation as Conversation (2020–22), and ART vs DEMENTIA: Art Therapy as 
an Empathic Tool to Strengthen and Maintain the Cognitive, Physical and 
Relational Skills of People with Dementia. In 2022, she worked on the 
exhibition Diary Diaries by artist Anna Priedola, which was dedicated to 
seniors in Latvia suffering from dementia. In collaboration with 
Colorize and other consultants, she is working to ensure that 
contemporary art can be experienced by everyone, including people who 
find it difficult to attend cultural events due to disability, lack of 
access to the environment, or social exclusion.


14.00–15.30    Session 2

Late Avant-garde

Participants: David Crowley, Nikita Kadan, Zsuzsa László
Moderated by Daniel Muzyczuk, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź

The panel will focus on the legacy of the interwar avant-garde in the 
Eastern Bloc. The starting point for this discussion is the exhibition 
Henryk Stażewski: Late Style, which looks at the work and influence of 
one of the key members of the Polish constructivist movement. It will 
introduce more examples of artistic practices that were suppressed 
during socialism but still managed to become an important point of 
reference. The reception of the work of the avant-garde generation was 
delayed by Stalinism and socialist realism. The interest in the 
exploration of the genealogy of the neo-avant-garde was also connected 
with regroupings in the social and political landscape of the countries 
of the Eastern Bloc after 1968. The new generation of artists found 
inspiration in the political aspirations and collective practices of the 
pioneers of radical art.
  David Crowley
Stażewski’s Autofictions

In this short talk David Crowley will reflect on the themes of his 
current exhibition at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland, on the life and 
art of the Polish constructivist artist Henryk Stażewski. A pioneering 
figure in the European avant-garde of the 1920s, Stażewski lived until 
1988. Although he experienced the future he had once imagined, the 
People’s Republic Poland was hardly the socialist utopia that had once 
been augured by his generation of avant-garde architects and artists. 
Crowley will consider the way that Stażewski reflected on Stalinist and 
Post-Stalinist rule—in his 70s and 80s—by seeming to espouse anarchism 
and creating what might be called “autofictions.”

David Crowley teaches at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. 
He is a cultural historian and curator with an interest in Eastern 
Europe under communist rule. He has curated various exhibitions 
including Cold War Modern at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2008–9, 
co-curated with Jane Pavitt); Sounding the Body Electric: Experimental 
Art and Music in Eastern Europe at Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź (2012), and 
Calvert 22, London (2013); and Notes from the Underground: Music and 
Alternative Art in Eastern Europe, 1968–1994 at Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź 
(2017), and Akademie Der Künste in Berlin (2018, both co-curated with 
Daniel Muzyczuk). His exhibition Henryk Stażewski: Late Style opened at 
Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź in April 2023.

Zsuzsa László
Futurologogy of the Avant-garde and Neo-avant-garde

In connection with the theme of the late avant-garde, I’ll present a 
brief proposition suggesting that future orientation and utopian 
thinking are a link between the interwar and postwar avant-gardes. On 
the basis of the early 1970s theoretical writings of the Slovak art 
historian Tomáš Štraus and his younger, Hungarian colleague, László 
Beke, I’ll discuss interferences between the socialist design of society 
and the arts and late avant-gardism. The presentation will also look at 
actual neo-avant-garde and conceptualist artistic practices, such as 
that of Dóra Maurer, among others, who sought both local and regional 
contact with surviving constructivists, such as Lajos Kassák and Henryk 
Stażewski, and revived their “future-design” through Fluxus and didactic 
impulses democratizing avant-gardes.

Zsuzsa László is a researcher and curator at the Central European 
Research Institute for Art History (KEMKI), Budapest. She is a member of 
the editorial team of ARTMargins Online, tranzit/hu’s board, and the 
Hungarian section of AICA. Her forthcoming dissertation discusses the 
emergence and critique of the concept of East European Art through 
exhibitions. Recent projects and publications she has co-curated, 
co-authored, and co-edited explore transnational exhibition histories, 
artist archives, progressive pedagogies, cultural transfers, and 
decentralized understanding of conceptualism and neo-avant-gardes in 
Cold War Eastern Europe, including Resonances: Regional and 
Transregional Cultural Transfer in the Art of the 1970s (2021‒23), What 
Will Be Already Exists: Temporalities of Cold War Archives in 
East-Central Europe and Beyond (2021), 1971: Parallel Nonsynchronism 
(2018/22), Creativity Exercises (2014/15/16/20), Sitting Together 
(2016), and Parallel Chronologies (2009–23).
  Nikita Kadan
“The Project with Postponed Implementation”

