Decolonial Ecologies. Understanding Postcolonial after Socialism

Riga Art Space
01.11.2022. - 15.01.2023.

From 1 November 2022, the exhibition "Decolonial Ecologies" is on view at the exhibition hall Riga Art Space (Kungu iela 3, Riga). The exhibition organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art will be open until 15 January 2023.

Participating artists: Linda Boļšakova (LV), Maija Demitere (LV), Vika Eksta (LV), Inga Erdmane (LV), Quinsy Gario (NL), Maria Kapajeva (EE), Diana Lelonek (PL), Haralds Matulis (LV), Francisco Martinez, Anna Shkodenko, Darja Popolitova, Viktor Gurov (EE), Līga Spunde (LV), Rasa Šmite & Raitis Šmits (LV), Aurelija Maknytė (LT), Emilija Škarnulytė (LT), Olia Mykhailiuk (UA). 

Curator: Ieva Astahovska

The exhibition aims to explore the complex entanglements of postcolonial and postsocialist imprints in contemporary society and culture in the Baltics and its neigbouring regions through the prism of environmental history and environmental changes, and the current ecological crisis.

The exhibition brings to the fore various themes related to social, political and ecological change, relations between humans and the environment, as well as on nature and culture in our past, present and possible future. Its topics include the legacy of the past, the meaning and experience of place, issues of identity and belonging, complex memory discourses, landscapes of diverse technologically political infrastructures, ecological thinking as part of and social practices, and alternative strategies to tackle the challenges of the environmental crisis and climate change.

The exhibition invites us thinking on environmental issues in an integrated way – through an ecological and ecosystem perspective, reminding us that we are part of a complex set of biosystems with a constant flow of energy and information that continues to change and think about new ecologies and ecosystems. Thus, it aims to remind us that we’re part of a much greater ecosystem, in which there is exchange of information and energy, which continues to change, and therefore makes one ponder novel ecosystems, which fundamentally differ from the previous ones, due to human influence.


Artists

Anna Shkodenko, Darja Popolitova, Viktor Gurov, Francisco Martínez
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Anna Škodenko is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is characterized by a poetic and analytical approach to her medium and visual images. The format of her work depends on the conceptual frame, a specific place, context, and theme. Anna graduated from the painting department at the Estonian Academy of Arts, complementing her studies at Chelsea College of Art in England and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow. She has also graduated from the Master’s program at Glasgow School of Arts. She has been awarded the Eduard Wiiralt Prize (2016) and Köler Prize Grand Prix (2018).

Darja Popolitova is a contemporary (jewelry) artist with an interest in digital culture, pseudo-esoterics, and various social phenomena. Popolitovas’s artistic process is driven by an ironic view on the present that further fuels her interest to blend contemporary jewelry, digital craft, and video-performances with fiction. Recently, she has participated in exhibitions at the Museum Arnhem in Holland (2020), Art and Design Museum in New York (2019), and the Kunstnerforbundet gallery in Oslo (2018). Currently she is working towards a PhD at the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Viktor Gurov’s research objects are everyday practices and the relations of public space. His works are mainly connected with both typography and text. Gurov graduated from the graphic design and photography departments at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Recent exhibitions include Slow Steps: Walker in the Landscape at the National Library of Estonia (2021) and Resemblance through Contact: Grammar of Imprint at Tartu Art House & EKA Gallery (2020).

Francisco Martínez is a Visiting Professor of Social Design at the Estonian Academy of Arts and is convening the European Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation (Colleex). He has published several books, including Ethnographic Experiments with Artists, Designers and Boundary Objects (2021), Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia (2018), and Repair, Brokenness, Breakthrough (2019). He has also curated exhibitions, including Objects of Attention at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design (2019) and Life in Decline at the Estonian Mining Museum (2021). In 2018, he was awarded the Early Career Prize of the European Association of Social Anthropologists.

Aurelija Maknytė
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Aurelija Maknytė is primarily working with photography, video, and performance. Her most-frequently explored subjects are archiving, memory, and nature. For many years she has researched interspecies communication and co existence with, for, and through art. She has studied photography and video art at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. Her first solo exhibitions—Deficit at Gallery 101, Kaunas, and My Parents’ Room at Gallery Artifex, Vilnius (2015)—featured found objects, texts, and other materials collected by the artist and associated with both her personal history and the lives of many other people during the Soviet era. Her recent group exhibitions include Blood and Soil: Dark Art in the Dark Times at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius (2019); The Origin of Species: 90s DNA at MO museum, Vilnius (2019); and The Sweet Sweat of the Future at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius (2019). Her most recent solo exhibition, Nature’s Cabinets at Vilnius Town Hall (2020), was one of the most consistent presentations of her various works from, on, and about nature to date.

