International symposium: From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures

International symposium: From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures

The symposium was 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 brochure is available HERE.

The event brought together artists, curators, researchers and educators from the Baltic States and other European countries, and it aimed 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 took an active stance regarding the current realities that have particularly been shaken by the war in Ukraine.

The program of the symposium consisted 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 focused 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 focused 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 focused 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 also analysed 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 side.

The symposium was 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 was 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”.

Visual identity: Alexey Murashko. The key visual of the symposium includes a photograph of Luhansk in 2014, by Olia Mykhailiuk.

The event programme and detailed descriptions of the panels, presentations and participants are available in the brochure HERE.