My contribution is based on the four artworks I made in 2017 to 2022 
that interpret the legacy of Vasyl Yermilov (1894–1968), a Ukrainian 
artist from Kharkiv, whose work combined elements of constructivism, 
cubo-futurism, and neoprimitivism. I am especially interested in 
Yermilov’s way of bringing the intentions of the 1920s avant-garde to 
the 1960s, such that they temporarily conspire in a Stalinist time. I 
also research the ways we can look at the Ukrainian avant-garde through 
the lenses of the current war.

Nikita Kadan is a Ukrainian artist working and living in Kyiv. He works 
with various media, including installation, sculpture, painting, and 
collage. Kadan graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and 
Architecture in 2007 in the department of monumental painting. He is 
active as a member of the creative group R.E.P. (Revolutionary 
Experimental Space), which arose during the Ukrainian Orange Revolution 
in Kyiv in 2004. Since 2008, he has been a member of the “Hudrada” 
curatorial group, and since 2016, a member of the editorial team of 
Prostory, an online publication of artistic and social criticism. Kadan 
represented Ukraine at the Venice Biennale in 2015. In 2019, he was the 
curator of the Gestures of Attitude exhibition series at the Kyiv Art 
Museum. He has also been awarded several prizes, receiving the First 
Prize of the PinchukArtCentre in 2011, the Special Future Generation Art 
Prize in 2014, and the Kazimir Malevich Prize in 2016. Finally, he was 
also a laureate of the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine in 2022.

​​Daniel Muzyczuk is head of the Modern Art Department at Muzeum Sztuki 
in Łódź and curator of the exhibitions Sounding the Body Electric: 
Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984 (with David 
Crowley), Notes from the Underground: Art and Alternative Music in 
Eastern Europe 1968–1994 (with David Crowley), The Museum of Rhythm 
(with Natasha Ginwala), and Through the Soundproof Curtain: The Polish 
Radio Experimental Studio (with Michał Mendyk). He was co-curator of the 
Polish Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale (with Agnieszka Pindera) and 
was the winner (together with Agnieszka Pindera) of the Igor Zabel 
Competition in 2011. He is a member of Grupa Budapeszt.


16.00–18.00    Session 3

The Legacy of the Difficult Past Today
  Participants: Katarzyna Bojarska, Margaret Tali, Antonina Stebur, Anna 
Moderated by Egla Mikalajūnė, National Gallery of Art in Vilnius

The past, and even more so its ghostly return in today's political 
catastrophes, forces us to rethink the shared difficult experiences of 
Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet world – violent conflicts, traumatic 
losses and their imprints linked to nationalist and communist regimes, 
recent and current hostilities and the history of colonialism – through 
the prism of identity, solidarity and decolonisation. How can art today 
engage with this often repressed and unresolved past? How can it reveal 
the social and infrastructural power relations of the past and the 
present, including the interconnections between the military industry 
and the IT sector? What new perspectives does it open up for the role of 
artists in working with social solidarity?

Katarzyna Bojarska
Modes of Return: How Past is Becoming Present

In my presentation I would like to discuss the possible ways of dealing 
with a difficult and traumatic past, taking a closer look at how it 
recurs, including in what forms and mediated by what processes. I will 
be looking at forms of re-collection, re-construction, re-connection, 
re-enactment (and working through), re-vision, etc., in relation to the 
present-day situation both in social and political life and in the arts.

Katarzyna Bojarska is an assistant professor in the department of 
Cultural Studies at SWPS University in Warsaw and president of the NGO 
View, Foundation for Visual Culture, where she co-founded and is 
currently the editor of View: Theories and Practices of Visual Culture, 
an international, open access, online academic journal 
(www.pismowidok.org). She has received numerous grants and awards 
including Fulbright and Horizon2020 (www.repast.eu/), as well as 
individual and group grants from the National Centre for Science. Her 
research interests include cultural memory, gender and memory, trauma, 
and visual culture studies, as well as contemporary arts. She is an 
active art critic and member of the AICA.