Diana Lelonek
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Diana Lelonek explores relationships between humans and other species. Her projects are critical responses to the processes of over-production, unlimited growth, and our approach to the environment. She has graduated from the Department of Photography in the Faculty of Multimedia Communication at the University of Art in Poznań, where she also gained a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. Currently, she works at the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw. She uses photography, living matter, and found objects, creating work that is interdisciplinary and often appears at the interface of art and science. Since 2015, she has participated in many international biennials, festivals, and group shows.

Family Connection
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Family Connection was founded in 2005 by the artists Glenda and Gala Martinus, two sisters from Curaçao. Each presentation varies the number of participating artists: here, the group consists of Glenda Martinus and Gala Martinus; their brother and painter Rudsel Martinus; the children of Gala Martinus — Whitney Lewis, Caldron Lewis and Brandon Lewis; the children of Glenda Martinus — Jörgen Gario and Quinsy Gario. The group has worked together to present an installation consisting of painting, audio, video, sculpture, drawing, and tapestry.

Haralds Matulis
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Haralds Matulis is a writer, publicist, and translator. He has studied philosophy as well as social and cultural anthropology at the University of Latvia. He has translated, written, and evaluated various fiction texts. He has translated Jonathan Culler’s book Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2007), William S. Carter’s book Proust in Love (2011), Daniil Kharms’s Selected Prose (2014), and other works. In 2019, his collection of short stories, Middle Class Problems, received the Annual Latvian Literature Award for the best debut.

Inga Erdmane
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Inga Erdmane’s works draw attention to the relationships between society and the individual, documenting and interpreting actual events with installations, video, photographs, and photobooks. The artist’s interest in systems and structures is often focused on borders, where individuals enter so-called “grey zones.” Erdmane graduated from the Department of Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, having also studied psychology in Riga. She has self-published six books and has taken part in book fairs and exhibitions in Belgium, France, Guatemala, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.

Linda Boļšakova
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Linda Boļšakova works in a variety of media, focusing mainly on performance and installation, exploring the relationship between people and the environment, particularly plants. She has collaborated with scientists from the National Botanic Garden of Latvia and the Institute for Environmental Solutions in Latvia, as well as the Association for the Conservation of Antalya Orchids and Biodiversity. She has also worked together with composers, scientists, web developers, and 3D artists. Recently, she collected stories from gardeners at the Sporta pils dārzi (Gardens of Sporta Pils) that comment on the semantics and commonalities between people and plants. Boļšakova studied contemporary art and philosophy in Scotland, graduating from the photography course at Edinburgh College, and has completed a performance course at the Latvian Performance Art Centre in Riga.

Līga Spunde
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Līga Spunde creates multimedia installations, where personal stories are closely intertwined with a constructed fiction. Creating a broad yet subtle thematic web, her works incorporate references to different times and symbols. The interpretations and use of recognizable characters serve as an extension of her personal experiences, tapping into general truths. Līga graduated from the Visual Communication Department of the Art Academy of Latvia. Since 2015, she participates in exhibitions and art projects in Latvia and abroad, the most recent of which are with the project Episodes About Not Knowing How It Will Be in the online exhibition and event program A Structure Envisioned for Changing Circumstances and The Last Harvest at MABOCA Gallery (both 2022).

Maija Demitere
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Maija Demitere is an artist-researcher focusing on slow media art and deep sustainability. In her artistic practice and her research, she is trying to describe what role nature / the natural plays in the everyday life of a “normal” modern person. Demitere is working on creating and showing exhibition visitors different gardening practices and food growing techniques she hopes anyone can adopt to start their own gardening experiments. A special research focus is aquaponics and hydroponics as a sustainable gardening practice. Her aquaponics can be seen in the Nature House in Liepaja.

Maria Kapajeva
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Maria Kapajeva is an artist whose work often highlights peripheral histories and unspoken stories, focusing on the representation of women. Her video works have been screened at various festivals, and her most recent shows have been at the Estonian Museum of Art KUMU (2022), F3 — freiraum für fotografie, Germany (2022), and the Finnish Museum of Photography (2021). Her book Dream Is Wonderful, Yet Unclear (2020) received the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Photo Book Award 2021. Her first book, You can call him another man (2018), was shortlisted for the Aperture Photobook Award. Her works are in the collection of Kiasma Museum and the Tartu Art Museum.

