NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

The Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art (Riga, Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) will host the international exhibition "Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds", organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. The project will shed light on difficult, often omitted subjects in the Baltic and Eastern European region and turn to the complex legacies of the twentieth century. Despite being suppressed in collective memory, these subjects and legacies often continue to influence today’s reality.

These difficult pasts include violent conflicts, traumatic losses and their consequences, the prejudiced exclusion of the other, the legacy of nationalist, socialist and communist regimes and ideologies, the history of colonialism and the Holocaust, as well as the marginalisation of ethnic and other minorities. At the same time, the exhibition stays focused on a contemporary perspective in order to understand our ability to influence societal processes and today’s reality. By bringing ignored or manipulated facts out of oblivion, the included artists speak to the fragility of democracy in the era of populist and radical nationalist regimes.

What can works of art contribute to the representation of the painful experiences of the twentieth century? How can we tell stories about past events more fully and honestly, illuminating their different gendered layers? How can artists combine critical awareness with empathic understanding of the experiences of others? How do personal and collective history and memory interact in our understanding of these pasts? Taking up complex stories and sometimes underexplored subjects, the artists seek answers to these and other questions. Overcoming local and national borders, both real and imagined, and ways of tackling subjects, they call for reflection on the relationships between difficult pasts as they are experienced locally. Their works show how histories are shared, bringing to the fore links, dialogues and solidarities from the past and allowing us to see their continuing influences today.

The exhibition includes works by Lia Dostlieva and Andrii Dostliev, Vika Eksta, Quinsy Gario, Jörgen Gario, Aslan Ġoisum, Zuzanna Hertzberg, Jaana Kokko, Ülo Pikkov and Paulina Pukytė, along with other artists. They invite viewers to explore these difficult pasts in interaction with visual anthropology and documentary, archival and artistic research.

The exhibition is curated by Ieva Astahovska and Margaret Tali. The project’s public programme will include conversations with artists, researchers and historians about the complex legacies of the twentieth century, a seminar for teachers as well as creative workshops for the youngest visitors.

The exhibition is part of Communicating Difficult Pasts, an international and interdisciplinary project which turns to questions about the recent past and the influence of this past in the Baltic region and its neighbouring countries. The project aims to develop collaboration and synergy between artists, curators and researchers, who, by analysing the difficult legacy of the recent past, are looking for new approaches and means to its study and the overcoming of omissions.



State Culture Capital Foundation, the Foundation for Arts Initiative, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Frame Contemporary Art Finland



Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art



Ieva Astahovska, Margaret Tali



Agnese Pundiņa / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art



Laura Dravniece, Curator of Education, Latvian National Museum of Art



Māra Žeikare, Curator of Educational Programmes, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Elīna Bērziņa, Head of the Education Department, Latvian National Museum of Art



Paula Jansone, Head of Communications, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Gallery name: Latvian National Museum of Art

Address: Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1, Riga

Opening hours: Tue-Thu 10:00 - 18:00, Fri 10:00 - 20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00 - 17:00

Open: 28.11.2020 - 07.03.2021