Margaret Tali
The Present Pasts of Identity Politics

Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine has brought along many questions 
about the politics of identity and the roles that identifying carries in 
the post-soviet region. Furthermore, it has seen a new wave of changed 
or changing identifications among the groups who had previously 
identified themselves as Russian. This presentation will reflect on the 
power-struggles that identification in the region carries and on this 
new wave of identity politics by zooming in on selected artists projects.

Margaret Tali is a Postdoc Researcher at Estonian Academy of Arts. Her 
research expertise combines 20th century art history, memory studies, 
museum studies, cultural diversity and migration in the Baltic context. 
She is the author of Absence and Difficult Knowledge in Contemporary Art 
Museums (2018). Together with Ieva Astahovska she leads the 
transdisciplinary project Communicating Difficult Pasts (2019–2024) that 
examines critically erasures, silences and blind spots in the 20th 
century Baltic and Eastern European cultural histories. As a part of 
this project, they have collaborated intensely with artists, 
commissioning altogether 8 new artworks that were exhibited in Difficult 
Pasts. Connected Worlds at the Latvian National Art Museum and National 
Gallery in Vilnius.

Antonina Stebur
Interdependence and Infrastructures of Care as Tools for Resistance and 

The presentation explores the concept of interdependence as a crucial 
link between social communities, promoting feminist strategies of 
solidarity. The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine serves as a 
powerful reminder of how we are all connected through various 
infrastructures, such as the internet, logistics, food supplies, and 
labor. Ukrainian researcher Svitlana Matviyenko highlights the 
importance of different types of communication, including 
“inter-imperial,” “imperial-colonial,” and “inter-colonial.” Matviyenko 
argues that building lines of communication and alliances between 
marginalized, oppressed, and endangered communities is critical.

Antonina Stebur is a curator, art historian, and art critic. She works 
as a guest lecturer at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) where she 
teaches an art activism course. She is a co-founder of the 
#damaudobnayavbytu project on gender discrimination in post-Soviet 
countries and the research platform Spaika.Media. She was co-curator of 
the exhibitions Every Day. Art. Solidarity. Resistance (Ukraine, 2021), 
Names (Belarus, 2017), I Was Approaching the City I Had Not Known Yet 
(Ukraine, 2021), and If Disrupted It Becomes Tangible (Lithuania, 2023), 
among others. She is a co-founder and curator of antiwarcoalition.art, 
the International Coalition of Cultural Workers in Solidarity with 
Ukraine. Her research interests include feminism, post-Soviet studies, 
political art, tactics of resistance and solidarity, and developing 

Anna Engelhardt
Hardwired Obsolescence of Russian Colonialism

Although the Russian military claims to use high-tech weaponry that 
ushers in a future of remotely controlled digital battles, these weapons 
often malfunction in the material world. Tanks get stuck in the mud, 
military phones have no reception, and “precision” weapons are guided by 
pen and paper. These weapons are obsolete as soon as they are 
deployed—yet Russian colonial violence persists. These intergenerational 
wars subject their targets to repeated cycles of fear and violence. As 
the dead of one war haunt the dead of another, Engelhardt considers how 
to further the hardwired obsolescence of the Russian war machine.

Anna Engelhardt is an alias of a research-based media artist and writer. 
Her practice examines war as a technology, looking into the hardware and 
software behind Russian invasions. Interested in topics from military 
cybernetics to cyber warfare, she conducts investigations that take on 
multiple forms of media, including videos, software, and hardware 
interfaces. In tandem, she pursues writing, lecturing, and publishing to 
situate digital conflicts within a broader colonial matrix. Her works 
and activities have been featured at transmediale festival, Venice 
Biennale Architettura, Ars Electronica, Kyiv Biennial, and in Digital 
War journal and Funambulist magazine.