Olia Mykhailiuk
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Olia Mihailuk lives and works in Kyiv. In 2007, she teamed up with other like-minded people and founded ArtPole Agency to unite artists working in various fields—painters, musicians, performers, and writers. She continues to develop interaction between various art disciplines, particularly performance, music, literature, and video art. In her own performances she attempts to explore the primal senses of words by referring to her own system of emotional signs and symbols. Since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine in February 2022, she has been working as a volunteer in a humanitarian center in Kyiv. Since April, she has been going regularly to Irpin—near Kyiv—a city that was brutally destroyed and looted in March. Together with locals, she plants plants and flowers there and documents the stories about them.

Rasa Šmite, Raitis Šmits
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Rasa Šmite and Raitis Šmits are artists and researchers who have been working at the intersection of art, science, and emerging technologies since the mid-90s. Their art works are long-lasting, process-based, experimental, often collaborative, networked, and visionary. They are key founders of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga, curators of RIXC Gallery, organizers of RIXC Art and Science festival, and chief editors of Acoustic Space, a peer-reviewed journal and book series. Rasa Šmite is Professor in the New Media Art program in Liepaja University and Senior Researcher at Art Research Lab (MPLab.lv). Raitis Šmits is Associate Professor in the Art Academy of Latvia. In 2017, Raitis was Fulbright researcher at the Graduate Center CUNY in New York. Since 2017, Rasa has also worked as artist-researcher in the Ecodata project at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland). Their artworks have been shown at the Ars Electronica Center, HeK, in Switzerland; Van Abbe Museum in the Netherlands; KUMU Museum in Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm Science and Technology Museum in Sweden; RAM Gallery in Oslo; and many other places. They have received the Prix Ars Electronica (1998) and the National Award of
Excellence in Culture (2016).

Vika Eksta, Anna Griķe
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Vika Eksta is an artist and educator who employs photography, moving image, performance, and audiovisual archives in her work. She combines documentary and fictional narratives in her long-term projects. She has studied photography at Andrejs Grants’s studio and at the EFTI School of Photography in Madrid, and she obtained her MA from the Visual Communication Department at the Art Academy of Latvia. Eksta is the winner of the ADC Young Guns, FK Portfolio, and Riga Photography Biennale awards for young Baltic photographers, and has been nominated for the Purvītis Prize, the main award in Latvian visual arts. She has been participating in exhibitions in Latvia and abroad.

Anna Griķe is a researcher who studied philology, anthropology, and folklore studies at the University of Latvia. Her research interests focus on the broad articulation of tradition. She teaches anthropology-related courses at the University of Latvia and the Latvian Academy of Arts and at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. She also actively participates in the Latvian Association of Anthropologists.

Audio guide

☊1 Introduction / Ievads
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☊2 Anna Shkodenko, Darja Popolitova, Viktor Gurov, Francisco Martínez
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☊3 Aurelija Maknytė
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☊4 Diana Lelonek
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☊5 Haralds Matulis
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☊6 Family Connection / Ģimenes saikne
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☊7 Inga Erdmane
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☊8 Linda Boļšakova
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☊9 Līga Spunde
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☊10 Maija Demitere
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☊11 Maria Kapajeva
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☊12 Olia Mykhailiuk
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☊13 Rasa Šmite, Raitis Šmits
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☊14 Vika Eksta, Anna Griķe
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Team

Curator: Ieva Astahovska

Exhibition Design: Arnita Melzoba, Kārlis Melzobs (Architecture Studio GAISS)

Graphic Designer: Alexey Murashko

Project Management: Elza Medne

Exhibition coordinator: Luīze Rukšāne

Curator of educational program: Kristīne Ercika

Accessibility coordinator: Māra Žeikare

Accessibility advisers: Lība Bērziņa, Ieva Rosne 

Information and publicity: Terēze Šulca

Technical realization: Form Art Lab, SIA Bushmando, Riga Art Space

Audio-visual equipment: VPT

Art mediators: Mariona Baltkalne, Lība Bērziņa, Tatjana Bicjutko, Karina Bočkis, Ināra Eihenbauma, Ilze Ezerniece, Ilze Glavāne, Olga Ipatova-Ignatjeva, Aija Kaula, Laine Kivilande, Raimonds Lazda, Laima Mūrniece, Santa Pētersone, Aija Putniņa, Māris Palameiks, Gunta Plūksne, Ieva Marija Rūme, Rita Rūme Rigerte, Zane Siliņa, Brigita Stroda, Lana Zujeva

Organized by: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with Riga Art Space

Supported by