NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

The exhibition “Synthesis. Study of the truth through movement, progress and divergence” is a group show of seven Latvian artists born in the 1990s, and is an attempt to promote the return to unexplored concepts and an experiment to impersonate them in a contemporary context.

The younger generation of artists is the first one born after the collapse of the Soviet Union and, at the same time, it is the last witness of the 20th century. Artists in who’s childhood memories interact the relics of unprecedented totalitarianism and the development of first modern technologies are in a privileged and ultimately undefined state at the same time – it is a theoretical affiliation to bygone times (which is fundamentally defined by the system of inherited beliefs) and balancing between integration into the digital century.
The distance from belonging to this time opens up the possibilities of reviewing past processes and art terminology corresponding to it from a fresh point of view. By asking the young artists a question – how does totality conceptually materializes in the 21st century? – is created an opportunity to advance a new system of beliefs in relation to this concept and its idealistic lines, within the changing context. The way contemporary artists reflect on their and collective artistic experience has clearly changed and continues to exist in continuous motion. The understanding of an absolute power has reduced from a canonical paradigm to a deeply personal experience and the curator’s “commissioned” artwork is not perceivable as an illustration of past or present ideologies, but rather as a provisional prophecy for further over-interpretations. The participating artists are Aina Bikse, Krisjanis Elviks, Annemarija Gulbe, Madara Kvepa, Mikelis Murnieks, Alise Sondore and Janis Sneiders. The show is curated by Auguste Petre.
In the first half of the 20th century, in the so-called western world, parallel to the manifestation of multifaceted and diverse art, some other forms of arts were ruled over by political dictatorships are also emerging, within which visual means of expression are subjected to ideology and serve as powerful instruments of social propaganda. The art of totalitarianism, which is being realized in authoritarian countries, also permeates the history of Latvian art, creating an entirely ambiguous view of its nature, tasks and achievements. The main direction of the art of totalitarianism in Eastern Europe is socialist realism, whose deceptive formulation seems to have become a difficult riddle for contemporary Latvian art researchers, critics and authors. Perhaps for this reason, the artistic legacy of totalitarianism is often viewed with contempt, in a highly subjective and emotional way. Often, the reasons for this perception lie in personal associations or in inherited memories of the time, so in today’s context, it seems essential to ask – what is it that connects the traditional belief system and the processes of contemporary ideas? Do traditions (including stereotypes) still serve as a basis for developing new ideas, or have they become an opportunity to derive inspiration for new interpretations?

Totalitarianism, in its absolute whole, applies to a certain political ideology, but behind the shell of the concept lies a long path of historical development associated with the idea of totality. The Latin word totus or totalis has been appropriated over time, however it has maintained the idea of totality as a holistic greatness, cohesiveness and fullness. It is very important to acknowledge the relationship between totality and dialectics, the origins of which are often linked to the ideas expressed by Heraclitus of Ephesus, but most directly perceived in the view of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s dialectic philosophy. It was his consideration of totality as a single absolute idea that had inspired the discourse of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and later on Lenin as well. The term “totalitarian system” was first mentioned on 12 May 1923 in the Italian newspaper Il Mondo, in which the publicist, Giovanni Amendola, described it as an absolute political dominance and tyranny over public life. Totalitarianism has been used here as a word game about “political totality.” Two years later, Benito Musolini took over the term entirely and it became the foundation of fascist ideology. With the aim of striving for the perfect future, this concept was also realised in Stalinism.

Gallery name: Former textile factory Bolsevicka

Address: Ganibu dambis 30, Riga

Open: 22.09.2020 - 09.10.2020