DAY 2: FRIDAY, 19 MAY 2023
Venue: Art Academy of Latvia, Building K2
Kalpaka bulvāris 13

10.00–11.30    Session 4

 From Coast to Country: Narratives of Nationalism and Internationalism 
in Eastern Europe

Participants: Lotte Løvholm, Santiago Mostyn, Bojana Piškur
Moderated by Inga Lāce, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Latvian 
Centre for Contemporary Art

The transformation of Eastern European countries from nationally 
oriented post-socialist societies to transnationally oriented capitalist 
societies has largely determined their social and political course as 
well as their cultural contexts. But the relationship between 
nationalism and internationalism in our region remains complex. For the 
countries of Eastern and Central Europe, nationalism is often 
characterized as the heir of a socialist past that rejects both the 
communist experience and the current liberal democracy, globalization, 
and Western neoliberal models, and justifies the search for a “third 
way.” Needless to say, ethnic nationalism and various nationalist 
tensions and complexities are characteristic to both formerly Soviet 
occupied Eastern European countries, as well as the former Yugoslavia.

Collections and archives play an important role as material evidence 
reflecting these processes. Critical examination of collections can 
activate the narratives of pasts and presents that span beyond the 
current, exclusive nation-building stories, opening up darker sides, or, 
on the contrary, those collections can function as emancipatory sites of 
transnationalism. Spanning time and geographies from the Baltic coast to 
the island of Tobago, and the non-aligned Yugoslavia and its allies, 
this panel will look at different curatorial and artistic strategies 
that challenge and open the tensions between narratives of nationalism 
and internationalism.

Lotte Løvholm
Working with “The Latvian Collection”

In which ways are museums and artists vehicles for nation state 
building? How does collection-building intertwine with cultural 
diplomacy and a country’s politics?
In this presentation, Løvholm will discuss her research into the 
exhibition The Latvian Collection (December 2022–April 2023), co-curated 
with Inga Lāce. The collection was given to Malmö Konstmuseum as a 
donation in 1939, remaining on permanent display until 1958, and was 
meant to be representative of contemporary art in Latvia at the time. 
With Latvia gaining independence in 1918, the collection of fifty 
artworks encapsulates a general zeitgeist toward thinking and developing 
ideas about what Latvia is through art. Marked by the authoritarian 
regime of president Kārlis Ulmanis, who came to power after a coup in 
1934, and its subsequent cultural policy, the collection represents an 
inward gaze as well as national romanticist ideas praising Latvian soil 
and culture. The recent exhibition presents the collection in its 
entirety for the first time since the 1950s, showing the works alongside 
eight new commissions by artists who have researched the collection. The 
exhibition highlights overlooked narratives within the collection and 
looks at new ways of accessing it as a moment in time.

Lotte Løvholm is an independent curator and editor based in Copenhagen 
and runs art space Collega. With a background in critical theory, she 
relates art to contemporary culture and cultural history. She often 
collaborates with other curators and artists as a way of acknowledging 
blind spots and valuing colleagues in her freelance life. Lotte’s 
practice is situated between intense digging in archives and more 
extrovert activities. Together with Inga Lāce she is the curator of The 
Latvian Collection at Malmö Konstmuseum and with Awa Konaté is the 
curator of Jeannette Ehlers’ solo exhibition Archives in the Tongue: A 
Litany of Freedoms at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Lotte is the editor of 
Algorithm (2023) with Anne Kølbæk Iversen, Museum of Care (2019), and 
Say It Loud (2016). She is part of Nikolaj Kunsthal’s selection 
committee for PLATFORM (2022–24) and runs conversation series Living 
Archives at Bastard Performance Art Journal.

Santiago Mostyn
Every Boundary Line is a Myth

Santiago Mostyn will discuss two film works that grew from research into 
the role that Latvia has played in both the colonial era and the Second 
World War. The Warming Plateau (2018) reveals the site of a Curonian 
colony on the island of Tobago, while Umdrehen (2023), made in 
collaboration with Susanna Jablonski, digs into the history of a series 
of massacres on the Latvian coastline in 1941. In both cases, the works 
slip away from established narratives around national identity to reveal 
the complex, uneasy histories that make up our shared present.

Santiago Mostyn is an artist whose practice foregrounds narrative 
entanglements in pursuit of new understandings of place, both in a 
cultural and psychic sense. Mostyn has long been interested in the 
interplay of music, narrative, and the embodied self, with works 
manifesting as films, exhibitions, and curatorial projects.

