NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Last week Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art welcomed a new science fiction themed exhibition "Unexpected Encounters" at the “Arsenals” exhibition hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art. The exhibition, which is part of Latvia's centenary program, includes historical research as well as reflections of science fiction in the work of contemporary artists.

Exhibition “Unexpected Encounters” focuses on the impact of science fiction in Latvian culture in the second half of the last century, with reference to the exhibition series “Science and Science Fiction” that ran from 1975 to 1982. It includes works by contemporary artists highlighting current issues such as feminism, ecology and politics, all imagining alternative futures. The title of the project, “Unexpected Encounters”, is taken from the Strugatsky brothers’ short story collection of the same name, published in Riga in 1987.

In the Soviet period, science fiction was an ideology-backed genre that manifested utopias driven by progress and scientific development, in keeping with the paradigm and ideas of communism. However, here too, strict censorship was observed, preventing ideas that questioned the system of power and its mechanisms from coming forward. Today, on the other hand, we are experiencing unprecedented growth in technology, the progress of which contrasts with an equally rapid shift in socio-political processes towards right-wing conservatism. As with various other points of intense development in history, there is a growing interest in science fiction, which both offers advanced utopias and provokes frightening dystopias. Alongside the connection with science and technology, these utopias offered by science fiction also reflect issues such as colonialism, class, racial and gender inequalities, and imminent ecological disasters.

The participating artists of the “Unexpected Encounters” exhibition include Māris Ārgalis, Ieva Balode, Auseklis Baušķenieks, Maija Dragūne, Aleksandrs Dembo, Kristaps Epners, Dzidra Ezergaile, Pēteris Džigurs, Nash Glynn, Alberts Goltjakovs, Inārs Helmūts, Ann Lislegaard, Zenta Logina, Malda Muižule, Deimantas Narkevičius, Bahar Noorizadeh, Artūrs Ņikitins, Pakui Hardware, Ivars Poikāns, Māra Rikmane, Artūrs Riņķis, Vladislav Shapovalov, Genādijs Suhanovs, Kirils Šmeļkovs, Viktor Timofeev, Anton Vidokle, Artūrs Virtmanis, Sif Itona Westerberg, Ylva Westerlund, Driant Zeneli, Zheng Bo.

The first exhibition of the “Unexpected Encounters” project, titled “Cosmic Existence”, was held in Copenhagen from September 13 to October 28, in cooperation with the Contemporary Art Centre Den Frie.

The exhibition at “Arsenals” Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art is open until 23 February 2020.


Take a look at the photo gallery of the exhibition opening

The “Unexpected Encounters” project is supported by: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Riga City Council, State Culture Capital Foundation, Embassy of Canada in Latvia, Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Latvia, Goethe-Institut Riga, Danish Cultural Institute, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, Latvian Artists’ Union, Konstnärsnämnden, ĒTER, Latvian National Botanical Garden, DAW Baltica Ltd. (“CAPAROL”), “Priekuļu bloks”, “Copy Pro “Neiburgs Hotel”, “4 metri ”, “Kates Plates” Ltd., “Tenapors” Ltd., “Malduguns, “Contra “, “Walters & Grapa”, ”ŌBDO”, “Tālavas sidrs ”, Valmiermuiža Brewery, Kokmuiža Brewery, and “Gardu muti” taste movement.

The exhibition forms part of the celebratory events marking Latvia’s centenary. Latvia’s centenary celebrations are taking place from 2017 to 2021. The central message of the centenary celebrations is “I am Latvia”, emphasizing how Latvia’s main asset is its people, who make the country what it is today through their daily work and lay the foundations for the future with the new generation.