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Photo Credit: ©In the studio of the Daina Dagnija, with her painting "Immigrants". Photographer: unknown. 1967. Private collection.
The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the James Gallery at the Graduate Center CUNY and the Polish Cultural Institute NY present:

Group Exhibition Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism

The James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor

New York, NY 10016

Opening reception: November 19, 2019 6-8pm

Exhibition dates: November 19, 2019 – February 15, 2020

The Polish Cultural Institute New York is proud to announce Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism, a group exhibit to be opened on Tuesday, November 19, at The James Gallery, The CUNY Graduate Center. Curated by Inga Lace, Katherine Carl, Andra Silapetere and Solvita Krese, the exhibit is a part of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art four-year project “Portable Landscapes,” which begins with the stories of the exiled, émigré Latvian artists of the Hell's Kitchen collective, and extends into contemporary international artistic voices, locating all within broader context of the context of 20th century art history, and wider processes of migration and globalization.

The exhibition program developed in collaboration with the James Gallery, brings to the foreground exiled Latvian artists’ and writers’ collective which was active in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City from the 1950s through the 1970s. Through examination of the artistic and political expressions of refugee artists, who in result of the 1944 Soviet occupation were forced into exile, the diverse multimedia narratives unfold both past and present processes of crossing borders and traversing territories.

Departing from the Hell's Kitchen collective, the exhibition highlights personalities and artistic phenomena that have resulted from migration, bringing forward a web of lesser known stories of individual artists and collaborators who played supporting roles in, but also worked to diversify and challenge, the overarching art historical narrative. In addition to pursuing these stories with the help of archival material, historical works of art and artefacts, the exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists including the Polish artist, Karol Radziszewski, working on the themes of cultural displacement and its attendant questions. Emphasizing the importance of diversity, different modernisms and alternative undercurrents to main narratives, the exhibition suggests that both present and history are living processes in a constant state of change.

Participating artists: Daina Dagnija, Yonia Fain, Yevgeniy Fiks, Hell’s Kitchen collective, Rolands Kaneps, Boris Lurie, Karol Radziszewski, Judy Blum Reddy, Vladimir Svetlov & Aleksandr Zapol (Orbita Group), Viktor Timofeev, Sigurds Vidzirkste, Arturs Virtmanis.

Exhibition Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism at the James Gallery is the last exhibition in the series of the exhibition and research projects Portable Landscapes that took place starting 2017 with exhibitions at: Villa Vassilieff, Paris (2018), Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga (2018), Körsbärsgården Konsthall, Gotland (2018) and District, Berlin (2019). The project’s culmination is planned in spring 2020 when Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art together with Berlin based publisher K.Verlag will launch a book “Portable Landscapes: Art Histories of Latvian Exile”, that views together all the project’s stories.

„Portable Landscapes” is one of the events of the Latvia’s Centenary Celebrations. It is supported by Latvian Republic Culture Ministry and State Culture Capital Foundation as well as the Polish Cultural Institute New York. Public programs of the exhibition in November 2019 and February 2020 is possible thanks to the support of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation.


Opening reception: November 19, 2019, 6-8:00 pm

Exhibition dates: November 19, 2019 – February 15, 2020

November 21, 2019 at 4:00pm -- “(H)ell(e)s* Kitchen” performative walk from the Croatian Church, Hell's Kitchen to Lexington Avenue and 34th by Orbita group: Vladimir Svetlov & Aleksandr Zapol, in conjunction with the Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism exhibit.

Starting point: Croatian Church New York - Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael RCC, 502 W 41st St, New York

End point: Lexington Avenue and 34th St, New York

Duration: 1h 30 min

February 5, 2020 at 6:30pm -- Yiddish Poetry and Culture —Workshop, poetry reading, and film screening “Yonia Fain: With Pen and Paintbrush” by filmmaker Josh Waletzky, with participation of Yiddish literary scholar Sheva Zuker and Yiddish actor Shane Baker in conjunction with the Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism exhibit.

February 11, 2020, 4:00-8:00pm – gallery talks in conjunction with the Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism exhibit.

• Talk by exhibition curators Inga Lace and Solvita Krese

• Judy Blum Reddy in conversation with curators Inga Lace, Solvita Krese, Katherine Carl

• Artist talk and a discussion with Karol Radziszewski about his film “America is Not Ready for This” (2012)

• Presentation of Boris Lurie book “In Riga” (2019) with participation of poet Igor Stanovsky

• Discussion about younger Latvian art scene in New York with exhibition artists Arturs Virtmanis, Viktor Timofeev, curator and art historian Ksenia Nouril

The Amie and Tony James Gallery’s mission is to bring artists and scholars into public dialogue on topics of mutual concern through exhibitions as a form of advanced research. As a window into the research work of The Graduate Center and a hub of international discussion, The James Gallery is central to The Graduate Center’s and the City University of New York’s contribution to the cultural life of New York City. Located in midtown Manhattan at the nexus of the academy, contemporary art, and the city, the gallery creates and presents artwork to the public in a variety of formats. While some exhibitions remain on view for extended contemplation, other activities such as performances, workshops, reading groups, roundtable discussions, salons, and screenings have a short duration. The gallery works with scholars, students, artists and the public to explore working methods that may lie outside usual disciplinary boundaries. All exhibitions and programming are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) is the largest institution for contemporary art in Latvia, curating and producing contemporary art events on a national and international scale. Since 1993, it has researched and curated contemporary art processes both in Latvia and abroad, aiming to provoke critical reflection on issues relevant to contemporary society. The LCCA is widely recognized for its annual international contemporary art festival “SURVIVAL KIT” and its regular exhibitions at the Latvian National Museum of Art, as well as for representing Latvia at the Venice Biennale, Manifesta, São Paulo Art Biennial, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Rauma Biennale of Contemporary Art, and others.

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