Bojana Piškur
Southern Constellations

In the presentation I will be talking about some ideas but also dilemmas 
related to my decade-long research on the non-aligned 
movement—especially its cultural politics. I will discuss the Southern 
Constellations: Poetics of the Non-Aligned exhibition that was a result 
of this endeavor. The exhibition was shown in Moderna galerija, 
Ljubljana in 2019 and its iterations later presented in Gwangju, Rijeka, 
Ramallah, Podgorica, Eindhoven, Skopje, and London.
With Southern Constellations, a humble idea has developed—that of an 
exhibition and a collection as a constellation, a fair way to do 
something together so that everyone gains something from being involved 
in these endeavors. The constellations would, ideally, instead of 
producing new exhibitions alone, bring together peripheric 
“institutions” that share common political and social aims and are 
similar in their conditions of art production. These constellations 
would be some sort of “desiring machines” then, not in the sense of 
desiring objects (i.e., works of art), but in the sense of producing new 
realities, different modes of cultural production and relations, new 
constituent dimensions, and emphasizing situated or local knowledge, 
while at the same time re-examining their role in society.

Bojana Piškur works as a curator in Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern 
Art in Ljubljana. Her professional focus is on political issues as they 
relate to or are manifested in the field of art, with special emphasis 
on the region of post-Yugoslavia and the global South. She has 
curated/co-curated a series of exhibitions entitled Southern 
Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned that were shown in 
Ljubljana, Gwangju, Rijeka, Podgorica, Skopje, Ramallah, and London. Her 
latest projects include Art at Work: At the Crossroads between 
Utopianism and (In)Dependence (curated by B. Piškur, A. Mizerit, I. 
Španjol, Z. Badovinac) and Exercises in a Collection, both Moderna 
galerija, Ljubljana.
  Inga Lāce is C-MAP Central and Eastern Europe fellow at MoMA, New 
York. She is researching modern and contemporary art in Soviet and 
post-Soviet Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, as well as 
its diaspora. She focuses on migration and transnational connections 
across regions, legacies of politics of friendship, and international 
solidarity. She has been curator at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary 
Art since 2012 and was curator of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice 
Biennale 2019 with the artist Daiga Grantina (co-curated with Valentinas 
Klimašauskas). She has also been co-curator of the Allied – Kyiv 
Biennial 2021 (as part of the East Europe Biennial Alliance) and 
co-curator of the 7th to10th editions of the contemporary art festival 
SURVIVAL KIT. She has curated exhibitions at the Malmö Konstmuseum; 
Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź; Framer Framed, Amsterdam; James Gallery at CUNY, 
New York; Villa Vassilieff, Paris; and is currently co-curator of New 
Visions Triennial for Photography and New Media at Henie Onstad 
Kunstsenter, Oslo.

  12.00–13.30    Session 5

The Many Easts and Posts: How Can We Discuss the Many Regions Once 
Called Post-Soviet and Post-Socialist?
  Participants: Vasyl Cherepanyn, Linda Kaljundi, Aigerim Kapar
Moderated by Eszter Szakács, OFF-Biennale

The panel discussion brings together thinkers and practitioners in and 
from the many regions broadly understood as post-Soviet and 
postsocialist. Looking at a reworked understanding of what is happening 
in these regions is especially paramount in light of the ongoing, 
full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Another aspect of the 
panel aims to diversify the use and practices of decolonization in the 
historical and contemporary contexts of both the Russian colonial 
project—foremost in the post/Soviet regions—and EU-centrism, especially 
in the post/socialist regions. The panel would like to open up 
“dialoging the Easts” and “dialoging the posts” in the micro scale of 
the many, multilayered regions that were part, to a varying degree, of 
the former Soviet Union.

Vasyl Cherepanyn
The Occupation of Memory: Russia’s War on Ukraine and the Perversions of 

The idea of a free Europe, which came into being on the basis of 
anti-Nazism, is now existentially threatened by Russian state fascism. 
Vasyl Cherepanyn, the director of the award-winning Visual Culture 
Research Center from Kyiv, puts this new catastrophic reality into the 
perspective of Europe at large. What role did memory politics and the 
culture of commemoration play in setting ideological conditions enabling 
the reactivation of genocidal fantasies and practices today?

Vasyl Cherepanyn is head of the Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC), 
an institution he co-founded in Kyiv in 2008 as a platform for 
collaboration among academic, artistic, and activist communities. VCRC 
is the organizer of the Kyiv Biennial and a founding member of the East 
Europe Biennial Alliance. Cherepanyn holds a PhD in philosophy and has 
lectured at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, European 
University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), University of Helsinki, Free 
University of Berlin and elsewhere. He has coedited Guidebook of the 
Kyiv International (Medusa Books, 2018) and ’68 NOW (Archive Books, 
2019), and curated The European International (Rijksakademie van 
beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, 2018), Hybrid Peace (Stroom, The Hague, 
2019), and Armed Democracy (2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, 2022), 
among other texts.

Linda Kaljundi
Learning Slowly: Working with the Heritages of Russian Imperialism and 
Colonialism in Estonian Collections

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has made questions regarding the 
history and heritage of Russian imperialism and colonialism acute on a 
totally new level. Especially in comparison to the multi-layered and 
rich research tradition on Western colonialism, Russian colonial history 
and its legacies have been studied relatively little and, moreover, have 
also become nearly invisible in cultural memory. Now, along with new 
discussions around decolonization, is a good moment to examine this 
colonial history and heritage not from the perspective of Russian 
centers, but from the perspective of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In 
this talk, I will focus on the potential of Estonian collections for 
studying Russian colonialism. Building on concrete case studies, I will 
argue that Estonian cultural memory itself has played a significant role 
in internalizing the silence around Russian colonial history, first and 
foremost with regards to the involvement of Baltic German nobility in 
the imperial expansion. In order to work with and overcome the 
invisibility of colonial heritages, it is important to research and 
recognize the ways in which the roles of both colonized and colonizers 
are present in Baltic history and cultural memory.

Linda Kaljundi is a professor of cultural history at the Estonian 
Academy of Arts, and a research fellow in environmental history at 
Tallinn University. Her research focuses on Baltic and Nordic history, 
cultural memory, the environment, and colonialism. She has also curated 
exhibitions, including Art in the Age of the Anthropocene (2023), Art or 
Science (2022–23), and The Conqueror’s Eye (2019), all created with 
larger transdisciplinary curatorial teams at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, 
and all also dealing with colonial heritage.
  Aigerim Kapar
The Secrets of Lake Balkhash: Community Narratives, Memories, and 
Landscapes of Past and Futures

The Secrets of Lake Balkhash focuses on the study of local values of 
Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan and how these values impact the everyday 
lives of local communities. The research project aims to rethink the 
history of the region through a decolonial lens and study the future of 
the region reimagined by local communities. Lake Balkhash is one of the 
biggest endorheic water bodies in the world and has a millennia-long 
history of sociocultural life, ecological traditions, and semi-nomadic 
management methods. The region also represents the position of the 
Kazakh Steppe, where the interests of China and Russia intersect. Today, 
the industrialization and militarization of the colonial Soviet period 
continue to prevail and frame the basin as a zone of ecological and 
social crisis. Lake Balkhash may disappear in twenty years and faces a 
similar situation to the drainage of the Aral Sea by the Soviet 
government in the 1950s for the purposes of agricultural production. The 
research project is part of Artcom Platform’s Care for Balkhash 
initiative, and As you go… the roads under your feet, towards the new 
future inquiry initiated by Biljana Ćirić.

Aigerim Kapar is an interdependent curator, interdisciplinary 
researcher, and a decolonial activist based in Almaty and Astana. Kapar 
founded Artcom Platform, a Central Asian community-based contemporary 
art and public engagement organization in 2015. She has also been 
organizing Art Collider, a school where art meets science that has been 
bringing communities together since 2017. Kapar curates a hybrid reality 
project, Steppe Space, an important space for contemporary art and 
culture of Central Asia, and initiated projects of care for lake 
ecosystems SOS Taldykol and Balqashqa Qamqor in 2020. Her key previous 
works include Re-membering: Dialogues of Memories (2019), an 
international intergenerational project in memory of survivors and 
victims of twentieth-century political repressions in Kazakhstan, and 
Time & Astana: After Future (2017–18), an urban art research and 
engagement project.
  Eszter Szakács is a curator, researcher, and PhD candidate at the 
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) at the University of 
Amsterdam, where she is taking part in the project IMAGINART—Imagining 
Institutions Otherwise: Art, Politics, and State Transformation. Eszter 
is on the curatorial team of the grassroots art initiative OFF-Biennale 
Budapest, with whom they were lumbung members at documenta fifteen. She 
was a team member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance—co-founded by 
OFF-Biennale Budapest—that collectively curated the Kyiv Biennial in 
2021. Together with Naeem Mohaiemen, Eszter coedited the anthology 
Solidarity Must Be Defended (tranzit.hu, 2023), and she worked as 
curator and editor at tranzit.hu in Budapest between 2011 and 2020.


Session 6

Environmental Solidarity and / as Art Practice

Participants: Darya Tsymbalyuk, Francisco Martínez, Quinsy Gario
Moderated by Ieva Astahovska, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Posthumanist ideas, ecological, community, participatory and 
sustainability issues are fundamental to our everyday lives and to 
today's culture and art. They come to the fore in the search for 
solutions to today's political and ecological crises and for 
alternatives to natural resource extractivism on a global scale. But 
they also draw attention to the processes of colonial exploitation and 
destruction of ecosystems in our region, the most catastrophic of which 
is the Russian colonial war in Ukraine. In this session, participants 
will discuss what decolonial approaches to human-environment relations 
can change our present and future? What perspectives, ethics and 
responsibilities can guide new relationships not only between people, 
but also between living and non-living, human and non-human nature, 
between nature and culture, between society and the environment? How can 
creative alternative ecologies develop new approaches to the shared 
ecosystem of people and nature? What are the possibilities of working 
with ecological solidarity as an artistic practice? How to position 
oneself between ecological activism and art? How can advocacy for the 
equality of nature be combined with political demands for system change?

Darya Tsymbalyuk
Living in a Shattered World: People, Environments, and Russia’s War on 

Russia’s war on Ukraine not only kills people and erases cities, it also 
destroys whole ecosystems. Ukraine today is one of the most mined places 
on Earth, where mines kill not only human beings, but also other animals 
and plants. Moreover, mines, like other munitions, contaminate land and 
water, releasing deadly toxins. In this brief presentation, I discuss 
the environmental impacts of Russia’s war on land, water, air, and 
bodies in Ukraine. Staying attuned to the trap of apocalyptic 
narratives, I discuss how the war-torn land is imagined and represented 
and ask what it means for human and nonhuman inhabitants to “re-exist,” 
to borrow and adopt Adolfo Albán Achinte’s term, in the conditions of 
livelihoods destroyed by the imperial invasion. For people, many of whom 
have been living in the space of war for nine long years, everyday 
resistance and survival are anchored in the hope for a post-war future 
and the justice it will bring. What decolonial imaginaries of post-war 
Ukraine are being crafted, what is their relation to environmental 
justice, and in which ways do they shape the reconstruction that is 
already underway, even while the war is ongoing?
  Darya Tsymbalyuk is a researcher and artist from Ukraine. Her work 
lies at the intersection of environmental humanities and artistic 
research and engages with feminist and decolonial methodologies. She is 
currently a Max Hayward Visiting Fellow at St Antony’s College, 
University of Oxford. Darya obtained her PhD in 2021 from the University 
of St Andrews, Scotland, with the PhD dissertation “Multispecies 
Ruptures: Stories of Displacement and Human-Plant Relations from Donbas, 
Ukraine,” where she foregrounded more-than-human aspects of migration by 
focusing on human-plant relations in oral histories of internally 
displaced persons.
  Francisco Martínez
The Art of Sedimentation: Exploring Non-authoritative Ways of Making 
Knowledge about Our Surroundings

In my talk, I reflect on the tension between cartographic, political, 
and ecological realities based on my recent field research in eastern 
Estonia. Modern relationships between humans and the natural world are 
largely extractionist, but there are other ways of knowing with the 
landscape, as for instance the gesture of sedimentation. This term has a 
double dimension: ecological and cultural. In the age of the 
Anthropocene (a new geological era characterized by human influence on 
the planetary scale), sedimentation might be a better way of linking 
landscapes to politics and human history.

Sediments are permanently unfinished coalitions, hybrids, and other 
forms of border-transgressing materialities. Besides accounting for the 
materiality of sediments within the assemblages that constitute our 
landscapes, there is a need to bring depositing into politics. In For 
Opacity, Édoard Glissant criticizes the importance of the verb “to 
grasp” within Western epistemology. When grasping, the movement of the 
hands reproduce a gesture of extracting and holding, one of enclosure 
and appropriation. In contrast, Glissant invites us “to let our 
understanding prefer the gesture of giving-on-and with.” In short, I 
propose to deposit instead of extract. This gesture is not just part of 
the work of nature, but also an ethos for the present.
  Francisco Martínez is an anthropologist dealing with contemporary 
issues of material culture through ethnographic experiments. In 2018, he 
was awarded the Early Career Prize of the European Association of Social 
Anthropologists. He has worked at the University of Helsinki, Aalto 
University, and the University of Leicester, and currently convenes the 
Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation (EASA) Network. Francisco 
has published several books, including Ethnographic Experiments with 
Artists, Designers and Boundary Objects (UCL Press, 2021), Remains of 
the Soviet Past in Estonia (UCL Press, 2018), and Repair, Brokenness, 
Breakthrough (Berghahn, 2019). He has also led different art projects, 
including Objects of Attention (Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design, 
2019), Greetings from Another Time and Space (Contemporary Art Museum of 
Estonia, 2019), and Life in Decline (Estonian Mining Museum, 2021).

Quinsy Gario
Family Connection’s Marronage and Interrupting Dutch Colonial Extraction

When speaking of resource extraction in the contemporary context of the 
Kingdom of the Netherlands, knowledge production needs to be part of the 
conversation. The understanding of the islands it once colonised, their 
population, and their environment have varied throughout the centuries, 
from the first contact with St. Maarten in 1630 up until today. These 
ideas have ranged from simply a place of salt extraction to a 
marketplace for crimes against humanity through the selling and buying 
of enslaved Africans to a place for the storing and processing of 
hazardous materials like oil. In the case of Curaçao, Aruba, and St. 
Eustatius, going from being inutil or without use (as the Spanish 
typified the Leeward islands, or the Golden Rock), as a trading post and 
capital meeting point, to the present-day condition has been a violent 
endeavor that has also involved the extraction of life and knowledge. In 
this presentation the group installation Marronage will be used as an 
entry point to further talk about the islands in the Caribbean that 
share continued Dutch occupation and colonization. The various works 
reflect contemporary questions looking at environmental destruction and 
the colonial legacies that these destructions are a part of.

Quinsy Gario is a performance poet and artist from Curaçao and St. 
Maarten. His artistic work centers on decolonial remembering and 
instituting otherwise. He is a member of the collective Family 
Connection, established in 2005 by his mother Glenda Martinus and her 
sister. With the collective, Gario has researched and presented work on 
resistance, recovery, and refusal as practiced through history by the 
racially oppressed on the Caribbean islands that share continued Dutch 
colonization. The presentations centered on fugitivity through various 
means. Gario’s most well-known work is Zwarte Piet Is Racisme (2011–12), 
which fundamentally altered a racist Dutch tradition. His work has been 
shown at Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), MACBA (Barcelona), Latvian National 
Museum of Art (Riga), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), MHKA (Antwerp), TENT 
(Rotterdam), and Göteborgs Konsthall (Gothenburg). In 2021, Gario also 
ran for a seat in Dutch parliament. He is currently doing doctoral 
research at the VU Amsterdam on ethnographic collections and 
contemporary art engagements.

Ieva Astahovska is an art scholar, critic, and curator. She works at the 
Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, where she leads research projects 
related to art and culture in the socialist and postsocialist periods, 
and entanglements between postsocialist, postcolonial, and decolonial 
perspectives in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. Ieva has (co-)curated a 
number of exhibitions, the most recent of which are Decolonial 
Ecologies: Understanding Postcolonial after Socialism at the Riga Art 
Space (2022/2023) and Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds at the National 
Gallery of Art, Vilnius (2022) and the Latvian National Museum of Art, 
Riga (2020). She has edited a number of research-based publications, 
including Valdis Āboliņš: The Avant-garde, Mailart, the New Left and 
Cultural Relations during the Cold War (LCCA, 2019), and Revisiting 
Footnotes: Footprints of the Recent Past in the Post-Socialist Region 
(LCCA, 2015).

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CONF: From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures (Riga, 18-19 May 23). 
In: ArtHist.net, May 13, 2023. <https://arthist.net/archive/39275>.

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